Turning up for a hot Bikram yoga class is one thing. Keeping your cool and observing proper etiquette in one is another. Try not to do any of the following unless you are convinced that being a total nuisance is going to help everyone else improve their focus as they practice in the same hot room with you. In which case ... kudos!
1. Lose your cool.
Yes, 40.5 degrees Celsius is hot. There's a reason why the room is this hot. The heat helps you stretch better. It protects you from overstraining your muscles and from injuring yourself. Think about the heat as a balm instead of an age-old enemy you have to fight, cuss and rage against. While there are elaborate Sanskrit names for all 26 asanas in the Bikram beginner's series, guess what's the real name for each and every one of these poses? "Keep It Together." Yep, you heard me. Once you ditch wincing and whining, you can start winning. You signed up for this. You turned up for this. If you lose your cool, the heat is on you. So don't lose your cool. Don't lose your shit. Deal with it.
2. Leave the room.
It's hot. You're hot. If the room hasn't given up on you, why give up on it? You have feet. You can walk away from the room. But you know what? You can't walk away from yourself. Stay the course, stay in the room, and learn by being exactly where you are without acting on the impulse to fly the coop. It's a chance to understand just what triggers you.
3. Sit on your mat.
Check the schedule again. Did you sign up for a yoga class, or a mat-sitting class? We'd advise you to confirm what you signed up for, just so you can see where exactly you need to be at, and proceed to do what you showed up to do.
4. Shoot dirty looks everywhere.
In a hot yoga class, you work on steadying your breath. You work on steadying your mind. You work on your body, not your face. Seriously, why would you inadvertently shoot dirty looks at your peers who are working through the same process as you are, or at your teacher, who's really rooting for you to work through all your mat demons? (Sorry, Matt Damon). At the very least, if you really do need to flash some elaborate facial origami, try a crazy grin instead.
5. Clap loudly toward the end.
Fact: During "kapalbhati in vajrasana" (blowing in firm pose) before your final savasana (corpse pose), the teacher claps to help everyone in the room keep perfect pace as they breathe in and out through the mouth rapidly. Which means it is totally unnecessary — and plain silly — to clap along, unless your intention is to provide a bit of comic relief to a teacher who's been teaching four hot classes in a row. In which case, we think you're secretly nice, and will therefore excuse you for the behavior.
LowLai Chow is a firm Bikram yoga advocate since 2012. She may be contacted via email at l.laichow[a]gmail.com or you can find out more on her website and follow her on Twitter.