Are you looking to start yoga, but it feels like the usual classes just have too much variation? Maybe it’s just too much to remember? Looking for something more novel in the world of yoga practices? Or perhaps you have been practicing for some time now and want to take your practice to the next level? That’s where Bikram yoga be just what you’re looking for. This is a very unique style that will catch and keep the attention of beginners and veteran practitioners alike. It’s intense, challenging, and hot, and yes, it’s Bikram yoga.
What is Bikram yoga?
Bikram yoga is a unique style of yoga where the classes consist of fixed 26 Hatha postures. These are in a sequence and 2 breathing exercises, and the class ends with a 2 minute Savasana, each class is 90 minutes long. The rooms are carpeted and the walls have mirrors on them, the teacher does not correct the posture of the students and they are expected to correct themselves by using the mirrors. The part where Bikram yoga stands out however is that the room will be at a fixed temperature of 105 °F (41 °C) with a humidity of 40%, this is meant to replicate the climate in India. The temperature does not mean to be literally like India but a metaphorical idea meant to create an environment where focus and discipline are vital.
This style was developed by Bikram Choudhury in the 1970s and has gone on to open over 600 yoga studios worldwide. The success of Bikram’s style has inspired its own category known as Hot Yoga. It’s also possible to become a certified teacher for this style of yoga following the 9-week course.
Benefits of Bikram yoga
The practice of Bikram yoga can be an intense experience, but it is renowned for the following benefits:
- Regulate cholesterol in the blood
- Supply oxygen and nutrients to parts of the body that have been blocked or stagnant
- Flush the lymphatic system
- Improve spine flexibility and health
- Expand lung capacity and strengthen the heart
- Lubricate joints and strengthen bone
- Keep joints healthy
- Increase muscle strength around joints to support them under pressure
- Stretch and tone the muscles
- Promote weight loss
- Reduce stress
- Increase vitality, energy, relaxation
- Improve blood circulation
- Improve immunity
- Improve mood and promote a sense of well-being
- Reduce the symptoms of many chronic diseases (e.g., arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or thyroid disorders).
How often should you do Bikram Yoga?
How often you attend classes or practice bikram yoga on your own depends on your goals. To reap the most benefits three times a week is very good. But it is important to remember that like any yoga practice, the payoff will be in the long run, not after completing just 30 days. For even better results, you can attend the classes up to 4-5 days a week, but ultimately it’s sticking to the regiment and maintaining your practice with the best results for your health. It’s best to have multiple inter-connecting goals if you’re signing up for hot yoga.
While Bikram yoga will make you sweat a lot, it focuses more on stretching the muscles and isn’t a replacement for cardio work. Hence it will help develop your body towards burning calories, but the practice itself will not burn calories. So don’t keep weightless as your only goal when signing up for a Bikram yoga class.
Remember that ultimately doing any yoga is a matter of attitude and discipline. The more you focus on the challenging aspects, the more difficult time you will have. You can make the most of your experience by taking it all in and focusing on your meditation. There are 1000s of students under the Bikram yoga style and many reports feeling like they were “born anew.” Even those that stopped after a short while often report that they missed practicing yoga in the hot rooms.
How does Bikram yoga work?
It is practiced in a very hot and humid room and might seem like this is just to make the experience seem more edgy and intense. Bikram yoga is designed in a very specific way to incorporate just the right 26 postures and breathing exercises, which must be performed within 90 minutes. it is to be practiced in a room heated over 100 °F to allow the body to stretch, detoxify, relieve stress, tone, and heal chronic pain such as arthritis, joint aches, knee injuries, back problems, and more. The core of this style is to get the body warmed up to maximize the stretching ability of the practitioners.
They are meant to use the mirrors provided on the studio wall to study and focus on their postures and correct them on their own. The instructor will not be coming around to provide assistance, as would be the case in a typical hatha yoga class. One aspect that might seem odd to people is that there is no talking permitted between the students. This actually makes sense when you note that the purpose of yoga is to meditate. The room is going to be hot, and as a student, you are expected to focus on your posture; chatting will be a distraction, and besides that, with a short limit of 90 minutes to complete all the postures and exercises people are going to be too busy to talk.
How to prepare for hot yoga?
Come to class early: Come in early and have a discussion with your teacher. Introduce yourself and let them know if you have any pre-existing conditions, take pointers, ask questions to ease your mind of any concerns that you have, and take guidance from the expert.
Stay hydrated: Considering all the sweating that will be going on during this practice and the high temperature, it is vital that you stay hydrated. It is recommended to drink 8 to 9 cups of water throughout the day in preparation for your class. Do not try to catch up on your water intake just before your class starts because that will lead to an upset stomach.
Eating food: Try not to eat at least up to 2 hours before your class begins. Consult a doctor or nutritionist or consult your teacher in advance regarding your diet regimen. Make sure you’re eating right at least one week before starting your first class. Explain your goals and diet to your instructor and ask them if you need to make any changes to your nutrition plan. They can provide you with alternatives that will suit your workout and help you make the most of your exercise during class.
Use a yoga mat with a grip: Because you’ll be sweating, it is best to use a yoga mat that provides you with a grip, so you don’t slip while moving or doing one of the postures. And bring a towel on you too for after you’re done with the class. Bikram yoga is all about making you sweat. Therefore sweating is your body’s natural reaction in an attempt to cool down your body by releasing water through your pores, so wiping off your sweat during the practice will be counter-intuitive.
Safety precautions: Before signing up for a hot yoga class, it is best to consult your doctor and get a checkup done just to be sure that you don’t have any agitating conditions. These conditions may make it difficult to practice this form of yoga; this is especially true if you have breathing issues as Asthma.
Bikram yoga is an exotic form of yoga that has inspired its own category. It’s definitely something you have to experience to believe and boasts benefits far beyond normally associated with hatha yoga. Because the postures and exercises are limited and always follow the same sequence it will not take time for beginners to catch up. Due to the intensity of the workout also remains constant the veterans can hone their discipline by maintaining their practice.
Don’t worry about heating up too much as that is very much the point of Bikram yoga. The body warming up is what improves circulation to the muscles so they’re more pliable and you will be able to stretch in ways you want. As long as you take precautions like staying hydrated you will not be putting your health at risk. Make sure to consult your doctor and instructor in advance so you are best informed about what to expect with Bikram yoga and how you can prepare specifically in regards to your body type and physiology.
Whether you want to try it for the novelty or the challenge of doing hot yoga, starting with Bikram yoga is the best option, as they say, old is gold. And this is where it all began.