Bikram yoga is a type of hot yoga that is performed in a room heated to about 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The practice is based on the traditional 26 poses of hatha yoga but is done in a sequence that is specific to Bikram yoga. The heat helps to open the pores and release toxins from the body. A specific diet that is low on fat and oil, but high in water-rich fruits and vegetables is recommended by Bikram Choudhury, the founder of the practice.
Hatha yoga techniques are believed to have been formulated around 500 BC. The word ‘Hatha means ‘forceful’ or ‘sun’. It was developed as a preparation for advanced meditation practices. Hatha yoga consists of physical postures or poses called asanas, which serve to tighten and strengthen the muscles, open the energy channels in the body called nadis, stimulate circulation through different pressure points called marma points, balance prana or vital life force in the body through breath control or pranayama, regulate metabolism through mudras or gestures, and purify the nervous system through bandhas or energy locks. Most of these techniques are also used in other forms of yoga that are less physically demanding. The difference is only in the sequencing of poses so that hatha yoga flows smoothly from posture to posture while Bikram yoga has a specific sequence for each pose to be performed.
About Bikram Choudhury:
Bikram Choudhury, who is credited with developing Bikram Yoga, was born in Calcutta, India on December 10, 1945. At the age of four, he started training under Bishnu Ghosh, his brother-in-law. Bishnu Ghosh taught him Hatha Yoga along with its philosophy which gave him a holistic view towards life and health. At the age of 26, he started teaching yoga at a gym in Calcutta and later moved to the United States. There he began promoting his style of Hatha Yoga which was later named ‘Bikram Yoga’ after him.
The practice is performed in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity levels ranging from 40-50%. The poses are done sequentially or in a flow such that you move from one posture to another without coming out of the hot room until the whole sequence is completed. The postures are held for about 10 seconds to allow muscles and ligaments enough time to stretch properly, but not so long that they become stiff. Each pose is accompanied by breathing techniques where oxygenated air is inhaled and carbon dioxide is exhaled to promote relaxation and rejuvenation. The 26 poses are designed to give the maximum health benefits in the minimum time by opening up your body’s energy channels, improving blood circulation, stimulating weight loss, releasing toxins from muscles and organs, stretching the spine, strengthening the core muscles of the body and providing relief from stress. At first, it may be uncomfortable due to profuse sweating but once you get used to it over some time, you will find that Bikram Yoga provides an intense workout for your entire body without putting extra pressure on your joints or bones which makes it ideal for people with injuries or recovering from surgeries.
Diet Followed During Bikram Yoga:
The diet followed during Bikram yoga is low on fat but high in water-rich fruits and vegetables. Water is essential because the practice involves extensive sweating over some time which can lead to dehydration if you do not replenish electrolytes lost by the body through sweat. The sequence includes standing poses, back bending postures, forward bending poses, twisting postures, inverted poses or headstands, and complex balancing asanas that are hard to perform in any other form of yoga. It takes about six months for your entire body to get used to these demanding postures so it is advisable to start with only two sessions per week during the first one month before building up stamina for performing all 26 postures 3 to 4 times each daily thereafter.
In Bikram yoga, there are no strict rules regarding spiritual pursuit or moral conduct. However, it is important to follow certain guidelines that are followed by all practitioners of Bikram Yoga regardless of age or religious background. Some of the rules that you need to keep in mind if you wish to practice Bikram yoga are:
Bikram Yoga must be practiced only under the guidance and supervision of a certified teacher.
Never perform any pose beyond your capacity which will put unnecessary pressure on your body.
Consult with a yoga guru before beginning this practice if you have any medical problems such as back pain, hypertension, menstrual problems, etc.
Practice only upon rising time after morning ablutions but not during night hours when body metabolism is low.
No food, alcohol, or smoking should be consumed at least one hour before yogasana practice. This is to allow the body to focus on yoga practices during this time without having to compensate for digesting food in the stomach. It also prevents you from feeling tired during your practice.
Do not practice Bikram Yoga if you are experiencing extreme weather conditions such as rain, snow, high winds, etc. This also includes not practicing in air-conditioned environments which will make you even more prone to heat-related problems.
Bikram Yoga is a power-packed form of yoga that has gained immense popularity in recent times because it provides instant results without much effort unlike many other forms of exercise where slow, steady progress is seen over some time. As you can see, Bikram yoga has plenty of benefits to offer which makes it very attractive to many people from all walks of life including celebrities and athletes who wish to remain fit and fine. However, patience and discipline must be exercised during your yoga practice learning curve because rushing into things will only end up complicating matters for you.