So, you’re thinking about trying Bikram yoga for the first time. Maybe you’ve seen the paparazzi shots of celebrities leaving Bikram yoga class, or a famous athlete striking a pose, or someone you know is singing praises of their newfound sweaty activity and it has piqued your curiosity…but you’re hesitant to take your first class because trying new things can be, let’s face it, scary.
On the other hand, maybe you’re busting to try it out but you heard that the yoga room is called a “torture chamber” or you saw a pic of Lady Gaga doing it once in her underwear and stilettos and thought, “there’s not a chance in hell I’m doing that”?
Well, I’m here to bust the biggest fears that might be holding you back from trying it out. Here we go!
1. You Think You’re Not Flexible Enough
Bikram yoga is a beginner’s yoga class, so it’s suitable for absolute beginners through to advanced practitioners. I often hear people say that they would love to try it but they’re not flexible enough. I want to assure you, you don’t need to be flexible to begin, it is a by-product – not a requirement - of practicing yoga.
You don’t need to be able to touch your toes, my friend; you just need an open mind. So, just come. Give it a go. The yoga will meet you where you are and your teacher will embrace your newness, make you comfortable, and keep you safe in your first class. All you have to do is listen to their guidance. You will gain flexibility and much, much more.
2. It’s Too Damn Hot
The class is a series of 26 hatha yoga postures and 2 breathing exercises practiced in a heated room…or as it has affectionately been coined, a “torture chamber,” of 40 degrees Celsius for 90 minutes. Please don’t let that reference deter you.
I can assure you there are no teachers wielding whips in the room. The heat is the second most common reason that people tell me prevents them from coming. Don’t let it. I can say that because I speak from experience.
I wanted to try Bikram Yoga for years before I finally went to my first class because I had convinced myself I couldn’t exercise in the heat, but once I tried it, I realized how distorted the stories we tell ourselves often are. Don’t believe anything unless you experience it to be true.
It can take a few classes to acclimatize to the heat, but I can assure you it is nothing like the midday sun beating down on you during a heat wave as you pound the pavement. Don’t take my word though, the only way you’ll know is if you try.
3. The Dress Code Freaks You Out
You might be warming to the idea now (excuse the pun) of rolling your mat out in a class, but the thought of getting half-naked and wearing short shorts, like you’ve seen online, in a room full of strangers is giving you anxiety.
Don’t worry, skimpy is not the compulsory dress code. You won’t be asked to strip at the door. Phew, you sigh! Wear whatever gym-type attire you feel comfortable in. Just make sure the fabric isn’t too thick or too loose because when it gets sweaty it can get heavy. Crop leggings, shorts, a tank top or a crop top are perfect.
If you continue with your newfound Bikram yoga practice, you will more than likely transition to exposing more flesh. It’s more about feeling cooler and less restricted in your practice, than it is about vanity. With less coverage, you’re also going to be able to correct your alignment better in the mirrors, check that your knee really is “locked” (thigh muscle contracted and knee cap lifting up) and that you’re keeping your belly sucked in nice and tight when you are being instructed to do so.
So I ask you now, what is there to fear? I’m betting only the regret of not trying if you don’t step outside of your comfort zone and experience it for yourself. If you’re feeling the pull, follow it. I say don’t wait, just start. There will never be a better time than now.
by Heidi More - Heidi is a Bikram Yoga Teacher, Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Trainee and Health Coach at This Whole Life in Adelaide, Australia. Heidi aims to inspire women to live life led by love, discover their own prescription for health beyond their jeans size or what’s on their dinner plates. Connect with Heidi on Facebook and Instagram.
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