Bikram Yoga is one of the newer forms of yoga fitness regimes to have taken off in popularity in recent years.
Also know as ‘hot ‘yoga’ it draw on aspects on traditional Hatha yoga and aims to improve your physical and mental strength, as well as overall flexibility and balance.
Named after it’s founder Bikram Choudhury, Bikram Yoga is practiced around the world with people flocking to classes for many reasons including general fitness, healing and physical therapy.
Bikram was a yoga practitioner and weightlifter back in his native India when he sustained an injury which stopped him fro competing. After a lot of determination he developed a system of yoga exercises which helped him to recover fully from his injuries. This system evolved onto Bikram Yoga.
The name ‘hot yoga’ comes from the fact that classes are held in a controlled but heated environment with a constant temperature of 40 degrees Celsius. At first this takes some getting used to, especially for people living in countries where they are not accustomed to such heat.
The concept of working in a heated environment is that you will be much less prone to injuries from stretching. Because your muscles are in a ‘warmed up’ state you can attempt to push yourself a bit further in the various asanas or poses. The likelihood of pulling a muscle in a Bikram class is greatly reduced as your body is relaxed and all your muscles, joints and tendons are moving with greater flexibility and range.
The heat also has a detoxifying effect on the body, due to the amount of sweating you are likely to do. It is not uncommon for attendees to lose several liters of fluid in one class due to the heat and the sustained exercise. The combined effect of the hot conditions and the structured set of exercises is designed to bring a range of holistic health benefits. Many people experience a euphoric- like wave of energy after each class.
Each Bikram class follows a strict set of procedures which does not deviate no matter which school or teacher you have. The class is based around 26 separate poses or asanas. The instructor guides the class through each exercise twice in a 90 minute period.
The asanas are designed to give the body a complete workout and include standing, sitting, and floor exercises. Each part of the body is worked on in turn, and the focus is on stretching of the muscles and tendons, as well as compression exercises which massage the internal organs and glands, releasing hormones and regenerating neglected tissue throughout the body.
The exercise helps to replenish the cells, flushing out toxins in the body and also oxygenating the blood supply keeping the body clean and healthy.