“The greatest challenge yields the greatest possibility for change” – Bikram Choudary
Bikram Yoga is the original “hot yoga” practice consisting of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises to cleanse both the body and mind.
The first time I stepped into a Bikram Yoga studio I was scared, nervous, and clueless about what to expect. I had never done hot yoga and had only a little practice on my own from P90x. That was my introduction to yoga which inspired me to continue practicing over 7 years later.
One this is certain, you will sweat – A LOT!
Bring a yoga mat, a towel for your mat (very important!), and water to have a successful practice.
Once you enter the hot room, simply breathe and listen to your body and the teacher. Your Bikram Yoga teacher will guide you through a mostly scripted sequence while helping you to enter into each posture to the best of your ability for that day.
After my practice this morning at Bikram Yoga Wilmington, I felt it was necessary to share my perspective and some of the lessons I continue to learn every time I show up and embrace the heat.
Commit Yourself and Show Up
Sign up for the class in advance and pay if possible. Whether you are an expert yogi or a first time Bikram Yoga practitioner, don’t give yourself the option to bail. I do this as far in advance as possible to avoid any possible scenarios in which I convince myself NOT to go. This has happened before…
Do something to keep yourself accountable and show up. Arrive 10-15 minutes early, settle into the room, and try your best to calm your mind while preparing your body for 90 minutes of sheer hard work and detoxification.
Again, to show up is the most difficult part of anything we do in our lives. Invest in yourself and embrace the suck. You’ll be glad you did. Just keep showing up as often as you can/need.
Bikram Yoga is practiced using pranayama breathing which is a controlled and calm breath through the nose. The reason for the nose breathing is to help prevent the mind from triggering a “fight or flight” sensation often experienced when you breathe through your mouth. It allows for a deeper and more controlled mind-body connection throughout your practice.
The more you focus on your breath during each and every posture the more you will find peace of mind in positions that are not so comfortable. Don’t worry, camel pose is coming sooner than you think, which means it is almost over!
You will begin to respect the practice the more you show up. The harder you “try” to get into each posture the more difficult your practice will be. When you allow your breath to control your practice, you will use your body and muscles in a way that is only experienced through these techniques that enable deep levels of stretching through pushing, pulling, stretching, and breathing into each of the 26 postures.
Don’t Skip The Final Shavasana
Whether you’re a beginner or long-time yogi, the Shavasana posture is the most essential part of the practice.
Yoga is as much or even more of a mental practice than it is physical. It will test your mental fortitude to push through incredible levels of discomfort often more than it will test your physical strength. Bikram Yoga is meant to test the body you show up with TODAY and for you to do your best. The real practice begins when you breathe and allow your mind to control your body, not the other way around.
Shavasana is also known as “corpse pose”, simply laying down on your back and relaxing both your body and mind. As you continue pranayama breathing, your racing heartbeat, and mental chatter both continue to wind down as you embrace the necessary recovery between postures of the floor series.
I recommend spending at least 5 minutes sitting in Shavasana before you leave the room.
For me, it allows me to either meditate and embrace all of the thoughts racing through my mind, or to think deeply about my intention for the practice and purpose of why I bothered showing up at all. Or simply sit and embrace the fact that you showed up and put yourself through immense strain and sweat to get to this point. You did it.
The final Shavasana is what will bring your practice full circle.
So sit for 5 minutes, you’ll be glad you did.
Bikram Yoga has become an essential part of my lifestyle and helps me to express the best version of myself which is no easy task.
I use my practice to compliment other strength and endurance training. My workouts mostly consist of jump rope workouts, body weight training, mobility exercise, running, and the several hobbies and sports which I enjoy when possible.
It disciplines my mind and forces me to work harder and embrace discomfort and fear. This enhances humility as well as perseverance when things get tough in life.
Would you agree that life is a combination of embracing fear to try new things and continuously challenge ourselves to become a better version of who we are? To become better at what we do and love most?
Lastly, Bikram Yoga is a remarkable community of people who care about their health and lifestyle. You’ll be surrounded by all types of amazing people who work hard and continue to show up to improve themselves for the people they care most about.
Thanks to Bikram Yoga Wilmington (Billy, MJ, and Angie) for their amazing teaching and support. You guys rock!