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Bikram Yoga—Why Turning Up the Heat May Help Make Yoga Better

 
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Bikram yoga, or “hot yoga” as it is also called, is a type of yoga that is done in a heated room that averages between 95 and 105 degrees. It was named for yoga master Bikram Choudhury, who founded the Yoga College of India in Beverly Hills back in 1974. The theory is that being in such a warm and also usually humid environment makes the body more flexible.

When I first read about Bikram yoga several years ago to help research an article I wrote for our local newspaper, I honestly wondered why anyone would pay money to go work out in the heat. It struck me as very uncomfortable and unpleasant. But after interviewing the owner of the studio as well as several of her unabashedly enthusiastic students, I realized that there really seems to be something to the heated room element that is inherent to this style of yoga.

Bikram yoga classes typically involve going through a series of 26 poses, or asanas and two breathing exercises. Each position flows to the next one, which proponents say can help your body release toxins and well as tensions. According to Wikipedia, blood circulation is affected a lot during class because of compression and extension of the muscles. These two movements work together to bring oxygen throughout the whole body. While students are doing one of the poses, circulation will actually be temporarily cut off. This in turn stimulates the heart to pump more blood. The pumping of fresh blood is called extension. Once you finish the pose and you come out of it, the new oxygen-rich blood can help the arteries that were being compressed.
By the time the 90-minute class is over, most students will feel both tired and energized. The idea is that the heat combined with the poses will help your body clean out its lymphatic system, and then even more toxins will come out in your sweat. Drinking a bunch of water before, during, and after class can help reload your body with good liquids.

As you sweat your way through the poses, the stress-caused hormone cortisol can also leave the body.

Bikram yoga has a devoted group of students who swear by the health benefits that this hot form of yoga has to offer.

Add a Comment4 Comments

I don't know why I was compelled to take a Bikram yoga class, but I really am glad I gave it a try. It certainly is challenging and you sweat more that you think is possible. I highly recommend taking at least one class.

April 30, 2010 - 10:42am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to startingat40)

WHY NOT GO FOR A SAUNA BATH OR STEAM BATH? I AM SURE YOU SWEAT PROFUSELY THERE AS WELL.
YOGA IS NOT ABOUT SWEATING. YOGA IS SUPPOSED TO REJUVENATE A PERSON WHILE WORKING ON THE NEGATIVE AREAS OF THE BODY. THE BEST YOGA EXPERTS WILL ALWAYS ADVISE TO DO THE ASANA ON A FOLDED BLANKET COVERED WITH A CEAN SHEET. THIS HELPS THE NORMAL BODY TEMPERATURE TO BE STABLE DURING THE YOGA.

May 1, 2010 - 1:37am
(reply to Anonymous)

I do practice yoga but sometimes it's about trying new things. As for being rejuvenated, Bikram yoga provides a good release for me. I felt like I was able to release all the negative things that build up in your body over time.

May 11, 2010 - 9:13am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Ask Bikram Chowdhury if he rmnembers P-43, Block-H, New Alipore, Calcutta-53, 2nd floor, INDIA?
How did he come to USA? Does he remember Late Buddha Bose or Rooma bose?
Feel free to contact me at the following email id.
Thank you.

April 7, 2010 - 4:00am
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