Bikram, or “hot yoga” is practiced in rooms that have been heated to between 95 and 105 degrees. They are typically also made more humid. The theory behind this is that the warm and moist environment helps our bodies really stretch and relax and become more flexible through the exercises.
If you’d like to give Bikram yoga a try, here are a few tips to keep in mind. You really have to bring your own mat and towel to class, since you’ll be sweating up a storm. This is also not the time to show up in your newest sweatpants and sweatshirt. Shorts and a t-shirt will be way more comfortable and safe attire. If you are pregnant, you shouldn’t try Bikram yoga as your body temperature can rise during the class. As stated earlier, drink a good amount of water before you go to class, and have it handy during and after as well, and try not to eat a huge meal right before heading to the studio.
The heated room may also help reduce stress. Those who practice Bikram yoga on a regular basis often have lower heart rates, lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure and as a bonus, they tend to sleep better at night too. The two forms of controlled breathing that go along with the Bikram classes (pranayama and kapalbhati) are also known to help us release stress and tension, relax more, and feel more serene and calm.
Another benefit of Bikram, or really any form of yoga, is that it can help the mind and body get in sync, which in turn leads to an increased self-awareness. Most Bikram yoga classes start with the breathing exercises. Choudhury claims that we typically use only up to 50 percent of our lung capacity, and like other muscles in the body, the lungs can be stretched through practicing breathing exercises to hold more oxygen. As students practice their pranayama breathing in class, over time oxygen should be more easily converted and absorbed in the body, and blood circulation should also improve.
According to the Bright Hub website, Bikram yoga is apparently safe for people of varying ages and levels of fitness. But you really need to get your doctor’s approval before giving it a try.