What’s the deal with Bikram?
A few tips to get by in the hot hot world of Bikram Yoga.
Hey (hopefully) guys and (probably) girls. Guess what I have been up too of late … eating cake… oh, and Bikram Yoga!
Like those of you who haven’t visited a private yoga studio before (let alone a Bikram Yoga studio) the idea of going feels similar to the idea of going to a new dentist or hairdresser – invasive, judgemental and expensive!
As a fitness kinda gal, I of course have done yoga classes before. Mostly with my gorgeous, ever so talented friend Danielle Willemsen. (https://www.instagram.com/dellewills/)
I have been spoilt.
Danielle uses her depth of knowledge in yoga, pilates and general health and fitness to make her classes the perfect balance for the gym setting. She gives a little bit of spiritual information without alienating anyone with the spirituality of a tea spoon. She intertwines pilates to ensure that her yoga practise improves strength as a main feature. Most impressive to me, she gives everyone in the class what they really need, she knows that modern life can leave London hunch backed, immobile, digestively challenged and stressed.
So with my love of yoga being nurtured by Danielle, I wanted to try Bikram. A lot of friends have sworn by it and I was curious. When I saw that Hot Yoga Society had a brilliant offer on I decided to bite the bullet and go.
My first session was interesting to say the least, I wish I had looked up anything about Bikram Yoga before hand. Most importantly, that it is a standardised practise that focuses on 26 postures that are deemed essential for a healthy, functional body. Instructors all over the world use the same structure, language and pace in-line with the set core principles. Now the idea of doing the same thing repeatedly is pretty unappealing to me. HOWEVER, now that I have done it, I feel it’s kinda genius.
ALWAYS BE PREPARED
Eat around 2 hours before hand and drink lots of water before you go. If you are really hydrated, you should be able to make it through the class without reaching for your bottle every 5 mins. Make sure you eat something you know, A. will go down well B. doesn’t smell C. won’t have any digestive repercussions. Having a dodgy tummy or worse needing to toot in a hot yoga class is possible one of the most soul destroying experiences.
A light body spray to spritz on before hand*
2 towels – one for class, one for shower**
Moisturiser – after your shower your skin will be so so so thirsty
Deo – you will continue to sweat for most of the day afterwards
A wet bag– for your wet kit. It will be wet!***
A total change of undies and bra
DOES MY BUM LOOK BIG IN THIS?
Choose something you are comfortable in and flash the flesh if you can. I have some lovely, really high waist cycling shorts from gap. I feel comfortable knowing that my lower tummy squish is hidden but they are really short so my legs feel free. I also wear a sports bra that won’t give up on me once it’s soaking wet.
There is a really awesome, unspoken rule at Bikram where no one gives a hoot about what you are wearing. I have done a workout next to a man in speedos before. It’s a totally judgement free zone. The only people I kinda question are the ladies wearing full leggings and a t-shirt – mostly because i don’t know how they are alive.
SWEAT BABY, SWEAT BABY
This is a piece of info I read in another article and it’s really important and true. Try not to wipe your face, or body! The sweat/condensation will be pouring but do not dry your skin. The sweat is there to help cool the skin’s surface and by wiping it your are almost making yourself hotter. Your body will then have to make more sweat. Just let it fall to the floor, in your ears and up your nose. It’s unpleasant but you get used to it.
There are breathing exercises. It is weird at first – go with it. One day the penny will drop, the fog will lift and you will be Haaaaaaaaaaagh-ing with the best of them! That’s all.
FOCUS ON YOU
The instructors don’t demonstrate the movements so you really have to focus on the instructions they give. Have a peep at the person next to you if you’re stuck, just don’t be surprised if they don’t give you a smile and ask where your cute sports towel is from***. Everyone is in the room for themselves – their practise, their own self love. As a chatter box and avid friend maker, I found this sad and disconcerting at first. However, it actually has given me the freedom to focus on myself for a change and also not to care what anyone else thinks. Nobody else cares what you think of them.
ONCE, TWICE, THREE TIMES A YOGI
Another really important one – The first time sucks. Beginners luck is rare. The heat, the pace, the sweat, the vibe, the whole thing was not fun for me the first time I went. I actually left the class early (a hang-able offence apparently) and wasn’t exactly looking forward to going again. It was all so alien and pressure filled because it was new to me. However, I paid for my 20 days and God damn I am gonna use them. I have now been back three times. Granted, not to do a full 90 min Bikram practise but I have found the 60 min class bearable and all of the ‘warm’ classes totally amazing. Stick with it! By session 3,4,5 you will fall in love. Its really addictive and the high you feel afterwards is really something.
YOGA WITH BENEFITS.
Take some time to familiarise yourself with the benefits. I think holding the benefits of any exercise in your mind whilst doing it makes it all the more enjoyable.
Full article: http://yoganonymous.com/eight-benefits-of-hot-yoga/
This heat is amazing and comforting to be in once your used to it. I can’t wait for winter to come around as I can see that Hot Yoga Society will be my sanctuary from the cold and from illness. But I am a keen multi tasker! I like to chuck an offensive amount of coconut oil into your hair and top knot the whole situation. Hair mask time.
GET IN, GET DOWN, GET OUT
I have found that the studio isn’t the friendliest place in the world. I have considered that I spend a lot of time in high energy, fun places like the YMCA and Danceworks. I am not used to the calm, relaxed, inward atmosphere and I automatically read this as rudeness. It isn’t. People are there to practise some self love, and not everyone wants to bond over how much inner boob sweat they are experiencing or the fact their thong has all but disintegrated. Don’t get me wrong, everyone there is lovely and if you ask for help or offer a smile, everyone will generously give. Peace and love are of course the laws of the land, however, it is a place of reflection and inward focus so don’t be surprised if you don’t make heaps of friends straight off the bat. I imagine that with time I will get a few ‘hello’ friends and even have a little giggle at the back of the class.
Before writing this blog I was lucky enough to speak to Olga Allon the director of Hot Yoga Society on the phone. It was awesome to hear her take on the Bikram movement. We talked at length about the struggle to ditch the cliquey image that yoga studios have. It’s ridiculous really because the whole practise is about acceptance and kindness to everyone. The idea that yoga can be so wildly beneficial for everyone mentally, emotionally and physically screams that as a community we should be crying out for people to join in and not pushing people away.
Olga has big plans to create an even more inclusive and welcoming studio in the next six months, with incentives and more offers to come. Keep an eye on the website and Instagram for details.
I am a now a reformed Bikram scaredy-cat and would recommend it to anyone who asked me.