Get hot on the floor!
Some weeks had passed since beginning this hot yoga malarkey that is Bikram yoga. I hadn’t ditched it for something else, which for me meant I was going to stay with it for a while.
Then something happened. Perhaps the heat had begun to pickle my brain, but I was convinced by the lovely woman on the front desk to sign up for a 30 day yoga challenge.
What is a 30 Day Challenge?
This is when for 30 days you pitch up and burn up; EVERYDAY!
A lot of hot yoga studios do them as a way to get you to start honing in on your craft in finer detail. On that note; here is tip number one.
Tip 1: WAIT!
I know this sounds contradictory, but wait. Try not to sign up for a Hot Yoga challenge like this until you’ve got a couple of classes under your belt. If you don’t know what to expect in a class, you may set yourself up fail. Try to look out for open days or special offers such as Groupon offering free lessons or sessions at discounted prices.
Check out this link for a discounted hot yoga session:
And this link is a hot yoga studio called HOT YOGA SOUTH that I often use in Balham, London. They have open days where you can do a FREE hot yoga session.
So, I began my 30 day sweat fest with gusto. I felt like the Uma Thurman character in Kill Bill 2, who was attentive, dedicated and determined to take on everything the sensei threw at her!
I tried really hard to be a good student. Pitching up to sweat it out big style, wasn’t easy. It was like I was a broken dripping tap in need of fixing and desperate to absorb every piece of knowledge my ‘sensei’ (or rather my Bikram Yoga Teachers) imparted on me in a quest to get through the next 30 days.
… But very soon I began to feel weary and extremely tired, realising I couldn’t keep up with what others in the class were doing. Their progress seemed more rapid than mine. It made me feel extremely despondent…
… But by about week two, I was almost able to get through a whole class without keeling over!
Tip 2: Don’t compare yourself to others, it will be your downfall.
There will be plenty of people in a class who have lots of differing experiences, injuries or reasons why they are doing hot yoga. Some will have been going for years, some who will be there for the first time; or even some coming back to yoga after a break. However you shouldn’t use anyone as your template on how things should be done in a class, instead follow the teacher and listen to the dialogue. Most yoga instructors are astute enough to see if you’re not quite there on a posture and will give you the correct guidance on HOW TO MAKE A POSTURE WORK FOR YOU.
The Lesser spotted BGDY!
During my 30 day challenge, I encountered a kind of fist bump moment when I saw another BGDY (Black Girl Doing Yoga). She was a first timer that day and before the class began she had to get up to move towards the last two rows in the studio.
Now, anyone who knows their black history would have felt a bit funny when asked to move to the back. Thoughts of Rosa Parks not being allowed to sit at the front of a bus comes mind, but this woman dealt with the newbie thing with great aplomb!
No one had told her the front rows are for people who have been coming for a while. They say it’s so that you can follow them as a guide on how to do the postures correctly. I think it’s more reserved for the ‘show-offs’ who like to wriggle their bottoms in front of you in a way that says; “I’m bendier than you”.
I don’t see why you can’t sit anywhere, especially as our greatest examples at the front can have days when they’ve been some of the worst yogis I’ve ever seen, stumbling around like some drunk in need of a drink on the front row.
However this woman proceeded over to the back row, in such a cool way that only a way a BGDY could pull off; that was to kiss her teeth, swing her mat over her shoulder and as she turned around, she swiped the whole of the front row with her mat on their heads; teacher included!
As she glided past, we both nodded to each other and in acknowledgement of her ‘high five’ moment of celebration.
Tip 3: YOU are the best guide to KNOW if your session is working or not.
I’ve since then thought about the absurdity of this stupid protocol of following the people in the front row and I soon realised that the best person to look at in a hot yoga session is yourself.
It tells you a lot about how you’re coping within a position. It’s ALSO easier to follow the class anyway usually from any angle or point in a studio because there’s always so many flipping mirrors everywhere!
Tip 4: Hair frizz = Get some cover, FAST!!
A 30 day challenge in maths terms equates to four weeks and two days of big time hair frizz! If you want to avoid the frizz or the flapping about of sweaty hair in your face then; wear a scarf to try to absorb some of the sweat.
Have a look at this link for some more tips: http://www.blackwomenshealth.com/blog/workout-stay-fit-and-still-have-great-healthy-hair/
Make you don’t go for a cotton scarf though. For the same reason a cotton top or leggings WILL completely saturate sweat, so will a cotton headscarf.
And Another thing…I know it’s tempting but try not to wash your hair in the yoga studio showers. I did this once at my peril and I nearly ended up crying when my hair became so knotted due to the water pressure being so poor!
If you’re doing Bikram Yoga, the breathing you do is through your nose, except for the warm up and at the end. It’s CRUCIAL that you try and learn how to do this type of breathing, rather than opening your mouth. Keep your eyes open too. If you try to breathe in a different way to how you are instructed, you may find you will use up excess energy and feel dizzy as a result.
If at any at stage in a hot yoga session you are overwhelmed by the heat, lie down rather than trying to bolt out of the studio. It’s harder to come back in if you leave and the heat will seem worse. I’ve learnt this from the instructors and (SO FAR!!) I’ve never had to run in fear of it all.
For energy before, during and after a session it’s important to drink plenty of water. I also find if I drop an electrolyte tablet into my water bottle helps to replace lost salts from sweating. These are the ones they use a lot in most yoga studios.
If you don’t manage to complete the whole 30 Days, it’s not the end of the world. The fact that you’ve started your yoga journey is the most important thing and the first step towards a calmer, flexible and more braver you.
Copyright: SJS 2016