While returning to your Bikram Yoga practice may not be the hardest thing you've done this year it can be a challenge to get back into your routine after a hiatus.
PLUS you might be making it harder without even knowing it!
Don't do that.
Here are 3 blunders to avoid when re-starting your yoga practice post-break:
1. Practicing exactly like you used to
The reality is, until your first class back in the studio (unless your "quarantine project" was building a sauna in your garage) you have not done Bikram Yoga in 105 degrees in at least 7 months. And you've probably never done it in a mask!
If you come in going "balls to the wall" you may find yourself in final savasana around party time. Instead, EASE back into your practice by... lowering your expectations.
One way to try is doing the 1st set of each pose very gently (seriously, 10% of what you think you can do) and hold it still and breathe. If you feel strong, try doing a little bit more in the 2nd set.
Instead of trying to do a "deep" posture or even the whole posture, try doing 1 step at a time with your most perfect technique. Your body has been through a LOT lately (even just sitting long hours at a desk can be traumatic!) It's not kind- or fair- to ask it to perform like it did back when you were attending yoga several times a week.
Approaching your practice in this patient and measured way will help you build strength and stamina- and reconnect your consciousness to your body in a way you haven't done in a while!
Backing off on intensity always provides an incredible opportunity to learn so much about the pose, the yoga- and most importantly, about yourself.
2. Not drinking water, because face diaper
Maybe it's just us, but the team have noticed ourselves drinking WAY less at the studio now that we've got masks on (and kombucha is no longer on tap!)
Especially if you wear a mask throughout the day, create a habit of chugging at least a 16-24 oz glass of water first thing in the morning when you wake up. You'll be ahead of the hydration game before you cover up your piehole.
P.S. We now have SOMA Kombucha in bottles! Grab one after class and take it with you. Did you know the Concord Grape Rii is caffeine free? Refreshing and hydrational (yes that is now a word)
3. Not involving your peeps
One of the biggest mistake we make as individualistic American cowboys (or cowgirls or cowpersons) is believing we have to go it alone.
If being trapped home alone for months has taught us anything, it's how much we gain from being with others. Returning to your yoga practice is no different. Studies have even shown that people tend to exercise more regularly when they have an exercise partner!
Making plans for a "yoga date" can be the best motivation (and hey, we've made it super easy to socially distance in the hot room.)
Send a yoga buddy THIS LINK to get their 1st month for $50!
Did these tips help you rock your return? Let us know!
Our psychic powers tell us you may be wondering: is wearing a mask in hot yoga even safe?
Are you prepared to take excellent care of yourself during class?
That means breathe through your nose, and rest when necessary (Hint: if you find it hard to keep breathing through your nose, you need a rest:
When you first return Home, you will probably need to take more breaks than you are accustomed to. It's true that a mask will be in the way of air headed into your nose, but also don't forget that you haven't been in a hot room for 7 months!
Everyone is going to be out of "hot yoga shape" at Homecoming, masks or no masks. We all get to re-acclimate together.
If you think about it, that's kind of awesome.
Never in the history of the studio have we ever had a class where everyone was still getting used to the heat!
What a gift that we all get to support and inspire each other in this way.
Look, if you have any concern (and especially if you have any respiratory issues) you should definitely ask your doctor if wearing a mask in hot yoga is for you.
Having said that, there may even be some benefit to exercising while wearing a mask!
For years, athletes have used "elevation training masks" which decrease levels of oxygen to simulate working out at high elevations. The idea is training the lungs to perform with less oxygen, will make performing with normal oxygen levels that much easier.
It's important to note that wearing a regular (non-ETM) mask does not actually decrease oxygen levels (though it may feel like it sometimes)
Bottom line: athletes have been training in masks for years. The word "training" is the key: it's a practice. Like yoga.
Doing your yoga in a mask is going to take practice.
So are you prepared?
If you're prepared to try- mindfully and patiently, practicing in a mask will be way less lame.
By the way, just like trying ONE class in a mask is not really enough.
Because, imagine if you only tried Standing Bow Pulling pose ONCE, and then decided you couldn't do it?? You've got to give this (and yourself!) an honest chance. Just like when you first began practicing in the heat: 2 or 3 classes in your first week will help you adjust the quickest.
Who knows, your respiratory system may actually get stronger from the experience! Your ability to tune in to your body's signals and manage intensity accordingly definitely will.
And that's a bonus worth training for!
Check out this post for more thoughts and tips on wearing masks in class.
With temperatures in the 90s this week, summer is definitely here! Are you wondering whether it makes sense to turn the heat up even more by coming to hot yoga class? You may be asking yourself if you even have the energy for it. Your friends and fam may be looking at you funny if you mention where you're headed when the thermometer outside is reaching the triple digits... So is it worth it? Short answer= YES. Here are just a few reasons it is:
Exercise scientists have been researching the benefits you may already be experiencing! Here's a study that explores how “Exercising in the Heat May Improve Athletic Performance in Cool and Hot Conditions.”
You may have noticed that the more often you practice, the quicker you notice improvement. Do you know what's actually going on in your body when we refer to "muscle memory?" Like pretty much everything the human body does- it's fascinating. This video is relevant to your yoga postures for sure- but anything else you do with your body, too!
I have been practicing Bikram Yoga since 2006. A back injury I sustained in 1999 limited the activities I could do without pain and a co-worker's encouragement got me into my first class. As a stubborn perfectionist in my 20's, my initial yoga practice was intense, disciplined, and with the singular focus to deepen my postures.
After becoming a teacher, practicing consistently over time, dealing with life, and growing as a person, my practice today looks, and feels, WAY different than it did back then! I have always been a rebellious and creative person so it is surprising that I picked Bikram Yoga as my yoga of choice. Here are some tips I use to keep my yoga consistent, nourishing, and healing no matter what is going on.
1) "Just breathe, everything else is optional." - Diane Ducharme-Gardner
The most important thing your teachers constantly remind you to do in class is "breathing always normal." If you never did a single yoga posture, but kept your breathing normal, you would still be practicing yoga! If your yoga postures are very pretty on the outside, but you breathe by your mouth, you hold on tightly to your breath, or your breath creates a panicked response in your central nervous system, you are not doing yoga, you are just making body shapes. By breathing normally in and out by your nose you stay present, keep your system calm, and get the intended healing benefits of the postures. Next time you practice, put a little more attention on how you are breathing, especially during the postures you dislike - you may find you dislike them because you are not breathing.
2) Pay attention
The dialogue helps to create a moving meditation. When you have been practicing for some time it's easy to tune the teacher out and go at the pace you want to go at. Don't fall into that habit! If you stay with the postures word-by-word, you will deepen the connection between your mind and your body. You will hear different things in the dialogue and you will begin to understand them differently. "Nice and tight contraction" and "completely relax" will each take on new meaning from practice to practice. You will understand your muscles and injuries and sensations in your body. You will start to be able to make better decisions in your practice. Pay attention with your ears, the feelings in your body, and the energy you have on any given day.
3) Adjust your intensity
This may be one of the most important lessons I've learned over time. The postures should always be done with the correct alignment and precision of technique. However, the intensity you apply to them should change on a regular basis. If you are feeling great, have gotten lots of sleep, are well hydrated and fed, and have laser beam focus you can practice much differently than if you have been working overnight shifts, have been drinking nothing but coffee, and haven't slept in 3 days. You need to consider yourself in the present moment when you practice because if you don't, you will start to hate your yoga. You should always leave the studio feeling better than you did when you entered it. If you are constantly tired, are in pain, or dread coming back, something needs to change. Give yourself permission to push less, rest more, and perhaps be kinder with yourself during your 90 minutes. Life is crazy and yoga should always make you feel like you can handle it better. If yoga is not helping you, talk to your teachers, they have been there, too, and can help!
4) We're all in this together
I recently had a student tell me she was feeling frustrated and discouraged because she felt like everyone else in the room was "getting it" and had great postures and she was the only one that was struggling. Here's a tip from someone that stands on the podium and also stands on a mat - none of us get it and we're all struggling! What I mean by that is you can't tell what is going on with someone internally by looking at them from the outside. I've known people with beautiful looking yoga postures that struggled with chronic pain. I've known people with some wonky looking postures that were so joyous and felt so good in their bodies that you always wanted to be around them. I discover new things about the dialogue and about myself every time I step onto the mat. People share with me every day both their struggles and their successes and how their yoga is so important. Remember that most of us are doing yoga for a reason - because we need it.
5) Simply show up
I can't tell you how many times people come up to the front desk terrified of stepping into the room after a long hiatus. They build up the class so intensely in their heads and put huge expectations on themselves for what they need to accomplish. Please go back to the first tip above - just breathe. Most importantly - just show up. The hardest yoga posture you will ever do is Showing-Up-To-Classasana. Bikram Yoga is a beginner's series designed to heal, strengthen, and create resilience in the mind, body, and spirit. Keep this in mind when you step into the room. Take the pressure of performance off yourself an embrace the heat and the healing and the community support of your fellow practitioners.
What do you think about these yoga tips? Which one are you most interested in practicing? I can't wait to meet you all and talk everything yoga with you next week!
Audrey Holst is a Certified Bikram Yoga Instructor, Studio Owner of Bikram Yoga Natick in Massachussetts and professional Stress Reduction Consultant. She will be in residence at BYSJ this May for a whole week- teaching, mentoring our instructors and giving private lessons to you! View Audrey's teaching schedule here.
Studio leader, yoga-doer and life-lover, Kay D.