Beat the Hot Yoga Headache
Written by Jan Dizon.
As a Bikram yoga practitioner for the past four years, the number one deterrent I have observed that prevents first-timers from returning is, not the heat or excessive sweating, but the headache that many beginners experience after practising in the hot room. This headache is caused by the body being unused to the temperature in Bikram's so-called Torture Chamber. It is also caused by dehydration since your body may not be accustomed to losing so much moisture through sweating in the span of 90 minutes.
But here are a few simple remedies to cure and even prevent the onset of a hot yoga headache. These are tips I have learned from my various Bikram yoga teachers over the years and that I have tried myself.
The key is hydration. Make sure you have plenty of fluids in the hours leading up to class. But avoid caffeine and pop. Also, do not eat at least three hours before class begins. Doing Bikram yoga on a full stomach can make you uncomfortable and even cause you to hurl. If you must eat right before class, just have a banana. The fruit will give you a burst of energy and the potassium in the banana is known to cure headaches.
Bikram yoga classes typically only have one or two quick water breaks for the entire 90 minutes. This is because you want to focus your energy on the postures rather than your water bottle. Just allow your sweat to flow and rid your boxy of toxins and other negative energies. When the teacher declares that it's
party time that's your cue to have a few sips of water - not too much though! Because, just like if you eat too much before class, if you're stomach is full of fluids while you attempt to do the postures, it can cause you to throw up.
At any point in the class if you feel dizzy or nauseous, just stop and stand in tadasana or sit on your mat Japanese style with your back straight and palms down on your knees. Breathe in and out through your nose and get right back into the flow of the class when you feel ready. Also take advantage of savasana in between each pose int he floor series. As one of my favourite teachers would always say,
Savasana is your time to re-energize, re-organize, and re-vitalize.
After the class, congratulate and reward yourself with a cool, refreshing drink and slices of fruit for a job well done! If you feel that hot yoga headache coming on, have a banana or a light, healthy meal and again, plenty of fluids. But try to avoid sports drinks which have high sodium content. To replace the lost electrolytes, try fresh coconut juice instead.
Most first-timers will no longer feel the hot yoga headache after the first week or two of practising Bikram yoga. The key is simply to keep hydrated and not to let it deter you from coming back to the hot room to reap all the benefits that yoga has to give you. So drink up and Namaste!
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