Thursday, January 10, 2013

A little note about Bikram practitioners or people considering starting...take heed

First off I want to post a disclaimer that says that I am not a Bikram instructor, this is not about anyone specific in class or any specific Bikram studio and these opinions are my own as a practitioner (which I’ve been for going no 3 years now). Ok, now that’s out of the way we can get down to business.

I know that as the new year dawns, most people will look to new activities to get in shape and Bikram Yoga seems to be getting ever more popular. That’s great! As a Bikram practitioner I can tell you that Bikram Yoga is a fantastic way to keep your body in shape with no impact on the joints and a great way to lose weight too! An average session can burn anywhere from 700-1000 calories depending on the person!!! But…if you’re going to start doing Bikram there’s a few thing you need to know and be prepared for…

The room is hot, 105 degrees with a humidity of 40%...and the room smells…GET OVER IT!!! I get so tired of people complaining about the heat and smell. It’s a hot room and you is a WORKOUT after all. If you can’t deal with that, please stay home and do your “Carmen Electra Does Stripper Yoga” DVD. And...YES, its the SAME 26 postures every session.

Bikram says (yes, Bikram Yoga is named after the man that created it, Bikram Choudhury) you bring the best “you” you can to the practice. That best “you” is to try the best you can during the practice. If you’re gonna half-ass your effort, then stay home. In my opinion you disrespect Bikram, the teacher and the rest of us busting our butts in class.

Now, a couple things to keep in mind:
- Eat during the day before class. You wouldn’t go for 90 minute run without fueling would you? Well, this is the same thing.
- Drink during the day before class. See above! Drinking during class and after will not help you DURING the class. Make sure you’re drinking all day and remember to drink after. You did just sweat for 90 minutes! There is one “official” drink break but you’re welcome to drink water throughout the class.
- If you are new to Bikram DO NOT sit at the front of class, in front of the mirror. Why? Because no one is going to hand hold you through the poses and/or tell you how to do them. The onus is on you to LISTEN to the instructor and WATCH your fellow practitioners to see how the poses are done. You can’t do that from the front of the room and all you’ll be is a distraction to the rest of the class.
- The teacher will talk the entire time (a great teacher will be engaging and funny not just recite the Bikram “script”)! That is on purpose. It’s meant for you to not “think” and just “listen” and execute the poses to the best of your abilities
- Quit moving around or fidgeting. Bikram Yoga is all about your focus. Moving around is an easy way to break your focus and meditation and more importantly…EVERYONE else’s. If you can’t do a pose or need to take a break, lay down on your mat in dead body pose or “savasna”. THAT is the acceptable thing to do…pacing around your mat or talking to the person beside you is not.
- Speaking of talking, you may like to chat on a run or at the gym between sets but proper etiquette during your practice is the teacher is the only one talking. And…how can you focus on doing the postures if you’re talking.
- Along the same lines…DO NOT leave the room (unless it’s an emergency). If you need to take a break, lay down on your mat. Your coming and going in and out of the room is poor etiquette and rude but very distracting to the teacher and your fellow students. Who can find their center and focus with someone walking out of the room every 10 minutes?!
My Yogi Maria...she's awesomesauce!
- This is a pet peeve of will hear the term “cobra tail” during your practice. That refers to your legs being together from the hips to the knees to the ankles to the toes…get it?! So your lower body looks like a snake. If they are not, then you’re doing it wrong. There is nothing worse than me trying to focus on keeping my legs solid and look up to see the person in front of me spread eagle (the same annoyance applies to hands not intertwined correctly, bent knees and bent arms)!
- Don't get disheartened if you cant do the postures like they're "supposed" to look. Your workout comes from trying to make your postures better each and every practice. You'll get there eventually...I promise.
- At the end of the practice, don’t just hop right up and run out of the room. The purpose of the last Savasna is to allow you to recover from the practice, compose yourself and center your focus. Supposedly Bikram has been known to say “that if you don’t relax for 2 minutes after final breathing, it’s like taking a poop and not wiping your butt”. Graphic? Yes, but couldn’t be more true!

These points aren’t meant to scare you off from Bikram Yoga or make you think you’re not welcome at a practice. It’s meant for you to be informed and not show up to class and be known as “that guy/girl” who is the distraction. A little thought before you walk in the door will pay you dividends subsequently help the people who are practicing around you. Namaste.


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  2. Yay Bikram! A couple more pointers for anyone new to the practice:

    - Wear as little clothing as you feel comfortable in. You will be sweating buckets whether you wear pants and a long-sleeve shirt (definitely not recommended) or a bikini (some women's yoga clothes could double for a bikini)..

    - If you are going to be in the front row of the room (after you've gotten some classes under your belt), make sure you're not blocking anyone who may have set his/her mat down behind you. It helps immensely when you can see yourself in the mirror so don't be 'that guy' that totally blocks someone from the mirror.

    - If you can't get into the posture, go as far as you can. Most of the poses have Part A, Part B, Part C, etc. If you can't make it to Part C, then you stay in Part B. It doesn't matter that you look different from everyone else in the class - you work on Part B until you can get into Part C without straining and hurting yourself (and while breathing through your nose the entire time). The best thing to do is just listen to the instructor and stop when you can't go further into a pose.

    And ps - the studio I go to doesn't have too much of a funky smell :) It just depends on how often they clean the rugs and if they spay any essential oils in the room.

  3. Great point Katie! Thanks for adding!

  4. Some good advice, but dude, you really have a lot more to transcend in that room. You might want to try focusing on yourself in the mirror instead of those who are annoying you. I also find it helpful not to look past the border of my towel. Bikram also says, "Don't let anyone steal your peace." The word "let" is key. If you want to make your world a better place, invite the people who annoy you most to yoga.

  5. Wow! Well I have to say I'm a little upset about the responses both here and on the link from my FB page. By no means did I ever say that beginners should not come to Bikram. As a matter if fact I have NUMEROUS times on both my FB page and blog that Bikram yoga is life changing (for the better) and EVERYONE should try it. That post was about not only having an idea about what's going in during a practice to be informed but about being RESPECTFUL of the other practitioners in the room. Being considerate and not talking or getting up and leaving is no different than failure to yield space to a fellow runner or cyclist on the road. Any of you that actually know me know that i have insane focus to train through pain and injury and concentrate on the task at hand but I'm only human. Anyone can get bothered by people's action during a practice, even Bikram has said that. The points I have brought up are not only my thoughts but the things I've heard from fellow students and even teachers. I wish someone had taken the time to tell me that kind of stuff in order to give me a better idea of what was going on at my first session. I guess maybe I should've made it more touchy feely....but if you KNOW me or actually take the time to see the other things I've written you'd know that I'm not touchy feely.

  6. I've practiced Bikram before but it has been some time since my last class - thanks for these reminders!


  7. If it was my feedback that upset you, maybe I should have been more touchy feely in how I gave it. But like you, I'm a straight shooter. On occasion, I'm also touchy feely which is why I picked up on the rant quality to your piece, and what came across to me anyway, as a clear underlying annoyance with some practitioners who are on a different stage of their journey than you. The piece might work better if you’re trying to write a rant, but based on your response to the responses, I don't think that's what you were going for. Your etiquette tips were great and I too would have enjoyed knowing them before my first class. I'm also a Bikram missionary. Like you, Bikram yoga has changed my life and so I feel morally obligated to invite people who cross my path to yoga. Naturally, I'm gonna call you out on the "If you're going to do ______, stay at home." Goes against my fundamental belief that Bikram yoga can help everyone, even those who do _________. And whatever _____ is, I believe Bikram yoga can help people stop or reduce doing it. I saw Bikram lecture once. Shortly after instructing us not to let anyone steal our peace, he gave his peace away during the Q&A when someone complained about the "stinky" carpets. So we're all in the same boat, brother. We’re all trying to learn lessons in the room that we can carry outside the room. It’s just feedback. When you put something out there, you’re going to get it. If you think it doesn’t apply, ignore it. If you'd like to chat further offline regarding this, please feel free to email me at Namaste.

  8. bikram yoga is a series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises so it's natural and very helpful to keep good our mind,skin and body.