Keep your mind and your intentions positive during the yoga class. Keep yourself motivated and encouraged by thinking positivly. Everyone has to start at the beginning and you will improve and get more confident with the heat and the postures quite quickly. Be aware of how you talk to yourself during the class. If your internal monologue is negative, tells you that ‘you can’t’, that you ‘will fall’ and generally mentally ‘beats you up’ then it is no good for you. Instead, really listen to the teacher and the dialogue and focus on the technical and small details of each posture. It is ‘how’ you do the posture, with proper form and alignment that is important and not the depth or the aesthetic aspect of the posture. It is not a competition – you are going at your own pace.
Have faith in the yoga and believe in yourself. Do only your best. Build your own endurance and mental strength. You always have tomorrow to work on the postures again. Yoga is a life-long practice and it is not something to be mastered in the first few classes or years.
It may feel frustrating when you cannot see any huge improvement with your balance or your flexibility or your strength in a short period of time. Have a wide open mind and heart. Know and trust that the yoga is always working for you, healing and strengthening your heart muscles and the muscles around your knees and the most important of all, healing and re-energising your spine. Healthy spine, healthy happy life.
Apart from the first and last breathing exercises, always breathe in and out through the nose. Breathe calmly, smoothly and continually – never holding your breath. Think about the breath at all times, including when you go into and out of the postures and during the rest in between. This sounds easier than it is – especially during your first few classes, when you are learning the basic mechanics of the postures. In time your breath control will improve enabling a stronger and deeper practice, and a relaxed calm mind.
If you focus purely on how far you can go into a posture, you will most likely lose the proper alignment of the posture. Initially, you will look at others in the room and wish you could achieve the same expression of a posture as them. Try not to compare yourself to anyone else – everyone has different bodies and different strengths and flexibility-levels. As you focus more on the proper alignment of the posture and on doing as much of the posture as you can do, the right way, the body will open quicker and you will gain the full benefits of the yoga. Have patience with your body – it is your yoga and your body, it does not belong to anyone else!
Stillness between postures
When coming out of a posture, bring yourself to a total stillness, with a calm and smooth breath. Resist the temptation to fidget, move around, drink water or wipe sweat. Fidgeting will stimulate your sympathetic nervous system, promoting a ‘fight or flight’ response and induce tension and stress in the body. Stillness is the key to gaining a calm and focused mind, gives you the opportunity to really listen to your body and teaches you how to relax regardless of the surroundings and any discomfort you may be feeling due to the heat and the sweat.
If you have any medical conditions or injuries please advise the teacher before class. It is normal to feel some discomfort during the postures so listen to your body and know the difference between discomfort and pain – pain is your body saying ‘slow down, take more care, ease off’. Bikram Yoga is remarkable at healing injuries provided that you are patient, work hard and listen to your body.
Take your time...
There is no rush to be the best in the room. There is no rush to master the postures. You must work at your own pace, listen to your body and do what you can. All the time, enjoy yourself – it is quite challenging but it is only yoga. There is no exam at the end and you are not in competition with anyone else. It is about you!