What you need to know about Bikram yoga, also known as “hot yoga.”
In the quest to find new, effective and enjoyable forms of exercise, more and more people are taking up yoga. Practicing yoga can help develop physical, mental and spiritual discipline, and different forms of yoga offer different benefits. One form of yoga is known as Bikram yoga. Learn more about this discipline and how it could benefit you.
History. Bikram yoga (otherwise known as "hot yoga") first emerged in the 1970s, when it was made popular by Bikram Choudhury, the founder of the Yoga College of India. Choudhury was an Indian national yoga champion by age 13. His yoga discipline is popular all over the world, and by 2006 he had 1,600 yoga studios across the world.
Basic description. Bikram yoga is devised around a now-famous set of 26 postures. These postures systematically work every part of the body, including the internal organs. Each of the postures focuses on something specific, but together the 26 postures contribute to the practitioner’s overall health and well-being. Bikram yoga takes place in a studio heated to 105 degrees. The Bikram yoga principle assumes that the body must be heated so that it becomes truly flexible. In this way, the 26 positions offer the best results.
Equipment and setting. According to Choudhury’s theory, there are very specific requirements for Bikram yoga. The floor of the studio must be carpeted. The front wall at least should be mirrored, although three mirrored walls is considered ideal. The temperature must be consistent, and the humidity must be maintained at 40 percent for optimal results. Classes are always 90 minutes long and can be directed only by certified instructors. No equipment is required (or indeed permitted). Only a hand towel may be used, and only to help keep sweat at bay. Students in a Bikram yoga class are permitted to drink water during the session.
Who would benefit from Bikram yoga? Bikram yoga aims to improve general health and is good for people looking to prevent and heal muscle repairs. It can also reduce stress and tension. Choudhury claims that this form of yoga increases circulation and therefore reduces the risk of heart disease. Bikram yoga is particularly popular with dancers, due to its injury-healing, toxin-flushing and weight-managing effects.
How to find a class. The best way to find a Bikram yoga class is to use the studio locator, found on Choudhury’s website. With this tool, you can search by ZIP code, city or state, or even by the name of a known studio. The site lists studios across the world.