Benefits of Bikram Yoga
Bikram yoga has personally helped me to regain my flexibility from my ballet days (in my teens), heal old injuries that were debilitating at times, and repair my hyperthyroid. The results are personal and mixed with other training, but Bikram yoga is something I will always have as part of my health routine 1-2 a week for the rest of my life.
- How is bikram yoga distinguished from other hot yoga practices?
There are five key differences between Bikram yoga and other hot yoga practices.
- Heat: About 30 years ago, Bikram Choudhury developed this school of yoga where classes are held in artificially heated rooms, to mimic the climate of his hometown in southern India. Bikram is typically heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40% humidity. Hot yoga rooms can vary in humidity and are generally heated to anywhere from 80 -100 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Duration: Typical Bikram yoga classes are 90 minutes and hot yoga classes are 60 minutes. Although, depending on the studio each can run 60-90 minutes in length.
- Postures: A Bikram class always follows the same sequence, moving through a series of 26 poses and two breathing exercises. They believe, you are likely to become familiar with the routine, which promotes a more present and focused practice. Whereas, a different variation of postures taught in hot yoga each session, designed to keep clients stimulated week-to-week.
- Studio: The fourth difference between the practices is visible once you strolling the studio. Bikram studios typically have mirrors on 2 to 3 walls of the room so that you can visually edit the poses during your practice. In many other hot yoga studios they do not have mirrors to avoid distraction from the outer body and focus on inner awareness.
- Sound: Bikram is performed without music and the instructor usually instructs with similar cues through each pose, where hot yoga is performed to music with instructors mixing up their instruction as much as they edit their flow each class.
- In what specific ways does bikram yoga benefit the body?
Bikram yoga is known for benefiting balance, flexibility, weight-loss, conditioning and much more.
Flexibility: The external heat of the class is thought to have many benefits. First, the external heat allows muscles to expand and contract to greater limits, so that higher flexibility can be achieved without the risk of injury.
Conditioning: Bikram supports cardiovascular health without the typical “cardio”. The high heat level combined with the intensity of Bikram Yoga itself definitely gets your heart pumping because the heart needs to pump more blood to the muscles and other organs. A 90-minute practice under these heated conditions makes Bikram yoga a form of strenuous aerobic exercise with much higher intensity than other forms of yoga. A healthy heart and moderate blood pressure are important for preventing heart conditions, artery disease, strokes, and other potentially fatal conditions.
Detoxify: The heat and higher energy demand causes you to sweat … A LOT. As you sweat you reduce water retention and sweat out a long list of toxins, chemicals and other unwanted compounds that shouldn’t’ be in your body.
The various poses that you are forced to hold as well as the increased heat make your heart pump and build lean muscle which translates to some serious weight loss. A single 90-minute session of Bikram Yoga can help you burn up to 1000 calories, which is just as good as various other forms of cardiovascular exercise. Furthermore, the various poses involved in Bikram Yoga are said to benefit your digestive system and endocrine system, both which boosts your metabolic rate.
- Is bikram yoga beneficial for everyone? Or are there certain people who should avoid it?
Although Bikram benefits many people there are still some people who should avoid. First off, no pregnant women should be doing Bikram Yoga because the heat may damage the fetus or cause complications during birth. In addition, people with pre-existing heart conditions such as hypertension should also not engage in Bikram Yoga because it may actually exacerbate heart conditions. Also, you need to be careful to keep yourself hydrated before and after any type of hot Yoga because dehydration and ensuing conditions pose a serious risk. Any form of exercise in these temps carries a risk of dehydration, dizziness, nausea, a drop in blood pressure and even loss of consciousness and healthy brain function. Otherwise, if you are physically healthy, hot Yoga like Bikram should pose no serious risk.