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A Beginner Bikram Yoga Primer

Yoga is many things to different people: Relaxation for the busy mind, exercise for all skill levels, mental peacefulness. If you are interested in fighting stress, a good workout, and strengthening your mind-body connection, it's time to roll out the mat.

 

For beginners interested in yoga and Bikram yoga especially, there are a few tips to understanding the practice and getting ready for your session.

 

Bikram Yoga’s Foundation

 

Bikram Choudhury, born in Calcutta in 1946, founded Bikram Yoga. At 17, a knee injury led doctors to believe he might not ever walk again. Choudhury used yoga to help heal his knee, and his journey inspired him to spread Bikram yoga around the world.

 

Bikram yoga consists of two parts, poses, and breathing. During a session, students go through a series of 26 linked postures and two breathing exercises. Breathing during yoga is just as important as any movement. Jessica Matthews, of Shape Magazine, writes that breath is critical in performing yoga movements. Focusing on the breath will help you not rush the movements or push yourself past a limit. If the breath becomes short or constricted, it's a cue that you might be pushing a pose too hard.

 

Before Your First Class

 

Eat something that day, just make sure it’s two or three hours prior to class. Try to drink two liters of water before your class. Make sure you either bring a bottle of water with you to class or have an empty container you can fill at the studio.

 

Alison O'Connor, writing for Elephant, suggests telling the instructor that you're a Bikram yoga beginner, as they may be able to give you a few pointers specific to that studio. Getting to your class early is extra important when you're new. Instructors may have specific advice for beginners that you won't want to miss.

 

Turning Up the Heat

 

At a Bikram yoga studio, the room's temperature is usually set anywhere from 94 to 105 degrees. Ann Pizer, a yoga expert, writing for About Health, writes that most types of hot yoga use a linked style where the instructor moves students through a set series of poses. It’s this flowing series of movements that creates the mental and physical connection.

 

Since the studio will be hot, Bikram yoga requires a bit more equipment than most yoga styles. Heather Dale (PopSugar) suggests moisture-wicking clothing, a small towel for your face, and something to tie back any loose hair.

 

Sweating is to be expected during the class, even from places you normally don't sweat (think elbows and kneecaps!). Make sure to hydrate before and after the class. Don’t be afraid to break out your towel during yoga if some of that sweat gets in the way of your vision.

 

Embrace the Mat

 

Since Bikram yoga will make you sweat, getting hold of a good mat will help with all the sliding around that sweaty feet tend to do. Many studios will supply or allow patrons to rent mats. If you’re bringing your own mat, Gloria Ives, writing for Active.com, suggests asking an instructor for their advice on a quality product. Thick mats, thin mats, alignment mats, even mats especially made for hot yoga — there are many to choose from. Ask around and find one that works for you.

 

After the Class

 

The ending pose of Bikram yoga is called the savasana. The blog Just Here Just Now pinpoints this pose as the hardest to complete. This isn't because it's difficult (this pose is also called corpse pose, you lie on your back, disengaging the muscles). The heat in the studio makes it hard to be still, so this pose is a mental challenge.

 

When you're finally done with the last pose, take your time getting up from the floor, leaving the room, and changing. Your body might feel a bit weird. You've been working all your muscle groups in new, difficult ways. You've probably lost a bit of water weight, too. Just hang out, breathe, and move around slowly.

 

Spend time rehydrating! Coconut water has lots of great minerals and electrolytes that will help. Plains water works great, too. Eating a light, healthy meal after will also help revitalize your muscles.


Bikram yoga beginners need not be nervous about their first experience in a yoga studio. People of any fitness level can start today. If you’re looking for hot yoga in Miami, the instructors at Bikram Hot Yoga Miami are especially welcoming to beginners. Give us a call at 305-856-9922 to try out one of our locations around Miami today.