Bikram Yoga may help you lose weight, reduce stress, and help you heal from injuries. In addition to burning calories and fat, a regular Bikram Yoga practice will help with the following:
I cannot touch my knees, let alone toes. How can I possibly do Bikram Yoga?
Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class will increase your strength and flexibility. The heat in the yoga room will help relax your muscles and ligaments, making it easier to stretch and bend. If you are very stiff, Bikram Yoga will be particularly beneficial. In the words of one senior teacher, “Saying you’re too stiff to go to yoga is like saying you’re too dirty to take a shower.”
What if I have never done yoga before?
Every class is open to beginners and follows the same format whether it is your first class or your fifth year practicing. Everyone benefits. As Bikram says, “This Hatha Yoga is for everyone and every body. It doesn’t matter how well you do each posture, only that you try the right way. Even if you can only do 1% of the posture correct, you will receive 100% of the benefit medically if you try the right way.”
Classes are open to those between ages 16 and 80. For your first few classes, try not to expect too much of yourself; allow your body to acclimate to the heat.
Yoga is not a means to an end: it is a practice. Students are asked to practice to the best of their ability. New students practice alongside more advanced students. The goal of Bikram Yoga is not to twist the body into advanced contorted postures, but to strengthen the body’s natural range of motion.
I’m very sensitive to heat and I feel my energy is zapped when it is hot. How will I be able to cope with heat in the yoga room?
The yoga room is a carefully controlled environment where we keep an even and constant temperature of 105º Farenheit and humidity at 40%. Often when we perceive a temperature as being “very hot,” it is not just because of the high temperature, but also because of high humidity. Because we maintain the humidity level of the yoga room at a relatively low 40%, most people do not perceive the heat as unbearable. The sweat your body produces acts as a natural cooling system, helping you to cool down as it evaporates. This is why you shouldn’t wipe the sweat off when you practice, as that counteracts the ability of your body to cool itself down.
I am extremely overweight and out of shape. I hear that Bikram Yoga is a challenging workout. How will I possibly get any exercise benefits if I can barely do the postures?
You don’t need to have a specific body type or be in shape to start practicing Bikram Yoga. Bikram Yoga is hot yoga for every body. Practicing Bikram Yoga, even if you are only able to do 1% of the posture correctly, will MAKE you fit! It is a tough workout, but we utilize a gentle range of motion, which means that even if you are elderly, recovering from an injury, or overweight, you will be able to join in with most of the postures. We sometimes say, “it never gets easy if you’re doing it right,” which means that as you improve your technique, you will be able to go deeper into the postures. That means the experienced practitioner who has been doing this for ten years will find the series of postures to be as much of a challenge as the beginner does.
Won’t this kind of heat be dangerous for the heart?
On the contrary, the heat will dilute the blood, thinning blood vessels, which in turn lowers blood pressure, making it easier for the heart to pump fresh oxygenated blood around the body. The exercises will help strengthen the heart and the heat will improve circulation.
What if I feel nauseous or dizzy during class?
It is very common to feel nauseous or dizzy during your first few classes, or to get a headache during or after class. This yoga is like a litmus test of the shape your mind and body are in at the moment. You may find that you need to start taking better care of yourself by drinking more water, changing your diet, or rearranging your life to reduce stress. If you practice more than three times per week, you might find that you need to increase your intake of calcium, potassium, salt, and magnesium. As you start taking better care of yourself, and as you start to be more mentally present in the yoga room, you will find that you start to actually enjoy the heat.
You may still have the occasional class where you feel dizzy or nauseous, and when that happens, just stand still, take a break, or sit down on your knees, and when the feeling has passed, join in with the class again.
How often should I practice Bikram Yoga?
That depends. How good do you want to feel? Most people who practice regularly typically visit the studio 2–5 times per week. If you are only able to practice once a week, then that’s preferable to not practicing at all. However, most people find that with time, practicing 3–4 times per week keeps their health and fitness at the desired level.
The best way to achieve noticeable changes is to try practicing every day for 1–2 months. Because the stretch is built into the postures, and the training is not high impact, it is not necessary to take rest days.
You do the same 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises and every class is the same. I like to switch things up. Doesn’t that get really boring?
Emmy Cleaves, now in her late eighties, has been practicing and teaching this yoga since 1973. This is the answer she gives: “People ask me if I ever get tired of doing the same posture flow. My answer is that the practice is never the same because I am continuously being changed by the practice. The daily practice challenges you on many levels. Concentration and attention are quickly sharpened. Character issues of patience and perseverance come up each time. The practice offers a chance to explore deeper levels of self and develop awareness of the emotions and thoughts that the postures evoke.