When you think about bikram yoga you probably just picture hot yoga, which many people tend to think is just an extreme yoga style to make it stand out among other types of yoga. Little do they know how it was invented. Bikram yoga was born from the despair of a terrifying diagnosis when the chance for healing was very small, if at all, but the will for training was enormous.
Bikram Chowdhury is the founder of heat yoga. His rise to fame came when, at the age of 13, he became the Indian national champion in yoga but it lasted only 4 years. At the age of 17, he could not move at all due to serious knee trauma. However, the young man did not obey the doctors’ orders, but instead came to a curious conclusion. He knew classical hatha yoga was practiced by Indian sages in hot and humid climates, hence, for the most effective training similar conditions are necessary. Then Bikram began to train. After several months of thoughtful practice, he restored mobility to his legs with the help of a special set of physical and breathing exercises taken from pranayama yoga. All the exercises were performed in a room heated up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40% humidity. This is how “hot” yoga was created.
How is hot yoga practiced?
Hot is not enough to describe the way you feel while practicing this type of yoga! Bikram yoga exercises are performed in a studio with tropical climate conditions: at no less than 105 F and 40% humidity. It’s like exercising in a hotbox. That is why you may find that some people call bikram yoga other things like heat yoga, hotbox yoga, hot yoga, and sauna yoga. Since the conditions are quite unusual, it is recommended to get ready for yoga classes beforehand by:
- drinking at least a bottle (1L) of water before training;
- not eating at least 90 minutes beforehand;
- increase your daily consumption of water up to 3 liters.
Bikram yoga classes
The training consists of 26 asanas of hatha yoga performed in two sets and two deep breathing complexes taken from pranayama yoga. All the exercises should be performed at a very fast pace: each asana takes from 10 to 60 seconds. This contributes to increased sweating and effectively cleansing the body of toxins. At the same time, this temperature and tempo allow tight muscles to stretch with ease. One class or session normally lasts 90 minutes. To achieve the maximum positive effect, it is best to have bikram yoga classes 3 times a week but not at the expense of your own wellbeing.
Even though hot yoga is considered helpful and beneficial, it has more contraindications as opposed to other types of fitness – just because of the heat. People with cardiovascular diseases, blood pressure disorders (both hypo- and hypertension) and endocrine system conditions should consult a doctor before they start practicing. Hotbox yoga is not recommended for pregnant women for the risk of dizziness and fainting.
Bikram yoga benefits
Regardless of the contraindications, the benefits of bikram yoga are great and evident. Hot yoga is known to:
- improve the respiratory system functioning;
- strengthen the cardiovascular system;
- cause detoxication of the body;
- firm the musculoskeletal system;
- be beneficial for the nervous and endocrine systems;
- help to recover from injury;
- strengthen the immunity;
- increase blood circulation;
- form a flexible and strong body;
- normalize the hormonal balance;
- reduce back pain and pain in joints;
- help to lose weight and shape the body.
In addition, like any yoga, regular heat yoga training teaches patience, concentration, and tranquility; it helps form a positive worldview and a sense of self-confidence.
Hot yoga accessories
Some like it hot! Hope, you can say that about yoga, too. Since hot yoga classes are humid and sweaty, you should pay attention to your clothes and mat. The risk of slipping in a steamy studio on a wet mat is very high. That is a hot yoga mat concern. It should have an excellent grip. Some practitioners use additional accessories including towels but there is nothing better than a safe grippy mat. So, when buying a hot yoga mat, make sure it is appropriate for bikram yoga and consider bringing a full length towel to spread over your mat when you start dripping sweat on it.
As for the clothes, one may think that the less is better. Though it is not really so. Hot yoga clothes are designed for heavy sweating, and won’t hold you down or pull on you. You should feel comfortable during your hot yoga classes, so specific hot yoga clothes can be your key to success. Consult with a shop assistant about hot yoga clothes they recommend for extra sweaty exercising. You may find that cotton clothing helps to wick away sweat and keep you less slippery.
Possessing right accessories and convenient attire for bikram yoga is important but what is more, you should have a strong will, motivation and a great desire to exercise. It won’t take long to see the results. Let it be inspiring and health-improving!