This post first appeared on my blog in 2014, but I decided to post it again as we head into the New Year. Is 2016 the year you take your first Bikram Yoga class?
Everyone remembers his or her first Bikram Yoga class! And for good reason! It can be overwhelming, unfamiliar and a bit scary! But don’t be disheartened. Follow these easy tips to make sure your first class is as positive an experience as possible. And don’t be discouraged if it is tough. It should be tough! For many of us, it is the first time we have worked so deeply into our bodies. Plus, it’s 105 degrees in there!
Please don’t be scared off! You can read about my first class here. It was challenging, yet inspiring, and I am so grateful for it, because it led me to this wonderful practice that I have now enjoyed for five years. Here are my tips for a great first Bikram Yoga Class. Enjoy!
HOTM’s Tips For A Great First Bikram Yoga Class
- Hydrate in advance: Drink plenty of water the day before class, particularly the night before class. It takes a while for your body to absorb the water so binge drinking right before class won’t work. Plus, it will leave a puddle of water in your stomach that doesn’t feel so good during class.
- Bring a bottle of water with you: Or buy one at the studio. There is no drinking in class for the first 25 minutes, but after that, you will enjoy having water to drink during class. Limit your drinking to between postures for the benefit of your fellow yogis.
- Wear sweat-wicking workout clothes: You don’t have to look like a pro your first day, but sweat-wicking clothing will keep you more comfortable with all the sweat. Keep in mind, your clothes will be soaking wet by the end of class. Cotton is a problem since it absorbs the sweat and can weigh you down.
- Don’t eat a big meal for two hours prior to class: The last thing you need is a lot of food sitting in your stomach during class. A light nibble is ok if the timing just works out that way, but keep it light – toast or a granola bar.
- Don’t use hand cream before class: OK, I know this sounds like a crazy one, but you will thank me. Hand cream will make your hands slippery and that will make it harder to maintain a good grip during the postures.
- Don’t expect too much of yourself: The class will be hard, so don’t expect to come out of the gate as a pro, no matter your fitness level. Exercising in the heat is a new experience. And most people will not have sweat this much before. Be willing to try your best and take it as it comes.
- Set up in a cooler spot in the room: Each Bikram Yoga room has its own unique heat profile. Don’t be shy about asking the teacher to point out a cooler spot for your first day. You won’t regret it.
- Set up in the back so you can watch other yogis: Bikram Yoga teachers do not demonstrate postures, so it will be helpful to have some more experienced yogis in front of you to use as a visual guide.
- Bring an open mind: Some parts of the class may be outside your comfort zone, but bring an open mind to it. I personally found the opening breathing exercise to be a bit strange for at least 6 months, but I stuck with it, and now I really enjoy that part of the warmup. Listen with an open mind to the dialogue and to any specific guidance you get from the teacher. S/he is there because s/he loves practicing Bikram Yoga, and wants you to have a good experience.
- Have fun! Hey, it’s just yoga. Make sure you enjoy the experience and try to keep it all in perspective. Sit down on the mat and take a break if you need to. No big deal. Who knows, maybe five years from now you will be writing your own tips for a great first Bikram Yoga class on your Bikram Yoga blog. I certainly did not expect to be doing this when I first walked into the hot room…
Fellow yogis, what tips do you have for a great first class?