Why the heat?

There are several reasons for the heat. Firstly, when the room is warm, and especially when it is warmer than body temperature, the chance of injury is greatly reduced. This means that you will be able to go deeper into the postures than you could otherwise, without hurting yourself. Your muscles and joints will be able to stretch safely, greatly increasing your flexibility. Secondly, the heat and the humidity make it more difficult for your lungs to take the oxygen out of the air, so they have to work harder. This turns the practice into a cardiovascular workout, building strength in the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Thirdly, the heat helps with detoxification. Hatha yoga removes waste products from the body’s tissues, and the sweating helps to remove them from the body.  Other benefits include increased vasodilation (widening of the blood vessels), which helps more blood get to the muscles and other parts of the body–more oxygen gets delivered, and more waste products are taken away.  When blood passes through warm muscles, the oxygen carried on the red blood cells detaches more easily, nourishing the entire body.

What are the benefits of Bikram yoga?

Practitioners of Bikram hot yoga have found benefits of all kinds, ranging from stress relief, weight loss, increased strength and flexibility, increased energy, and expanded lung capacity to relief of chronic medical conditions. The benefits are myriad — with regular practice you will see improvement in all areas of your life, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Will I lose weight?

Yes, if you need to. The heat helps to speed up the breakdown of glucose and fatty acids in the body, and helps to burn fat more easily.  But yoga helps to bring all systems of the body into balance — so it can help to normalize the endocrine and digestive systems, helping you to lose weight if you need to lose it and gain weight if you need to gain it.

What if I have illnesses or injuries?

If you have a particular illness or injury, please let your teacher know before class. Most of the time you can practice normally, but there may be some modifications to the postures that you will need to utilize. Yoga is an excellent tool for healing bodily injury, and special attention is paid in this series to the spine and the knees — two areas where injuries are extremely common. As always, make sure you follow the teacher’s instructions.

I’ve never done yoga before. Can I do this?

Absolutely! This is an all-levels class that is perfect for beginners.

But seriously, I can’t even touch my toes. Aren’t I too inflexible to do yoga?

It is a common misconception that only flexible people can do yoga. In reality, the more inflexible you are, the more you need yoga! Practicing hatha yoga builds strength, flexibility, balance, and concentration. After a few classes, you will amaze yourself with how quickly your flexibility will increase.

I feel dizzy and nauseous during class. Is this normal?

It is not unusual to feel nauseous or dizzy during your first few classes, until you get used to the heat. Make sure you are well-hydrated when you come to class, and that you breathe during postures. Holding your breath can cause headaches and dizziness. You should also make sure that you replenish your electrolytes (sodium and potassium) after class, as these minerals are frequently lost through sweat. Sport drinks are an easy way to do this, as are vitamin-C packets. If you prefer a “natural,” food-based method, you can eat a banana with sea salt, or take some powdered kelp.

What should I bring to class?

You should bring a yoga mat, a large towel (two if you sweat profusely), and a bottle or two of water. We do have mats and towels available for rent if you do not have your own. For the prenatal class, please bring a pillow, cushion, and/or a folded blanket to use during the final relaxation.

What should I wear to class?

Light, comfortable clothing is best — you want to make sure that your movements are not restricted, and that the teacher can see your body. Remember that it is going to be hot, and you will be sweating; so loose, bulky clothing is not recommended. Women generally wear a tank top or sports bra and shorts; and men frequently wear only shorts. Shorts are better than pants, so the teacher is able to see your knees.

Should I eat before class?

It is best to practice on an empty stomach — try not to eat anything for 1-3 hours before class. If you must eat something, choose things like juice or fruit that are easily digestible, and try to eat them when you have at least an hour before class. Having food in your stomach interferes with your practice, and can make you nauseous in the hot room.

How much should I drink before class?

It’s best to drink water throughout the day, rather than trying to stock up right before class. Keeping your body well-hydrated will help with any dizziness or nausea during class, and will keep you from having to pee in the middle of your practice.

How often should I come?

As often as you can! Any yoga is better than none, but to really see improvement in your body, you should practice at least 3 times a week.

I am pregnant. Can I still do Bikram yoga?

If you had a regular Bikram hot yoga practice before you became pregnant, you can continue to practice throughout your pregnancy, from the second trimester on. There are modifications to some of the postures, which your teacher can show you. If you do not have a regular Bikram yoga practice already, it will be better to take the prenatal class, which is not heated. Most doctors and midwives will recommend not starting any new form of exercise during your pregnancy.

You should get your midwife or doctor’s o.k. before doing yoga — hot or not. S/he may have some concerns about the heat, worrying that your temperature will go too high. You can bring a thermometer and a small notebook to class so that you can keep track of your temperature throughout class. Once your midwife or doctor is assured that your temperature does not rise too much during class, s/he will probably feel better about it. Of course, you should always follow your caregiver’s advice, and Bikram yoga is not recommended for high-risk pregnancies. If you are pregnant, let your teacher know; you can stand in the back of the room and crack a window if you choose to. Feel free to come out of postures early, and remember to listen to your body and your baby — don’t do postures that either one tells you not to.

Practicing yoga during pregnancy and while trying to conceive has many benefits, including:

  • Keeps uterus, ovaries and glands healthy: easier to conceive and avoid miscarriage
  • Increase of physical strength/flexibility: reduces discomforts in the back, sciatica, during labor
  • Lowers stress hormones: easier to conceive and deliver
  • Detoxifies entire physiology: better nourishment for mom and baby
  • Balances hormones: decreases morning sickness
  • Breathing/Prana: decreases heartburn and stress levels
  • Opens hips and pelvis: easier delivery
  • Keeps thyroid gland healthy: helps avoid miscarriage
  • Keeps digestion strong: helps avoid constipation