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Bikram yoga: You are going to sweat

Yoga in a hot room is sure to

Yoga in a hot room is sure to make you sweat. (Credit: Getty Images)

I am not athletic by any means, but I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with Bikram Yoga (also called Hot Yoga).

The yoga practice involves a series of 26 body-bending poses, each repeated twice, done over a 90-minute period in a room heated to about 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity. What’s to hate, right?

But during my Bikram love cycles (my pattern involves a period of a few months when I go to class religiously followed by about six months of not going at all), I find that the practice serves as a form of detox and meditation, and it improves flexibility, concentration, weight loss and muscle definition.

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Considering trying it out? Here’s what I’ve learned through my practice:

You will sweat

Words can barely describe how much. It is advised to bring a towel to class to lay over your mat, and also bring a bottle or two of water. I find that tight yoga clothing is the most comfortable, because loose clothing ends up sticking to you. Instructors in classes I’ve been to have advised us not to wipe away our sweat because sweating is the body’s way of cooling itself down, so if you wipe it away, you’re erasing the good work your body is trying to do for you.

You will feel dizzy, nauseous

It’s not a given but a definite possibility. Your first class or two will be the hardest, after that, your body will begin to adjust to the heat. It’s perfectly acceptable to sit or lie down during class if you’re feeling unstable. No one is judging you, in fact, no one is even watching you. If you’ll look around, you’ll notice that yogis are very focused on their own bodies and making slight adjustments in each pose to get closer to their maximum potential. If you stick with it, you’ll do the same.

You will have to listen

Your instructor will not physically demonstrate the poses. Instead, he or she will audibly guide you through the routine. Newcomers are encouraged to look around, but you may find that when you listen carefully, your instructors cues are surprisingly on point. All certified Bikram Yoga instructors have completed nine weeks of training with founder Bikram Choudhury. Not everyone who completes the nine weeks is awarded certification. So in short, your instructors know what they’re talking about.

You can do it

Bikram yoga is not for everyone, but instructors will stress that it is possible for everyone. It is encouraged for people of all ages, shapes, sizes and experience levels. Each posture can be adjusted for beginners and instructors will help you make small adjustments as you improve. The 26 poses are also designed to work as a sequence, so when one posture makes your heart race, the next one will slow it down. The most important thing is to pay attention to your own body and push it to the limit, but not over the limit.

Use the comment section to share your experience, whether it’s concerns for your first time or what motivates you to keep going back to such an intense class. I know I could use tips for the latter!

More questions? Check out the official Bikram Yoga website. 

Tags: Erin Geismar , Hot Yoga , Bikram Yoga , yoga , fitness , exercise

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