4 Tips for Surviving Your First Bikram Class Safely

Recently, tabloids broke the news that Britain's Prince Harry was a recent convert to Bikram yoga -- which isn't surprising, since news of new yoga-loving celebrities is as common as hand-to-hand combat on a Real Housewives TV episode.

While the sweltering heat and high humidity of a Bikram yoga session has numerous medical benefits, such as increased calorie-burning and improved flexibility, it’s also not the easiest form of yoga to jump into. If you’re interested in taking Bikram yoga like Prince Harry, several beginner-friendly health tips can help you to safely enjoy your first session without experiencing royal pains.

1. Drink a lot of water. The “eight glasses a day” recommendation is for sedentary people. Athletes and other fitness enthusiasts have higher hydration needs. Many Bikram teachers advocate drinking a minimum of three liters of water per day.

2. Chow down some electrolytes. You’ll lose a lot of salt and electrolytes as you sweat in your Bikram class – some estimate that people lose approximately a liter of sweat per class – and failure to replenish your electrolytes can lead to dizziness, nausea and other nasty feelings. There are many sport hydrator products on the market – try to stay away from those that come boosted with sugars and carbohydrates – while whole-food options, such as potassium-rich bananas, also do the job.

3. Move slowly and carefully. Don’t be intimidated by the guy in front of you who can stretch into a pretzel. In the heat, it’s often easy to go past your “edge” and move into an area that can lead to injury and tissue strains. While a sense of being uncomfortable is okay, sharp pains mean you’re pushing yourself too far.

4. Stay present. During the Bikram class, you’ll likely feel a wave of emotions ranging from desperation to anxiety. Acknowledge those feelings, then let them pass over you in release. Your mind is often the most self-defeating element of any intense workout, including Bikram yoga. Focus on your breath and stay in the room – both physically and mentally.

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