Bikram yoga, developed by Yogiraj Bikram Choudhury, is a form of hatha yoga which takes place in a room heated to 40 degrees Celsius with around 40 percent humidity expect to sweat a lot!
The 90 minute class consists of a series of 26 postures, which are repeated twice and held for between 30 seconds to a minute. Controlled breathing sets the pace of the class with a "savasana" or break between each pose when the focus is on being completely still in both body and mind.
An accredited Bikram yoga instructor guides you through each pose, taking your mind away from the troubles of your day and making you concentrate on achieving the best possible pose for you at that time.
Why does the room need to be so hot?
Scott Valentine, owner of the Bikram Yoga Studio in Bondi Junction, Sydney, explains that people round the world have used healing by heat for thousands of years. Hippocrates, the ancient Greek often referred to as the father of medicine, said, "Give me the power to create a fever and I shall cure any disease."
The theory is that we sweat out the chemical imbalances produced in daily living and help return the body to a purer state.
The hot room also helps:
- Relax the muscles as they are stretched
- Open the pores and detoxify the body as toxins are removed by sweat
- Prevent injury
- Improve the body's cooling systems
- Clear the circulatory system by thinning the blood
- Improve the cardiovascular workout by increasing the heart rate even though the breathing remains regular.
The benefits of Bikram
Yoga works every part of your body, not just the outside. It stimulates the organs within, returning them to an efficient state.
- Increased flexibility
- Increased energy
- Improved muscle tone
- Lowered blood pressure
- Loss of weight
- Improved concentration
- Prevention of disease
- Reduced stress
- Stimulation of the immune system
- Stimulation of the thyroid gland, pituitary gland and digestive system
- Reorganisation of the lipids or fat in the muscles.
Such positive influences can have a great effect on self-confidence, personal relationships, sexual energy and your outlook on life.
Who can do Bikram yoga?
Bikram yoga is for everyone, old, young, fit, unfit, injured or recovering from illness.
As Scott Valentine says, "It's never too late to get your health back and increase your strength, flexibility and general wellbeing." In fact many people, as Scott did, stumble across Bikram yoga when recovering from injury and find the healing benefits phenomenal.
Scott adds that whether you are someone who doesn't exercise, a surfer, runner, dancer or elite athlete and you begin practicing Bikram yoga, you will see dramatic improvements not only in your performance, but in all spheres of your life.