Bikram yoga is a form of yoga practiced in hot and humid environments. This style of yoga consists of a sequence of 26 postures, each one held for a specific amount of time. It’s designed to stimulate and revitalize the body from the inside out. By combining stretching and aerobic exercises, it provides improved flexibility, strength, balance and coordination in both the mind and body.
Before partaking in Bikram Yoga, it is important to adequately prepare oneself for this demanding style of exercise. To get the most out of this yoga practice, there are several pre-exercise steps that should be taken.
First, it is important to warm up prior to engaging in Bikram Yoga. Performing light dynamic stretching involving joints can help increase your overall range of motion and reduce muscle soreness afterwards. Light cardio may also be beneficial to get your heart rate up as well as increase circulation in preparation for the heated environment. Additionally, drinking plenty of water prior to the session will ensure you start off hydrated so that you can make it through class without any deficiencies that could lead to fatigue or dizziness.
Second, another way to properly prepare for this type of vigorous activity involves clothing choice. Since more heat will be generated by your body during class due to the hot environment already established, lightweight breathable fabrics such as cotton or spandex should be worn as they will help keep you cool while doing poses that require more concentration or require greater intensity. Additionally, wearing moisture-wicking material will also help wick away sweat rather than absorb it; especially if you are a heavy sweater!
Finally, having adequate rest before attending Bikram Yoga classes is essential for success and enjoyment while practicing this style of yoga. Not only does an appropriate amount of rest replenish energy levels but it helps reduce possible stressors brought on by aches/pains caused by tight muscles due to poor sleep habits and poor posture from sitting at a desk job all day long! Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine before class can also prove beneficial; since caffeine has been known to enhance physical performance as well as lower perceived rating of fatigue/discomfort levels – both effects can ultimately keep you going longer during a hot yoga session!
Preparing Your Body
Ensuring your body is properly warmed up before participating in Bikram Yoga can help you maximize the potential benefits of the practice. Before starting a Bikram Yoga class, there are several exercises and stretches you should perform to adequately warm up your muscles and joints for optimal performance. A few exercises you should perform include: gentle neck rolls and shoulder shrugs, cross-body arm stretches, hip circles and knee rolls, spinal twists, deep lunges with torso rotation and forward folds.
To begin a simple pre-class warmup routine, start by rolling each side of your neck three full times to stretch out your trapezius muscle located at the back of your neck. To further open up the area between your shoulder blades, lift one shoulder at a time to your ear then relax it, creating circular motions with both shoulders simultaneously. To work on external rotation for the shoulders try rolling one arm at a time across the chest keeping both arms perpendicular to each other and palms facing up. For hip circles stand tall with feet slightly wider than hip width apart and make small circles in both directions before moving onto knee rolls ” alternating between clockwise and counterclockwise circles. Also, be sure to focus on spinal mobility by trying some dynamic spinal twist from side-to-side bending from the waste up four or five times. Additionally, performing deep lunge positions that involve torso rotations will also help improve lower body mobility throughout the class. Lastly try doing some dynamic forward folds that force a greater range motion throughout your spine while stretching out muscles that hold tension around areas like hips, hamstrings, calves rear end etc. Through regular practice of these stretches and movement drills within a concentrated heat environment participants will likely experience improved flexibility as well as more strength during their Bikram Yoga experience while helping them avoid possible injury later on down the line during their active pursuit outside of class
Preparing Your Mind
Before engaging in Bikram Yoga, it is important to take some time to reflect and set your intentions. Start by examining any limiting beliefs that you may be carrying with you – beliefs such as feeling too shy or not being able to perform the poses correctly. Be gentle but honest with yourself and think about ways in which these can be transformed into more positive outlooks so that you can approach your yoga class with motivation and a willingness to learn.
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is also essential before starting a new practice. Focus on what you have rather than what you don’t have, and let yourself be filled with thankfulness for even the smallest things such as your body’s ability to move, the fact that you can experience new forms of yoga, learning from supportive people around you, etc. Allow yourself to feel real joy and appreciation for all that life has given and will give. This mindset shift will allow you open up to new possibilities and stop worrying about situations beyond your control while still taking responsibility for the actions that are within your reach.
Setting Yourself Up for Success
Before beginning Bikram yoga, it is important to have everything you need ready and organized. The following items will help make the experience more enjoyable:
• Clothing: Wear comfortable clothing that is lightweight and breathable for maximal circulation. Avoid anything that could interfere with your movements.
• Towel: Make sure to bring a large, sweat-absorbing towel to lay over your mat and drape over your body during the class, as there will be lots of perspiration involved!
• Hair Ties: Have elastic hair ties ready to tie your hair up or back if needed; this keeps it from sticking to your face during poses.
• Water Bottle: It is important to stay hydrated during this type of yoga and you don’t want to leave the room during practice for fear of disrupting the class, so make sure to have a water bottle nearby filled with cold water.
• Mat: Yoga mats are necessary for providing support when in various poses; make sure yours is good condition and easy to clean.
• Leg Band Blocks: These are helpful when needing extra balance or stability or using them as props throughout the practice – they are especially helpful for beginners.
Understanding the Bikram Yoga Pre-Session Ritual
Before beginning a Bikram Yoga session, it’s important to understand the pre-session ritual and learn how to properly prepare for it. This can help you to maximize your yoga experience and avoid any potential risks or injuries.
In order to make sure that your body is relaxed and prepared for the rigorous exercise of Bikram Yoga, there is a certain series of steps that should be taken before each session. Before beginning any kind of physical activity like this one, it is always important to warm up your muscles in order to prevent injury. It is also important to stretch in order to release any tension you are carrying and soothe aches and pains. To prepare for a Bikram Yoga session, you should start with five minutes of light jogging or jumping rope followed by dynamic stretching exercises that target major muscle groups such as arms, legs, abs, back and shoulders.
Once your muscles are warmed up and your body feels loose and ready for the vigorous movement ahead, focus on breathing exercises like lying down deep breathing or seated alternate nostril breathing. This will help center your focus while clearing your airways in preparation for the physical challenge ahead.
Finally, once you feel fully relaxed and prepared mentally, bring yourself into child’s pose or corpse pose (savasana) which is the traditional pose at the start of every Bikram class. Focus on tuning into your sensations both externally (the temperature of the room) as well as internally (incoming breaths). Taking time before each class toground yourself in this way will ensure an optimal experience during each unique session!
Staying Hydrated and Eating Right
It is important to stay hydrated and eat right before a Bikram Yoga session. Proper nutrition and hydration will significantly improve your performance. Whole foods provide the body with essential nutrients and minerals needed to fuel the body’s energy and lessen fatigue during the 90-minute class. Avoid so called “junk” foods like candy, chips, processed meats, and sugary drinks prior to the practice. Consume whole grains like brown rice or quinoa, or other complex carbohydrates that are packed with protein such as seeds or legumes like lentils, beans or nuts for energy. Hydrate with natural electrolyte waters or soda water as opposed to calorie- and sugar-filled sports drinks for optimum hydration before and during the practice. A combination of natural unsweetened yogurt topped off with almond butter, blueberries, banana slices, chia seeds or hemp hearts makes for a healthy snack prior to class. If a snack isn’t possible choose one of many antioxidant rich teas such as ginger, turmeric or mint leaf to aid in digestion while hydrating at the same time. By staying hydrated and fueling up with whole foods your journey through Bikram yoga will be an enjoyable experience!
When to Arrive
It is important to arrive at your Bikram Yoga class prior to the scheduled time. It is recommended that you arrive 15-20 minutes early in order to be prepared for the heated studio, as well as give yourself ample time to utilize the locker room amenities, change into your yoga clothing and acclimate both mentally and physically for the class. This can help alleviate any anxiety related to the practice, especially if attending a class for the first time.
In addition to arriving early, it is helpful to plan your route and give yourself plenty of lead time when driving to class in case there is traffic or other unexpected scheduling conflicts that could cause delays. Allow for extra commuting time in order to stay relaxed and focused for class, as rushing can increase stress levels and hinder performance when practicing yoga. The more mindful and prepared you are on your way to class, the more likely you will be able enter into the yoga space with an open mind ready to receive all its benefits.
Getting in the Right Mood
Before Bikram Yoga, it is important to set yourself up for success. This means getting your body and mind into a relaxed state of being. Here are some simple mood-boosting practices that you can do before class:
1. Take a few minutes to meditate: Meditation allows you to clear your mind of distracting thoughts, allowing you to be more in the present moment when you start your practice.
2. Get in tune with your breath: Connecting with your breath can help release tension and increase concentration leading into class. Focus on each inhale and exhale, paying attention to any changes from one breath to the next.
3. Listen to calming music: Playing soft, upbeat music while stretching will help relax and energize your body before beginning class.
4. Visualize yourself doing the poses correctly: Visualization can help set an intention for how you want to practice Bikram yoga that day. Imagine yourself nailing each pose as you prepare for class mentally and physically.
5. Hydrate: Drink plenty of water before, during and after class in order to stay well hydrated throughout your session. Drinking an electrolyte beverage like coconut water is also beneficial as it helps replenish lost minerals due to sweating during class
What to do when you finish your Bikram yoga class? Reaping the benefits of Bikram yoga can carry over long after the class is ended. To get the most out of this mindful practice, here are a few post-yoga tips:
Take some time to relax and allow your body to process all it has been through. Meditation or quiet contemplation can help ground and focus your mind and spirit. You may want to spend a few moments stretching any tense muscles or doing another cool-down sequence, if desired. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids both during and after class in order to replenish lost electrolytes.
You will likely find yourself feeling energized yet relaxed after stepping out of the hot room. This is an optimal opportunity to reflect on how far you have come since beginning your yoga practice. Always be sure to make a mental note of what you learned from the experience, so that it may carry over into your life off the mat. Acknowledging and celebrating even small successes can motivate you to climb even further up your yoga journey!
I am passionate about yoga and this is my blog. I have been practicing yoga for over 10 years and teaching for 5. Yoga has transformed my life in so many ways and I love being able to share that with others. My hope is that through this blog, I can help people learn more about yoga, connect with other yogis, and find inspiration to live a healthier, happier life.