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How not to pass out in Bikram yoga

Friday, 25 March 2016

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I used to do Bikram yoga weekly when I was training for marathons. After more than a year off, I’ve started to go again as I feel like my body’s really needing it, to handle all the lifting and running and climbing I do.

Bikram is done in a room that’s around 40°C and 50% humidity. Yes, you will sweat a lot. Yes, other people will sweat a lot. No, it doesn’t smell like B.O. in the room.

There are only 26 poses but each pose it done twice and the class lasts 90 minutes. 90 minutes in a 40°C heat can be quite a challenge if you’re not prepared. Here’s are my tips on avoiding passing out:

  1. Drink a lot of water beforehand – regularly during the day if you’re going in the evening, and then 500-700ml an hour before. If you go in the morning, drink 500-700ml before you go.
  2. Arrive 15 minutes early, just lie on your mat and get used to the heat in the room.
  3. Breathe slowly through your nose (unless indicated otherwise for a couple of poses) and as deep as possible. As soon as you start panting or hold your breath, you’re toast.
  4. Wear as little or as much as you feel comfortable in. If you wear short loose shorts though, please wear underwear as well.
  5. Pick a spot in the mirror and stare, do not look around. If you’re a lady, I highly recommend these Nike bras that I have that have the logo straight in the middle of the chest – it’s perfectly bright and perfectly located to stare at.
    If you’re a guy I guess you could draw a cross on your chest with a Sharpie. Or stare at your belly button, although that’s a little bit too low for a perfect staring spot.
  6. If you feel light headed, sit down, breathe deeply and let a pose pass you by. No one’s going to think you’re weak. We’ve all been there.
  7. Only push yourself as much as your body wants you to. It’s not a competition, no one cares about how flexible YOU are. Some days you can go deeper, some days not. Respect and listen to your body.
  8. Drink in between poses if you need to but not too much at a time, 750ml – 1l should last you 90 minutes.
  9. Keep drinking water, or better yet – coconut water – after class.
  10. Mostly remember point 5 – if you concentrate on one spot, don’t look around and focus on breathing, you will be fine.

Remember to pack two towels – one for your mat to do your practice on and another one for your shower afterwards. Remember also to NOT wear skinny jeans to Bikram – you will continue to sweat a bit even after you have a shower and you will never ever get into those jeans.

Once you’re out the door and in fresh air, you will feel like a brand new person – supple, relaxed AND so clean.

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  • Lucy Monday, 28 March 2016 at 07:12

    Great tips. We have had quite a few people pass out over the 3 years we’ve been open- it’s always so distressing to see. Some people push themselves far too much on their first class.

  • thesegirlsdo Friday, 25 March 2016 at 22:50

    My number one tip for Bikram is ‘do not go hungover, you will never ever have drunk as much water as you should have done and you will regret it for the rest of your life’. Otherwise, in strong agreement with all the above…especially the towels and amount of time you need to cool down – I used to go and put my head on the tiles in the bathroom!