I have to admit I love hot yoga so much so that I have cancelled dinner or parties just so I could attend a session, or woken up at the early hour of 5am to make it to the 6am yoga class in my neighborhood. Believe me once you try it yourself not just once but several tries, you’ll understand how I feel. You will love it. You just have to get past hating it first.
This month I have decided to embark for my 3rd 30 days hot yoga challenge of the year. Yes another 30days hot yoga challenge. Why ? Because I love the intense heat, it makes my body supple and flexible; calmness, tone muscle, amazing glow skin and more focus are a daily bonus. If you familiarize yourself with the process below, you’ll be well-equipped to survive and thrive and grow to love the practice. Be prepared for the following ups and downs:
(Almost) Unbearable Heat. Bikram or Beaches hot yoga is a series of 26 yoga postures and two breathing exercises, done in an extremely hot room – heated up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, to be exact. It is not your typical yoga class. It is a sweat-inducing like buckets of dripping sweat, heart-pumping, really, really hot. To deal with the heat, it is advisable to drink plenty of fluids before and after class, and rehydrate with an electrolyte-rich drink like Vitamin Water. Another favorite refreshment is natural coconut water, which you can buy in packs by brands like Zico and Vita Coco.
Practicing in a heated room has multiple benefits, such as increased flexibility and help in flushing toxins out of the body. But I really started practicing Bikram because of a muscle pain I had after running a half marathon.
Envy and Comparison. As soon as you walk in the yoga room, you will notice the instructors and some of the other practitioners with supple, toned bodies, bending and stretching seemingly without effort. Ignore them. You have to remember that achieving a perfect posture takes weeks, months, even years, and that those seemingly perfect yogis all work really hard for it. If they can do it, so can you. And stop thinking about your new yoga top, or how good/bad you think you look in it. Other people are ignoring you too, anyway. Yoga is a non-competitive sport (you’re only competing with yourself) so do not compare yourself to others; focus instead on your own progress. You might also start comparing Bikram to other yoga practices, especially if you’ve been loyal to one. But keep in mind choosing and sticking to a yoga style is a very personal decision; at the end of the day, you are practicing yoga for your own self, not for other people.
Exhaustion. It’s true, each posture is hard work. You will be extremely tired, but you just have to keep trying and exerting your best effort. However, it is also very important to listen to your own body. If you are feeling too dizzy and light-headed, it’s okay to kneel or lie down until you feel more balanced. During my first couple of Bikram yoga classes, I felt like I was about to pass out in class. I didn’t. I simply sat on my mat until I felt better. Eventually, I learned when to push myself and when to take a break.
Hatred. At one point during class, you will begin to hate Bikram yoga. You will hate yourself for this self-inflicted torture. You will hate the instructor for not letting you go out of the room (“just sit on your mat, trust me you will feel better”), for correcting each mistake you make, or for encouraging you to keep trying to stretch-stretch-stretch, using catch-phrases like “you have Bengal tiger strength” or “English Bulldog determination”. Then, you will have a sudden reversal of feelings. You will think that the yoga instructor – who, just minutes ago, you were convinced is the devil incarnate for making you suffer like this – is actually an angel, when he or she cracks open a window or door to let in some fresh, cold, wonderful air. And you will love him or her during those few seconds of savasana, or dead body pose, where you lie completely still…
Bliss. Ahhhhhhh, now THIS is the point of practicing Bikram yoga. After each class, you will feel energized, revitalized, balanced, and powerful. By the end of a class session you’ll have worked every muscle, tendon, joint, ligament, internal organ, and gland while systematically moving fresh, oxygenated blood to 100% of the body. The result is restoration of health to all systems.“The more you do it, the more you want to come back.”
After just a few regular sessions, I promise you, your skin will be clearer, you’ll feel more energetic, you’ll be able to sleep better; there will be noticeable changes in your body. Bikram yoga will aid with weight loss, healing and repair of injuries, and best of all, peace of mind. Pretty soon you’ll be craving that blissful feeling more and more. Inspired by chocolat.
Have a great session and namaste.