I am an avid practitioner of Ashtanga Hatha Yoga. I love travelling and photography and have been to India 4 times.
Bikram Yoga Method
Bikram Yoga is one of several yoga styles that have branched out from Hatha Yoga. This was innovated by Bikram Choudhury and has since gained attention from individuals who were looking for an intense and competitive yoga practice that offers holistic health and physical benefits.
In this particular yoga technique, you have to perform a total of 26 set postures in sequence. Each posture offers its own benefits, so you need to perform them accurately. These postures are done inside a heated room with a regulated temperature average of about 36 degrees Celsius and an average humidity percentage of 60.
Why Is It Popular?
Bikram Yoga is one of the most popular forms of yoga in the east and west. The main reason for this is because of the weight loss incidences reported by many who have tried using Bikram Yoga. This is mostly credited to the fact that participants are subjected to a rigorous routine that will work out every muscle in their bodies. This is also the reason why yoga instructors remind their students to pay close attention to the body for any indication of pain during the performance.
The muscle workout is also beneficial in terms of getting rid of any pains. The overall workout provides other benefits such as more flexibility, normalization of blood pressure and sugar level, and a leaner body as muscles are firmed up.
Another reason for its popularity is that Bikram Yoga is good for all ages. Indeed, the acceptable age range for individuals who are allowed to perform this yoga technique is from 13 to 103. This is also suitable for a variety of body types and you can make slight adjustments to the routine to suit your individual needs and objectives.
Format of Postures
The performance of Bikram yoga postures follows a sequence. These are all designed to warm up and prepare your muscles, tendons, and ligaments for the upcoming series of poses. Hence, you will start off with basic stretching exercises. The execution of these pose sequences helps oxygenated blood to circulate all throughout your body. The equal distribution of oxygenated blood improves system function and provides a wide range of health benefits.
Aside from that, you can also attain more toned muscles and a vibrant perspective. In some cases, Bikram yoga has also shown weight loss results.
Bikram Yoga and Breathing
Unlike in Hatha Yoga where you must first focus on proper posture to cater to proper meditation, breathing is the main focus in Bikram Yoga. Posture is only secondary in this particular technique. The proper breathing technique facilitates your ability to control the amount of energy needed in your practice of Bikram. The ability to produce deep and slow breathing is the key to managing stress, as most yoga experts would say.
However, this is easier said than done. For one, participants are required to execute simple to complex postures while being in a heated room. It is understandable for beginners to struggle to control their breathing patterns. Oftentimes, an individual quickens their breathing, causing an excess amount of oxygen to enter their brain.
A calm and even breath is what you are aiming for in Bikram yoga. This will ensure a constant supply of oxygen in your body, enabling you to produce balance in your posture and gain more focus.
Importance of Heat
Those who are new to Bikram Yoga are particularly interested in the use of heat during each session. According to the philosophy of Bikram or Hot Yoga, heat is important in making your muscles more pliant. This will enable those muscles to provide a wider range of motion and become more fluid when stretching for an injury-free and safer execution of its poses.
On the other hand, the presence of heat also facilitates the distribution of blood throughout your organs. Thus, you are better able to execute the various poses required in Bikram Yoga.
Preparation for Bikram Yoga Class
Here is a step-by-step procedure that you need to undergo if you want to get the best out of your Bikram yoga class:
Look for a competitive and legitimate Bikram yoga class in your local area.
- Once you have chosen your yoga studio, contact them. Inquire about rates, class schedules, and the instructors who will be holding the classes. It is important to enter only classes with qualified and competent instructors.
- Consult your doctor for an assessment of your health condition, whether or not you have an existing health problem. This will aid you in preventing any complications and also enable you to take the proper safety measures.
- Avoid coming to class with a full stomach. At the same time, try not to come in with an empty stomach. You can eat about an hour and a half prior to your class.
- When it comes to going to the bathroom, make sure you attend to it before the yoga class starts. This will help avoid disrupting your and others' progress.
- Bring all the necessary materials such as a comfortable yoga outfit, your own yoga mat, towel, and toiletries.
- Come to class approximately 30 minutes before the actual starting time.
What to Expect: Bikram Yoga Class
Bikram yoga classes are divided into two halves, each one having a different focus. The first part of the class typically lasts as much as 45 minutes. Here, participants are required to perform standing poses which are intended to improve balance in your musculoskeletal system. Years of yoga practice have revealed that for most individuals, one side of the body is either stronger or more flexible than the other. Hence, creating that balance is necessary for more success in the upcoming stages of Bikram yoga. This will also enable one to prevent any form of muscle pain or injury later on.
The next part of the class is where you must utilize your yoga mats as the postures are performed on the floor. This stage of Bikram yoga aims for a deeper level of physical enhancement, specifically correction of your spinal alignment. Many of those who have participated in Bikram yoga classes have discovered their spinal problems through this practice.
Controversy Behind Bikram Yoga
Despite the growing number of people who practice Bikram yoga, there is also a good number of controversy surrounding it. The main area of focus is basically directed toward the use of heat during this particular yoga practice.
However, yoga experts insist that heat is regulated within the room where Bikram yoga classes are being held. Therefore, yoga practitioners would consider it safe. Every student must take their own precautionary measures and inform their instructor of any pre-existing health conditions. Another main source of danger would also be trying to push your body beyond its limits. If the body is sending you signals that it cannot bear the postures or heat any longer, then take time to rest until you are ready to pursue.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
wiserworld on September 17, 2016:
Thanks for the descriptions about Bikram Yoga. The pictures are helpful too!
Rachel Rasdall from Chicago, Illinois on July 08, 2014:
I was an avid follower of Bikram for several years, and now just practice the method occasionally. The practice certainly made me fit.
dana on May 15, 2011:
Been doing bikram for almost a year. Lost weight, toned up all over and feel great! Highly recommend it..but this is ahighly challenging work out don't be surprised if you can't make it thru first few classes. Keep an open mind and keep trying!
yoga business on June 07, 2010:
Great article on Bikram. Thanks
Lilian C. on March 04, 2010:
I've tried Hot yoga and just join a group who were practising with Bikram's recorded class. I'll say that was quite a workout!
kea on February 25, 2010:
Great info. Haven't tried Bikram Yoga, but I've been tempted to try it!