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There are a lot of things you SHOULD do in a 90-minute Bikram class. Remembering all of them (the breathing! the grip! the meditation!) can be a bit overwhelming. If you struggle to remember everything you are supposed to do just remember five things you SHOULDN’T do.
This rule is easy to forget if you’re new or, on the other hand, if you’ve been practicing so long you’re friends with everyone in your class and fancy a chat. Practice the discipline of being silent from the moment you step into the studio until the moment you leave. It will enhance your concentration and clarity, and it is a basic courtesy to your fellow yogis.
2. Eat before class
Meals and hot yoga don’t mix. At best, you’ll feel uncomfortable and sluggish, at worst you might find yourself dashing out to the toilet. If you’re very hungry and worried about low blood sugar pre-hydrate with coconut water, or have a very light snack such as a few slices of fruit or a rice cake with nut-butter.
3. Breathe through your mouth
The breathe is what moves you through the postures. If you start panting, you throw off your body’s rhythm and risk breathlessness. If you feel like you can’t get enough air breathing correctly in and out through your nose, ease off the postures until you return to equilibrium.
4. Move too fast
Regulars often get in the habit of anticipating postures instead of following the dialogue, while novices can make the mistake of pushing too far in poses or not relaxing completely in savasana. I say it all the time in class: Follow the dialogue. Whether it is your first or 500th class you get maximum benefit when you follow the teacher’s instructions and move mindfully, without haste.
5. Compare yourself to others
Bikram yoga is not a competition sport. One of the quickest ways to get distracted is to compare yourself to people around you. As soon as you start thinking in terms of ‘better’ or ‘worse’ your ego gets involved. Whether the result is getting discouraged, feeling smug, or something in-between, your mind has left the yoga and you’re only getting half the benefit of your practice. Focus on your own body and practice and let everyone else worry about themselves!
Share your top Bikram ‘Don’t’ in the comments!
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Awkward pose – aka Utkatasana – is one of the primary leg-strengthening moves in the Bikram posture series. As the second posture in the sequence it is also a big wake-up call to the major muscle groups: your quadriceps, triceps, biceps, delts, abs and calves saying: “Come on! It’s time to do some yoga.”
Three keys to doing utkatasana correctly are:
1. Have your feet parallel in the shape of an H or 11, never veeing in or out.
2. Keep your abdominals tight throughout – this supports your back.
3. Shake a leg! As you lower down, your quads might start trembling. Hang in there.
It’ll hurt sometimes, but remember this quote from Emmy Cleaves:
Whenever there is shaking, there is always a threatened nerve. It’s NEVER an impulse saying, “If you keep going there could be trouble.” Shaking is not bad, it is your body creating new neural passageways and learning to strengthen and hold.
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December is flying by and we are deep into the annual marathon of mince pies, Christmas biscuits, boozy office parties and seasonal indulgence. If you’re starting to wonder how you’ll get through the next couple of hectic weeks why not do a mini-yoga challenge: the 12 days of Bikram?
Forget partridges in pear trees and French hens and commit to getting to Bikram yoga every day for 12 days. You will be surprised how much stronger, calmer, and more grounded you feel if you balance all the festive eating and drinking with the cleansing effects of hot yoga. It is a great way to warm up, burn excess calories, and take a break from the pressures of family, shopping, etc.
If you’re up for the challenge, leave a note in the comments and share how it goes!