A Cool Quick-Start Guide to a “Hot” Trend in Yoga
Bikram Yoga has literally become the “hot” trend in yoga in recent years. Named after its founder, Bikram Choudhury, this type of yoga consists of 26 specific postures and 2 breathing exercises.
What makes Bikram unique is that it is a hot yoga, as it is preferably practiced in a studio or room heated to 104 °F (40 °C) with 40% humidity. Classes should be exactly 90 minutes.
The heat is an integral part of the benefits, which include increased flexibility, focus, and higher calorie burn. Bikram Yoga practitioners claim the heat allows for better stretching and reduced injuries. It also promotes weight loss as well as lessens tension and stress.
The sweat brought on by the heat will release toxins and will open up and cleanse your pores.
The heat and the postures stretch muscles, tendons, and ligaments optimally. Warm connective tissues are easier and safer to stretch.
The breathing exercises ensure that fully oxygenated blood travels throughout the body. The heat forces you to breathe deeply and become more relaxed as you go through the poses so restoration of health and promotion of healing can occur.
It’s also great for weight loss as a single session can burn as many as 1250 calories! Even novices can expect to burn at least 400 calories.
To receive these benefits, a regular practice of 3 or 4 classes every week is suggested.
The following information will help you get started with Bikram Yoga:
- Who can participate? Pregnant women are the only folks discouraged from participating. All others are welcome to take a try it. However, the heat isn’t for everyone.
- This type of yoga is very suitable for the beginner.
- As with any type of physical exertion, be sure to talk to your physician before taking a hot yoga class.
- Getting started is easy. Since sweating is unavoidable, it is imperative to bring your own towel and yoga mat.
- Most also find it helpful not to eat two hours before class. The heat will bring a lot of blood to the surface of the skin where it won’t be available to aid in digestion.
- Bring a large water bottle. Drink plenty of water and try to hydrate before, during, and after class, it’s crucial to maintain hydration and to watch out for early danger signs.
- Keep the clothing to a minimum. Spending 90 minutes in 104 F heat does not call for a modest dress code. Be sure to wear clothing that will allow freedom of movement and be appropriate for the heat. Synthetics won’t absorb all the sweat.
- Where can you practice? Unlike other yoga styles that can be practiced almost anywhere, for Bikram you need a room where the heat can be maintained and controlled. Fortunatly, since Bikram Yoga is so popular, studios are popping up all over. You’re likely to find one near your home. Search online or check the local phone book. Remember, only certified teachers are permitted to teach a class or use the term “Bikram Yoga” when referring to a studio.
- You may find yoga studios that refer to “Hot Yoga,” but do not mention Bikran. This is likely to be the exact same curriculum found in a Bikram Yoga studio, only the teacher is not certified. There’s a lot of controversy whether any true difference really exists.
If the idea of Bikram Yoga appeals to you, the next logical move is to simply sign up for a class. While many yoga studios charge by the month or for a certain number of classes, many studios will permit new students to either take a class for free or pay a small fee for a single class.
While trying hot yoga out for the first time, watch for dizziness, headache, lightheadedness, mild nausea and muscle cramps. These might be indicators that your body is not tolerating the heat. If you have these symptoms, immediately remove yourself and cool down. Give it another shot on another day, if you continue having the same symptoms hot yoga may not be for you. Fortunately, you can always practices other forms of yoga.
If you can tolerate the heat and stick with it, Bikram Yoga might change your life in a positive way.