Hot Tips for a Happy Hot/Bikram Yoga Class

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I’ve absolutely positively fallen in love with Bikram Yoga and the many blessings it has brought to my life in the 11 months I’ve been practicing. I thought it might be fun to share some of my thoughts about how to have a happy and successful Bikram experience. These are my thoughts only. I’m sure I’ve left something out, so please feel free to add in the comment section and please feel free to share with others if you feel my thoughts might be of help.

BEFORE CLASS:

1)      TIMELINESS: Show up early. Actually, show up at least fifteen minutes before the start of class. This will give sufficient time to place your belongings away, situate your mat, and use the lavatory. Showing up late (and someone almost always does) disrupts the class.

2)      CLOTHING (for the girls): What to wear: less is more. An acceptable amount of less, that is. About five months into my Bikram Yoga practice, I lost my inhibitions and started practicing in my bike shorts and sports bra, making my practice so much more enjoyable and the heat more bearable. I also wear cotton as it allows my skin to breathe more freely.

CLOTHING (for the guys): For the guys: less is more too! Speedo type yoga outfits give you much more coverage than regular shorts. They hold more in when you’re doing poses like standing bow, locust, etc.

3)      SCENTS: Avoid wearing perfume and/or lotion. Wearing perfume will make it difficult for others to breathe. If you wear lotion, it’ll be so much more difficult to hold your leg during standing bow or your feet during floor bow.  Think of how little grip anyone would have with sweaty, greasy skin!

4)      CELL PHONES: Leave them outside the door.  They’re distracting to you and to your fellow practitioners. Besides, do you really want stinky smelly sweat flung on your adored electronic device?

5)      WATCH WHERE YOU WALK: When walking into the yoga room, do your best not to step on others’ yoga mats. It’s polite AND sanitary!

6)      MENTAL ATTITUDE: Leave ALL your “stuff” outside the door. If you’re not in the moment, the moment won’t be in you!

7)      HAIR: If you have long hair, you’ll want to put it up. If you forget hair ties/scrunchies, the studio usually has some. I prefer colorful scrunchies, but have discovered they start to stink after a while, so if you’re a fan of scrunchies, then you’ll want to make sure you can wash them! If you choose to leave your long hair down, you run the risk of flinging more sweat than you already do and of having sweat drenched hair fall in places that cause distraction and/or discomfort.

8)      HYDRATION: Hydration does not happen during class!  Hydrate the day before and the day of! Hydrate with water, with fruit, and with veggies!  Always hydrate!  Hydrate after class, too!  During class, water breaks wet your whistle; they don’t function as your hydration source. A well-hydrated body has more energy in the hot room!

DURING CLASS:

9)      HYDRATION PART TWO: Bring water to class. BUT, don’t drink until the instructor calls for the first water break, after eagle!  Following eagle, some instructors set water breaks; others allow you to drink as needed.  In the latter instance, wait until the class is between poses to dip for that water bottle. Drinking during a pose disrupts the flow of others’ poses.

10)   WIPING THAT SWEAT: Don’t wipe. Yes, the room feels hot—it’s 105 degrees!  But the very second you wipe, even if it’s just to temporarily keep a drip of sweat off your face, you’ll just end up making yourself hotter. Think of it as the evaporative cooling effect. It might feel better for a second, but you WILL feel hotter. Also, unnecessary wiping of sweat disrupts the meditative stillness of the room.

11)   MORE ON SWEAT: You’ll sweat; others will sweat; if you’re a sweat fountain, bring an extra towel and wipe up your sweat between poses and after class.

12)   EVEN MORE ON SWEAT: If sweat bothers you in general. If you find yourself obsessing over where the sweat of your fellow practitioners’ falls, you’ll get over it once your practice becomes more regular. In the hot room you just can’t escape sweat.

13)   WHERE TO PRACTICE: Practice in the front of the room just once. You never know what you might see! The front row is usually reserved for seasoned practitioners, so make sure you’re having an “on” day when you try this!

14)   WHERE TO PRACTICE, PART TWO: Looking to place your mat in a cool spot in the room? Place it near a door or a window with a draft, but, generally, the room’s hot. You can’t escape that.  Being near the door might give you teasing, momentary relief.

15)   WHERE TO PRACTICE IN THE ROOM, PART THREE: Wherever you put your mat down, someone will put theirs near you, unless it’s a small class. All you need is the space on your mat. Trust me on this one. If you really want to go to a small class, pay for a private or try a middle of the day class in the middle of the week.

16)   APPEARANCE IN THE ROOM: Don’t worry about how you look doing poses. If anyone is watching you, they’re not in their moment, in their practice. Be in your practice.  That’s all that matters, anyway. I have felt so much happier and peaceful since the day I stopped worrying so much about the way my body looked in the hot room.

17)   BATHROOM/KLEENEX BREAKS: Not happening (unless you’re pregnant). Sure, nobody is going to lock the door, but seasoned practitioners know what “bathroom/kleenex breaks” are really about—they’re about getting yourself a few minutes relief from the heat. Fight through the urge to escape.  Your body will thank you and so will your fellow practitioners. Besides, the heat allows your body to go more deeply into poses, and leaving the room for cold air counteracts that benefit. Oh, and if you need a Kleenex, there’s usually some in the room or bring a few if you’re prone to sneezing fits.

18)   LISTEN TO YOUR BODY: If a pose hurts a portion of your body, before you decide to sit it out see if you can find a way to modify the pose do it doesn’t hurt. If you have a pre-existing injury, tell your instructor before class so s/he can offer suggestion. If a pose bothers/hurts you during class ask the instructor after class to see if they can offer an adjustment that will help.

19)   FEELING LIGHTHEADED AND/DIZZY: if you feel light-headed and/or dizzy and need to stop, just stand and breathe (or stay on the floor and breathe if you’re doing the floor series). If, while breathing, you start to reach for water or a towel, take that energy and put it into your pose. If you have the energy to reach for that water/towel, you have the energy to do your yoga. Your breath gives you all you need.

AFTER CLASS:

20)   LOCKER ROOM ETIQUETTE, PART ONE : Lose your inhibitions in the dressing room. You’ll be happier just throwing off your sweaty clothes after class and not worrying about what others may think of your body. All of us have the same body parts—they just don’t look the same! I learned fairly quickly that my body felt better the sooner I removed the sweat-drenched clothes from my skin. Most studios have too many students to have individual dressing rooms. Some people, I’ve noticed, like to use the bathrooms as changing rooms, but this results in unnecessary and sometimes painful delays for those who really need a lavatory!

21)   LOCKER ROOM ETIQUETTE, PART TWO: Take short showers, three minutes or less. This isn’t your home. Don’t shave your legs, your pits; don’t exfoliate your entire body; don’t give yourself that homemade facial that takes fifteen minutes! Get in the shower; wash the sweat off; give your hair a quick wash and get out! People are waiting!!!! FYI: not all studios have showers, so call ahead to make sure if you’re a person who needs a shower.

22)   BLOW DRYERS: If you really need to dry your hair, bring your own or call ahead, but, generally, a yoga studio changing room doesn’t have tons of space for primping (some do though!).

GENERAL TIPS:

23)   HEAT: The room will be hot. You will survive. Just remember to breathe and do your best to stay in the room. Just staying in the room the first couple of times will give you a yoga high unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.

24)   MAT: If you like hot/Bikram Yoga, really like it, invest in a good mat, or, at the very least, a good yoga mat towel, such as Yogitoes or eQua.  A solid mat/towel will provide you with so much more stability and will be more effective at soaking up sweat. A few weeks ago, after practicing 6-7 times a week for ten months, I decided to invest in a Manduka Pro-lite.  Not cheap by any means ($78), but worth the money. I feel more stability in my poses, and it doesn’t absorb odor.  Prior to the Manduka, I’d been using regular mats, which felt squishy, and they would retain the odor, requiring frequent washings.

25)   MORE ON MATS: If you use an inexpensive mat, buy a new one every year.  No amount of washing will completely remove the stench of a year’s worth of sweat.

26)   MAT TOWELS: See above. Buy new ones after a year.  Your nose and everyone else’s will thank you.

27)   GYM/YOGA BAG: Buy one that breathes and/or clean out the one you have with vinegar or some other cleaning solution.  Otherwise your car and your house will find themselves housing sweaty odors, and you’ll notice people not wanting to hang around you in your environment.

28)   WATER BOTTLE: Invest in a good water bottle.  It will pay for itself in time. I have a water bottle that keeps water cool, with the extra added benefit of unleashing a cool back draft onto my face after I take a sip. http://www.hydroflask.com/

29)   EATING: Consume lighter foods. Heavier foods make it more difficult to practice effectively, bogging down your body, mind, and spirit. Also, if you’ve ever found yourself having a difficult time in class, ask yourself what foods/drinks you ate the day before or the day of. Heavier foods/processed foods/sugary foods can be the cause of nausea and/or dizziness during class. Try not to eat two hours before class. You and your stomach will be happier. But show up no matter what!!  That counts more than anything!

30)   DRINKING (as in alcohol): alcohol dehydrates, so if you drink booze, don’t be a bozo, drink more water before and after class!

31)   GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY: When Bikram says “kill yourself” he means diminish all the little and not so little doubts that tell you can’t do a pose, you can’t be all you want, you can’t, you can’t, you can’t, you can’t……….YOU CAN!!!!  Just show up and do IT!

32)   SMILE: Smiling makes every moment easier, happier, lighter, etc. Besides, have you noticed how unhappy people look when they don’t smile? I’m not advocating hiding pain, but smiling through pain can make it more bearable!

33)   LAUNDRY: You’ll be doing a lot of laundry. When you see your favorite detergent on sale, buy it in bulk. If you waited too long to wash your sweat-drenched clothes, add a drop of vinegar to your washing machine—it’ll take care of the added bacteria and odor. If you really wait too long you’ll want to buy new clothes.

34) WAXING: For the ladies and gents who wax. Don’t Don’t Don’t wax before you got to a Bikram class unless you are a glutton for punishment. I had my eyebrows waxed once before I went to a class and the pain felt excruciating, and that’s putting it mildly.

35)   SHARE GRATITUDE: Marcel Proust once said, “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”  When you leave the studio, smile and say thank you to your instructor.  If they said something particularly helpful during class, tell them. If they adjusted you during class, thank them. Being a Bikram instructor takes a great deal of time and effort, more than you will ever see in the class. It’s a true labor of love that consumes more of their lives than the 90 minutes they just spent making you sweat more than you ever thought you would. Fill your karma bank account and theirs by showing them your appreciation and love.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS: A regular Bikram yoga practice will change your life from the inside out. Much has been said about the sweating away of toxins. In the short time (11 months) that I’ve practiced, I can attest that I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I may not know exactly where I’m going, but I’m so much stronger for the time I spend in the hot room. It’s become my safe place, a place that allows me to dig deep within and pull from the reservoir of strength hiding within my soul. If you haven’t tried Bikram Yoga, give it a shot. You never know what you’ll find. And what you find might just be your Self. Namaste.

Follow more of my journey on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsofaYogaPrincess

An Attitude of Gratitude: my thanks to all of YOU!!!

I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has read my blog over the past few days. The words of love, compassion and unconditional support so many people have shared with me, have bolstered my desire to work even harder at creating the life I want and deserve.

I am so grateful that my story has touched others. That is why I’m so willing to “wear my heart on my sleeve.” Bikram yoga has changed my life in so many ways and has brought the most amazing and loving people into my life. It’s not just about the time I spend in the hot box, it’s about how I shape my life 24 hours a day.

I write blog entries when the inspiration strikes. I have a community facebook page and a personal facebook page where I detail my daily efforts at improving every aspect of my health (including fashion).

IF you’d like, please feel free to “like” my fb community page:

https://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsofaHawaiianPrincess

You’re also welcome to friend me on fb, IF you’d like:

https://www.facebook.com/IggieSue

Thank you for joining me on this journey! It’s truly an amazing one, and I can’t wait to experience the awesome gifts that await me! I am truly blessed!

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Things People Say

One of my friends posted a link to an NPR article, “Hating on Fat People Just Makes Them Fatter”. The article discusses the findings of a Florida survey that suggest “that discriminating against fat people only makes them fatter.” And I’m here to tell you that’s true.

I’ve been overweight all my life, well since I was eight anyways. People always loved to tell me that I needed to lose weight, and most of the time they weren’t nice about it.  Even the ones who should have been informed were often ill-advised.  I remember going to a doctor when I was twelve and he wanted to put me on a 600 calorie a day diet.  Really?  A twelve-old girl on a 600 calorie a day diet?  He was an idiot.  Even I knew that back then.  My mother didn’t, but that’s another story.

But that’s not the main construct of the article.  The study reports that people feel entitled to judge, to comment upon a person’s weight because they feel the person will then feel motivated to lose weight.  Actually I think people like to comment about other’s weight issues because it makes them feel better about themselves.

Everyone has an issue, but when one is overweight, obese, morbidly obese the issue becomes one that everyone can see, and since everyone eats they feel they know how to fix the one who has the problem with food, so the comments begin.

When I was a teenager adults would love to tell me that I needed to lose weight because it would get harder when I got older.  Actually, that’s not the important part of this story, of my story.

Let me tell you about how the supposed “experts” discriminated against me with their choice of dialogue.  How their semantics served to shame me rather than lift me up, and how in putting me down they actually did help to make me fatter, the opposite reaction of what they hoped for.

When I was in high school my gym teacher wanted me to walk/run several days a week during gym class to help me become more proficient at losing weight, but it had just the opposite effect.  It isolated me even more from my peers who spent gym class doing fun activities like tennis.  So I learned to hide during my “walk/runs” so I wouldn’t have to feel like such an outsider.

When I first started going to yoga classes at a yoga studio the owner, an MFCC, told me I should always go to new classes early so I could talk to the instructor and make sure they knew my situation.  Seriously?  That made me feel worse, but I kept going because I loved yoga, and I learned over the years to avoid the instructors who only knew how to teach to a certain body type.

Actually, I had the really good fortune to encounter two really good instructors early on in my practice, Ana Forrest and Rod Stryker.  From the moment they encountered me, they didn’t treat me any differently than anyone else.  Actually, maybe they did.  When they saw what this body could do, the pushed me even harder. Oh, and in case you think my current yoga obsession is something new—it’s not. I’d go their SIX hour workshops when I was nowhere near the shape I’m in now.  And they wouldn’t let me get away with anything, so, while those rooms weren’t 105 degrees, I still worked……

But I digress.  This is about how people have talked to me as a fat adult.  As an aside, can I just tell you I really don’t like the word fat?

When I joined 24 fitness for the first time, the membership counselor said to me “you really need to do something”.  Umm really you D******k. I think that’s why I’m here.  I didn’t say anything to him at the time because my self-esteem wasn’t that great, but if someone said that to me now they wouldn’t get off so easily.  The ONLY reason I didn’t walk out then and there is because I had a drive to succeed.

Then there was my therapist.  She did far more damage than she ever did good.  Her specialty was eating disorders, so imagine my surprise when she moved to an office where the people she rented space from didn’t want heavy people sitting on the furniture.  That was the last time I saw her.  She did other non-beneficial things throughout our 6 years together but that was the “topper” so to speak.  She wrote me several years ago to say she had some measure of regret about how our tenure ended, and I wrote her back and said, “if you had any measure of real regret you’d have offered me a sincere apology instead of sending me a sorrowful note that was really just a half-hearted disguise to get my business back.  Do not contact me again.” Of course she replied and said that she was confused and would always be there if I needed someone to talk to—ha!

Around this time I decided to hire a personal trainer for a few sessions, so I could get the hang of the machines at the gym.  I wanted to maximize the time I spent there and not just goof around.  Before I decided which trainer to hire I watched all of them at the gym and chose the one that really paid close attention to their clients.  He seemed to know his stuff but during one of our sessions, when I didn’t run as fast as he wanted me to, he called me a “douche bag” in an attempt to motivate me.

I think you’re getting the point by now.  Negative reinforcement doesn’t help people lose weight.  It didn’t help me lose weight. It just made me want to eat more because I felt even worse about myself, especially when so called “professionals” beat me up mentally with their words.

You want to know what worked for me?  Hearing words of support and caring and belief from someone else at a time when I didn’t have it in me to believe in my own self-worth.  I can tell you the exact day that happened and the exact words.  On September 8th of 2010 someone said to me “I don’t’ want to see you suffer anymore.”  That came from someone who just wanted me to be happy, someone who didn’t expect or want anything from me other than for me to live my best.

That’s what made a difference.  And that’s what continues to make a difference in my life today.  Words spoken with love.  Words spoken by people who love me just the way I am. Words spoken by people who want me to be happy.  Those words I hear. And I am so lucky to be surrounded now by people who will speak these loving truths to me (I have worked to make this happen).  I’m even luckier that I am more likely than not becoming willing to speak these words to myself.

The moral: love others. Just love them. If they’re overweight, they know it.  Trust me.  They do.  IF they want your help, they’ll ask.  Until then, just offer love. And kindness.  That will make more of a difference than you’ll ever know.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/07/26/205766456/hating-on-fat-people-just-makes-them-fatter