TOP TIPS For FIRST-TIMERS
Whether you’re a few classes deep or thinking of trying Bikram Yoga for the very first time, some of BYV’s most consistent and longtime students want to help you get in the swing of things. Here are their top tips for your early days in the hot room:
> Hydrate before class. Waiting until you get to class to guzzle water isn’t the best idea. You’ll feel better – and do better – in the hot room if you take the time to hydrate in the hours leading up to class.
> Eat, but not too much. You’ll need strength and energy for your first Bikram Yoga session, so make sure you’ve eaten enough during the day to fuel you through your class. What you definitely shouldn’t do, though, is eat anything heavy (or anything at all) immediately before you step into the hot room. Too much (or the wrong kind of) food in your belly will likely make class very uncomfortable.
> Wear the right duds. You don’t need a fancy outfit to do Bikram Yoga, but you do need to dress appropriately for the heat and the postures. Form-fitting clothing that’s lightweight and breathable and won’t hinder your movement is best and, if you want to stay as cool as possible, skip the long pants and opt for shorts instead.
> Get to the studio early. This tip is for true first-timers. Class may start at 4 p.m. sharp, but you’ll want to arrive at least 30 minutes before that to fill out the necessary paperwork, get oriented and ask any last-minute questions you may have.
> Let ’em know you’re new. Some beginners may be too shy to take this step – but it’s worth it! The teacher is there to help you and, if he or she knows you’re new (and knows your name), will be able to give you the best first experience possible.
> Ask where the “cool” spot is. Once you’re a seasoned pro (a.k.a., used to the heat) it won’t matter where in the room you practice. But, for your first few times, it may be best to set up under a fan or by a (drafty) door so you can better concentrate on the teacher’s instructions (rather than on how hot and sweaty you feel).
> Observe the etiquette. Every Bikram Yoga studio has its own set of rules; some ask you to take your shoes off at the door and others may require you to hang up your own rented mat after class. In general, though, etiquette will require you to stay barefoot and silent inside the hot room; if you’re not sure about other rules, ask.
> Shed all expectations. Even top athletes can find their first Bikram Yoga class tough. Go in without any goals in mind but to listen to the teacher and do your very best. In fact, many regulars we talked to suggested your first class have only one objective: to stay in the room for the entire 90 minutes.
> Stay in the room. Is there an echo in here? Either way, this is important advice – important enough to repeat! If you’re feeling overheated and/or overwhelmed, it will probably be very tempting to just get up and leave. Don’t. You’ll get used to the heat and intensity more quickly if you give your body a chance to acclimate.
> Breathe. It may take a few classes for this tip to fully sink in, but eventually you’ll come to learn that your breath truly is the most important part of your Bikram Yoga practice. If at any point you feel yourself struggling in a posture, try your best to relax and put the focus back on your breath … it will help you through.
> Listen to your body. A Bikram Yoga class is, by its very nature, intense – you’ll hear the teacher saying things like “push, push, push” and “go somewhere new” often. And while you’re fully encouraged to take each posture to its max, it’s equally – if not more – important to do so while keeping your current personal edge in mind. If you push yourself beyond your physical limits, your body will respond – often negatively and, perhaps, with pain. And that’s something you definitely don’t want.
> Take breaks. There’s no shame needing a breather, even if everyone else in class seems to be doing just fine. Never compare yourself to anyone else and take as many (or as few) breaks as you like. Kneeling during the standing series or laying on your back in the floor series can do a world of good – get back up and back into class when you’re ready.
> Stay for final savasana. Once the breathing exercise is over, it may feel like class is done. But the last savasana, where you lay on your back in stillness and silence, is perhaps the most important posture of all, giving you a chance to rest, recover and reap all the benefits of the last 90 minutes. Stay for at least five minutes – and enjoy!
> Rehydrate and refuel. Taking care of yourself after class is just as important as prepping before. Drink plenty of water and chug something with electrolytes, to replace what you’ve lost. Eat a light, healthy meal. And, hey, have dessert, too, if you feel like it. You’ve earned it!
> Come back tomorrow. You’ll probably hear the teacher say this at the end of class (and you’ll probably hear yourself think, “Yeah, right,” in response) – but it’s true, especially in your first week. Just like any new activity you try, the more often you do it, the better. Bikram Yoga is no different, so head back to the studio as soon as you can!