Nashville-based guest blogger Tabitha Tune offers in-depth pointers for those looking to start Bikram Yoga.
My first Bikram Yoga class was in 2004, and I will never forget how I felt–totally and utterly miserable! Before you think, “Wow, you’re not selling this very well,” it turns out I just wasn’t prepared. But with some good advice from instructors and figuring out, over time, what works best for me, my practice is still going strong eight years later.
I have yet to find a physical activity that I love as much or is as exhilarating and beneficial for me, both mentally and physically, as Bikram Yoga. It certainly helps that we have two Bikram certified studios in Nashville–one in Cool Springs and Bikram Yoga Nashville which just opened its doors in January.
While it didn’t take me all eight years to figure out how to be properly prepared, it took a bit of trial and error over some time. So to save you that trouble and to help you make sure your first class wasn’t like mine, here are some tips to make your Bikram Yoga experience great:
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
It’s summer, and it’s already sweltering in Nashville, so it’s just good sense to drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated. This is even more important before heading into a 105 degree room where you’ll be sweating a lot. By “hydrate” I don’t mean chug more soda or energy drinks–just stick to good ole H20. Water is your best friend in this weather, and it will serve you well on your Bikram days.
Try to eat at least two hours before your class and practice Bikram Yoga on an almost empty stomach. That said, don’t starve yourself because you will need strength and energy to take a class. While there’s no impact in Bikram Yoga, there are still lots of cardiovascular aspects and some postures that compress, so practicing with a full stomach could prove to be very uncomfortable.
You don’t need fancy yoga clothes, but you also don’t want to wear anything ill-fitting or loose/baggy that could obstruct movement or that won’t let your skin breathe and sweat freely. While you’re in the early stages of your Bikram practice, dress in sportswear that’s meant for yoga, made of breathable fabric that’s stretchy and that will let you stretch and move. The same applies to guys–a pair of running shorts and a tank top will work well.
Listen to the instructor and listen to your body. Bikram Yoga instructors go through a thorough certification process to ensure that students are taught to do the right thing at the right pace. They know what they’re doing as they guide you through every posture in a precise way that provides the deepest stretches and a complete workout without risk of injury. However, only you will know when something hurts, so when your body tells you to stop doing something, listen to it and take it easy for that moment.
Keep an Open Mind
Regardless of your fitness level or your yoga experience, go into the class with no expectations and enjoy yourself. You will hear this often: “All you need to do is stay in the room.” Even if you just sit and watch the entire time, you’re already fast on your way to receiving the benefits of Bikram Yoga. Every class is different, and to this day I still learn something new each time I go back into the yoga room.
You will figure out your own habits as your Bikram Yoga practice progresses. In the meantime, have a great class!