Bikram yoga is quite different from any other yoga practice out there. It certainly doesn’t take more than about 4 postures in your first class to realize that! For the yogi coming in and expecting a lulling experience, or the first timer who expects a tai chi class…things can get pretty scary pretty quickly. And the sad news is that one person’s bad day can easily turn into five people’s bad day in a hot room. Here’s how to avoid creating a bad day.
- Remember to arrive on time and wipe your feet before entering the room. It’s hot, and we’re all going to be sweating buckets, so a clean body and clean feet are essential! While everyone wants you to wear an effective deodorant, perfume and cologne are too much stimulus in a hot room.
- Follow the instructions! Your practice will be guided for you by a highly trained yogi. There’s no need to work ahead or anticipate any posture. Listen carefully, even during your 500th class, to what the instructor is saying so the group can move together.
- Remember that what you see yourself doing in the mirror, your classmates may see you doing. When you are moving in “out of posture” ways, it creates a visual disturbance for your fellow yogis, some of whom may be channeling their most fierce determination in a pose. Of course we all fall out of postures and lose balance or strength, and those movements are unavoidable.
- Wiping sweat…this is such a difficult one. Because while I aspire to perspire with grace and ease, I just can’t concentrate when my nose is filling with sweat during Standing Head to Knee. It’s beyond my current capability! What I try to do, however, is wipe that sweat just before savasana or during everyone else’s sit-up. Which takes us to number:
- Water breaks. After the first “party time” you’re on your own. And just like the sweat wiping, the water drinking should be done outside of postures.
- Leave the room quietly. All of us sometimes have other commitments which prevent us from taking a long final savasana, however there are always people in the room who do want to remain in the stillness. When you’re leaving, remember that the flopping sound of your mat is heard by everyone, so do try to be as quiet as possible.
Bikram yoga really is a moving meditation. It’s as physically challenging as anything else you’ll ever do and it’s as quieting as any peaceful meditation. The energy and stillness that you bring to the room is shared with others so always try to offer the most open, most positive and most peaceful energy that you can. Your stillness and strength may very well be the boost that a neighbor needs for their own practice. And if all else fails, and you’re stuck in class that just feels off, take advantage of the moment to work on your own ability to let it all go and settle into a peacefully disconnected meditation that’s just for you.
Posted by Liz Alfano