As an instructor and devoted practitioner of Bikram Hot Yoga, I can personally vouch for the numerous benefits associated with the dedicated practice of the popular hatha yoga series, founded in 1974 by Mr Bikram Choudhary.
The fixed sequence consists of 26 asanas and two pranayama breathing exercises practiced for a span of 90 minutes in a heated room. The heat is normally set at 105°F and 40% humidity. Now-a-days, express 60- and 75-minute classes are also being offered to cater to people’s needs in a shorter time-span.
It is ideal to practice Bikram yoga 4-6 times a week to gain the full medical and physical benefits of this practice. Over time, one will see inch-loss around the whole body, toned muscles, incredible surge in energy, improved mood, a calmer state of mind, higher focus, increased stamina and strength, better eating habits, and finally a sense of balance in their lives.
The Benefits Of Temperature Control
Why practice yoga amid such soaring temperatures, people ask? The concept of heat is justified for various reasons:
- It is the best way to warm up the body and make it more flexible, which ultimately allows each individual to go deeper in their postures without the risk of injury.
- Heat creates a challenging cardio workout because the body is working harder under such conditions, causing your heart rate to increase. Asanas such as tuladandasana and dandayamana dhanurasana in the standing series are perfect examples of heart pumping cardio postures.
- But the heat’s main purpose is to detoxify the impurities and flush out all the toxins from the internal organs and glands in the body. This creates an efficient circulatory and respiratory system.
- The cleansing process works on many levels, as it also rids the skin of impurities through perspiration.
How Hot Is Too Hot?
Recent studies have questioned the safety of practicing this style of yoga. One’s core body temperature and heart rate are said to reach dangerous levels, jeopardizing the validity of the series.
However, simple self-regulation of limiting the time spent in the class, listening to your body and not pushing yourself, staying hydrated, and requesting for a temperature adjustment (by a couple of degrees) should things feel uncomfortable, will help moderate the process.
And for those of you yogis on the lookout for something different, other variations of hot yoga are also being introduced and appreciated. A vinyasa flow (breath synchronized movement) style is employed in these hybrids, which are now quite the rage. Moksha Yoga, founded in 2004 (spanning across USA and Canada), and Core Power Yoga (chains spanning across USA) are good examples of these offshoots.