How to Get Started in Bikram Yoga

Three Methods:Getting ReadyDuring the ClassAfter Class

Bikram Yoga, also known as "hot yoga" is a specific type of yoga developed by Bikram Choudhury. Classes are held in a hot humid room allowing you to safely work deep into your muscles, tendons, and ligaments while releasing toxins and congestion within your body. It was developed by Bikram Choudhury (disciple of Bishnu Ghosh who was brother of Paramahansa Yogananda ), a national yoga champion of India as a child. Take on the challenge and learn to unify your mind breath and body.

Method 1
Getting Ready

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    Find a studio near you. There are locations all over the world. Consult the External Links mentioned below.
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    What to expect: All Bikram Yoga studios are required to have separate locker rooms and showers for men and for women, and an instruction room size of minimum 1,200 sq. feet. with mirrors. Floors are carpeted.
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    Mentally prepare yourself for heat. Practice room is between 105 F and 110 F degrees Fahrenheit and classes are 90 minutes, so you will be sweating a lot. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, and before and after class.
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    Bikram's choice of 26 hatha yoga postures is designed to stretch your muscles, compress your cardiopulmonary system and modulate your circulation. It will be uncomfortable or mildly painful at first and you may feel lightheaded or nauseous during the session. These sensations are often symptoms of detoxification taking place in the body, but be cautious if they are a sign of dehydration. The time of standing postures is 50 minutes, and the floor is 40 minutes. Many teachers run late on the standing postures, but the official time is supposed to be only 50 minutes.
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    Arrive at the studio early. You will need to sign up, meet the instructors and receive preliminary instructions.
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    Wear light clothing in which you are comfortable. (Consider clothing with a moderate fit, as loose clothing can hinder comfort of movement.)

Method 2
During the Class

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    Place your towel over your mat and lie down on your back with your head facing the mirrors and feet towards the back wall, just like the position practiced during class. It's more respectful to the others to lie in the same direction, and not put your feet in their face.
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    Allow yourself to adjust to the heat.
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    During the class, pay close attention to what the instructor says and watch the other students for an example.
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    When class is finished, it is courteous to say the Indian word "Namaste" to your instructor as a way of saying thank you (the word means, very generally, "I recognize the divine in you").
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    When the class is over don't leave right away. Continue to lie in shava asana (savasana; dead man's pose) so that your body can come back to homeostasis and receive all of the benefits of your hard work. Two minutes at very minimum is best. Ten minutes is wonderful for relaxation.

Method 3
After Class

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    When you leave class you may feel lightheaded or off-balance. Maintain your relaxed state and calmness. (Remember that yoga helps to realign your body, and that realignment may cause you to feel lightheaded). Remember to drink water; eating a piece of fruit may help with the lightheadedness.
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    Enjoy the benefits. Most likely you will feel relaxed and energized at the same time. You may also have the best sleep of your life that night.
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    Attend class regularly. It is recommended that you attend at least three times a week for full benefit. As your body becomes increasingly limber, you will notice that you also work harder.


  • Stay hydrated with water (not soda, coffee, etc.)
  • Use the mirror. If you notice any asymmetries, that is an area that you need to work on. Some postures may be easier or more difficult depending on your body type or flexibility, and how far along you are in your practice.
  • If you feel over-heated, do not leave the room, as the disparity in temperature may shock your system before your body has had time to gradually adjust. Instead, sit or lie on your mat until you feel comfortable to continue.
  • If you absolutely cannot continue or if you start to feel nauseous, sit on your towel cross-legged or sit on your heels. If you still feel lightheaded, you may lie down. As soon as you regain your strength, take some water and start to participate again.
  • Remember this is yoga practice not yoga perfect. Allow yourself to be where you are and do not push too much or you will injure yourself. Yoga is a lifelong journey not a 6 month program. You will achieve the most benefits if your asana are in a state of balance between effort and ease.


  • Although practice is work, use common sense when stretching. If you feel intense pain or feel your joints in a position that they shouldn't be in, back off a bit. STOP if you have sciatic pain.
  • There is a video available with adapted poses for pregnant women, hosted by Bikram's wife Rajashree, that is safe for most pregnant women.
  • Due to the heat, Bikram yoga can be hard on certain body types. Those who have trouble with heat, or have high blood pressure, heart problems or any serious health condition, should check with their doctor before practicing Bikram.

Things You'll Need

  • Bottle of water
  • Comfortable clothing, mildly fitted, that wicks heat and perspiration
  • A Yoga mat
  • Towels (one for your mat, one for your shower, and perhaps one for your face/hand perspiration during class)
  • A complete change of clothes (don't forget underwear!)

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