Trends often come and go in the fitness world. This makes it hard to know whether or not something is legit or just an over-hyped marketing scheme. This is why when some people hear about Bikram Yoga they may be quick to scoff at it. But Bikram Yoga is the real deal! Let’s start with an introduction:
What is Bikram Yoga?
Most people are probably familiar with yoga— the discipline that moves your body through various positions to strengthen and heal the body through stretching and stabilizing. Bikram Yoga is a variant of this, but what makes it unique is that it’s done in a room that is heated to 105 degrees! This is why it’s often called ‘Hot Yoga’.
Another unique aspect of Bikram Yoga is that it focuses on 26 specific poses (asanas). These poses help people to address physical and mental aspects of their well-being.
Because of its relatively new standing, there isn’t much research on it. That said, from those who have done this form of yoga they have nothing but great things to say about it.
Here are some of the benefits we do know of:
Promotes Weight loss
Losing weight is perhaps the single biggest motivating factor for people hitting the gym. And if you’re someone who is trying to lose weight then you need everything you can to help you accomplish your goal.
Although sweating a ton in these classes effectively helps you lose weight quickly, it’s not what contributes to actual long-term weight loss. It’s the 500-1000 calories per session that does. You see, when the body’s temperature is elevated, it boosts the metabolism in turn burning more calories. Plus it’s a brutal workout which gets the body burning fat.
Helps Remedy Arthritis
For many people, working out with arthritis can be tough. Exercise like lifting weights and running can put a lot of stress on sensitive joints. Yoga however, is great for soothing joint pain and arthritis— especially Bikram Yoga.
With the the combination of the heat and various movement, the body can naturally alleviate the pain in joints. Relieving stress has also been linked to reducing rheumatoid arthritis, and yoga is the perfect exercise for feeling relaxed.
Soothes Back Pain
Millions of people suffer from back pain. Whether it’s from poor posture or being overweight, it’s important to work to strengthen the back muscles and alleviate pain through stretching. Many people resort to surgery or months of physical therapy- but why not give Bikram Yoga a try?
Bikram Yoga has been a blessing for many people with back pain. It really works to target the spine with a variety of back bends, which helps to create a strong and healthy spine. To see the best results, you have to practice it regularly. It’s also important to continually push yourself. Don’t go overboard, but the only way to get stronger is to continually to get stronger in different poses.
Many people don’t realize that exercise is one of the best cures for feeling blue. When we workout, our bodies release dopamine— the feel good hormone. The great thing about Bikram Yoga is that not only will the intense workout give you a dopamine boost, but sweating helps you feel good.
Additionally, regular sessions can lower cortisol levels and provide mental clarity. This helps you forget about your problems and focus on the task at hand.
Yoga is all about breathing, and Bikram Yoga will certainly allow you to breathe deeply and aid any respiratory problems. It also soothes the mind, as previously mentioned. This allows you to break up tension in the body which normally forces you to take shallow, short breaths, opting instead for deep, belly breathing.
Yoga has the ability to weave mind and body like no other form of exercise. And Bikram Yoga helps to balance the emotions in several ways. For one, it helps to tune the nervous and endocrine systems which have major roles that determine our well-being through physiological processes. Additionally, it facilities control, concentration, focus and clarity and purges our minds of negative emotions.
You may have seen pictures of incredibly flexible yogi’s putting themselves into contortionist positions. Don’t expect that to happen right away. But practicing this style of yoga will certainly, however, allow you to reach new levels of flexibility.
Flexibility helps to promote good physical health and is especially important as people age. Don’t wait too long to get started!
A Tougher Workout
A lot of yoga workouts can be tough, but what makes Bikram Yoga even more intense is the heat. The elevated temperature forces the heart to pump faster, thus making the body work harder. Additionally, Bikram Yoga blends cardiovascular activity into its sessions. In fact, your heart is going to be pumping just as fast as if you were running a mile because of the heat and the difficult poses. You can burn upwards of 1000 calories per session. How many other workouts can do that?
Detoxifies the Body
You’re going to be sweating a TON during your classes. This means that it allows you to purge your body, while detoxifying the muscles, skin, glands organs etc. This is great for well-being and health.
The heated room makes it easier to stretch and get your cardio, and it also helps you sweat. The postures themselves are detoxifying for your muscles, organs, and glands. Sweating enhances all these functions.
How You Feel After Class
One of the best parts of attending a class is how you feel afterwards. It’s one of the most relaxing and pleasurable things one can experience when it comes to exercise. By the end of your session you will no doubt be drenched in sweat. But with that sweat comes the purging of harmful toxins, mental clarity and a big smile on your face, knowing that you just accomplished a lot.
It’s Safe To Do
Some people might be concerned about potential risks when doing Bikram Yoga. There have been concerns that the increased temperature can lead to acute health issues such as heat exhaustion. These worries, however, should not be a concern.
Of course, you should always consult with a medical professional before undergoing any form of exercise that may put your health at risk. That said, there are rarely instances of injury or health issues with Bikram Yoga. Studies and health professionals have shown that there isn’t anything to fret about and that it is suitable for all ages.
There are still measures you should take to prevent any potential risks. First of all, if at any time you feel uncomfortable, dizzy, or light headed then just stop. Go outside the room, grab some water and sit it out. In fact, according to the official Bikram Yoga website, “It is not unusual to feel nauseous or dizzy during your first class. Practicing yoga in a heated room reveals to us our present condition, and inspires us take much better care of ourselves.” It’s important that you push yourself over time to improve, but that doesn’t mean ignoring what your body is telling you.
Also, it’s a good idea to bring lots of water with you. Not only will you be losing a ton of water weight, but you will be hot and you will need to keep yourself hydrated.
Unfortunately, you can’t simply start doing Bikram Yoga unless you want to have a really expensive heating bill. Your best bet is to search for local classes in your area.
Make sure to use a certified instructor. It’s important that your teacher knows what they’re doing so they can truly help you.