Bikram Yoga Part II – My First Class

Bikram Yoga Part II – My First Class

So, what are the Bikram Yoga postures? Can I do them as a beginner?

What can I expect at my first class?

What do I bring and how do I prepare?

The Bikram Yoga postures are a set sequence of twenty six poses total. Each pose is performed twice during the 90 minute class period, including two Pranayama (breathing) exercises, one done at the beginning and one done at the end of class.

My Experience…

Day 1: I made it to the studio! This is no small feat for me. The web site states “please arrive 20 minutes early if you are new to Bikram”. If you know me you know that this WOULD BE the hardest part of class…arriving EARLY! I did it and I am feeling confident. Eighty percent of success is showing up.

I sign in and realize I have forgotten a towel. They let me borrow one. Yeah! (You are dead in the water without a towel – really.) I sign a release form, the usual blah blah… something about “not liable”, “in good health”, “doctor approved”,  “no heart trouble”, “if you have high blood pressure”, and…”if you pass out”, etc etc. the usual. There was another new student signing in at the same time as me so the instructor took time to school us both on etiquette and expectations for our first class. “Try to stay in the room the entire 90 minutes”, was one of the suggestions she gave us. Another was what to do in case we experience nausea. I’m not sure this talk helped as the other new student looked pale and mumbled something like “What did I get myself into?” I was less confident after our little chat. No chance I’m backing out now though. Who knows when I’ll make it back again and be 20 minutes early.

I fill my water bottle, take off my shoes, and enter the ladies locker room. Very nice. No fowl odor. I was expecting it to smell like mildew and am pleasantly surprised to find it clean and well maintained. I quickly hang my bags and unload my mat. Other students are piling in and getting ready for class. As I looked around I suddenly feel over dressed in my Capri tights and racer back strappy top. Most patrons are wearing short shorts and sports bras. Something I wouldn’t be caught dead in. Oops, another faux pa…I forgot a hair tie! Long hair in 100 degrees sweating profusely will make me look like a hard rocker giving an encore performance to a heated room of fans (not pretty). Note to self: bring a hair tie next time! Luckily a fellow student saw my dilemma and graciously offered me an extra.

I enter the yoga room and look around. Yes, it is warm but the air feels good. Again, I am pleasantly surprised at how clean the room and floor are and odor free. The floor is a linoleum base designed to look like wood. An attractive effect. It has 1/8” dark lines running cross wise from one end of the room to the other in it. You are supposed to line the middle of your mat up with the lines width wise. I find a place up front and personal next to the instructor. She did suggest that new students should find a place near the back of the class but with mirrors why bother? I can see everyone in the room from the front easily. And I’m feeling confident I can make it through class no big deal. Besides, it is the only available space.

The door closes. Once closed there is no late entry. So don’t try to sneak in after class has started…very bad etiquette and I believe the bouncers will throw you out on your skinny little leotarded rear if you try.

I love the heat and life is good when I feel warm. I’m in heaven! The instructor (wish I could remember her name) demonstrates the breathing exercise. Oh, it is hot in here. Is someone going to check the heat? I’m feeling claustrophobic. Breathe. Stay in the room. Stay calm. Focus. Ok, I can do this. Just keep breathing. Imagine you are in Antarctica on an ice cave expedition. The heat feels good.

OK, I make it through the warm up, balancing series, and standing postures. Are we half way yet? I am feeling light headed and have to sit some of the second postures out to keep from passing out. I’m gulping my quart of water like it’s the last slurpy on earth. It’s refreshing for a fraction of a second and then the sauna heat hits me again as I inhale. A WATER BOTTLE IS A MUST – DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT!

The instructor keeps telling the class to open their eyes. I think she does this so she can tell if someone passes out on the floor. Several students look like they are on the verge, including me.

When we finally get to the floor postures we start with a 2 minute Savasana! I am more than happy to lie on my back, eyes open and relax. It is still very hot. Sweat is pouring off my skin like the Niagara Falls. I’ve never sweat like this before.  I’m happy to learn that a short Savasana is included in between each floor posture. Sometimes I skip the floor posture and stay in Savasana. I feel nauseous. Water and rest help me regain my strength and I join the class with whatever asana they are in. A TOWEL IS A LIFE SAVER for soaking up sweat and doubles as a skid proof anchor so you don’t slide off your mat – DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT!

At 75 minutes into class I’m still in the room. I’ve thought about sticking my head out the door for a bit of FRESH AIR at least once every minute for the past 15 minutes! “Focus, breathe, stay in the room, stay calm” is my mantra.

We are so near the end and after the final breathing exercise the class cheers for the new students. Yes! We made it! We all get to lie down for final relaxation. The door opens. I feel a gentle rush of cool air fill my lungs and I smile.

The instructor was great. She did remind me of an auctioneer as the memorized lines rolled off her tongue in a monotone voice that was faster than normal speaking rhythm. It was actually somewhat entertaining.

Effects on me – I was very tired the rest of the day.

My assessment: For the beginner yoga student I suggest learning the poses BEFORE taking class. No demonstrations are given during class and you can potentially harm yourself if done improperly. You can learn these poses at ANY reputable yoga studio. Bikram offers a FREE community class on the first Saturday of each month. New students are encouraged to attend. I did NOT attend one of these classes, so I don’t know if  more instruction is given at that class. I would think so. Yoga is a practice, so much of your learning will be on your mat practicing, learning, practicing, learning…

A suggestion: In my early studies of yoga I picked up the book “Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class”, by Bikram Chouldury to learn more about Bikram Yoga. I had no desire to travel the 30+ miles to the nearest Bikram studio and so, satisfied my curiosity through reading the book and practicing the postures. I highly suggest getting the book as a companion to your studio experience with Bikram. The book describes in detail how to do each pose, modifications for each pose, what the benefits are, and has a picture of each pose demonstrated by one of his students. It also gives commentary from Chouldury himself in a live class. It is very amusing and a fun read. Again, I highly recommend it.

In a live class you rarely get a demonstration. The instructor simply gives verbal cues and the class follows a set course. Hence, alignment clarifications can be lacking. The book can provide the clarification you need for your practice.

I’d love to hear about your first time experience with HOT Yoga or Bikram Yoga. Do you have other questions as you contemplate taking a Bikram or HOT yoga class? Post it below and I will do my best to answer.

  • Hillary
    Posted at 08:57h, 18 February Reply

    I attended the free community class on the first saturday of the month for my first Bikram class and they DO NOT give instructions for the poses. You just have to listen and watch other people to get an idea of what pose you should be in. I thought Bikram was definitely different than any other Yoga class. I don’t think it’s better or worse than other yoga classes, just different.

    • Linda Black
      Posted at 21:40h, 01 March Reply

      Thanks for your input Hillary. I felt the same way…its different, not better, not worse, just another way of getting that mind body connection. It will speak to some and not to others.

  • Jenni
    Posted at 10:08h, 21 February Reply

    I love Bikram Yoga! I am a beginner, but really enjoy it! Did you go to the Sandy studio? That is the one I have been going to. I live in Highland and would LOVE to have a class that is closer! What are the chances that you guys could do an early morning class? Even just once a week would be awesome!!

    • Julie Branham
      Posted at 12:17h, 22 February Reply

      Not sure if you noticed, but we do have an early morning HOT yoga class on Wednesday’s at 6am. This class is set to a temperature of 90 degrees and set series of poses for 2 more months (before the sequence changes) that are designed to strength your feet and foundation. On February 28th we begin another 6am HOT yoga class. That’s 3 times a week- Monday 6am -Wednesday 6am and Saturday 7:30am. See you there:)

    • Linda Black
      Posted at 17:16h, 17 March Reply

      Hi Jenni,
      I did go to the Bikram in Sandy. Very clean and the instructors are helpful. And, as Julie mentioned below we DO offer HOT yoga 3 mornings a week. It’s one hour. It’s HOT and it’s AWESOME!! Mon at 6am, Wed at 6am and Sat at 7:30am. Join us in the cool 90 degree HOT yoga!

  • Shalae
    Posted at 22:24h, 26 February Reply

    I love Bikram Yoga, but it is so far away. I would love to try your Hot Yoga. You mentioned in your reply that the Monday class starting on the 28th is at 6:00. The schedule says 6:30. Can you please verify the time? Thanks!

    • Julie Branham
      Posted at 10:15h, 27 February Reply

      The Web site was incorrect and I just saw that myself. It is from 6-7am starting tomorrow morning and also Wednesday morning at the same time or Saturday morning at 7:30am. See you there:)

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