Bikram yoga, or hot yoga, is performed in a special studio heated to 105 degrees F, with a humidity level of about 60%. Bikram yoga uses a series of 26 poses, or asanas, to build strength and flexibility in participants. Proponents of Bikram yoga say that the high levels of heat and humidity used in Bikram yoga can help students build flexibility faster than traditional yoga classes can, but others feel the high levels of heat and humidity could be dangerous. Here’s how you can enjoy Bikram yoga without succumbing to the heat.
Bikram Yoga Explained
Bikram yoga classes take place in a sauna like environment, in studios heated up to 105 degrees F and at least 60% humidity. Students perform a rigid series of 26 asanas and breathing exercises designed to build strength and flexibility, as well as promote deep relaxation. The extreme heat and humidity in Bikram yoga studios cause students to sweat profusely, which can help the body release toxins. Students and instructors also believe that the heat and humidity helps promote enhanced flexibility, since it keeps your muscles warmer than they would be during any other form of exercise.
Stay Hydrated During Bikram Yoga Classes
Staying hydrated is one of the most important ways to keep cool during Bikram yoga class. In fact, due to the excessive sweating you’ll experience during class, you’ll need to stay extra hydrated to avoid becoming dangerously ill.
Make sure you drink 32 ounces of water each day. Drink an additional 16 ounces of water in the two hours prior to your Bikram yoga class. Bring at least 32 ounces of water with you and drink them during class. Drink another 16 ounces of water in the two hours following your class.
Choose your Bikram yoga outfit carefully. Choose form fitting, elastic clothes that won’t inhibit your movements, made from fabric that will allow your skin to breathe. Cotton fabrics are best.
Many Bikram yoga students layer up so that they can remove outer clothing during class. Try a pair of long cotton yoga pants over a pair of cotton shorts or thin cotton leggings. It’s perfectly acceptable to strip down to your sports bra during a Bikram yoga class.
Be prepared to practice Bikram yoga barefoot (yoga instructors in general encourage their students to remove socks as well as shoes). If you have long hair, you’ll want to tie it back. Long hair can get in your way and it can also raise your body temperature if you leave it down.
Take along a change of clothes to put on after class. You may well find that your clothes have become sopping wet by the end of your Bikram yoga class. Changing into dry clothes can help you feel comfortable and clean after class, and it can keep you from getting a chill.
Ask for Help if You Feel Too Hot
If you begin to feel overwhelmed by the heat, feel free to rest or even ask for the teacher’s help. If you’re too hot, the teacher can help you to a cooler area and can take steps to lower your body temperature.