Further to my post about my first Bikram yoga experience, I am providing some tips for those who wish to try Bikram yoga for the first time. As with any new experience, you may have questions, fears, or other reasons for delaying in beginning your practice. These tips that I learned from my first class (and subsequent ones) will hopefully bring further clarity about what to expect. I wish I had these available to me my first time around!
Your first Bikram yoga experience can certainly be daunting. And chances are, while there will be other beginners and first-timers around, there will also be many tried-and-true followers of Bikram yoga in your first class…so, it can be a bit intimidating.
To be more prepared, look to these basics of what to do, what to bring, and what to expect when you enter a Bikram yoga studio.
- Arrive 10 minutes early to class. This allows you to secure a spot, warm up and focus, and is courteous to your instructor and fellow class-takers.
- Do not eat too close to the time of your class. You should arrive on a mostly-empty stomach.
- Dress minimally. It gets hot, and you will certainly sweat within 5 minutes of class. Most women wear sports bras and shorts or bathing suit bottoms. Men in shorts only. (I prefer to sweat a bit more, so I often wear long sleeves and pants, though you should check with your instructor first, since some do not allow long sleeves/pants).
- No shoes or socks are allowed in the studio. Typically, there is a locker room where you can leave everything. Bring only yourself, your mat, towels and water into the studio.
- There will be a mirror at the front (and sometimes the sides) of the room, and lines on the carpeting on the floor. (See photo above). Find a place on the floor so that the vertical center of your mat rests on one of these lines. This allows for optimal placing of all participants and maximizes space in the room.
- Your instructor will likely recommend that more seasoned practitioners sit in the front of the room toward the mirror, while beginniners stick in the back.
- Bring water, but no other liquids into the room, and do not bring glass containers. While I like to bring my SIGG, it can sometimes get a bit too hot to actually pick up with my hands. Take sips only between poses, not during.
- Bring your own yoga mat and two towels. Most studios provide both, typically with a charge of $1 each.
- Don’t be self-conscious! While you think that everyone around you might be staring (and trust me, some of these classes can get pretty crowded), the reality is that others are so focused on their own practice and on themselves that they don’t notice what you are doing. So, do not be afraid to move and practice the poses freely!
- Breathe! The breath is a huge part of Bikram yoga, as with other yoga and exercise. Breathing allows you to bring oxygen to your muscles and organs that are working for you, and also helps with detox. Your instructor will remind you of the breath during your practice, and will instruct you on proper breathing technique at the beginning of the practice.
- Do not talk in the studio before, during, or after class. This is courteous to your fellow classmates and helps to maintain your own focus and concentration.