You may or may not have heard about this big craze in the world of fitness. It involves a lot of sweating, and therefore a lot of detoxifying, and one hopes, a lot of weight loss. But just what is Bikram yoga? It's more than your usual hot yoga, which is simply Hatha or Vinyasa flow-style yoga done in a hot room. Bikram yoga is, for many, a lifestyle in and of itself.
What You Need To Know Before Your First Class
For many, the first images that come to mind are the Bikram yoga clothes, which are so skimpy as to practically qualify for swimwear. And it's no wonder, since the rooms are heated to around 95-105 degrees Fahrenheit. Some first time Bikram yogis usually feel faint and dizzy when they take the class, so it's important to hydrate yourself properly beforehand, and dress so that the sweat drips onto your towel and not get stuck in clingy, suffocating clothes. It is also advisable not to eat before the class, as the twists and backbends coupled with the heat and possible nausea will make the Bikram yoga studio feel even more like a torture chamber..
What is Bikram Yoga?
To take yoga in such sweltering heat is definitely a show of mental prowess. Bikram yoga is named after its founder, Bikram Choudhury. He successfully developed and subsequently patented a series of 26 poses, including a breathing exercise at the beginning and towards the end of each class. While the poses are fairly traditional in any yoga class, such as the Eagle Pose (Garurasana), Triangle Pose (Trikoasana), Bow Pose (Dhanurasana), and Camel Pose (Dhanurasana), it is the particular sequencing of the poses, as well as the repetition (twice for each pose, on both sides), in such a heated room that makes a Bikram class what it is. Each 90 minute class starts with a breathing exercise (pranayama), and moves from standing poses, balancing poses, before moving to the floor to do seated poses and backbends, a final breathing exercise (pranayama), and at last, Corpse Pose (Savasana).
The Benefits of Bikram Yoga
The very well heated room, coupled with the deep and steadfast breathing advocated by all types of yoga, warms up the body to an impressive degree. Once the muscles are warm enough, one can go into deeper bends and stretches. It also provides extra protection for your joints and spine so as to prevent injury. Of course, one still must keep in mind not to overdo it and push yourself too hard. Since you'll be sweating profusely, not only are appropriate Bikram yoga clothes advisable, but a good yoga mat towel as well, preferably one with grips. This ensures that you won't be slipping and sliding around your mat, where you absorb all the benefits of your practice.
Bikram yoga is definitely a polarizing type of yoga. Since you sweat so much, some people go for it in order to lose weight, but there are other benefits as well, just like any other yoga class. Some people would describe it as feeling like hell while you're doing it, but heaven when you're done, partly due to the rush of endorphins, but also because like the best workouts, the rewards are directly proportional to the amount of work you put in.