Have you heard about Bikram yoga? This yoga style is becoming more and more popular. Many practitioners find it very effective for creating a
What Is Bikram Yoga?
Bikram yoga is a complex of certain asanas that are performed in a hot room. This type of yoga got its name from its founder Bikram Choudhury.
The initial class of Bikram yoga includes:
- 2 breathing exercises;
- 26 consecutive Hatha yoga asanas.
Bikram yoga classes are practiced in a room heated to 105 °F with a humidity of 40%. The duration of the lesson is 1.5 hours.
Due to the complexity of such “hot” exercises the whole body strengthens. Each posture of the asana flows smoothly into the next asana, thus increasing the flow of oxygen, through which toxins are removed from the body.
Bikram yoga is known for its martial style of teaching, the concentration of energy and impeccable posture. It is one of the most popular styles of hot yoga that is practiced all over the world. It should draw the attention of those people who prefer strict, disciplined practice, which controls everything – starting with breathing and ending with the opportunity to drink water.
Bikram Choudhury was born in Calcutta in 1944. At age four he already began practicing yoga. When he was 13 years old, Bikram received the title of national champion of India in yoga. At the age of 17, Bikram Choudhury severely injured his knee. Doctors said that he will never be able to walk independently.
But the young champion did not despair and under the guidance of his mentor, he began to perform asanas in a certain sequence, aimed at full recovery of the injured part of his body. A distinctive feature of this complex of asanas was that the room (where yoga was practiced) was very hot. This was essential in order to effectively work on the injured knee, and in order not to further damage. The result of hard training was a fully restored knee.
Bikram Choudhury reasonably believes that Hatha yoga brings the most positive results in conjunction with the hot climate of India. Naturally, not everyone has the opportunity to practice Bikram yoga in a hot climate. Therefore he suggested creating appropriate temperature regime artificially. In this case, we can practice hot yoga in any country, even in the North.
As a result of refinement and improvement of the sequence of asanas, Bikram Choudhury created his own unique style of Hatha yoga, which is now known as Bikram yoga.
Bikram Yoga Vs. Hot Yoga: What’s The Difference?
Many people think that Bikram and hot yoga are the same thing but these two styles still have differences.
So what’s the difference between Bikram Yoga and Hot Yoga?
Bikram yoga studios must be heated to 105°F with 40% humidity.
Hot yoga rooms can vary in humidity and are generally heated to anywhere from 80 to 100°F.
2. Duration of the Class
The duration of the Bikram yoga class is always 90 mins.
Hot yoga classes can last anywhere from 60 to 90 mins.
Music or clapping are not allowed during Bikram yoga classes.
Hot yoga classes often have music playing during the class and even can be followed by a round of applause.
4. Asanas Variations
Bikram yoga includes the same 26 asanas and two breathing exercises. All the asanas and breathing exercises are performed in the same order every class.
Hot yoga can include many different asanas that may vary by class or/and studio.
The floors of Bikram yoga studios must be carpeted.
In Hot yoga studios, the floors are usually made of any type of artificial wood or any other material.
There must be bright lighting in the Bikram yoga studios.
Hot yoga classes are often performed with dim lights or even by candlelight.
7. Talking During the Class
It is not allowed to talk during a Bikram yoga class.
During a Hot yoga class, the students can interact with each other and with the yoga instructor.
It is difficult to say which one of these two styles is better. Everything is absolutely individual. Someone may be uncomfortable to practice yoga in a room heated to 105°F, and someone, on the contrary, will appreciate this temperature and find it easier to relax. There are such studios that conduct Bikram yoga classes in a very warm room, but only 60 minutes instead of 90 minutes and in a more relaxed mode.
Or, for example, you may not like to practice yoga on a carpeted floor and will appreciate the wooden floors more that regular hot yoga studios hold classes on.
So it’s completely up to you! Ask yourself which type of yoga will suit you better!
Bikram Yoga Postures And Their Benefits
During Bikram yoga class, a complex of 26 postures is performed in a strictly defined sequence. It is very important to perform these postures to the end and repeat each of them twice. As a result of each such practice, the vital energy (prana) circulates in your body harmoniously, and the organs are exposed to beneficial effects.
Bikram Yoga complex includes the following postures:
This posture is aimed at relieving fatigue, relaxation and at the same time concentration on the upcoming yoga practice.
2. Half Moon Pose (ARDHA-CHANDRASANA)
This asana relaxes and gradually stretches the muscles of the whole body, preparing you to perform basic postures.
3. Awkward Pose (UTKATASANA)
This pose helps to tone and shape your legs, heals chronically cold feet, helps relieve rheumatism and arthritis in the legs, helps to cure slipped discs and other lower spine problems.
4. Eagle Pose (GARURASANA)
This pose is aimed at the development of coordination. This is due to the fact that some muscles of the body tense up, while others relax. As a result of performing this asana, pain in the back and joints goes away, the muscles of the legs come to tone, the blood flow improves.
5. Standing Head To Knee (DANDAYAMANA-JANUSHIRASANA)
Stretches the leg muscles and gluteal muscles, blood circulation in the brain becomes noticeably better, and the blood pressure returns to normal.
6. Standing Bow (DANDAYAMANA-DHANURASANA)
This asana is aimed at developing a sense of stability, discipline and emotional inner harmony and balance. In physical terms, there is a relaxation of the back and strengthening the muscles of the legs.
7. Balancing Stick (TULADANDASANA)
This asana has a moderate load on the heart, stimulates its intensive work and the release of blood. Thereby this posture helps clear the vessels and increases the activity of the brain. This asana is an excellent prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
8. Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose (DANDAYAMANA-BIBHAKTAPADA-PASCHIMOTTHANASANA)
This asana is aimed at stretching the muscles of the back and strengthening the blood flow to the joints. It also massages the internal abdominal organs, the small and large intestines.
9. Triangle Pose (TRIKANASANA)
This asana is aimed at the simultaneous study of all the muscles of the body and enhances metabolism. This pose is extremely beneficial for women with a broken menstrual cycle. It also benefits the heart and lungs.
10. Standing Separate Head to Knee Pose (DANDAYAMANA-BIBHAKTAPADA-JANUSHIRASANA)
This pose stimulates the work of all the glands of our body, especially the thyroid gland. It also helps to heal reproductive system disorders and frequent chronic migraines.
11. Tree Pose (TADASANA)
This asana aimed at stretching the spine and strengthening the muscles of the back. It improves your posture and reduces tension in the abdomen.
12. Toe Stand (PADANGUSTASANA)
This pose aimed at developing balance and strengthening willpower, as well as stretching the muscles of the legs.
13. Dead Body (SAVASANA)
This asana relaxes every single muscle of your body. As a result, the movement of blood and lymph comes back to normal. Moreover, the internal cleansing happens and we learn to relax.
14. Wind-Removing Pose (PAVANAMUKTASANA)
This pose massages the organs inside the body in a natural way which is especially beneficial for the digestive system.
15. Sit Up (PADA-HASTHASANA)
This asana clears the lungs of the air that has stagnated there. Also, it stretches the spine and increases flexibility.
16. Cobra (BHUJANGASANA)
During the performing of this asana, your arms are strengthened and your back muscles become more flexible. Thus there is a prevention of diseases in the lumbar region, such as, for example, arthritis. This asana increases the performance of the liver and spleen, and blood pressure returns to normal.
17. Locust Pose (SALABHASANA)
Great pose for those who have a pinched sciatic nerve or displaced vertebrae. Practicing Locust Pose is an excellent prevention of varicose veins.
18. Full Locust Pose (POORNA-SALABHASANA)
This pose increases strength in the middle spine and the rib cage elasticity. Also, it firms the abdominal muscles, upper arms, and hips.
19. Bow Pose (DHANURASANA)
This asana increases spine flexibility. It aids digestion, fights constipation, combats bronchitis and diabetes. This pose improves the functioning of the large and small intestines, the liver, kidneys, and spleen.
20. Fixed Firm Pose (SUPTA-VAJRASANA)
While performing this asana you are stretching your spinal muscles and the muscles of your ankles, resulting in visibly tightened thighs and belly. In addition, this asana is the prevention of diseases such as gout and varicose veins.
21. Half Tortoise (ARDHA-KURMASANA)
This asana improves sleep, helps to get rid of frequent migraines, improve memory and normalize blood circulation of the brain, as well as prolong your life.
22. Camel Pose (USTRASANA)
This pose helps to stretch the back muscles. It also improves the flexibility of your neck and spine and helps degenerative spinal problems. This asana helps constipation, stretches the throat, thyroid and parathyroid glands.
23. Rabbit Pose (USTRASANA)
This pose helps to reduce tension in the shoulders and neck. Is also helps alleviate colds, sinus problems, and chronic tonsillitis.
24. Head to Knee Pose and Stretching Pose (JANUSHIRASANA AND PASCHIMOTTHANASANA)
This asana is very beneficial for immune and lymphatic systems, allergies and arthritis. It increases circulation to the liver, pancreas, thyroid, thymus, and intestines. Also, performing this pose improves digestion.
25. Spine-Twisting Pose (ARDHA-MATSYENDRASANA)
Performing this twisting asana increases circulation to all the spinal nerves, veins, and tissues, and improves the elasticity of the spine. It relieves lower back pain and helps prevent slipped discs, kyphosis, scoliosis, cervical spondylosis, and arthritis.
26. Blowing In Firm Pose (KAPALBHATI IN VAJRASANA)
This pose improves digestion and circulation and increases the elasticity of the lungs.
Bikram Yoga Benefits
The successful outcome of Bikram yoga practice entirely depends on you. Regular classes and your devotion to the practice will soon bring positive effects.
The benefits of Bikram yoga are:
- provokes active burning of calories;
- helps to lose weight quickly, get rid of cellulite and bring your body into good shape;
- cleanses your body of toxins;
- your body gains great flexibility;
- strengthens the cardiovascular and respiratory system;
- helps to quickly recover from injuries of varying severity;
- improves metabolism;
- helps to relax after a hard day and put in order your nervous system;
- improves sleep quality;
- helps relieve stress (regular practice helps reduce cortisol levels);
- improves skin quality (helps get rid of acne and enlarged pores);
- all muscles come in tone;
- reduces depression;
- makes you more disciplined;
- helps to find inner balance and harmony with the outside world;
- increases immunity and it becomes easier for your body to fight infections and viruses;
- relieves mental stress and relaxes you.
Can Bikram Yoga Harm You?
Before choosing to attend Bikram or Hot yoga class you should be aware of the harm that this kind of yoga can cause.
There is a number of disadvantages that you may face during your hot yoga class.
1. A danger of excessive stretching
It may be hard to believe but if you have already good flexibility, then Bikram yoga can provoke muscle tension. The thing is the heat weakens the muscles and you may be in danger of excessive stretching.
2. A danger of dehydration
Practicing yoga in a hot room can naturally lower internal body temperature and provoke dehydration. Moreover, there is a significantly increased risk of heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. Symptoms of exhaustion include weakness, dizziness, and quite severe nausea, so if you encounter them, it is important to stop your yoga practice immediately and leave the class.
3. A danger of the kidney load increase
When we’re hot and stuffy, we’re thirsty. It’s a natural process. In the conditions of Bikram yoga, there is heavy sweating and, of course, we want to drink twice as much. This means that the load on the kidneys increases.
Сontraindications of Bikram Yoga Practice
Since Bikram yoga is being practiced in a hot room there are some contraindications that can be temporary and permanent.
Permanent contraindications include:
- vascular problems;
- varicose veins;
- heart disease;
- weak mitral and aortic valve function;
- lung diseases;
- kidneys diseases;
- gallstone disease;
- gynecological diseases;
- brain diseases.
Temporary contraindications include:
- period of gynecological inflammation and menstruation;
- catarrhal diseases;
What to Expect from Bikram Yoga Class?
If you decided to attend Bikram yoga class then you may have a reasonable question – what to expect? It is natural to feel nervous if you come to Bikram yoga studio for the first time. It’s okay if you are not as successful in your yoga practice as others during the first few classes. Everyone’s been through this.
Let us share with you some tips for those of you who are going to attend your first Bikram yoga class:
- Come to the studio 15 minutes before your class starts.
- Be sure to warn the instructor about the presence of any chronic diseases and medical restrictions.
- Be sure to have an empty stomach. Start training about 2 hours after you have eaten.
- Do not drink too much water before and during yoga class. It is allowed to moisten the throat and take a few sips. A full stomach is contraindicated when performing asanas!
- Visit the restroom before the class, as it is not recommended to interrupt the practice.
- Most studios categorically prohibit the use of a cell phone, so we advise you to completely turn it off and take the time to enjoy yoga.
- Try to breathe slowly and deeply, it will help to relax all the muscles and get used to the room temperature.
- Breathe only through the nose, because breathing through the mouth dries the mucosa and excites the nervous system.
- Be prepared for the fact that during classes you will sweat a lot. Most hot yoga studios artificially increase humidity, so you’ll sweat even in places where you had no idea you had sweat glands (hello, a sweaty inner side of the elbow).
- Try not to wipe the sweat flowing from you in streams, so you give the body a signal to release even more liquid to cool the hot body.
- Your heart may start to beat faster, but if you don’t have a problem with that, that’s fine. You need to stay calm and focus on your reflection in the mirror. If, however, you are alerted, and you start to panic, lie down on the mat and take a short break.
- If you have any unpleasant feelings during your yoga practice, focus on your reflection in the mirror, it will return you to the comfort zone.
- Listen to your body. If you feel bad (dizzy, nauseous, etc.) during yoga class, the only right decision is to get up and leave. Do not try to break through the weakness, so as not to harm yourself.
- Improve the result gradually. If you have just started practicing hot yoga, it is not necessary to do the exercises in full force. As in the case of any other workout, your body should get used to the peculiarities of the load. Therefore, start small and boldly move forward.
- After yoga class, you will have a feeling that you are ready to conquer the whole world (of course, after a long shower). This is the pleasant aftertaste of yoga.
We want to note once again that not everyone can practice this kind of yoga. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you consult with your doctor for contraindications. In addition, it must be remembered that the hot conditions of the hot yoga classes may initially seem unbearably difficult to handle. Therefore, you should determine your level of endurance,
Summing up, once again we note that Bikram yoga, despite its ambiguity, is an effective tool that allows you to cleanse your body, tighten sagging skin, develop flexibility, form a posture, delve into your feelings and fully master the management of your body.
We hope that after reading this article, you are now able to decide whether this type of yoga is suitable for you or not. Remember that yoga is not a competition, and the approach to choosing a yoga style for practice should be based on individual feelings, needs,