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Armed with a healthy dose of skepticism—or at least lack of knowledge—I walked into a yoga studio for the very first time nearly a year ago. I had purchased an introductory deal online, so I basically accepted that I’d complete the 10 classes I’d paid for.
But having experienced the gentle transformation yoga offers, I can’t imagine the practice not being a part of my routine.
I felt much the same way about Yoga Journal magazine. In general, I thought it was probably filled with good advice but not so much for a non-yogi.
Maybe it’s because I’ve experienced both points of view—the skeptic and the practitioner—but I now look at Yoga Journal and see plenty of tips for everyday living.
Whether you’ve never tried yoga before or your new to the practice, you’ll see Yoga Journal as a go-to guide for relieving stress, finding focus and pursuing a harmonious state of mind if you know how to read—and by that I mean approach—the magazine’s content.
Don’t judge yourself by the yogis on the cover or in the ads. You may not yet—or ever—be as flexible or have the perfect posture of the yogis sprinkled through the magazine. But that’s OK. Your yoga experience—or even life experience—is going to be different than others’.
Check your skepticism at the cover. Yoga can offer as much (or more) of an internal change than a physical one, but the key is to be open to it. Before dismissing the entire magazine based on its title alone, at least flip through an issue or two before passing judgment.
Incorporate at least one piece of advice into your life. If you’re like me, you’ll find that several articles speak to something you’ve experienced or are going through. Try to find one strategy or tip you can adopt—whether you ever strike a pose in or out of the yoga studio.
Remember it’s a practice, not a perfect. So you’re losing your balance in tree pose or you’re still needlessly worrying about work after hours, that doesn’t mean the magazine’s advice isn’t working. Change takes time, and even if it doesn’t happen right away, that’s not to say it never will.
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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!
Interested in trying hot yoga? After just 10 90-minute sessions of yoga in a 105-degree room, Michelle Ryan has already learned some big lessons.
I didn’t know much about yoga, much less Bikram yoga until a friend mentioned it to me several months ago. When a discount introductory deal came along, I jumped at the chance to try it.
Then, of course, I procrastinated until almost the last minute of the promotion before I forced myself to try it. I say “forced” because what kind of person willingly goes to practice yoga of any kind for 90 minutes in a room that is 105 degrees?
Now, after completing 10 sessions at Bikram Yoga Savannah, I am that kind of person–one who doesn’t just willingly go three days a week, but who also actually looks forward to it. And after such a short time, I’m about as close to being a yoga master as I am to being a Jedi master, but here’s what I’m learning.
- There’s so much to learn. Bikram yoga is one of those things like judo that can take years to master–if you ever do. Good thing every class is the same, but don’t think I’m not being challenged every time. Did I mention it’s 105 degrees in there?
- Patience, young grasshopper. Whether a victim of my ultra-perfectionist ways or the gotta-have-it-now society, I’m clashing with No. 1 on this list. Learning to lighten up doesn’t mean I’m giving up, just trying to enjoy the journey–in and out of the yoga studio.
- How to seek balance. Lately, I’ve really tried to work on developing better focus and concentration in class, and I think that’s translating to my ability to balance work and life demands better. Plus, Bikram yoga is helping to improve my physical ability to balance in ways no 4-inch heels can.
- Ah, relaxation. Whether it’s getting a more restful night’s sleep–or let’s be honest, crashing in the early afternoon from exhaustion after an intense session–I’m generally feeling more energized in the morning and motivated throughout the day thanks to all those quality zzz’s I’m catching.
- A sense of accomplishment. Some days it isn’t easy to get up and go to class, and there have certainly been times I thought about, gasp, skipping. But I haven’t. Even if I didn’t do every pose perfectly–or bowed out of one or two because the heat got to me–I still managed to do something good for myself. Again, did I mention it’s 105 degrees in there?