I’m kicking off this week with a post about Bikram Yoga and sustainability. So often I hear that someone is interested in Bikram Yoga but it just seems too intense. And I totally get that. The heat, the 90-minute class, the full-body workout can definitely seem scary and hardcore. But time and time again I see broken bodies getting themselves into the hot yoga room and healing their joints, relieving chronic pain, and quite literally getting their lives back.
I hope what you will take away from this post is knowledge and understanding that you don’t have to practice Bikram Yoga in an intense, hardcore way. In fact, it’s better to practice in a way that’s going to allow you to come back to the studio the next day and the next and the one after that for as long as you want.
The following is a list of 9 Ways to Make Your Bikram Yoga Practice More Sustainable. Whether you’ve taken a few classes or you are years into your practice, or even if you’ve never tried but are intrigued, I’m hopeful that the following tips will help make your yoga a sustainable, lifetime practice.
- Put forth less effort. In other words, don’t work so hard. Never worry that you’re being lazy or that you’re not getting enough out of the class, because you definitely are.
- Don’t create pain. If a something hurts in that ouch! this kills! make it stop! I can’t catch my breath! kind of way, back off.
- Breathe more. Lots of times unnecessary fatigue comes from holding the breath. Breathing normally (in and out through the nose) in Bikram Yoga does take concentration and focus. Put your concentration and focus into breathing before you put it into deepening the postures.
- Have zero expectations. I can’t tell you how many times students come in and say, “I am so tired! I’m not going to be able to do anything in there today, I am just going to sleep for the entire class!” And then they end up having their best practice EVER. It’s because they weren’t trying to prove anything to themselves or anyone else. Celebrate the fact that you got to yoga, and know that everything on top of that is a bonus. When you come in with zero expectations, you will be practicing the postures in a more relaxed (e.g. sustainable) state.
- Form before depth. Depth and flexibility are secondary to the correct set up and alignment of a posture. Put the priority on form and find that depth will come naturally without needing to force it.
- Consider your yoga practice “therapy” rather than a “workout.” Sure it is a workout, but the healing benefit comes when you practice sustainably. Then you’re healing and working out at the same time which is just so awesome to me! And if you think about your practice being all about healing (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual), the pressure can be taken off the workout aspect.
- Pay attention to how you feel after class. If you’ve been practicing consistently for some time (a month or more) and you feel really beat up after each and every class, try exerting less effort when you’re in the postures. This goes to point #1, but a good indicator that you are practicing Bikram Yoga in a sustainable way is if you feel awesome and energized after class and throughout your day.
- Consistency is key. Getting into the hot room on a regular basis makes the entire practice easier as a whole. You get used to the heat and the routine, and there is no pressure to “get it done” since you’ll be back in a couple of days. If Bikram Yoga is part of your routine and you have a meh class here and there, tell yourself, it’s ok, I’m coming back tomorrow anyway.
- Practice Mental Flexibility. The body has an amazing ability to accomplish what the mind intends. Bikram Yoga is a lifetime practice, meaning that we will forever be practicing and improving the postures; there is no end nor final destination. Sometimes the yoga can create frustration if you are unable to “get” a pose right off the bat. But keep an open mind that your body will open up and improve with practice. If you mentally throw in the towel when something gets challenging, inevitably you will throw in the towel physically as well. In order to sustain your Bikram Yoga practice, you have to practice mental flexibility. This will help you keep going and keep at it.
So what do you think? Will these points help you to make your Bikram Yoga a sustainable, lifetime practice? If you’ve never set foot into a Bikram Yoga studio, does this post make it seem a little more doable? If you’re a teacher or practitioner and you have other tips for creating a more sustainable Bikram Yoga practice, I’d love to read them in the comments!