The list of dos and donts is ever expanding when it comes to Bikram Yoga.
The beauty of the practice is that the more you practice the 26 2 series, the more you learn, and the more advice you have to share.
On the heels of my previous article, 10 Things NOT To Do In Bikram Yoga, I’ve added my top 10 DOs for the hot room.
It’s my hope that these tips will intrigue some of you to try Bikram Yoga, or at least learn more about it. For regular practitioners, I hope these points resonate and give some food for thought.
See you in the hot room! Namaste.
10. DO… speak with your teacher prior to class about any injuries.
This will give you, and your teacher, peace of mind during the class. Your teacher will better be able to guide you. In turn, by respecting your injury, you will be more aware and conscious of your limitations.
9. DO… know that a little leads to a lot.
When I first started the Bikram series, my butt wouldn’t touch my heels in Tortoise Pose. Little by little, class after class, I’d focus on parts of my body that I knew I needed to stretch (locked arms), and relax (hips). After a couple of years, Tortoise Pose has become one of my favorite asanas as I continue to stretch and relax into it. (And yes, my butt now touches my heels.)
8. DO… rein in your focus and listen to the dialogue.
Coming into class, sometimes our mind is inundated with thoughts, and can get easily distracted. During those 90 minutes, it might feel like all poses are off-kilter. My advice: gather your focus and simply listen to the teacher’s words. Your practice will get closer to meditative. Maybe you’ll feel your spine stretch that little bit more; a pose may finally *click* in a way that you hadn’t experienced. Give your mind that much needed rest.
7. DO… be proud of your efforts and understand your limitations.
Acknowledging that some poses may prove more challenging than others is the first step in bettering your practice. Bikram has mentioned in many classes that the most important thing is to do the poses the right way with 100% effort. While the series is structured, it’s true that our personal practices are ever evolving.
6. DO… be supportive of your fellow class mates.
Class feels so much better when you’re actively giving out good energy. Lifting one another up to new heights, being present and positive, is really inspiring.
5. DO… smile during class.
First time someone recommended this to me, I thought, I’ll look like a goofball in class if I smile at myself in the mirror. Ever since, I’ve tried smiling to myself, as opposed to my reflection, and have felt my practice become lighter; my mood more positive.
Tip: Try smiling to yourself while in a pose – as you soar in Full Locust Pose, or while folding into Hands to Feet, perhaps as you lift into Bow. Over time, a smile will come naturally.
4. DO… fall out of a posture.
Who hasn’t experienced this? You’re giving 100% and doing it the right way, but you fall out of a pose. Well, so be it – this is a good thing! As Bikram has been quoted as saying, “Falling out of a posture means you are human; getting back into a posture means you are a yogi.”
3. DO… be mindful of how you exit postures and transition between them.
Paying attention to the way you start, end, and move between poses will conserve your energy as you flow through class. No fuss, no muss.
2. DO… make the practice "your" practice.
It’s been my experience that performing at my own pace, with respect to the Bikram posture series, results in a powerful practice. Yes, it differs from day to day – my lower back is tight one day; the next day, I nail both sets of Standing Bow. Taking the good and bad in equal stride has allowed me to accept whatever comes my way with more grace and gratitude.
1. DO… use Bikram Yoga as a gateway to other yoga styles.
Bikram Yoga introduced the practice of yoga to me, for which I am eternally grateful. As a consequence, it has encouraged me to embrace other styles of yoga and yoga teachings. Deepening my knowledge and appreciation for this ancient science is fulfilling, and it’s impossible not to learn something new every day.
In the words of Yoga Master teacher, BKS Iyengar, "Yoga is a light which, once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame."