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Bikram yoga is simply not for everyone. After all, exercising in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit and 40 percent humidity could take a toll on even serious athletes, let alone those who aren't in shape. Before you take a Bikram yoga class, be aware of some of the side effects you could experience and talk them over with your doctor to assess whether it's the right type of exercise for you.
Dripping sweat as a result of the extreme heat and exercise inside a Bikram yoga studio can definitely lead to dehydration issues. Since a Bikram class is 90 minutes long, you need to plan for 90 minutes' worth of hydration in the form of water for the first hour and then switching to a sports drink during the second hour of class to replace both water and potassium and sodium in your bod. Dehydration can manifest as a number of different symptoms, like dizziness, nausea, disorientation, a lack of athletic performance and even muscle cramps, so don't skimp on the H2O.
Increased Blood Pressure
Starting Bikram yoga is typically not recommended if you have high blood pressure, especially if you're also pregnant or elderly. Exercising in the extreme heat can cause an unsafe spike in blood pressure, thanks to the combined effects of heat, an elevated heart rate and water loss from your body. If unstable blood pressure is already an issue for you, Bikram probably isn't an appropriate method of exercise unless recommended by your doctor.
If it's your first time trying out Bikram, one of the benefits of the practice you'll notice is how warm and loose your muscles feel as a result of the increased temperature. Unfortunately, those loose muscles can lead to unpleasant side effects if you push yourself too hard. The heat in the Bikram studio can make you feel more flexible than you really are, which could result in anything from next-day soreness to serious strains and injuries.
If you've gotten the go-ahead from your doctor to start Bikram yoga, knowing how to cope with the heat can definitely make your practice safer and more comfortable. For instance, try "sitting in" on a Bikram class, if possible, without actually participating. That way, your body can get used to the heat and you can take a quick study of the 26 poses used during Bikram. When you do try a class, hold each pose for a few seconds only and take breaks by lying down on your mat or sipping water when you notice nausea or dizziness. The negative side effects of Bikram should be minimized if you listen to your body, take it slow and stay hydrated throughout class.