Recently, I’ve been asked a lot about the benefits of Bikram Yoga practice. I would love to answer each question individually, but that would not leave me with enough time to cover other subjects. Here is my official synopsis of this style of yoga and I hope that you find it beneficial.
The practice was introduced to the west by India born Bikram Choudhury, a head disciple of Swami Shivananda. Choudhury, who created his own style from Hatha Yoga, came to United States in 1973, after successfully opening schools in India and Japan. He later settled in Southern California. In 1990’s he began offering instructor certification courses. There are now thousands of Bikram Yoga schools all over the world.
What sets this practice apart from many other types of yoga is that it ideally takes place in a heated environment. The studio is heated to about 105 degrees and 40% humidity. The practitioners have 90 minutes to go through a set of 26 different asanas and several breathing exercises.
According to Choudhury, Bikram Yoga benefits are many, as traditional yoga practice is enhanced by hot environment. This improves the flexibility and reduces the possibility of injury. Choudhury states that the whole body gets detoxified and cleansed from the improved circulation of the blood. Also, hot yoga benefits by bringing fresh blood to all of the organs, muscles and joints through the process called extension and compression.
In addition to energization, anxiety and stress management, the health benefits of Bikram Yoga for weight loss are also noted, as the number of calories burned each session are estimated to be between 500 to over 1,000 depending on the intensity and the individual practitioner.
Although I personally don’t practice hot yoga, some of my friends do, and I am definitely aware of the many positive effects of Bikram Yoga practice. For me, the bottom line is that hot or cold, if it keeps you healthy and if you enjoy doing it, go for it. In addition, keep in mind that any true practice of yoga should not be limited to the physical aspects alone.
Pranayama, or the practice of controlled breathing holds numerous benefits to the practitioner. It calms the mind, slows down the heart rate and relaxes the body. Yoga can also be used to prepare yourself for the practice of meditation. But wait… that’s for another post.
Live well. Vlad