Bikram Yoga: How to Keep Cool in Class

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It may take a few years of consistent practice to get totally comfortable with the high temperature associated with Bikram Yoga (at a certain point, many “regulars” don’t even count the heat as a factor). But until that happens we’ve got tips to help you stay as cool, calm and collected as possible when the heat is on.

Fire Flames

#1: Don’t Overdress

Tight tops and tiny shorts may not make up your typical wardrobe but, when it comes to Bikram Yoga, the less clothing the better. While students are welcome to wear what they like to class (no shoes), baggy pants and long-sleeve shirts will likely make you feel hot and uncomfortable – and will prevent you from moving easily in and out of postures. If you feel self-conscious about showing too much skin, remember: besides being similarly dressed, your fellow yogis will be so focused on their own practice, they’ll barely notice your attire.

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#2: Hydrate Well

Proper hydration is paramount to practically every aspect of your practice. When it comes to dealing with the heat, drinking enough water before class and bringing adequate water into the hot room can help regulate your body temperature. We recommend taking small sips throughout class to avoid practising on a full stomach but, if you happen to run out of water during class, the teacher can refill it for you.

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#3: Quit Wiping

Sweating during Bikram Yoga is inevitable; our bodies do it in order to naturally regulate our core temperature. But it’s not the actual sweat itself that cools you down – it’s the process of perspiration evaporating from the surface of your skin. So, when you wipe the sweat away during class, you’re only preventing your body from doing what it needs to do to stay cool.

#4: Try to Stay in the Room

It may be tempting to leave halfway through class but doing so may make you more uncomfortable when you return. Leaving and re-entering the hot room can cause your body temperature to fluctuate, when the key is to keep it steady. Even if you need to sit out several postures – or lie on your yoga mat the entire time – it’s better to stay put and let your body adjust to the heat than flee and have to start all over again from scratch. However, if it’s an emergency (e.g., you are overheating and really need a chance to cool down), you may do so.

#5: Don’t Fidget

It’s simple really, like 1 + 1 = 2. When you fidget, wipe, scratch and wriggle around between postures, you’re exerting unnecessary energy (and thus increasing your core temperature) on movements not related to the yoga itself. And, what seems like a tiny amount of wasted energy here and there can go a long way to helping you get through a hot Bikram Yoga class – so stay still in-between postures and resist the urge to fidget!

#6: Choose a Cool Spot

The hope is that, eventually, you’ll be so comfortable with your practice that it won’t matter where in the room your yoga mat happens to land. Until you get to that point, though, you may want to consider coming to class early in order to snag a “cool” spot before someone else does. And there are several unofficial cool spots in each of our studios. Read our blog, talk to other students or, if the heat really gets to you, ask the teacher or front-desk staff to recommend a spot that benefits from a little extra air.

#7: Shift Your Focus

The more you focus on the heat, the more uncomfortable you’ll feel in class. Though it may be hard to put the high temperature out of your mind during your first few Bikram Yoga classes, after about a week you should be able to shift your thoughts elsewhere – say, to your postures. If you find it difficult to control your “monkey mind,” consider practising close to the mirror in order to give yourself something else to concentrate on.

#8: Tell the Teacher

With temperatures fluctuating slightly throughout the room and from class to class, it can be hard for even the most experienced Bikram Yoga teacher to tell how the heat truly feels to students. At Bikram Yoga Vancouver we value your opinion about the heat; if you ever feel that it is too hot in class, please let the teacher know. He or she will be able to check the thermostat and make adjustments to ensure the temperature is just right.

#9: Consider the Benefits

You may not like the heat but keeping in mind the many benefits it brings to your body can help you learn to accept it. Among the pros of a hot yoga studio: greater flexibility, weight loss, detoxification and quicker, better results. What’s not to love?

#10: Practise Often

The more frequently you come to class the less time it will take for you to acclimatize to the heat. With enough hours logged in the hot room, you’ll soon be one of those regulars we mentioned earlier who don’t give the temperature a second thought!

Got more tips on keeping cool in the hot room? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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