Bikram yoga is a therapeutic, preventative and healing practice that is performed in a heated room and involves 26postures to systematically work on all parts of the body for 90 minutes. The heated room increases flexibility and prevents muscles strains. This allows beginners as well as advanced students to be able to ease themselves into the 26postures, develop stamina and get the benefits of practicing deep breathing. It is important to tell the instructor about any health concerns you have and how you judge your fitness level. This way they can keep an eye on you and give you encouraging and constructive guidance.
First, the beginner will have to overcome the first challenge of breathing in a heated room to body temperature. Drink at least 1/2l of water before you go to your first sessions and bring along another litre to drink during the class and after. It would also be advisable to not eat anything 2hours before the session as some of the postures might do well with a full stomach.
All rooms have a mirror so that you can observe yourself as you attempt all 26 postures and this will help you learn how to get into the different postures and keep the sequence. All 26postures are done twice so that you can get a feel of your body and stretch more. There are also periods of rest in between each different posture to concentrate on your breathing. The instructor does not the do the postures with you but gently gives instructions to the whole class and observes what each individual does and gently corrects any bad posture or gives alternative postures if they think you having difficulty with a specific posture.
The atmosphere in any Bikram class is not competitive, so do not hesitate to stop if you cannot keep up with some of the poses or need a rest. Takes things at your pace and concentrate on your breathing. Staying with just what you are doing will help you keep you balance and learn the sequence of the 26 postures.
After you first session most beginner’s will get very sore, although some will not depending on their previous flexibility and fitness. This is a good sign and to alleviate the pain it is advised to continue going to class for the next 10 sessions with maybe a day or two in between sessions. Go at least 3 times in the first week. After 10 sessions you will feel the benefits of deep breathing and master the postures routine, even if you do not achieve all postures immediately. You will feel totally energised and at ease.
Yoga is always practiced in silence, and the focus is breathing, concentration, focus and stillness. These are core skills for all postures and more importantly to connect you mind, body, focus, balance and posture. You do not drink any water until you finish the third posture called Eagle/Garutasana. After this you may drink throughout the class. Sip rather than take big gulps, and only drink in between postures to avoid distraction. The instructor will sometimes indicate when it is okay to drink.
Concentrate on you body and only go as far as you body can comfortably take you during every moment. Use you breathing to stretch you ability and flexibility. Breathing into the poses is important and try and calm you mind. Do not think about anything other than breathing, keeping you balance and following the movements.
Keep your toes and heals together and then find a point of focus in the mirror. Take your time as you attempt the posture. Everyone’s ability is different for all postures and thus there is no need to compare yourself to anyone in class beginner or advanced. You will get the best benefit of Bikram Yoga by doing the best you can in each posture by following the instructions of the teacher and working to the level of discomfort and never pain!
After every class spend some time in the rest position (savasana) and let your energies settle and heart rate drop down to a normal rhythm. This will integrate all the benefits of a 90minute class. Bikram yoga energises the mind and body, release tension and increases flexibility. If you are attempted to find out what the craze is about and submerge yourself in a new way to experience your body and your mind? Then just go for it! It’s worth it and the heated room is very comforting!