Also known as hot yoga, Bikram Yoga is performed in a specially-designed studio that is heated to 105 degrees F and humidified to 60%. This school of yoga was founded by Bikram Choudhury, who espouses 26 different poses while exposed to higher temperatures. Practitioners swear that the high level of heat and humidity can help students attain flexibility faster than regular yoga, as well as remove body toxins through increased perspiration. However, these conditions can also make students prone to heat stroke and dehydration, so special attention must be given to restoring lost body fluids during this exercise.
Here are several tips to stay hydrated during Bikram Yoga:
Bring 32 oz. of water to class. Make sure to drink as much as you need every 20 minutes or during breaks. Also take time to drink 16 oz. of water two hours before the session and 16 oz. two hours after. Water at room temperature or slightly lower is preferable to lower the shock in your system. The trick is to take only sips and not gulp large amounts at a time.
Hydrate through your diet. Fruits and vegetables are rich in water, as well as soups, broths, cereal and oatmeal. A fresh salad full of lettuce, cucumber and tomato slices can provide additional liquids as well as proper nutrition during yoga days.
Avoid hydration-averse food. These are meals rich in sodium, which are commonly present in salty and processed foods. During your yoga days, stick to fresh food and keep away from boxed, canned and frozen meals. Beware of fried and junk food, as well.
Dress properly. Put on sweat-wicking and microfiber attire, which absorbs sweat and draws it away from your body. Due to the higher temperature in the room, the presence of sweat can lead to overheating and faster dehydration. This also means you should stick to light clothing during yoga.
Drink recommended beverages. If you don’t like the flat taste of water, you can sports beverages, which have an added bonus of restoring electrolytes lost through sweating. Avoid coffee, alcohol and sodas before or during yoga sessions that only lead to more fluid loss.
Monitor your heat levels. Ignore the sports adage of “No pain, no gain.”; if you are feeling light-headed or nauseated, that means you are near dehydration. Take a break from yoga, drink your stored water, and sit cross-legged. If you are still light-headed, try lying down. When the dizziness has passed, take an extra sip of water and resume your class.
Bikram Yoga can be effective if you follow the directions of your instructor precisely and take steps to exercise safely. Pushing your body too far and ignoring your limits out of some misguided attempt to maximize the results of the session can be counter-productive to your goals and lead to further problems, not to mention turning you off to this exercise completely. Remember to pace yourself and take added precaution due to the special conditions set by this type of exercise.