So, you took your first Bikram Yoga class. You were proud of the achievement, but... later that day, you felt awful!
Here's what you thought right away: maybe you should never do Bikram Yoga again. Maybe you just can't take the heat.
Not so fast.
The thing is: after one class, you can not really know whether the heat- or anything about what you did in yoga- was the cause of how you felt later. Think of it this way: no scientist would ever perform an experiment one time and say they have conclusive evidence to support a claim!
It could be that you had a virus, or you ate something that didn't sit well. It could be that you were not as well-hydrated as you thought. (Most of us don't drink enough water throughout the day.) Or maybe how you deal with stress in your life has been affecting your body in some way you were not aware of- until you put your body in the heat.
We can feel ill for so many reasons!
So, if Bikram Yoga doesn't make you sick, why am I even writing this blog post?
Unless you have a very specific medical condition like being allergic to your own sweat, Bikram Yoga is most likely not going to make you sick. (And it may just help you solve a whole slurry of medical problems.)
But the heat will make you uncomfortable. Which makes it an easy scapegoat for all kinds of sensations.
I'm writing this blog post because: I get it. Those first few classes can leave you feeling a whole mess of feelings, and not all of those feelings are always pleasant. But nothing you do which is transformative will be pleasant all the time.
The body is wired to seek comfort, and the mind is wired to seek bliss.
The hot environment of Bikram Yoga is meant to be stressful on your body. By putting your body under stress, you create change in your body. (Note: stressful does not mean dangerous. 105 degrees is not a dangerous temperature for a person to be in for 90 minutes.)
Doing yoga in a hot room is like looking in a mirror through a magnifying glass: your experience in the hot room shows you (in BIG size) what you have been doing- or not doing- to care for yourself throughout the previous hours, days, weeks or even years.
For example: if you are a smoker, you may have trouble with breathing in class. Guess what? That does not mean Bikram Yoga is bad for breathing. Bikram Yoga is just showing you the effects of you being a smoker. (For this reason, many of our regulars credit Bikram Yoga with helping them quit smoking.)
After your first class, I'll bet you'd never done anything like it before! (You might have even exclaimed exactly that to your teacher or a friend: "I've never done anything like that before!")
Like anything new, you have to give your body time to adjust.
It is perfectly normal to have a headache or feel tired after your first or even first few classes, especially if you had been dehydrated when you came in! Did you know that if you felt thirsty during class, it probably means you were already dehydrated?
Feeling depleted can be due to irregular breathing or holding your breath, which can definitely be a thing among first-time Bikram yogis. (When we concentrate on learning a new routine, a common tendency is to hold our breath while we focus hard on what we're doing.) Involuntary breath-holding puts strain on the muscles and nervous system.
The good news is, by practicing awareness of breath and conscious breathing exercises (as we do in Bikram Yoga) you can regain control of your breathing and normalize your breathing patterns. And because we do the same sequence of poses every time, you will quickly learn how to pace yourself during the class. While the yoga never gets "easy," you will get better at handling it.
Tension headaches or migraines can be triggered or made worse by dehydration. If you experienced one of these following your first class, it is likely that poor hydration is to blame. You're not used to sweating this much! Not yet, anyway.
To handle headaches or migraines, up your water intake throughout the day by several cups, even on days you are not practicing.
To handle feeling tired, rest and breathe. These are good rules for life, and great rules for your next class too.
By the way, did you rest during your class?
Maybe you didn't know it was ok to take breaks. (It is.) Now you know! I'll bet that if you take more breaks during your second class, you will feel a million times better afterward.
But it's SO hot...
Our yoga room is heated to 105 degrees, a temperature which many humans in the world live in for weeks or months at a time. There is nothing "unnatural" or "extreme" about this temperature for the human body.
The difference, people who live in hot climates are acclimated, and we in Portland are not.
But your body has not evolved so incredibly much since your ancestors who used to tough it out through all kinds of weather with no air conditioning! While it may take a bit of practice, you can definitely handle 90 minutes in heat equivalent to a summer's day.
And if you think you can't, you should definitely try. How else will you find out how truly badass you are?
When you first begin doing Bikram Yoga, it does take time to acclimate to the heat. This is why we recommend practicing often as possible when you first start. At least 3 times your first week is the best, but do more if you can. The more often you come at the beginning, the quicker you will acclimate.
Another factor in feeling awful after yoga could be the clothes you wore to class. Check out this video we made about which clothes are just plain wrong for Bikram Yoga.
If you felt so, SO hot in your sweatpants, try wearing shorts next time. Trapping your body heat in layers of baggy clothes is just a totally bad idea in 105 degrees. You wouldn't wear a bikini out snowshoeing, would you?
Students often tell me when I say this, "oh, I know I will feel cooler- but I don't like to see my [thighs/ cankles/ gut) in the mirror.") I get it. I was that girl in a sports bra, tank top, tee shirt AND a long-sleeved shirt in class.
I thought I was fat and ugly, and I thought I could hide.
Over time I learned I was wrong about all those things. It turns out I was not fat, I was not ugly- and I could not hide under the bright lights of Bikram Yoga class. Little by little, I shed my layers. I began to feel cooler and better. More importantly, I began to love and appreciate the body I saw in the mirror.
Self-loathing is not a good excuse for making your body suffer.
What I want to leave you with is this: give this life-saving yoga system an honest try. Try to do 10 classes in 1 month. (The studiowide yoga challenge starts on Monday!!)
Or if that even seems like too far in advance to plan, just make up your mind to do 3 classes this week. If after that you totally hate it and don't see any reason to continue? Don't continue. At least you really gave it a shot.
Use the tips from this post: hydrate, dress in small close-fiting clothing, and make sure you are breathing calmly through your nose throughout the class. I bet you will feel so much better, and I bet you will start loving your life more too. Let us know if you do!
"New year, new you" implies that there is something so wrong with you that you should, in the new year, become a whole different person.
At Home, we think that's bullshit! (Uhh, I guess unless you are really an awful person... but if you are reading our blog you are probably pretty chill.)
The preferred slogan around HHY is: New Year, *More* You." Because you are great, as you are. And your potential is even greater.
Most of us are not living up to our fullest potential. We are bogged down by all the little things we think we have to do. We are distracted from what matters by an endless stream of emails, texts, social media, advertising, gadgets, products, energy-vacuums, time-wasters, excuses and negative self-talk.
For the new year, please do not attempt to change into a different person.
Just cut out some bullshit, so you can be more of the amazing human who you already are!
If you need a place to practice that? Join the "New Year, More You" Challenge! It starts on January 20.
To make a reservation, simply click below and "book" the class(es) you wish to attend!
See you in yoga soon!
I realize if you've made it to this page you probably already know what our new name is! Check out this video to find out how and why we came up with this name:
Big change is coming.
At BYSJ, our mission is to get the most people feeling the best by providing a joyful, inclusive environment for the practice of yoga.
We named our yoga school "Bikram Yoga St. Johns" because we believed it was helping us achieve our mission. Bikram Yoga is the style of yoga we teach. It is a highly impactful, even lifesaving, yoga system.
We chose (and kept) our name for the last 4 years, because we wanted anybody seeking Bikram Yoga to be able to find us easily.
Bikram Choudhury is the man who popularized this yoga system in the West and worldwide. He has also been accused of some abhorrent behavior.
We do not condone or support any of this behavior.
We are sad beyond words at what has happened, and we hope that everyone involved finds peace and a healing path forward.
We want you to know that BYSJ is and always has been independently owned and operated, by us.
Like most, if not all, yoga schools who teach Bikram Yoga, we have never and do not pay any affiliation or franchise fees to Bikram Choudhury or any other person or entity.
This is a fact which has been misrepresented in the media for years. There is no worldwide Bikram Yoga franchise as many poorly fact-checked articles have reported.
Perpetuating the myth that Bikram yoga studios pay fees to Bikram Choudhury does not right any wrongs and does not bring justice to any wrong-doers. In fact, it only harms two groups of people: (1) small business owners, many of them women and mothers, and (2) the yoga students they serve.
To us, Bikram the yoga and Bikram the man have always been separate and distinct.
We now realize that, seeing multiple studios worldwide with the name "Bikram Yoga" on their doors, it can be easy to assume that we are part of a chain. (We're not, but that doesn't matter unless it can be communicated.)
We understand if people don't want their money to go to Bikram Choudhury, and we can see how, because of this, the name "Bikram Yoga St. Johns" may prevent them from coming to our yoga classes. (And most people really need this yoga!)
It has become clear to us that our name is now getting in the way of our mission.
So, like anything that gets in the way of us helping people, we are letting it go.
Our hope is that our new name will communicate to the public that we are a locally owned, independent business, and also convey a sense of what we stand for as a business and a community.
We are changing our business name. We are not changing our values, our mission- or our personalities.
You can help us spread the truth about who we are by sharing this video, but even better, you can help by sharing your own positive experiences with the yoga and with us.
We are not changing the yoga.
Bikram Yoga is still the most powerful, most inclusive, and most joyful system of yoga that we've ever encountered, and we intend to continue practicing and teaching it as long as we possibly can.
We are looking forward to offering this impactful wellness technology to everyone, under a new banner that communicates what we believe in:
We think we've found the perfect name, and we look forward to sharing it with you!
Stay tuned for the big name-reveal coming soon...
What duds you sport in the hot room can really make a difference.
Watch this video to learn the science behind shorty shorts, then read on for 4 tips to consider when choosing what to wear to your next class...
1. Bare skin is part of your body's cooling strategy.
Your body cools itself by way of the evaporation of sweat off your skin's surface. Therefore, the more of your skin exposed to the air, the cooler you will feel, even in a hot environment.
For the same reason you probably wear tank tops and shorts in the summer, clothes that leave (at least) your arms and legs uncovered are the healthiest choice for hot yoga.
2. Loose clothing traps body heat.
Ever tried sleeping in a hammock? You'll get COLD at night because the hammock's fabric sits snug against your skin. There's no space to trap your body heat in there.
Similarly, when you wear tight-fitting clothing in hot yoga, your body heat escapes, which means you will feel cooler.
3. Downsize your yoga clothes to super-size body positivity.
Look, we get it. Your whole life you have been sent the message (from the media, peers who are not your real friends, possibly even your parents) that your body is somehow flawed or not good enough.
Too many of us have accepted that messaging to the point that we try to hide our "imperfect" bodies-- even from ourselves!
You may have discovered by now: there is no hiding under the bright lights of the yoga room. You also may have noticed: you are the only one in class who bats an eye about the size of your thighs or a little hanging skin around your middle from those babies you brought into the world! So, who are you hiding from?
Revealing your body to yourself in the mirror for 90 minutes at a time will cause you to appreciate your body more-- not only for its physical beauty (and yes it has that!) but also for the amazing things it does for you every day as it carries you through your life.
4. Don't miss out on the gift of a teacher.
Your certified Bikram yoga teachers are highly trained and constantly honing our craft with continuing education. Of the gifts your teacher offers you are personalized verbal corrections.
We have had hundreds of hours of education (and thousands of hours of experience) in this yoga system, and you get to borrow our eyes!
However, we can only let you know to make an adjustment in a posture IF we can see your alignment! Baggy clothes get in the way of us helping you use correct technique.
You are the most important person in your life.
In the end, of course, this is all up to you. We understand there may be many reasons for every choice of attire.
Just like when we give instructions in class: our role here is to offer the information we know to be useful for practicing Bikram yoga, and you get to choose what you do with that.
Your Bikram yoga teacher will love you unconditionally, no matter what you wear to class!
Fruit always tastes even better after Bikram yoga. Here is a family recipe to maximize on that!
Ingredients (makes enough to fill your salad bowl)
2 c* watermelon, balled
2 c canteloupe, balled
2 c grapes, whole
2 c raisins
2-3 bananas, sliced
1 c strawberries, sliced
2-4 kiwis, sliced
I started practicing Bikram yoga because I needed to take charge of my health and I felt Bikram yoga could be the key. It worked. I keep coming because the more I do it the better I feel.
In less than a year of practicing regularly, I’ve lost over 50 lbs. and reduced my blood pressure so I did not have to go on medication.
I am able to tolerate stress much better than before I started. I’ve had many past injuries and aches from dancing and being a letter carrier, which is really hard on your body. I’ve had ankle twists, lower back pain, carpel tunnel syndrome, neck pain, knee pain and a shoulder injury.
Since beginning to practice Bikram yoga regularly, I rarely take anything for pain anymore. Also, my flexibility is like something I’ve never had before and it gets better and better.
I can sit in a kneeling position for the first time in years.
Before Bikram yoga I could not grab my foot in front or back. That took months, but now I can do it.
Bikram yoga has helped me with my body like nothing ever has, but I’m most proud of my improvement in my self-acceptance and self-love.
I’m kinder to myself and feel great acceptance & love to others- even when stuck in traffic and at work.
Self-healing is something I’m way proud of, and others notice. My friends and co-workers tell me that I glow, and that I look relaxed. That’s the most consistent comment along with how much weight I’ve lost. And how good it is for me. I’m encouraged by my loved ones to go to class.
I love when the teachers educate us about the benefits of Bikram yoga during savasana to our mental health, well being and stress reduction. It gives us a boost and reinforces that we deserve this time we give ourselves. It’s good to remember that it benefits our family when we go to yoga, rather than takes away from them.
I’ve never been so committed to any kind of self-care activity before. I tell everyone that if they want to feel as good as I do, they should try Bikram yoga!
Ami has been working on regaining full range of motion for her knee, which she injured in a skiing accident last year.
How will Ami get her forehead on the floor in Half Tortoise? Watch and see!
Boss lady, yoga-doer and life-lover, Kay D.