Relaxing Outside the Hot Room

163707126_5a45ee6dc4_z-210x300Sometimes there is nothing better than finishing a stressful day inside a Bikram hot room. Taking ninety minutes to check out and tune in to your instructor’s voice can be just the thing to disconnect and relax. But there are so many minutes of the day when we can’t be in the hot room! What then?

We spend a lot of our time hunched over a desk, staring at a screen, or talking on a phone. We are sitting, maybe not eating right and all the while worrying about big and little things that make up being a member of society. It can all add up to a stressed out, tensed up and nervy individual. So when you can’t be in the room where our worries dissolve into a puddle of sweat, rest assured that there’s plenty you can do. has published a fantastic article with “40 Ways to Relax in 5 Minutes or Less,” but let me give you a few right here so you can start right away! Once you find your zen, head over and read the full article.

Smell Some Flowers: Stop and smell ’em. Certain odors can really change our mood, and it’s hard to feel angry or upset with a nose full of roses. Keep a fresh jar of your favorite flowers near your workspace. [Maybe even a tiny bouquet, like the one pictured at the beginning!]

Sip Green Tea: Instead of turning purple with rage, get green with a cup of herbal tea. Green tea is a source of L-Theanine, a chemical that helps relieve anger. Boil the water, pour it out, and take a soothing sip — there’s probably still a minute to spare.

Try Progressive Relaxation: Anxious? Just squeeze, release, and repeat. Progressive relaxation involves tensing the muscles in one body part at a time to achieve a state of calm. The method (also used by actors) is a great way to help fall asleep.

Rub Your Feet Over a Golf Ball: Leave the clubs at home and just bring the ball. You can get an impromptu relaxing foot massage by rubbing your feet back and forth over a golf ball.

Find the Sun: Here comes the sun — and some stress relief. If it’s a sunny day, head outside for an easy way to lift your spirits. Bright light can be an effective treatment for people who suffer from depression, and can even cheer up otherwise healthy folks.

Stretch: Standing up for a quick stretch can relieve muscle tension and help us relax during a stressful workday. Why not try a shoulder roll-out or a chest-opening stretch right from the desk chair?

There are plenty more suggestions in the full article but this should get you started. Try some of these to get through your day and then head straight over to the studio for ninety minutes of concentrated “YOU” time in the hot room!


Posted by Liz Alfano


Hot Room Etiquette

Observing_Etiquette-300x181Bikram yoga is quite different from any other yoga practice out there. It certainly doesn’t take more than about 4 postures in your first class to realize that! For the yogi coming in and expecting a lulling experience, or the first timer who expects a tai chi class…things can get pretty scary pretty quickly. And the sad news is that one person’s bad day can easily turn into five people’s bad day in a hot room. Here’s how to avoid creating a bad day.


  1. Remember to arrive on time and wipe your feet before entering the room. It’s hot, and we’re all going to be sweating buckets, so a clean body and clean feet are essential! While everyone wants you to wear an effective deodorant, perfume and cologne are too much stimulus in a hot room.
  2. Follow the instructions! Your practice will be guided for you by a highly trained yogi. There’s no need to work ahead or anticipate any posture. Listen carefully, even during your 500th class, to what the instructor is saying so the group can move together.
  3. Remember that what you see yourself doing in the mirror, your classmates may see you doing. When you are moving in “out of posture” ways, it creates a visual disturbance for your fellow yogis, some of whom may be channeling their most fierce determination in a pose. Of course we all fall out of postures and lose balance or strength, and those movements are unavoidable.
  4. Wiping sweat…this is such a difficult one. Because while I aspire to perspire with grace and ease, I just can’t concentrate when my nose is filling with sweat during Standing Head to Knee. It’s beyond my current capability! What I try to do, however, is wipe that sweat just before savasana or during everyone else’s sit-up. Which takes us to number:
  5. Water breaks. After the first “party time” you’re on your own. And just like the sweat wiping, the water drinking should be done outside of postures.
  6. Leave the room quietly. All of us sometimes have other commitments which prevent us from taking a long final savasana, however there are always people in the room who do want to remain in the stillness. When you’re leaving, remember that the flopping sound of your mat is heard by everyone, so do try to be as quiet as possible.

Bikram yoga really is a moving meditation. It’s as physically challenging as anything else you’ll ever do and it’s as quieting as any peaceful meditation. The energy and stillness that you bring to the room is shared with others so always try to offer the most open, most positive and most peaceful energy that you can. Your stillness and strength may very well be the boost that a neighbor needs for their own practice. And if all else fails, and you’re stuck in class that just feels off, take advantage of the moment to work on your own ability to let it all go and settle into a peacefully disconnected meditation that’s just for you.

Posted by Liz Alfano