Bikram yoga is one of the ‘hot’ yoga types. Literally and figuratively!
Bikram yoga was founded by Bikram Choudhury, and is based on the hatha yoga traditional techniques.
Today, Bikram’s yoga complex has become popular around the world, especially in the United States. Bikram Chouldhury’s first student was President Nixon, who suffered from thrombophlebitis, and now loyal fans of his style include Madonna, Salma Hayek and Irvine Welsh.
Methodology author believes that hatha yoga is the most effective in conditions of the hot Indian climate, versus being performed in room temperature conditions.
Bikram yoga classes are performed in heated rooms with an air temperature of 105 degrees and humidity between 40 and 60 percent. Classic occupation consists of 26 asanas and two breathing exercises which must be performed within 90 minutes.
Bikram Yoga Benefits
The high room temperature allows the body to detoxify, while allowing it to stretch and tone.
Other benefits of bikram yoga are its’ ability to relieve stress, increased mindfulness, improved balance, heal arthritis, ease back problems, joint aches and knee injuries. Bikram Yoga exercises also strengthen the muscles of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems of the body.
According to some researchers, most people only use up to 50 percent of their lungs. Bikram yoga can stretch the lungs, increasing their capacity. Regular pranayama practice can increase oxygen uptake and improve blood circulation as well as in many other forms of cardiovascular load.
Sweating also promotes rapid weight loss. With your new ‘lightness’, you’ll be feeling more energized and invigorated!
During an average class, a person can expect to burn anywhere between 500 to 1,000 calories. Hot bikram yoga also helps you relax after a hard workday, or can prepare you in the morning for all the stresses of the day.
Preparing For Your First Class
If you decide to try a class, be prepared with a bottle of water, towel and a change of dry clothes!
You’ll want to drink during the class to keep your body hydrated. Working in a sauna-hot room for an hour and a half can be real problem for beginners. If you feel uncomfortable, just sit down and focus on breathing through your nose for a minute.
If you feel any symptoms of heat exhaustion (dizziness, nausea, headache, confusion, poor vision or weakness), you need to stop right away, notify your instructor, and leave the room. If your body wants to “take a break”, just relax for a few minutes!
Do not drink too much water at one time, it can cause upset stomach and you will feel discomfort during class. Just sip a small amount when you need to.
Also, contrary to belief, don’t wipe your sweat away too often; it is a mechanism of self-regulation which is helping to maintain normal body temperature.
Choose light, breathable clothing and don’t be afraid to show more skin. For women, the best outfit will be shorts and a sports bra. It will help your body sweat more efficiently and you’ll connect more with your body.
Listen To Your Body
Don’t push yourself during your bikram yoga classes, listen to your body. The postures can create some discomfort, but are not supposed to produce pain.
Less is more when you’re starting, so just do what you can! After few classes your body will be more stretched and everything will start to become easier.
You don’t need a lot of special preparation before starting bikram yoga. Classes are suitable for any level of fitness. Your progress and the effect of the training depends on how regularly do you do it.
Pre- & Post-Class Eating
Visiting a class with a full stomach is a really bad idea!
Avoid heavy foods. The best choice will be not to eat at least two hours before class, or if you do, have a small snack (like half a banana, almonds or watermelon) if you want to give your body more energy.
A full stomach may cause discomfort and become an obstacle in achieving the full effect of the asanas.
Also, don’t eat right after class. It will be too hard for your body to digest the food.
Because you will sweat a lot, you will need to rehydrate your body and replenish your electrolytes. One of the best choices is to drink an electrolytes-rich water or even coconut water.
When It May Not Be Right For You
Each body deals with an intense workout in a different way, and some people may find a workout like this combined with the heat to be really hard.
Also if you have diabetes, cardiovascular or respiratory disease, any heat-related illness, or you are pregnant, you need to consult with your doctor whether bikram yoga will be good for you or not.
Bikram yoga is good for those who are ready to sweat, cleanse their body, lose weight quickly and become more mindful.
If you are ready to change your body and mind, become healthier, and make yoga part of your healthy lifestyle, bikram yoga is worth a try for sure!