If you are already practicing yoga you are probably aware of the benefits that you get from your sessions. It is widely known that yoga is good for the body as well as the mind and whether you attend regular sessions in a yoga studio or in the comfort of your own home you know that you are doing something good for yourself. I have dabbled with different types of yoga over the years (hatha, vinyasa, power) and always found them to be incredibly calming and felt enlightened at the end of the session. Then about 10 years ago I stepped into a Bikram Yoga studio and realized that this was a completely different animal altogether.
The first thing I noticed was that it was hot in the room (40°C/104°F).
Apparantly the founder of Bikram Yoga, Bikram Choudhury refers to studio where his yoga is practiced as the “torture chamber”. Indeed, after my first session, which incidentally is 90 minutes long I knew exactly what he was referring to. Standing still in that kind of heat is bordering on uncomfortable but practicing the 26 postures that is the trademark of Bikram Yoga (twice, as you repeat each one) is just brutal. I must have lost half my body weight is sweat and felt the sensation to vomit on several occasions.
But, I came back again and again and you know what? It got easier and after a few sessions I began to realize just how amazing I was feeling and quickly started to understand the health benefits of Bikram Yoga.
Here below are just a few of the benefits you can experience by practicing this type of yoga:
Whole Body Detox
Due to practicing the 26 yoga postures in such a hot environment your body starts to sweat. Actually your body REALLY sweats a lot. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced so much sweating in any other activity that I’ve taken part in. But this excessive sweating is really cleansing your body, getting rid of many toxins and chemicals. Not to mention you are ridding yourself of any excess water that you body was holding and cleaning out the pores in your skin in the process. Certainly after several sessions your skin will have taken on a very healthy glow.
LIke with practicing any type of yoga you would expect to become more flexible over time, simply due to stretching your muscles on a regular basis. This is of course a tried and tested method, but, with Bikram Yoga and the environment that you are practicing within you will benefit much more as the heat will allow your muscles to stretch that little bit more than if you were in a normal environment. This will help you to achieve your desired results much quicker.
Good for the Heart
Yoga is not necessarily associated with cardio. With the exception of power yoga you very rarely have such an increase heart rate (unless you are seriously out of shape). During a Bikram Yoga workout your heart is almost leaving your chest thus is the effort expended during the workout. This is good news as the stronger your heart the less effort it takes to pump the blood around your body, thus keeping blood pressure at a lower level whilst bringing increased oxygen to your muscles.
Helps to Reduce Stress
Practicing Bikram Yoga on a regular basis can help to reduce stress. It is known that during vigorous exercise the body releases the endorphin hormone which can significantly alter your mood. It can give you the feeling of happiness and contentment so if you’ve had a bad day at work or you are suffering from the symptoms of anxiety or depression then this might just be the tonic you need to give you that mental lift.
The heat generated during your session within the Bikram Yoga studio helps promote blood flow throughout the body. The variety of poses that are adopted helps to produce a tourniquet effect that ensures fresh oxygenated blood is flooded into your whole body giving you the feeling like you’ve just received an entire blood transfusion.
Better Overall Strength
The 26 poses practiced in Bikram Yoga ensure that all muscle groups in the body are focused upon. The first half of the session is focused on standing poses and the second half on sitting or kneeling poses. As mentioned each pose is done twice, the first pose lasting a whole minute whilst the second pose only 30 seconds. The amount of effort expended to hold these poses for the given amount of time is no easy feat. Much wobbling and swaying within the studio can be seen but over time you learn to hold the pose and remain motionless due to you having achieved amazing muscle strength.
Bikram Yoga can be very socially stimulating. First of all your average class in normally 100% full. Many people crammed into a room with their yoga mats lined up side by side, not much room at all whilst you practice your favourite activity supporting each other, sweating all over each other’s mats. It is a real joy. But the Bikram Yoga community is very supportive, people really look out for each other and although talking is absolutely forbidden during the session (except the barking orders from the instructor) there is a strong feeling of camaraderie amongst the practitioners.
Ready to get all sweaty?
Evidently there are a number of amazing health benefits associated with practicing Bikram Yoga. Regular attendance at your local studio will certainly improve your overall well-being not only from an exercise perspective but also from a social perspective as well. To be surrounded by many like-minded people all looking for that same level of euphoria you get from an intense workout can only help you to thrive both physically and mentally. Your body and mind will surely thank you for the experience.
If you are interested in Bikram Yoga and the benefits that it can provide then you find more information in this book and if you want to take the plunge then can check out your nearest studio on the following link Bikram Yoga
Stay hot !