The yoga challenge has definitely challenged me in many ways. If you haven’t followed me on my 30 days’ Bikram yoga challenge, I completed this between 1st and 30th September 2016. It was an experience that I will cherish for a long time.
For me, the only way to tackle and complete the challenge was to go back to basics. I thought that by following the concept of Eat, Sleep, Yoga and Repeat were enough but they weren’t.
Of course, I had to fit many other things in. The challenge was taking approximately 3 hours of my day including travelling, class, showering and leaving but it was a great experience for me. I had to fit in a busy working life around it and to be honest, some of my friends thought that I no longer wanted to see them anymore because I just didn’t have much time.
If you are thinking about doing the 30 days’ Bikram yoga challenge, here are my 7 top tips to help you get through your challenge:
This appears to be the most straight forward and obvious tip but it’s probably one of the most important. During my challenge, I drank approximately 5 litres of liquid everyday and none of it contained caffeine. Most of it was water, herbal tea and half way through my challenge, I started drinking coconut water too. I felt like I needed even more energy by the 20th day so I took some electrolyte sachets added to water which was recommended by my yoga teacher as well as Himalayan salt and lemon in warm water. Hydration wasn’t a choice. I really needed to drink that much to stop feeling thirsty.
Get enough rest and sleep
Resting and sleeping were equally as important to me during the challenge. Not only did I need 7 hours’ sleep each night, I found myself needing to take the odd nap during the weekends to help my muscles recover.
Be kind to yourself
This is called a challenge because it is very challenging. During my 30 days’ challenge, I had to postpone some work commitments and seeing my friends as well as taking my life back to basics. As I felt different each day and my body reacted differently everyday, I had to work out the best time to practise yoga everyday and that varied a lot.
The more I practised, the more I wanted to go deeper into postures but the best advice I could give is to set no expectations on your yoga practice. It should be about one day at a time, one class at a time and one breath at a time. Once I stopped having expectations on my challenge (aside from completing it), my practice felt a lot lighter and easier. My 30 days went by very quickly once I decided to follow my practice by just following what my body told me everyday.
Have a support network around
The challenge was made much easier when I had a great yoga studio, teachers, family and friends supporting me everyday. They were incredibly encouraging and the teachers gave me really important advice which I wouldn’t get from attending Bikram classes, day in day out. By having this support network, I was able to share my experience and some others also decided to join me on the challenge. Telling everyone about this challenge also meant that I was less likely to pull out of it.
I can’t emphasise how important my food intake was for those 30 days. I ate carefully to make sure that I had enough energy and I felt hungry more often for sure as I was burning so many calories on this challenge. I needed a very balanced diet with protein, fruits, vegetables and carbohydrates to give me enough energy throughout the day. I snacked on nuts and seeds to help replenish my energy throughout the days.
I have always loved eating noodles and I noticed how much energy slumped when I had some noodles one day for lunch. That was the day I realised that without some protein in my diet, I would feel very tired and low on energy in class.
Variety is the spice of life after all. If you are able to, mix your food options up and incorporate different fruits and vegetables into your diet.
Epsom Salt Baths and Massage
Although I have experienced Epsom salt baths before, I did not have any Epsom salt baths during the challenge and that is a slight regret I have. I felt quite sore towards the end of my challenge and it was only after I had a few days’ break from the 30 days did I realise how sore I actually felt. Having Epsom salt baths at that point helped but perhaps I would have felt less sore if I started them sooner. I did have a sports massage after the challenge which really helped with the muscle pain.
Have fun, smile and laugh
Despite calling this a challenge, it was a wonderful experience as I learned to really have fun with it and smile during class. Once I stopped having expectations on my practice and how I looked in postures, everything felt easier. I did this challenge to see how far I could take my body and to test my determination on completing this. Life without fun makes it slightly dull. If you are able to, breathe and smile during practice. Enjoy it. Namasté.
Have you ever attempted a Bikram 30 days’ challenge? I would love to hear your experience and thoughts.