Why You Should Try Bikram Yoga

If you perform the most rudimentary of internet searches, you can find out what a Bikram yoga class entails. It’s a 90 minute class of 26 poses, worked through in a group, as close to in unison as possible (this never happens in a normal class), in a room heated to a humid 105 degrees.

Sounds daunting.

But really, it’s not. And while it’s probably not for everyone as a daily workout, it’s a totally doable and wonderful activity to work in to your fitness routine a couple times a week for a few reasons:

  • It’s easy on the joints. If you normally do a workout that is hard on your knees and hips, Bikram is a great way to gift them a rest and while also conditioning them for further abuse. 
  • Once you spend 90 minutes exerting yourself in a 105 degree room, every other activity you do will seem 110% easier. You’ll sail through tough weight workouts or tennis at noon in the middle of July.
  • No cell phones. If you’re like me, your iPod is also your iPhone and even when you’re at the gym you’re still plugged into the outside world. If you have a hard time getting away from everything to let your mind settle and rest, then Bikram is a very good way to make you do that. Your brain will thank you.
  • Sweating makes you pretty. It does. Look it up.
  • You do NOT have to be a human pretzel to do any of the Bikram poses. Most of the poses are customizable, but aside from that, Bikram is a practice where being strong will help you progress far faster than being flexible. Not that it’s about progressing quickly, but who doesn’t like accomplishing things?
  • The room isn’t that hot. Teachers don’t want people to faint or even worse, leave the room, so they pay close attention to how the class is doing. Between you and me, I don’t think I’ve ever taken a class that was above 102 degrees. Except for my very first class, which brings me to my next point.
  • When you are new, you can always ask the instructor where the cool spots are in the room, usually by windows or doors that get opened during class, those few moments of relief can be like shots of adrenaline to help you psychologically get through tough moments in class.
  • Yes, there will be tough moments. You may feel anxious, panicky, nauseous, and claustrophobic at times during your first few classes. There are ways to deal with that, put yourself in a cool spot, sit down and breathe quietly through your nose, and most importantly, stay out of packed classes until you are totally comfortable with the heat. Those negative feelings aren’t signs of impending death, they are symptoms of trying something new and difficult and they happened to almost every single new Bikram practitioner during their first classes. They still happen to me sometimes when I’m not taking great care of myself or going through something emotionally difficult.
  • Finally, Bikram is a great place to talk to yourself. You can’t hide in the heat. You’re working too hard to have the energy to lie to yourself, so it’s a good environment for working out problems.

Now that you’ve heard about some of the benefits, here are some tips to get you to and through your first class.

But first a little inspiration

Bikram 3You can totally do this!


  • Drink twice as much water as you normally do before you take your first class, but stop an hour before class. There is NO leaving the room during class, so you need to be able to go 90 min. with out needing to hit the restroom. Plan accordingly.
  • Eat well. Seriously. Pack in the plants, lots of protein, carbs. Your first Bikram class day and your McDonalds splurge day should NOT be the same day. But DO get some salt and sugar into your system about an hour before class.
  • Wear as little clothing as you feel comfortable wearing. If you can avoid it, do NOT wear cotton. You will be sweating like you never sweat before, you need clothing that will let you move while you are literally dripping wet. No one will be looking at you if you show up half naked. You will get stares if you show up in long pants and a cotton t-shirt.
  • Bring clothes to shower and change into. Eventually you’ll be fine with stumbling out of the studio a sweaty mess, but most people are shocked by their state of being at the end of their first class. You’ll need that shower.
  • Bring your yoga mat, if you have one, and a water bottle, but if you don’t almost all Bikram have mats and towels for rent and water to purchase.
  • When you sit or lie down in class you always face the instructor or point your head at the instructor. Pointing your feet at the instructor is disrespectful and if you are trying to fly below the radar as a newbie, it’ll up your jig.
  • Do NOT leave the room your first class. You will want to. 85% of the atoms in your body will be screaming for you to sprint for the exit. They are lying. Just sit down and breathe until they and you calm down. Bikram is 90% fighting your own flight response. It’s just a little heat. You can take it.

I hope this gets some of you excited to try out your first Bikram class! If any of the other practitioners have any tips that I overlooked, please share them in the comments!

(Images: Flickr, Flickr)

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