How to Get the Most Out of Bikram Yoga

Students get sweat at Studio City in London, England, during a Bikram yoga class.

Students get sweat at Studio City in London, England, during a Bikram yoga class.

Performed in a room heated to 105 degrees at 40 percent humidity, Bikram yoga involves a series of 26 basic yoga postures performed twice in a 90-minute class in the sauna-like setting. Benefits of bikram often include increased flexibility, detoxification and weight loss. Knowing what to do before and during class can help you get the most out of your Bikram yoga practice.

Fuel yourself early, and skip the pre-workout snack. Bikram yoga is rather demanding, so it’s crucial to fuel your body throughout the day in preparation for the class. Eat plenty of calories -- but try to avoid heavy, greasy foods that are sure to cause a churning belly during your class -- and drink plenty of water throughout the day. Stop eating and drinking at least one to two hours before class.

Be prepared. Wear lightweight, breathable clothing that fits snugly against the body. Along with your yoga mat, come to each class with a bottle of water to keep you hydrated and a towel to wipe away the sweat. If you’re prone to heavy sweating, a larger non-slip yoga towel might also come in handy -- just lay it across your yoga mat to keep you from slipping and sliding as you move through the poses.

Talk to your teacher before class. Whether this is your first or your fiftieth class, let your teacher know when you need extra help. Most bikram yoga teachers are passionate about the practice -- and they want to help you achieve your best possible practice.

Accept your personal limitations. It can be a bit frustrating to be the only person in a crowded Bikram class who can’t perform a particular pose, but pushing your body too hard will only cause injury. You might breeze through the class one day, only to find yourself struggling the next day. Try to begin each class with no expectations, and understand that your body is always changing and learning.

Learn to love child’s pose. It’s a very restful pose, and it’s the one you should return to any time you feel overwhelmed, dizzy or nauseated. Take a few minutes to rest, and once you’re feeling better, quietly ease back into the lesson.

Practice at least six days per week for the first two months of your Bikram practice. Although it might be challenging to set aside this much time in your busy schedule, an almost-daily dose of Bikram helps your body and mind better adapt. After two months, adjust your Bikram schedule based on your body’s needs -- some people feel best when practicing five times per week, while others prefer the heat just two or three times a week.

Items you will need

  • Lightweight snug clothing
  • Yoga mat
  • Towels
  • Water

Warning

  • The excessive heat involved in a Bikram yoga class puts stress on the cardiovascular system. For many people, the body easily adapts to the stress. But for people with cardiovascular disease, the heat can be dangerous. Bikram yoga should also be avoided by anyone with sensitivities to extreme temperatures, which could increase their risk for heat stroke. To ensure safety, anyone with a health or medical condition -- from heart disease to pregnancy or a history of seizures -- should consult their physician before attempting a Bikram yoga class.
 

Photo Credits

  • Matt Cardy/Getty Images News/Getty Images