Hot Yoga Etiquette Bikram Style
Most folks know the basics of arriving prepared for a Hot Yoga or Bikram Yoga class. Jake Goertzen, is a Bikram Yoga certified instructor who has been teaching for 9 years and expounds below upon the “shoulds” of being a good yoga practitioner and yoga citizen.
Why do we care? Yoga is about so many things. One of those things is community. By being a better yoga citizen, it strengthens this community and demonstrates mutual respect. We also love that it #setstheexample! These guidelines will also help preserve and improve your health and yoga experience. This editor can speak to the community aspect! I have been practicing yoga at the SAME studio -- Bikram in Old Town -- for 18 years. It's family. Really.
THE VERY VERY BASICS – “JakesNotes”
- Hydrate before coming to class. If possible begin to hydrate at least two hours before class, or the night before.
- Refrain from eating one to two hours prior to the start of class. (Some NEED to eat something light before class. Start with less until you know your body better.)
- Arrive 15 minutes prior to the start of class to check in, remove your footwear and quietly put down your mat, towel, and water in the yoga room.
- Enter the room, lay down and meditate. These precious minutes are calming.
- Get up when the teacher enters the room and follow the instructions one step at a time, to the best of your ability, and get 100% of the benefits.
- At the end of the class take a two-minute savasana or longer.
- Thank the teacher on the way out and have an amazing after class and come back the next day and do it all over again! Don't hesitate to ask the teacher questions AFTER class.
SPECIFICALLY… (For Extra Credit)
- If it is your first class you will need to register. Please arrive 30 minutes before class starts.
- If there is a line for check in, be patient and be nice to the staff.
- Inform your teacher of any injuries or recent surgeries, or if you have to leave class early. (This is frowned upon. You sign up for 90 minutes in the room and that is how you get the full benefits.)
- Put down your mat in the yoga room. At our studio in Old Town, San Diego, straddle the blue line so that it goes through the middle of your mat.
- Cover your mat with one or two towels. You will sweat. That’s a promise.
- Be mindful of not blocking another student’s view of the front mirror with your setup or your drink container.
- Do not take up more than one space – see above – blue line!
- Bring in only a mat, a towel to cover the mat and something to drink if you so desire, in a non-glass container, complete with a lid. All else stays outside. No cell phones, keys, extra clothing, rollers, scents, watches, jewelry are allowed in the room.
- Do not adjust/touch any dials, lights, humidifiers, etc.
- Absolutely no talking in the room, before or after class. It is ok to nod and sometimes a hug works. Quiet voices in common areas and the locker rooms.
- No extra working out in the room, before, during or after the class. Most people come to class to meditate and practice yoga. If you looking to work out, it is best to find a gym. Quietly stretching or sit-ups on your mat is fine.
- Be in the room before the teacher enters the room. In other words, be on time!
- Look straight ahead at yourself in the mirrors. There is no point at in looking at the teacher as they seldom demonstrate. Also checking yourself out in the side mirror means you are doing the posture wrong. No looking in the side mirrors. The side mirrors are for the teachers to use so that they can view students and offer any verbal corrections.
- Start the postures with the dialogue and end the posture with the dialogue. Starting/stopping early or late disrupts the flow in the class and in your mind. Follow the dialogue. If the teacher makes a mistake, roll with it. Most do and will.
- Practice with integrity. You are your own best teacher. Only you truly know if you are doing your best.
- Be aware of self-created, unnecessary, movements/habits and rein them in. This includes noises. Breathing should only be audible to you and should be via your nose only. If you find yourself panting, take a break.
- Dressing in layers is not part of the yoga. It is a distraction to you and to others.
- Don’t stink. Be kind to your fellow yogis and be aware of personal hygiene. Again DON'T STINK!
- If you need to blow your nose, bring in tissue paper to use. Using your towel is gross.
- If you are openly bleeding in any shape or form, leave the room immediately. The same holds true if you are coughing insistently.
- Stay in the yoga room. It’s always okay to take a break in case of an emergency. If leaving has become a habit that you have formed on your own, break it. If an emergency arises, and you need to leave, please notify your instructor.
- If it becomes necessary to leave the room, do so in between postures only. And when you re-enter the room, enter between postures. You don’t walk around and move when a golfer is about to make a shot or putt when you are playing golf. Yoga is golf. (*Editor's Note: Jake LOVES golf.)
- The first water break is after Eagle Pose (about 25 minutes into class). After that, you may take water breaks between postures, never during a posture. Examine if the water breaks are ruling you, or if you actually need water.
- Please do not pretend to be drinking water and spill it on yourself. Do not pour water over your head or other body parts. It's a yoga room not a garden. Don't water the floor.
- Do not sip water during savasana.
- Do not store your water bottle outside the room and go get it halfway through class.
- Allow yourself to sweat with minimal or no wiping at all. Sweat has a cleansing effect and helps regulate your body temperature. Wiping is an overused habit, breaks your concentration, and hampers your meditative practice
- Refrain from using towels to improve your grip. The only posture that is an exception is Rabbit Pose.
- Check your yoga clothing to make sure parts you don't want to be seen, aren't. Keep in mind that your clothes will be wet with sweat, so wear white with caution. No one wants to see your butt cleavage.
- Change up where you practice and move around the room, back to front, from side to side. Switch it up. Find new “spots.”
- Modifications and variations of postures from other yoga practices are not welcome. Do the postures, one step at a time, to the best of your ability. If you can only lift one toe off the floor in Locust, so be it. Trying the right way is a win.
- Take at least a 2-minute savasana after class, then leave quietly – walk softly, roll your mat carefully, and shut the door gently.
- Please limit your shower time to 2-3 minutes, as other students need to use the shower as and water is precious.
- Place rented mats and towels in the designated areas. Take all of your belongings home.
- Have compassion for yourself and others. Remember the saying: “Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” There may be those in class that are doing out of the ordinary things. Most likely they are dealing with their own struggles and those struggles may be more visible than internal ones.
- Let the heat be the heat; let the humidity be the humidity; and let the teachers teach.
- Enjoy your quest for a healthier mental and physical life.
- Be proud and feel accomplished every time you leave the yoga room. The ONLY bad class is the one you didn’t come to.
My years of practice in different schools (150!) and nine years of teaching have taught me a lot. My overall health is great, and I continue to learn and improve even at the age of 67. And so can you regardless of your age or current health status. All you have to do is show up and give it an honest effort and be patient. Give it a minimum of 10 classes. It will change your life.
Amen Jake and thanks!