Bikram Yoga 101


bikram2On Mother’s Day of this year I went to my first Bikram Yoga class. I have obsessed about trying Bikram for years. I have spent hours looking at the poses online and reading about the benefits of Bikram. I never went because I was afraid I would die. I hate being hot and I do not do well when overheated.

Bikram Yoga is performed in a room heated to 105 degrees, with 40% humidity pumped in. There are 26 postures and each posture is held for a minumum of 10 seconds, up to 1 minute for some postures.

A friend and fellow blogger, The Missus, has been doing Bikram for years. I have lived vicariously through her blog posts about her practice, wishing I could give it a try. I remember when she posted about doing a “30 Day Bikram Challenge” I thought she was totally insane. That is, until she did a “101 Day Bikram Challenge” this past Spring. She is actually going to the Bikram Yoga Teacher Training this fall in San Diego. I am so excited for her!

When another friend told me that the Bikram studio near me, Yoga For You, was allowing “moms” to practice for free on Mother’s Day, I decided it was high time I give it a try. It’s official. I am now a convert. Addicted. I love it.

Yesterday (Saturday) I completed my 8th class.Yes, this isn’t by any means a HUGE number… but hey, baby steps. This whole process has been huge for me. I cannot accurately describe how much I hate the heat. So the fact that I’m getting there… even on hot summer days (like yesterday) is a miracle.

Going to these classes has been so inspirational to me, that I’ve decided I want to include my experiences in my blog. I have seen changes in my body already. I am able to tolerate the heat better. I am able to do poses I wasn’t able to during the first few classes (like Ustrasana, also known as camel pose). I will write more about all of this later.

I hope you find these posts informative and interesting and that they inspire you to give Bikram a try yourself!

bikram

So, to answer a few common questions…

NOTE: The answers to the first three questons were taken directly off the official Bikram Yoga site.

What is Bikram Yoga?

Bikram Yoga is the 26 postures sequence selected and developed by Bikram Choudhury from Hatha Yoga.

It has been proved and experienced by millions that these 26 postures systematically work every part of the body, to give all the internal organs, all the veins, all the ligaments, and all the muscles everything they need to maintain optimum health and maximum function.  Each component takes care of something different in the body, and yet they all work together synergistically, contributing to the success of every other one, and extending its benefits.”

Why do you do the same 26 postures EVERY time?

Bikram Yoga’s twenty-six posture exercises systematically move fresh, oxygenated blood to one hundred percent of your body, to each organ and fiber, restoring all systems to healthy working order, just as Nature intended. Proper weight, muscle tone, vibrant good health, and a sense of well being will automatically follow.

Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class is a twenty-six asana series designed to scientifically warm and stretch muscles, ligaments and tendons, in the order in which they should be stretched.

Why 105 degrees? Are you nuts???

Yoga changes the construction of the body from the inside out, from bones to skin and from fingertips to toes. So before you change it, you have to heat it up to soften it, because a warm body is a flexible body. Then you can reshape the body any way you want.

Hatha Yoga flushes away the waste products, the toxins of all the glands and organs of your body. It provides a natural irrigation of the body through the circulatory system, with the help of the respiratory system. It brings nourishments to every cell of your body so that each one can perform its function and keep your body healthy. Bikram Yoga also employs heat to further that cleaning process: When you sweat, impurities are flushed out of the body through the skin.

Practicing yoga not only increases our supplies of oxygen, but it also teaches us how to use that oxygen properly – we learn to control the breath through pranayama.”

What else should I know the first time I go?

This is my opinion and my opinion only!!! But here you go:

  • You will be overwhelmed when you first walk into the room and feel the heat and humidity slap you in the face. Suck it up… it’s not as bad as it seems and you WILL begin to get used to it.
  • Bring a towel for your mat and also a hand towel to wipe the sweat from your face. You will sweat more than you ever have before in your life.
  • BRING WATER. Make sure it’s cold. It will get warm very quickly… so I suggested adding ice to it.
  • Do not wear any jewelry. It will just get in the way.
  • Be prepared to see things you do no want to see. Like 70+ year old men in tiny little shorts and no tops and/or 70+ yo women in sports bras! Fun! 😉
  • The rooms smells. Bad. Not at first, but as you start to do the poses that bring your face closer to the carpet floor, you’ll see what I mean.
  • The floor is carpeted. It gets saturated in other people’s sweat. It needs to be carpeted or else you would slip and break your  neck.
  • It will be very hard. And your heart rate will become elevated. Take it easy. Only do what you can, but do it the right way. Don’t try to modify the pose without an instructors help. Doing it the right way, if only 5% of the pose, is better than doing it the wrong way.
  • The class is 90 minutes long, which sounds scary, but will go surprisingly fast.
  • Once you hit the first Savasana (dead body pose), you’ve made it half way through and you’ll be on the floor the rest of the pratice! Woo hoo!!!
  • The most extraoridnary feeling is when you walk out of the studio (once done) and feel the cool air hit your body. Ahhh.
  • It will be rewarding. You will feel amazing after. You will be so proud of yourself for surving the class. You will want to go back!

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