This is the most common misconception about yoga, one that prevents many people from ever starting. Yoga is not about how flexible you are; it is about stretching your spine as well as the rest of your body. The more in-flexible you are, the more you need yoga. You become flexible by doing yoga.
There are many benefits to the heat, including:
Enjoy the sweat. It is doing you so much good on so many different levels. Regular profuse sweating generated by heat can:
Women should wear shorts and a sports bra/tank top, or thin cotton leggings and a leotard. Men should wear biking shorts or bathing trunks. Since the room is heated, you want to wear something that you feel comfortable sweating in. The less clothing the better. Anything with a little spandex in it can help allow for a full range of movement. Avoid sweats or loose/oversized T-shirts.
Choose a class time that works for you and arrive about 10 minutes before the class starts (or 15 minutes if it’s your first time at the studio). Bring a water bottle for class or buy one at the studio. It’s best if you don’t eat for at least 2 hours prior to class time. Bring a yoga mat and a large beach towel, or you can rent from us. And most important, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to get your body fully hydrated (46-64 ounces over your normal intake).
Yoga can be challenging, both mentally and physically. Yoga is supposed to be a bit ?difficult?. However, you will start slowly and go at your own pace, pushing yourself only when ready. You’re in charge of taking care of yourself and knowing your limits. As you gain experience, you will find that you will actually want to challenge yourself, striving to perfect each of the poses. Also necessary will be careful listening to the teacher’s dialogue and instructions, patience, determination, trust, and discipline. These are required of you, but they will also develop within you.
Primary emphasis during instruction is on the correctness and safe execution of the postures. You will experience the sensation of your muscles stretching, but this should not be associated with pain. For some students the sensation of stretching takes a little getting used to, but is not unpleasant. Before long you’ll begin to appreciate and understand how your body responds to stretching and discover your own limits.
Although Bikram?s Yoga is practiced in a classroom, you will be in a state of intense concentration, focused on doing the postures correctly and listening to the instructor’s directions. The same is true for everyone else in the room. New students will place their mats in the rear of the large yoga room. Everyone faces forward, allowing new students to observe the experienced students in front of them.
Not a problem, as long as you don?t leave the room. You’ll be instructed on how to relax on your towel in a quiet and still manner so as not to disturb the other students’ practice. Keep in mind that your body will gradually acclimate over a number of classes. The first class is always an experience – just take it as it comes, and see where it leads.
No, chanting and meditation are not part of Bikram?s Yoga. However, for some students, the balance between flexibility, strength and concentration required in Bikram?s Yoga can be a meditative experience.
Yes, it is actually expected to feel a bit nauseous or dizzy during your first class. Practicing yoga in a heated room reveals to us our present condition, and inspires us to take much better care of ourselves. Usually the problem is that we do not breathe properly and do not drink enough water for our daily living, let alone for exercising in a heated room. Dysfunctional breathing patterns, such as upper chest, shallow breathing, is the single most important contributor to stress and disease in the Western world. Doing Bikram?s postures in the heated room will ?force? you to learn to breathe properly. When this happens, the practice becomes less of a struggle. Then there is the water intake factor. Nutritionists tell us that we need 64-96 ounces of water a day to help the body function properly. In the heated yoga room, your body needs an adequate fund of water to allow perspiration to release heat from the body as you practice. So we estimate you need another 64-96 ounces (consumed throughout the day) to allow for your 90 minutes in the room. Once you are drinking enough water your body will tolerate the heat better and you will actually enjoy the heat.
You can generally expect to feel warm, loose and invigorated. Sometimes people feel tired after their first class. As you acclimate after just a few classes, you will start to feel more energized.
Muscle soreness is a build-up of lactic acid. The best way to get rid of lactic acid is stretching. It may seem hard to believe that coming back for more will help, but it is the best way to relieve the soreness. If you wait too long to come back you will be starting all over again.
To derive maximum benefit and enjoy prolonged health, Bikram?s Yoga should be practiced on a regular basis. Yoga can be practiced daily, unlike other forms of exercise where you should take a day off between workouts. For good results, we encourage a regular practice of 3 times per week. For life-changing results, students should strive for 4 or more times per week. However, if coming only one or two days a week is all you can manage, you’ll still receive all the wonderful benefits, only you won’t see them as quickly. You will, however, feel the benefits after every class, no matter how infrequently you practice. You’ll find you want to do this practice. It’s fun. It works. You’ll start organizing your schedule to fit it in. Remember that this yoga is powerful and challenging. Bikram often tells his new students, “Come everyday for the next 2 months and I will give you a new body, a new life.”
Bikram?s Yoga is a cardiovascular practice in that it consists of supporting your own weight in a combination of postures, holding these positions while breathing dynamically and flowing into new postures, building strength and focus in the process. Be prepared to have your heart rate elevated! Whatever your level of fitness, you will find Bikram?s Yoga challenging.
How quickly you progress will depend entirely on you. On your natural ability to a small extent, but mostly upon the honest time and effort you give to yoga. It will have little to do with how perfectly you can do the postures. It will have far more to do with how well you understand what you are trying to accomplish in each pose, how honestly you try to accomplish your goals, and how supple your muscles and joints have become in comparison to the place at which you began. Do as much as your body allows you on that day, always respecting and listening to your body’s needs. Continue to show up, practice in the present moment, and you may be delighted by the unexpected benefits that emerge.
Not only is yoga a great cross training tool for virtually all sports, it is in itself, a total fitness package encompassing many different exercises, both aerobic and non-aerobic. Yet yoga goes well beyond athletics. Through its controlled and precise breathing, and through its strengthening, stretching, and endurance building exercises, your entire body is toned. Circulation is stimulated and the mind relaxes. A key problem to maintaining a disciplined exercise program is that the older we become, the more difficult is to maintain a regular workout. The body resists, and there is never enough time. It always seems like the more we need to exercise, the harder it is. Yet in order for exercise to be effective, consistency over time is required. When time is limited, we usually focus on one or two activities and tend to ?just do it? without an appropriate warm-up or cool-down. In a best-case scenario, ?just doing it? leads to boredom and in a worst-case scenario leads to injury. Although cross-training is essential for maximizing physical health, we don’t make time for engaging in multiple sporting activities, much less take time for effective warming-up and cooling-down. This is when yoga becomes so advantageous.
Instructors that teach Bikram?s Yoga must go through an intensive 9-week, minimum 500-hour training program hosted by Bikram’s Yoga College of India. Only those candidates who successfully pass Bikram’s stringent qualifications go on to graduate and receive permission from Bikram to teach his form of yoga in a Bikram studio. So in essence, only teachers personally trained by Bikram are licensed to teach Bikram’s Yoga.
Consult with your physician before beginning your Bikram?s Yoga practice. If you’re experiencing health or emotional issues, yoga will support you. So come as often as you can. It’s our job to push you to achieve your best, and it is your responsibility to know what is enough for your body on any given day.