May 2, 2016
What is Bikram Yoga?
Bikram Yoga, also known as ‘Hot Yoga’, is the popular yoga sensation that has recently swept across America. But Bikram Yoga isn’t one of those here today, gone tomorrow fitness crazes that pop up every so often. It is an ancient training style with proven health giving benefits that can transform your life.
Bikram Yoga consists of 26 yoga poses done in a specific series over 90 minutes. Over the course of that 90-minute class, you go through two sets of each posture. It is known as Hot Yoga because the classes are held in an elevated temperature environment – the room is set to 105 degrees fahrenheit. The humidity of the room is kept to about 40 per cent. That means that you’ll be walking out of the session soaked in sweat.
Bikram Yoga differs from other types of yoga in that it is purposefully done in a hotter environment. This, in effect, transfers the training environment of India to anywhere around the world. The benefit of this is that it opens up the muscles to stretch more safely, increase the cardiovascular workout and to provide a safer stretching environment.
When you perform Bikram Yoga you are creating a tourniquet effect with the blood vessels of your body. This blocks the blood supply off to various joints. This, in turn, creates pressure within your circulatory system. When you open up the tourniquet effect in-between the postures the blood supply is cleansing the circulation of your body.
Poses that cause you to press your chin down toward your chest are believed to stimulate and tone the thyroid gland. In Bikram, there are six such poses. Paying special attention to the chin tuck position has had beneficial results with people who suffer from hypothyroidism.
One study, which was reported on in the August 2011 issue of Complementary Theories in Clinical Practice, found that female hypothyroid patients benefited from a 60 minute yoga session for 30 days. The women reported improved well being and quality of life.
Another aspect of Bikram Yoga that is beneficial to those with thyroid problems is deep breathing or pranayama. Each Bikram class begins with 5-10 minutes of deep breathing.
The increased temperature in a Bikram class elevates the heart rate. This is because the body is increasing its blood circulation in order to cool itself down. The longer you hold and focus on a certain pose, the greater this effect become. As a result, your metabolism will be sped up, which burns more calories.
In a higher temperature, the body will be forced to work harder to perform the poses that make up the Bikram program. This makes every move more challenging, requiring more energy. The heated room also creates a much safer approach to yoga practice. This leads to stronger flexibility in the muscles and increased fat burn.
The heavy sweating that is a big part of Bikram yoga is a great way to remove toxins from the body. The poisons that come into your body through the foods you eat and through the atmosphere, are able to be flushed out through the skin. This provides a cleanse to the organs, allowing you to feel more vibrant and alive.
An immediate result of the cleansing of the body is the sharpening of the mind. You will feel more alert, less lethargic and better able to focus. As you regularly practice the meditative yoga poses, you will also develop the ability to clear your mind to attain to the state of mindfulness. In this state you will be better able to deal with all of the challenges that life throws your way.
In Bikram yoga you will learn how to breathe far more effectively from deep within your diaphragm. Diaphragmatic breathing will allow you to bring far more oxygen into your body. This will provide you with more nutrients to supply to the muscles and organs of the body.
The benefits of learning to breathe properly are numerous. Here are 14 ways that diaphragmatic breathing can help you:
The curved spine condition known as scoliosis can have a crippling effect on those who suffer from it. Bikram Yoga has been shown to help alleviate this condition. The 26 moves that make up Bikram, when practiced regularly, are able to assist in straightening out the unnatural spinal curvature that scoliosis suffers are afflicted with. As a result, Bikram also has the ability to make you taller.
Bikram yoga also offers the opportunity to build bone density. The enhanced temperature of a Bikram class allows you to work on the strength of your ankle, knee, hip and elbow joints in relative safety. This is a prefect environment for people who are suffering from osteoporosis.
Bikram Yoga clearly has a lot to offer. It is important, however, to be prepared for the intense workout that you will get. The hotter than normal temperature provides a real adjustment when you first begin Bikram. Make sure to follow these tips to make sure that your body is able to handle the challenge:
Interested in trying out a yoga class for yourself? Evolve Fitness in Framingham and Cambridge offers free group exercise classes with most memberships, including yoga classes with qualified instructors. Sign up for a free pass today!