Bikram Choudury didn’t refer to his eponymous yoga series as “torture chamber” for nothing.
Sounds daunting, doesn’t it?
If you are not familiar with Bikram yoga, it’s easy to get intimidated.
However, if Bikram yoga is still something you would like to get your hands into, it is reassuring to know it can get a lot easier as long as you have an idea of the things you need to steer clear of.
So, for the uninitiated, below are some of the basic no-nos when doing Bikram yoga.
Avoid wearing baggy clothes
Unless you prefer doing yoga drenched in those baggy sweatpants, always opt for form-fitting clothing.
Of course, you still have to keep decency in mind when choosing the right things to wear to class.
In addition, when in yoga class, always aim for a mindful and meditative practice so you won’t spend any energy on apparel distractions—regardless if it’s from your own or from your co-practitioners.
Avoid drinking too much water before and after class
The difference between a tough and tolerable Bikram session is sometimes, proper hydration.
This means you have to ensure you consume the recommended 8 to 9 glasses daily.
However, you should avoid chugging a lot of water especially prior to your Bikram class as you might end up with an uncomfortably full stomach.
Drinking too much water prior to your yoga class can also make executing certain poses harder, especially those poses that will require lying on your belly.
Avoid eating before your class
As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid eating at least 3 hours prior to the start of your Bikram yoga session.
However, if you are famished, consider eating something light like crackers, just something to curb your hunger pangs.
However tempting, avoid lattes, sushi, nuts, chocolates, or anything heavy prior to class.
Avoid fidgeting too much
Just like other types of yoga, Bikram yoga is designed to reign in your focus and when you fidget a lot you’ll only end up breaking your meditation.
When you transition between poses, stay patient and calm and avoid doing anything unnecessary (read: fixing your hair, adjusting your yoga mat or your yoga leggings, wiping sweat off, drinking water, etc.).
Once you fidget less and choose not to be bothered by the smallest details, you’ll be able to get more out of your session.
Avoid wiping your sweat excessively
Sweating, especially in a hot room is not only inevitable, it is also expected.
Sweat is the body’s natural air conditioner.
If you constantly wipe sweat off, you will not only end up disrupting your practice but you’ll be encouraging the body to produce more sweat so it can cool down more effectively.
Just allow your sweat to drip onto your towel and once you get the hang of it, you’ll develop an understanding and appreciation of how perspiring helps your body.
From there, you will eventually discover how sweating can help your body to retain the right temperature so you can sustain a grueling 90 minutes of hot yoga.
Avoid breathing through your mouth
Breathing through the nose is considered ideal when doing yoga as breathing through the mouth can stimulate the fight-or-flight response.
When the fight-or-flight response is triggered, you might end up dealing with unnecessary emotions like stress, anxiety, or fear.
If you need to lie down and take a break (this is especially advisable if you are feeling dizzy), take deep breaths until you feel a lot better and ready to take on the poses again.
Avoid sitting in the front if it’s your first time
While not everyone may be aware of it, in Bikram yoga, the class is guided through dialogue.
In other words, you can’t expect the teacher to demonstrate the poses.
The poses will be learned by listening and through looking to others for guidance.
If you are new or especially if it is your first time, it is recommended that you stay in the middle or the back of the room.
Staying in the middle or the back can give you a good view of the entire class, enabling you to learn from the example of those who are already familiar with the poses.
Avoid talking in class
Meditation is a major component of Bikram yoga as it is believed to help the practitioner focus on the poses more while putting a stop to any internal chatter at the same time.
Aside from the instructor talking, it is expected that you set aside chatting with your fellow practitioners before or after the session.
Rather than talking, it would be ideal to focus on something (like a spot in the ceiling, etc.) that can help make your session more mindful and meditative.
Avoid pushing yourself too hard
Depending on where you practice, your Bikram yoga room can be as hot as 105F so it can be tempting to assume you’re more flexible or limber than you actually are.
If it’s your first time, your safety should be your top priority.
In line with this, you need to pace yourself and not push yourself beyond your limits.
Remember, you are in no competition with anyone.
Many yogis spent so many years doing yoga before they are able to execute challenging poses properly so you are no different.
Give yourself ample time to adjust and before you know it, you’ll be able to do those yoga poses you’ve always wanted to execute.