The room is heated for many reasons:
Your soft tissues are softer and more relaxed, allowing a safer deeper stretching to occur. The profuse sweating both detoxifies the body and also produces a natural cooling mechanism to help prevent the body from overheating
This environment raises the heart rate to produce a cardiovascular workout. The heat also lowers the viscosity (thickness) of the blood, allowing it to flow more easily and deeply into tissues and organs to help in healing injured areas.
Your immune function is boosted.
The focus developed in this environment strengthens your discipline, determination and power of concentration.
During your first class, the heat is usually a significant distraction! However, over time, you will begin to love the heat and will only notice the heat if the room is not hot enough!
This is not unusual. Feelings of dizziness and nausea are part of the process of acclimatising to the hot room and may also be a result of releasing toxins.
For some people, they will feel this straight away, for some it might come up in the second, third or fourth class. If this occurs, whether you are a beginner or more experienced, try kneeling down in Japanese style first. If the feelings don't pass, then lie down flat on your back. Once you feel better and you are ready to rejoin the class, get up slowly.
Rest as much as you need to and always make it your goal to stay present in the room for the full 90 minute class. You don't have to complete every posture to gain benefit from this practice.
Ensure that you drink lots of water after your class.
Very shortly after a class begins, the student will begin sweating as the skin, the largest eliminative organ of the body, begins a cleansing detoxification. Students are encouraged to hydrate before class, are allowed to drink water during class, and are reminded to re-hydrate after class.
A student's daily intake of water often increases dramatically when they begin Bikram Yoga and this has a healthy flushing and cleansing effect on the body.
While the core temperature of the body may rise no more than a mere 0.5 degree, the superficial soft tissue structures, including the fascia, ligaments, muscles and tendons will warm up quickly and allow the student to move further, more comfortably and more safely in all directions than while exercising in a cooler environment.
By moving the body and thus the spine into all ranges of motion, the student actively opens the joints of the spinal column and strengthens the supportive muscle groups around the spinal column.
This ensures minimal spinal dysfunction that may result in nerve interference on the pathways between the brain and the body. You must have a healthy spine to enjoy optimal health and well-being.
Bikram is not a flowing or vinyasa style of hatha yoga but rather a more stationary style of practice where you move into a particular position and then hold it for between 10 and 60 seconds, depending upon the posture.
Sounds easy? It may, but you will notice how your heart rate will increase when this simple activity is done in the heat.
As the body exercises in this unique environment, the heat thins down the blood and allows it to perfuse more deeply into body tissues and organs to facilitate healing.
While the practice may appear to be just physical activity, it is also a form of waking meditation. The hot environment demands a sharpening of your mental focus, concentration and determination during the 90-minute class.
Most students report a total absence of distracting thoughts, during the class, as they concentrate on their breath, the posture, their image in the mirror and the words of their teacher.
This wonderful relief from the stress of life continues outside the hot room as the student discovers that things that previously may have stressed them in their life, no longer seem to steal their peace of mind.
There are certainly tremendous restorative benefits from the practice of any style of yoga, as the student combines conscious breathing with particular movements that stretch, strengthen and stimulate all body systems: cardiovascular, digestive, endocrine, excretory, immune, integumentary, reproductive, respiratory, nervous and musculoskeletal.
The heated environment, however, achieves these positive changes more quickly in the student's body and mind and beautifully compliments any other style of yoga or exercise the student may perform
Our postures are indeed exactly the same each time for a specific reason. While there are many asanas that one may practice in different styles of yoga, the Bikram Beginner’s class consists of two breathing exercises and 26 postures as a specific sequence that systematically works through many structures of the body, stretching, stimulating and healing while at the same time using the heat to both facilitate this process and very importantly to discipline the mind.
Rather than introduce different postures with each class, we avoid the mental distraction this creates, otherwise the student would constantly be stopping their body, breath and mind "flow" to try and figure out the unfamiliar posture.
The sense of repetition that you will note is important as it allows you to lessen your thought processes during class, flow with the instructions, focus on breath, stay more "present" and experience a sort of "waking meditation".
By practising the same sequence in every class, all students, both experienced and brand new continually refine what they are capable of, working on their body as well as their focus, concentration and determination.
For those students who have practised this class over many years, it never becomes boring as each class is somehow "different" depending upon the degree of preparation we have made, the state of mind we are in, the amount of rest we have had, the number of people in the room, the time of day, the ambient weather outside, etc. etc. Every day while the yoga is the same, our bodies are different and the class is different.
Some students wonder if we teachers get bored saying the same thing. Certainly, if a particular teacher came into class and did not connect with the bodies and energy in the room and just spoke the words as if reading a book, both the teacher and the students would be pretty dulled by the experience.
We, as teachers, all use a similar "dialogue" or set of verbal instructions to guide the students safely in and out of the postures. We do encourage our teachers at Fitzroy to speak with their own "voice" that reflects their individual background of experience.
While we may sound the "same" in each class, certain instructions may be repeated or emphasised as we conduct a "dialogue" using our words to communicate with your body as it moves through the class. So if you were to record and listen to two classes, the words would be slightly different from class to class. That is the art of teaching.
In a Bikram class we do not generally demonstrate postures. Our belief is that by you using the mirror and learning to really listen to the words, your body will move and progress at a pace that reflects your unique circumstances and abilities. You may note that we do not use props and rarely make hands on corrections.
This is also in respect of each person's body's uniqueness. Depth is never the goal...but correct form is...and you will achieve that as you begin to "feel" the posture, sometimes after weeks, months or even years of repetition. Depth too may follow but we would never expect two people to perform any posture to the same degree of depth.
There are certainly many styles and lineages of yoga and some students may wish to combine another class with their Bikram class to "round out" their yoga routine. We are just pleased when someone comes in to try our intro pass. And then we just hope they will continue a personal practice in the future, in whatever style they feel comfortable with, Bikram or otherwise.
One of the most frequently asked questions about Bikram Yoga (and other forms of Hatha yoga) is which poses should I do, or not do, whilst menstruating? Or should I do yoga at all during menstruation time?
This is a big question, and a question that in the end really only has one answer – your own. But to help you try to find your own answer, first of all let’s bust some myths around yoga and menstruation…
In fact, the heat of Bikram Yoga is great for muscle cramps. It acts like a muscle relaxant loosening up tight and tense muscles. If you are more sensitive to the heat on your bleeding days, then move to a cooler area of the room. At Bikram Yoga Fitzroy, that’s towards the window end of the room.
Bikram Yoga is perfectly safe to practice to while you are menstruating, and in fact it has great benefits for the reproductive system for both men and women. It directly increases circulation to the reproductive system, also to the endocrine glands: the pituitary, pineal and thyroid gland in particular.
Often women report that Bikram Yoga helps their PMS and also helps to regulate their menstrual cycle and alleviate hormonal symptoms such as mood swings, irritability and sugar cravings.
If you’re having strong cramps or are feeling very tired, maybe take the class a bit slower for a change, take your foot off the ‘accelerator’ and have a nice meditative class instead of a ‘full power’ class. You might find that this is a challenge in itself – the ego often finds it hard to pull back and not be ‘super yoga queen’.
This is the biggest myth of all – that somehow doing inversions, or upside down postures like headstands, handstands, and shoulder stands during menstruation is bad for you.
It was once believed that the lining of the uterus (your menstruation blood) is in the process of detaching and moving downwards, and if you do an inversion at this time, you maybe at risk of creating gynecological problems like endometriosis.
In fact, there is no evidence at all for this theory, and if you do a bit of research you’ll find that yoga lore is full of contradictions about whether you should or shouldn’t do yoga inversions during menstruation.
In short, there is no clear answer or medical evidence one way or the other. So what to do? Try to listen to your own body and feel this one out intuitively. But you’ll be happy to know that the issue of inversions is not a problem in Bikram Yoga because there are no fully inverted postures. Instead, postures like Dandayama Bibhaktapada Janushirasana (Standing Separate Head-to-Knee) and Adrha-Kurmasana (Half-Tortoise pose) both give you similar benefits to inversions.
Some women feel quite out of sorts on their first day of bleeding. You might feel very tired, and have cramps, nausea, extreme sensitivity and lack of tolerance and irritability.
Maybe think about resting on your first day of bleeding? In many ancient tribal cultures women often spent the first days of their period resting and taking it easy. This is something you might want to try and give yourself a break to nurture and rest.
Then by Day 2 or Day 3, because you’ve had a bit of a rest, you may find that your energy levels will increase and you might have a pretty good class.
But in the end, you ultimately know what is best for your body. And if you don’t? Maybe it’s time to start listening to what your body is telling you…
In Bikram Yoga we recommend that if you are newly pregnant it is better to avoid any NEW form of exercise. If however, you have already been regularly practicing Bikram Yoga for at least a year and have an established practice, we recommend you take a break from Bikram hot yoga during the 1st trimester. This is an important developmental period for the new foetus and it is advisable to be particularly cautious with your physical activity during these first weeks of pregnancy.
During this 1st trimester, we suggest that you consider continuing a gentler practice at home with the help of Bikram's wife Rajashree's pregnancy video DVD. She will show you the necessary variations that you will need to use during your pregnancy.
After the 1st trimester, from the 2nd trimester onwards and as long as you are comfortable exercising, you may practice Rajashree's pregnancy series in the studio. We recommend that you place yourself in the "cooler" spots of the studio, like the third row or near the doors.
If your pregnancy is complicated in any way, please follow your doctor's advice.
Always ask your doctor first, but most experienced yoginis wait at least 3 weeks before resuming yoga to allow hormone levels to drop and stabilize. For some women 4-6 weeks postpartum is a better time.
But ultimately you'll know when it feels right to start exercising again – listen to your body. Take into consideration how you're feeling, sleeping, and recovering. You may want to start doing a few low-impact Bikram pregnancy yoga series poses at home in a warm room, and see how you feel afterwards.
Yoga is a wonderful way to reconnect with your body, mind and spirit and get back into the swing of things. Yoga is not just about returning to your pre-pregnancy weight, but it also helps your spine, joints, hips, rib cage and abdominal organs return to their normal places, size and alignment.
Yoga may even help with the extreme mood swings so often caused by the hormonal changes of pregnancy and post-birth.
Yoga gives you an incredible endorphin rush that improves mood - instantly. Simply being able to take a couple of hours to yourself, for yourself, when no one needs something from you is critical to make you a happy, loving, and productive human being – and mother. Particularly if you think you might be experiencing postpartum depression you'll discover that it's amazing how a little time to yourself and some exercise can make you feel.
The hormone relaxin that helped your body get ready to open and stretch your pelvis during delivery remains in your body for 9 months after birth. Relaxin softens the ligaments in your body, but ligaments hold your joints together, so looser ligaments means looser joints – so you need to take extra care against joint injury.
Concentrate on developing the strength in the muscles that support the joints, especially the weight-bearing joints. This is particularly important in one-legged, standing balancing postures.
You must equally contract the quadriceps and hamstrings muscles over a straight knee joint to "lock" the knee. These muscle groups compliment each other and result in a strong, stable knee. Plain old walking is also a good exercise to strengthen leg muscles – particularly up and down gentle slopes.
Your abdominal muscles will bear the brunt of your pregnancy. Not only will they be weak from lack of exercise during your pregnancy, but also because they were stretched to the nth degree over something the size of a watermelon! It takes time for them to contract back to their normal size and tone up and strengthen.
Concentrate on contracting your abs during all your postures – you’ll be amazed at how this will also energize your entire practice and aid in balancing. With each class you will notice improvement. Also remember that strong abs will support your spine and protect against lower back pain as you carry your growing baby.
You've probably already learned how much more water your body needs when breastfeeding - the same applies in the hot room. Your body is making milk the whole time and needs water to fuel the process constantly, so make sure you're drinking water early on the day before your class, and a minimum of at least half a litre of water in class and more afterward. And don't forget your electrolytes.
We suggest organic coconut water before and after a class – it's a natural alternative to sugary and artificial-colour laden sports drinks. Also remember to be gentle with your tender breasts – this means certain poses will be too painful and you won't be able to lie on your belly.
So do the pregnancy savasana or even the pregnancy modifications for any belly-down poses. And remember, listen to your body! So if any pose is painful, just sit it out. Be patient with the process.
Most of us want to lose the 'maternal fat stores' from 9 months pregnancy - if not for vanity's sake, then for practical reasons like soon you'll be chasing around an active toddler and you'll need to keep up!
Bikram yoga burns a lot of calories, so it makes sense to go back to yoga after pregnancy but also to combine yoga with healthy diet.
If you are breastfeeding, please remember that it is not recommended that you consume less than 1800-2400 calories per day without adverse effect on your supply.
On the days that you practice, you will need to supplement your food supply to reflect an additional 600 calories at a minimum.
Electrolytes are salts and minerals that may be lost from the body during periods of profuse sweating. Signs of electrolyte deficiency include dizziness/headaches, cramping and fatigue.
Electrolytes are contained in most sport drinks but be aware that most popular brands are very high in sugar and low in actual electrolytes. We supply various brands of Coconut Water which his a natural refreshing electrolyte drink of coconut water. We also sell various brands of electrolytes which help with quick recovery from cramping or fatigue. If you are doing Bikram on a regular basis you will need to take in electrolytes either before or after your class.
Your urine should be pale yellow. If it is dark yellow, you are dehydrated. Also if you feel that your mouth is dry, you are dehydrated.
Proper hydration is extremely important for your Bikram practice. If you are practicing in the afternoon/evening, it is recommended that you drink at least 1 to 1 and a half litres before class. In the morning, of course, you will not have much time before class, so we recommend 2 -3 glasses of warm water, which is easy to drink quickly. This preparation will allow you to practice without feeling the need to gulp too much water during the class, which can result in a bloated feeling when you are in the floor series on your stomach.
Whether the knees are arthritic or injured, Bikram Yoga may possibly help. Bikram developed this practice after his knee was crushed by a 300 pound weight. With his guru's help, he recovered and developed this specialised series of yoga poses. You must move the knees to get circulation to them and Bikram yoga helps you do this.
So how should you proceed? Make sure to listen carefully to the alignment instructions in each posture. When you are told to keep your feet parallel in standing postures, please do so. A half-inch in either direction away from parallel has its effects all the way up the knees and into the hips.
In standing balancing postures, it is also important to keep the standing foot straight and the standing knee pointing straight ahead. If your knee bows back (hyperextension) you should bring the weight forwards towards the toes so as to engage the quadriceps muscle ("lock the knee") and lift the kneecap upwards. This action brings the leg into one line and brings true strength to the knees.
When you are bending your knees in any of the standing postures, keep the knees directly over the feet. This will ensure that the knees and hips are strengthened evenly inside and out.
In Triangle Pose (Trikonasana), when you are told to push your hips forward as you bend your front knee, this will keep your hip in line with your knee in line with your foot. This is also good for even strengthening of hip and knee joints.
In some of the standing postures , it might be very difficult to bend your knee to a 90 degree angle. So do the best you can without creating pain. Better to keep proper alignment bending 1% than to go 100% in poor alignment.
In the floor postures , notably Fixed-Firm, Half Tortoise and perhaps Rabbit, it might be difficult for you to bend your knees enough so that the hips sit on the heels. You may have to begin from a position up on your knees, instead of kneeling and modify the postures by opening your knees to get your hips to the floor. With time your knees will improve in flexibility and strength.
To test your knee flexibility, keep lots of weight in your hands and bend the knees gradually to the point (but not past) of pain. You must be able to relax and breathe in the posture, holding it steady, for anything to happen. As the pain decreases and you start feeling more comfortable, you can gradually take the weight out of your hands and allow more pressure on the knees. Eventually you'll be able to go all the way into the posture, and you won't even remember the time when you couldn't even sit down!
You'll find that little by little your knee pain goes away and soon you'll realize that you can walk, climb up and go down stairs, even run a little without pain!
Care must be taken with forward bends as this movement may force a degenerative disc back towards the spinal cord and spinal nerves creating pain. Therefore it is important to learn to bend forward properly. Bend forward slowly, even allowing the hands to slide down the legs. Only gradually increase the strength of pulling on your heels in forward bends. If you bend forward, pull and feel pain, release the pull and the depth of your forward bend.
Backward bends are recommended for building stability in the spine and spinal muscles. This movement has the added advantage of releasing pressure on spinal discs and may help reduce pressure of a damaged disc on nerves, thus relieving pain.
During any episode of significant back pain it is best to skip the sit-ups and just roll over onto your stomach.
As you continue your practice and you spine strengthens, you will gradually be able to do more and more of the series. The best results come from a regular practice.
Please follow the instructions carefully when you are doing forward bends. For example, in the Half Moon - (Padahastasana) series, the instructions are to bring your torso on your thighs, chest to the knees, no light space anywhere between the torso and the thighs. If you try to straighten your legs without having this first part accomplished, you can create pain in your lower back. Also keep in mind the instruction "360 degrees stretching." What that means is to make the stretch even throughout the whole back side of the body.
You also want to follow these guidelines in Separate Leg Stretching. Our instructions are, “Suck in your stomach and bend your upper body down from your lower spine towards the floor.” It is difficult to suck in your stomach unless you exhale, so make sure to exhale as you fold forward. When you suck in your stomach, it supports the whole pelvis to roll forwards with the rest of your spine-this eliminates strain in the lower back.
Working carefully, mindfully, allowing your breath to flow with your movement will help you to gradually deepen your experience of the postures.
Back problems are felt by most of the population at some time in their lives. These injuries may be the result of a single major trauma or multiple small stresses on the spine over many years. The general recommendation is to exercise, with care, and get your body and spine moving.
It is always good, of course, to get a professional examination and advice about your condition so you fully understand what is happening with your body. This may be with a medical doctor, physiotherapist, osteopath or chiropractor. When exercise is recommended as part of your management of your condition, Bikram Yoga is an excellent choice as the addition of the heated environment allows for safer stretching and opening of the structures of the spine. Many students, even with chronic long-term back problems, report significant relief of their pain levels, often in a surprisingly short period of time.
When a patient with joint pain has an xray taken and the report is some sort of arthritic condition, the patient may assume that the arthritis is what is causing their pain. The pain is more likely due to an abnormal alignment or movement of the involved joint. This simply means that if you begin to carefully restore more movement into the injured area, you will most likely experience a reduction of pain levels. Some arthritic conditions may also involve chemical imbalances or toxic accumulation in the body. The improved blood circulation, respiration and profuse sweating that is associated with the Bikram practice may help cleanse the body of irritants that may be contributing to body pain.
If you have some sort of respiratory condition, you have probably already noticed that exercise is more difficult when your breath is compromised. A Bikram class, however, may an appropriate form of exercise for several reasons.
Firstly, the heat helps to warm up and open the body allowing the breathing exercises at the beginning and the end of the class and other postures to improve your respiration to a more optimal level.
The Bikram series includes a brief rest period between each posture, during which the student can “catch their breath” as they prepare for the next posture. Students are also reminded to rest if they feel overwhelmed. Generally the more regular a student practices, the stronger they become and the more deeply they are able to breathe.
Unstable high blood pressure responds so quickly to diligent Yoga practice that doctors sometimes doubt their instruments. (This quick response of the blood pressure is one of the most telling demonstrations of Yoga's ability to regulate and synchronize body systems.) If you are tested about a week after starting Yoga, you may see a slight rise in pressure. Don't be alarmed. By the second week you may notice an improvement in your blood pressure that may continue as long as you maintian your yoga practice.
Consult your doctor, use common sense, and don't push hard in any of the poses for the first three days. The poses in which high blood pressure patients must continue to exercise caution until their blood pressure checks out normally are: the backward bending portion of Half Moon Pose, Standing Bow Pulling Pose, Balancing Stick Pose, Cobra Pose, the third part of Locust Pose, Full Locust Pose, Bow Pose and the Camel Pose.
Depending on the severity of your condition, the postures mentioned above should be done for a count of no more than five (count to five in your head), building to ten counts after two weeks. If you are supple enough to do Fixed-Firm Pose to the complete expression of the posture the first few days, limit that to five counts as well. Be absolutely sure to rest between each set. It is also essential for heart patients to breathe normally during the postures. As for the Bow Pose, (in the floor series) you must never perform the pose without a qualified teacher present (i.e. don't do this at home!).
Care is needed because the majority of these postures are backward bending positions that create pressure in the chest, and thus on the heart. Do not eliminate them however as they are the very postures you need to help your condition. Take it easy when you start and gradually put more effort into the postures as your blood pressure reduces.
If you have been diagnosed with a specific heart condition, it is necessary to speak with your specialist before beginning any new exercise program. The Bikram practice may offer benefit to people with cardiovascular issues by strengthening the heart muscles and reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Any physical movement may potentially result in soreness, but it is important to understand the difference between "physical exercise" and "yoga". Physical exercise is the use of the body to achieve a goal at any cost. A good example of that is any competitive contact sport. Players continually put their bodies on the line to achieve the goal of winning. Yoga, however, is using the body to heal. Your practice may be undoing a lifetime of bad habits, and uncovering chronic injuries that you are now pushing against. It's peeling back the years, a process rarely without pain. But remember, your body is incredibly forgiving, and the yoga will help your body find a healthy equilibrium. Try to move in and out of every posture slowly and with awareness to test your limits, so you are able to stop before bad pain. Practicing at a level of manageable discomfort is good, as you allow the heat and postures to work the healing process. And remember never, never, never be afraid of raising any concerns with the teachers - you may be just trying a posture incorrectly. Please ask! Speak with your teacher, and keep doing the yoga.
Patients suffering from mesothelioma have seen an increased quality of life, renewal of energy and even improved survival rates thanks to yoga practice. In addition, incorporating yoga into a mesothelioma treatment regimen, which might include treatment for pain and discomfort, provides the added emotional relief needed during a stressful time.
An asana is a discipline of the body - usually combining rules or postures to keep the body disease-free and preserving vital energy. Correct postures are a physical aid to meditation, they control and prevent imbalances of the limbs and nervous system.
We have presented you with an intelligently sequenced group of postures that carefully and mindfully open up your body, with each posture preparing you for the next. This unique sequence is designed to be maximally accessible to any new student, regardless of age and physical condition.
Pranayama breathing is a control of the breath. Beneficial to health, pranayama breathing steadies the body and is highly conducive to the concentration of the mind.
Full inversions (hand, head & shoulder stands) require strength, balance and skill that most beginning yoga students will not initially have. The Bikram series uses postures that easily place the body into a position of mild inversion, making the practice more accessible to more people.
This is quite normal. Many new students will experience feelings of discomfort in their arms, elbows, wrists or hands in this posture as a result of old injuries or general stiffness. Discomfort in a particular posture means this is the posture you need the most to heal that part of your body. Just pull back a bit if you are experiencing pain and while keeping your hands under your body, allow your arms to come out to the side for a while. Working through this discomfort, patiently and carefully will heal your body and the discomfort will go.
This is another common experience for new students. You will spend a lot of time balancing on one leg during the Standing series. While you strengthen your legs, you are also strengthening your feet. Often cramping is an indication that you are building new muscle strength in that area of your body. As your strength and fitness increase, the cramps should disappear. If, however, you continue to get cramps in class it may be a sign of an electrolyte deficiency. Taking an electrolyte replacement BEFORE class may help.
These sensations will sometimes occur in early classes as you and your body become accustomed to the practice. Your breathing may be too shallow and rapid. Concentrate on lengthening the inhalation and exhalation of your breath to avoid hyperventilation. Other symptoms associated with rapid/shallow breathing may include weakness, dizziness, blurred vision, tingling mouth or a racing heartbeat. If these symptoms persist outside of class, you may need to consult with a chiropractor or osteopath to check for any neuro/musculoskeletal cause or with a general practitioner for any disease process associated with such symptoms.
When muscles cramp, they may restrict the range of movement of a joint and make you feel like the bones in an extremity are stiffening. Cramping or involuntary muscle spasm may occur due to dehydration and a loss of electrolytes (trace minerals that the body needs). There may also be inadequate dietary intake that needs to be addressed.
Also, in cases of incorrect breathing, an excess of CO2 in the blood may cause severe cramping of muscles. This may also be associated with feelings of anxiety. To help prevent such symptoms, eat a healthy range of foods, drink plenty of water before class, use electrolyte replacements, and focus on breathing as fully as possible and exhaling as slowly as possible during class.
The one-legged balancing postures are a challenge for most people. As you build strength in the muscles of the leg, hips and low back, you will be better able to correctly lock your knee.
By developing visual and mental concentration on what your standing leg is doing, you will be better able to control the micro-movements of your postural muscles that work to maintain your balance on either one or both feet. To fall out of a posture is being human. To keep coming back into a posture, to try again, is being a yogi.
Make sure that throughout the class you listen to the teacher's voice and carefully follow their instructions. In some postures you will be asked to suck your stomach in until it is tight, contracted. This will help protect your lower back and build a strong core in forward bending. In other postures you will be asked to stretch up or lift your chest up BEFORE moving into a side or back bending position.
This lengthening of the spine helps to prevent localised compression into the spinal joints. If your low back is painful, when you do the sit up, roll on to your side and push yourself up. When your back settles and your abdominal and core strength improves, you'll be able to do the sit ups. If you have a history of back injury, please make note of that on the registration form in the section about injuries.
Please advise your teacher before class if you are in significant pain. It is always wise to seek the advice of a musculoskeletal professional, such as a chiropractor or an osteopath.
It is completely normal to feel a bit dizzy, nauseous or light headed, especially when you begin practicing Bikram yoga, or return after having a break. First check that you have sufficient nutrition, your blood sugars may be low. Eating good-quality, unprocessed, healthy foods are best.
This can also be a sign of dehydration, so make sure you are always well hydrated before class. These are also signs that your body is beginning to detoxify which is a good thing, as you know the yoga is working. Remember if you do feel these symptoms, don't be afraid to kneel down on your mat until the symptoms pass. Over time, as you practice regularly, these symptoms will disappear.
Yoga is a fantastic diagnostic tool for the body. All the symptoms you feel are just ways your body is communicating to you. Your inability to hold a posture correctly can often tell you which parts of your body are weak or not functioning well. It is important you listen to your body and respect its messages!
In Bikram yoga we recommend that if you are newly pregnant it is better to avoid any NEW form of exercise. If however, you have already been regularly practicing Bikram Yoga for at least a year and have an established practice, we recommend you take a break from Bikram hot yoga during the 1st trimester. See our Pregnancy FAQ for more information.
Bikram Yoga is great for healing, but if the injury is recent, or you've just come out of major surgery, you may want to wait until your condition has stabilized before coming into class. If in doubt ask your doctor.
In the very early stages of a cold or flu you may find that hot conditions of the room and the profuse sweating may help to ease your symptoms. However, you may also wish to rest at home and come back when you are feeling better. In either case, hydrate well and eat moderately during recovery from illness. When you return, Bikram Yoga can be a great way to clean out the last traces of the illness.
If you're fasting for religious reasons (e.g. for Ramadan), or detoxing with a low calorie intake you may want to avoid Bikram Yoga during this time. Your body is already under stress and you may not have the 'fuel' for a Bikram Yoga class.
If you've given blood today considering resting up and coming to Bikram Yoga the next day. Often giving blood can make people feel a bit weak or lightheaded, and it is best to rest.
On the day you have a colonic, strong massage or other body work, you may want to skip your Bikram class and come back the next day. The body sometimes needs time to assimilate a healing session without extra exertion.
Bikram Yoga is a vigorous yoga practice. If you're not eating enough you may have difficulty. Please consult your doctor or healthcare professional before coming to class.
Drink a bit too much alcohol the night before? It is best to avoid Bikram Yoga if you are hung over because you may be severely dehydrated. Bikram is great for detoxing, but if you are too hung over, or even still under the effects of alcohol from the night before, your yoga experience may be quite stressful. Better to wait until the next day - yoga and alcohol don't mix!
Yoga is an ancient holistic healing practice and should never be mixed with any form of recreational drug use. That being said, Bikram yoga can be of great assistance for those who are in the recovery phase of drug or alcohol addiction.
As a beginner, remember that it will take a regular practice over a period of time for your body to begin to work properly with the postures. Only then will you body systems begin to function more optimally.
You must also remember that Bikram Yoga alone is not an answer to health and weight issues. Your practice has to be combined with other healthy living habits.
Over time your appetite will normalize and unhealthy craving begin to diminish. Eat the best quality food you can, hydrate well, practice regularly and you will have a better chance of achieving a more optimal weight.
In your practice, always remember “it is not what you do but how you do it.”
Don’t let your mind wander in class and avoid being impatient or aggressive with yourself. You are more likely to hurt yourself if you overuse your strength and practice mindlessly, not following the instruction you are being given by your teacher.
Keep breathing throughout your class as the breath not only helps to refresh your body with oxygen, it also helps keep your mind in the moment and aware of what your body it doing at all times.
Bikram Yoga does indeed promote stretching and elasticity of muscles. It does so much more, though. It also promotes strength and balance...balanced strength, and balanced flexibility.
If you find in your practice, for example, that your abdominals need strengthening or your hips or shoulders need stabilizing, you could do weight training that accomplishes those goals. The more your hips and shoulders are stabilized by balanced strength around the joints, the more in alignment your postures and your body will be.
It is also possible to only do Bikram Yoga and accomplish these goals, as the practice itself deepens your awareness of your body's needs.
It is quite acceptable to practice Bikram Yoga when menstruating as we do not include the inverted postures practiced in other styles of yoga.
Bikram Yoga is very helpful for toning the reproductive system and helping a woman’s cycle become more regular with very complaints of PMS.
The actual frequency of your practice is not as important as the regularity of your practice. We have had students do long challenges of 60 or 100 days and then stop completely. You are far more likely to achieve significant improvement in your health and well-being through a regular practice of 3 to 4 times a week. The actual frequency will vary from one student to the next, depending upon many factors in their life.
Bikram Yoga helps balance the emotions in several ways. Physiologically, regular practice harmonizes the nervous and endocrine systems, two systems which significantly impact upon emotional well-being.
In addition, practicing Bikram Yoga cultivates the mental faculties of faith, self-control, concentration, determination and patience. As we become more aware of our inner life, we notice how events, interactions, and even the atmospheric pressure can effect us. When we are aware, we can exercise choice in our response. This helps us balance our emotional life.
The word aerobic literally means "with oxygen" or "in the presence of oxygen, involving or improving oxygen consumption by the body." Aerobic activity trains the heart, lungs and cardiovascular system to process and deliver oxygen more quickly and efficiently to every part of the body by elevating the heart rate during exercise to its target level. As the heart muscle becomes stronger and more efficient, a larger amount of blood can be pumped with each contraction. Fewer contractions are then required to rapidly transport oxygen to all parts of the body.
You can derive these benefits from practicing Bikram yoga. Use this formula to find your target heart rate: 220 minus your age times 60% and times 90%
For example, a 30-year old would calculate his target zone using the above formula:
220-30=190. 190x.60=114 and 190x.90=171.
This individual would try to keep his heart rate between 114 (low end) and 171 (high end) beats per minute.
You can take your pulse during class and see that due to the nature of the asanas, your heart rate and respiration become elevated to your target level. This can help you determine how intensely to work during class.
The evening 6pm classes are usually the largest as people are practicing between leaving work and returning home, but this is really not that important. Just come whenever you want. Your mat, your mind, your body, your yoga - nothing else matters. Don't be put off by a crowded class - they can have fabulous energy.
An important lesson is to avoid allowing expectations to trip you up. Aim to practice with a clear mind, with no expectations, and remember that while the yoga never changes (every Bikram class is 90 minutes with the same sequence of postures and breathing exercises), your body will change and is truly different every day. Some days you will have challenging classes and other days you will breeze through them. Take each class (and each day) as it comes..a unique opportunity to learn more about yourself.
For nearly all Bikram poses you breathe in and out through your nose. This will help to increase your meditative state, physical strength and mental focus on each moment of your practice. If you are feeling overwhelmed at any stage, try short inhales and long exhales. We only breathe through the mouth in the very first pose of the series Pranayama Breathing and in Sit Ups.
In all postures you need oxygen in the lungs to maintain proper strength while performing the posture. Many postures will allow your normal pattern of full inhalation and exhalation. For other more strenuous postures, you will use 80-20 breathing. In this method of breathing, you begin by taking in a full 100% breath. Then as you hold the posture, continuously breathe and exchange just 20% of the air through your nose with your mouth closed.
Namasté is a common greeting or salutation used in the Indian subcontinent where yoga originated. It is a friendly 'hello' or 'goodbye' between people and a sign of respect. The meaning of the word is based on a spiritual principle of common divinity:
I honour the place in you in which the entire universe dwells.
I honor the place in you which is of love, of truth, of light, and of peace.
When you are in that place,
And I am in that place in me,
We are one.
It takes more than a hot room and a list of postures to make your Bikram Yoga practice a safe, rewarding experience. Bikram Yoga is a specialized form of yoga, requiring appropriate training and knowledge to teach it effectively.
Our studio only employs teachers who have been certified as an instructor in the Bikram method of yoga after completing an intensive nine-week training program requiring over 500 hours of study. Our teachers also attend ongoing training and recertification programs to continually improved their skills and knowledge as a Bikram Yoga teacher.
Outside of the yoga room you will find spray bottles and small towels that may be used to clean your mat before storing or taking it home.
It is important to wash your mat every few weeks. This should be done in a front-end loading washing machine. Good quality mats are durable and many can be dried in a commercial tumble dryer or just hung outside to air dry.