Dos and Don’ts of Bikram Yoga

Have you ever thought of all the ways your life has changed after having kids? Pre-kids, I used to wake up every morning and stretch. My mom enrolled me in ballet lessons when I was 2, I danced consistently for 24 years, and my muscles still crave a good stretch. About 7 years ago, before I had my oldest, I used to take several yoga classes a week; I was even doing power yoga 8 months pregnant. I can’t believe what my pre-child body used to be like or look like. #KidsDestroyYou.

After I having kids, I am too busy rushing to get out the door in the morning to stretch, and I spend my evenings lesson planning, cleaning, working my oil business, or writing my blog; there’s no time to breathe, let alone stretch. The mom guilt even brought me to join a fitness class called Hot Mommas, it is a stroller workout class that let’s you bring your kids with you while you exercise. I mean, after working all day, I couldn’t put them in a daycare while I worked out in peace! However, I love that class, and go try to go at least twice a week.

One day, my neighbor sent me a text message. She bought a Groupon to take Bikram Yoga classes and wanted me to join her. I responded, “10 classes for $20 was cheap. I am in! Let’s do it!” Did we ever go together? Nope, not once. Finally, my Groupon was going to expire, so I had to go. I had no clue what I was getting into. I showed up with my dirty exercise mat from my Hot Momma class, and did not expect to see men in their boxers, or the smell of all those sweaty bodies (someone PLEASE diffuse some purification in that room!!!!!).

If that Groupon shows up in your email, and you are tempted to give Bikram a try, here’s my dish about what to do before, during and after a Bikram Yoga Class so that you aren’t as clueless as I was:

  1. Bring a clean mat, and resist the temptation to go cheap and get a 5 And Below Mat; they shred.
  2. Bring a hand towel. It is 105 degrees in the studio, and prepare to sweat like you’ve never sweat before. Even my knees were sweating! I reached for bent knee triangle pose (trikanasana), and my elbow slipped on my knee. You will want to wipe down your entire body throughout the 90 minute class.
  3. Yes, it is 90 minutes long. 90 Long.Hot.Minutes. Bring a very large water bottle with cool water. I love this insulated Takeya 40 ounce water bottle that I bought at Costco, and it keeps your water cool for 24 hours.
  4. Bring a microfiber hot yoga towel to place over your mat. So without that towel, you might sweat and slip off your mat! I took one step into dandayamana bibhaktapada paschimottanasana (Standing Separate-Leg Stretching Pose), and almost slid off the mat and pulled a groin! It will also protect your shoulders from sliding off the mat. It soaks up the sweat.
  5. Yes, I said dandayamana bibhaktapada paschimottanasana. Say what?! Position yourself in the back behind the person modeling the class, because you will not have a clue what these names mean!
  6. Shall I mention again that it’s 105 degrees in there? Do not wear yoga pants. Wear shorts and a tank top or sports bra. I personally am not comfortable sporting a sports bra and shorts (I do have 2 kids), but you want to wear minimal clothing. Maybe that’s why these men wear their boxers… Anyway, I like Asics – 2-N-1 Woven Shorts because they have a built in biker short underneath. So when I bent over for Padahastasana (hand under foot pose), my butt cheeks weren’t hanging out! NO ONE needs to see that!
  7. Let’s go back to the sweat. At least bring a change of clothes, because they will be soaked. I didn’t the first time, and the leather seat in my car needed to be cleaned after I drove home. I am not a “shower in the gym kind of gal.” Being the germ freak that I am, it just gives me the hebegebees. My mother-in-law likes to save water and shower in the gym – I just don’t get it. However, I would gladly risk the hebegebees, because the nastiness that I feel after 90 minutes of Bikram yoga is way worse than fear of athlete’s feet from a studio shower.
  8. Toss the mat, your towels and your clothes in the wash machine immediately when you get home. They will be wet and stanky. I left the clothes in front of the wash machine in my mud room, and couldn’t figure out what was smelling in my kitchen!
  9. Get your bottle of Deep Relief ready. After the class I had a pain down my arm and around my elbow. I actually overworked my shoulder muscles. I never knew that someone needed to get a massage under their armpits. It was the most awkward 30 minute massage of my life. I didn’t know I even had muscles there that could hurt! Bottom line, you will be sore in places that you didn’t know existed.
  10. Tell yourself that you can do it! I takes a lot of focus to do those poses, and even more determination to want to go back after you can’t walk for a couple days. Each time gets better. You can go deeper in the poses, hurt less, and are more comfortable with the routine.
  11. It’s worth at least 2 tries, because the first time you really are just experimenting. Give it at least a 2 attempt, even if you think you didn’t like it. It grows on you!

So far, I’ve used 4 of my 10 Groupon classes at Bikram Chesterfield, and I really would like to keep up with it after I’m done. I feel great when I leave, refreshed both mentally and physically. I work out muscles that I normally don’t and didn’t even know that I had! FYI, If you don’t like it, hot yoga is is a little cooler in the room, and physically not as exhausting.

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