What is Bikram Yoga?

[wp_ad_camp_1] If you are like me when it comes to yoga, I will try just about everything out there. And if you find yourself habitually broke, like me you will especially check out any new studio if there is promotion going on at said studio.

It was on a cold-ish Los Angeles evening that I passed a new studio that was offering “Bikram Yoga” for a deal--20 days for $20, while enroute to meeting the girls for a drink. It was 2005, was in college, broke, obsessed with yoga and immediately sold. I told myself that the next day I would return to the studio and check it out.

But what was Bikram Yoga? I had no idea, but, like any inquiring mind and body, I went to explore a bit more. This is what I learned about Bikram upon using my 20 days for $20:


Twenty-Six is a Magical Number

Bikram Yoga is a twenty-six posture sequence that is based on Hatha Yoga practices. During these twenty-six postures, you will systematically work every part of the body. It will give all the internal organs, all the veins, ligaments and muscles everything that they need to maintain optimum health as well as function. Each component of the sequence works to take care of some different aspect of the body, however they all work together to contribute to the success of each other and to increase the benefits of the practice.

What is Bikram Yoga? - www.YogaTravelTree.com

Yogiraj Bikram Choudhury is “The Man”

Bikram Choudhury is the founder of the worldwide Yoga College of India. He was born in Calcutta in 1946 and began the practice of yoga at the age of four with India’s most influential physical culturalist, Bishu Ghosh. While he was a child, he practiced yoga between four to six hours a day. He competed and won the National India Yoga Championship at the age of thirteen as was undefeated for three years. He later went on to design these twenty-six poses within the “Bikram” sequence which can be practiced regardless of age of ability.


You Can’t Just Practice Bikram Anywhere

Bikram can only be practiced under the teaching of a certified “Bikram” yoga instructor at a Bikram affiliated yoga studio. These studios are built specifically for Bikram yoga so that they can be heated properly, which allows the practitioner to safely enter and exit all of the 26 postures. Bikram has a name for these studios that follows his particular style of yoga, they are called “Torture Chambers”.


How it Works

Bikram works through the tourniquet effect. This means that by using gravity, the blood supply in the arteries is cut off, which creates pressure. When this pressure has built up and then released, it causes the blood to rush through the veins and arteries, and allows the toxins to be flushed out.


I Felt Dizzy as FCUK

It is totally normal to want to toss up your lunch after a class. I spent a good part of the class feeling as though I could pass out at any moment, and I had drank two litres of water the hour before class. So for those of you who do not consume massive amounts of liquids throughout the day, Bikram, might not be the best choice for you. The practice of Bikram in a heated environment forces us to examine our present condition and to force us to take better care of our bodies. For me, I knew that 2 Litres of water during the day was not enough. Because of this realization, I now carry around a water bottle with me wherever I go and refill it as needed throughout the day.

What is Bikram Yoga? - www.YogaTravelTree.com

The Room is as Hot as Balls

In the Bikram practice, the room is heated to at least 105 degrees fahrenheit and has about 40% humidity. There are a few reasons for this. The humidity keeps the body from overheating (though this seems counter intuitive), it protects the muscles and helps the body more deeply stretch, provides detoxification for the body, thins the blood, increases heart rate and improves strength in muscle tissue.


Stretchy, Stretchy Goes My Body

Not only does Bikram yoga promote stretching and keeps your muscles elastic, it promotes strength and balance. You will notice that your abdominals might need strengthening or your hips might need stabilizing, instead of just using strength training to increase increase your muscle ability, you can always practice Bikram, it will also strengthen and stretch your muscles and will make you more aware of your body’s needs.


Images via: @bikramyogasouthport