A guide to getting through your first Bikram class
Yoga. It isn’t easy at the best of times but when you throw a 40 degree (or thereabouts) room into the mix, you’ve got yourself a seriously, sweaty challenge. Don’t be deterred by the temps. A Bikram class can be a beautiful, spiritual and cleansing experience and it’s certainly worth giving one a go. We spoke to Scott Valentine, owner of Pure Bikram Yoga and he shared his advice for your first time.
When you first step into the hot room, we’ll be honest; it can be slightly overwhelming (it’s around 40 degrees in there after all). The best thing to do is to stay calm. As the class progresses make a conscious effort to embrace the heat, allow yourself to relax and breathe through your nose, not your mouth. “The best thing is to stay with the class, you can sit down or lay down when needed. You are still practicing yoga even when you need to take breaks as the heat alone is one of the greatest benefits of this practice, the heat will allow your muscles to open up, relax and give your body and mind the time to adjust,” says Valentine. If you need to lie down, take a few deep breaths and only continue when you feel recovered.
Going into your first class well hydrated will make all the difference. Aim for 2-3 litres the night before and in the hours leading up to the class. It’s best to not drink a whole lot in the 30 minutes before you start so put the bottle down until you get in there. “You don’t want to be practicing on a belly full of water, you will be moving and squeezing your core throughout the class so it could make you nauseous,” explains Valentine. He also advises participants to sip rather than scull back your water.
An insider’s tip from the WF crew, freeze your water bottle overnight before the class. Room temperature water will go hot in no time inside the room but a frozen bottle will defrost while you hit your poses. Thank us later.
Don’t expect to nail it
Getting our head to our knee? Yeah, we can’t do that. Don’t worry! You aren’t meant to perfect every move in your first class. In fact, many would say you will never stop improving every posture. Take it easy, work within your limits and ease off at the slightest feeling of pain.
Time your meal
“It’s important that you have digested your last meal fully, so keep it light and avoid things like sushi and dairy,” says Valentine. To stay on the safe side, it’s best not to eat within two hours prior to your class. A meal relatively high in carbs and sodium 2-3 hours beforehand will help boost your energy and electrolyte levels.
Skip the towel
As you start to sweat it’s tempting to go straight for your towel to dry yourself off. There’s no need. Sweating is part of the process, wiping it away inhibits your body from cooling down. When you look around you’ll see everybody else embracing the sweat too. While we’re on the topic of towels, make sure to bring two. One towel for your mat and the other for a shower afterwards.
Be on time
Being late to any fitness class is poor etiquette but at a Bikram class, often the door is locked after the class starts. “Doors usually open 30 minutes prior to class so we recommend newbies turn up at least 20 minutes early to fill out paperwork, get changed and grab a good spot in the room. Take the time before class to lay down and acclimatise to the heated environment,” suggests Valentine.