Bikram Yoga was created by founder Bikram Choudhury, born in India, who is rumored to have practiced yoga relentlessly by the age of four with well known and respected individuals within the field. Eventually, he was asked to start several schools with his methods, and is most known for founding Bikram’s Yoga College of India. Bikram includes a very specific set of twenty-six postures to be performed in high temperatures, and these positions were chosen to promote healing for every internal organ, muscle, and ligament throughout the entire body. Studios with higher temperatures and humidity help to increase sweating, warm up the body, and maintain flexibility, while also helping to prevent injury. It is also known to improve the lymphatic system and flush out toxins. Another benefit is that repetitive stretches can help someone compare their personal progress to the previous session.
A study done at Colorado State showed individuals who participated in Bikram yoga improved immensely in their strength and balance, but only slightly dropped in body weight. Other research shows yoga to improve overall pain and pain management, as well as receiving mental and emotional regulation, due to focusing attention on breathing and posture. (These effects are similar to meditation).
Bikram yoga sessions can be quite intense for the body, and sometimes individuals start to feel light headed or nauseous. It is important to know and pay attention to your own body, instead of where others are at, and to take breaks and drink lots of water as needed. Increasing nutrient replacements along with hydration are important after any session, as you are sweating out water and minerals, such as potassium and sodium.
Personally, I love yoga, and practice about once a day to help maintain flexibility and range of motion, as well as to calm my mind from daily stress. There is something very liberating about turning off my phone and personal electronics to only focus on myself, if only for an hour, which is something everyone deserves. Bikram is different than other types of yoga- it is a bit more militant and intense, so if you enjoy athletics, this might be perfect for you. I am someone who is prone to heat strokes as well, so subjecting myself to a session where I know I'll feel faint makes it much more difficult to participate in. However, I do enjoy the personal proud feeling of perseverance after completion of a session. It is also a fantastic way to detoxify yourself. If you are newer to the experience, it is recommended to start towards the back of the class, and follow leads when needed (also, you have a better chance to get a breeze from the door, which feels great). If you are open to new experiences, give it a try today!
There is a free Bikram Yoga class offered in Long Beach once a month, information at the link below:
Written by: Simone Paras, LMT