Bikram Yoga is a form of Yoga which consists of a series of 26 poses performed in a hot room. When we say Bikram Yoga positions that is the same as calling them postures, poses, asanas or something else. Bikram is also commonly referred to as “Hot Yoga”.
Bikram Yoga was created by Bikram Choudhury, a self-styled Yoga entrepreneur who moved from India to the US to teach yoga. He developed his own version of Hatha yoga that consists of a tightly scripted sequence of 26 positions and two breathing exercises. The temperature of a Bikram Yoga studio is usually at 105 degrees or even higher! The idea behind it is that the heat will help to loosen your muscles, improve flexibility, and increase your heart rate. And, although quite to state the obvious, the heat also makes you sweat – a lot!
Bikram’s 26 hatha yoga postures are, like most other styles of hatha Yoga, designed to stretch your muscles, compress your cardiopulmonary system and improve your circulation. The practise can be uncomfortable or mildly painful at first and you may get lightheaded or nauseous during the session. These sensations are often symptoms of detoxification taking place in the body, but be caution is appropriate as they may also be signs of dehydration.
The first 60 minutes of a practice session is usually spent doing standing exercises, followed by 30 minutes of floor exercises. The routine includes Bikram Yoga positions such as the Half Moon Pose that strengthens your abdominals and helps with back pain. The Awkward pose that strengthens calves, thighs, and hips. And the Wind Removing Pose that straightens the spine and increases flexibility. The last mentioned one also exerts pressure on your colon, which perhaps is the origin of the name of the position.
The only copyrighted Yoga?!
On an interesting side note, one can mention that the entrepreneur in Choudhury wants to have monopoly on who can teach this form of Yoga. He has made it clear that he thinks Bikram is “his original version of yoga”. He claimed copyright protection for this particular set of Yoga positions and even sued some yoga studios that taught Bikram Yoga without paying his franchise fee. His argument was that “just as a sequence of musical notes or dance steps can be copyrighted – so can Yoga”. Others claim that this is nothing else than pure greed, stemming from Bikram’s want to make a lot of money, and that Yoga has it’s firm roots in the public domain.
Be that as it may, if you are considering to take up Bikram Yoga for yourself, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First of all, due to the intense heat, Bikram yoga can be tough to endure for certain people. Those who have low resistance to heat, have high blood pressure, heart problems or any other serious health condition, should check with their doctor before trying this form of exercise.
Even if you are in top shape, you need to mentally prepare yourself for the heat. The room is between 105 F and 110 F degrees Fahrenheit (although some instructors keep it high, but under 100 F) and classes usually last about 90 minutes, so you will be sweating a lot. You need to drink plenty of water throughout the day – both before and after the class. During the class you should only sip small amounts of water though, as gulping it down may cause nausea or other discomforts.
If you attend a class to get some first hand experience with this series of poses, and notice that you start to feel ill – sit down cross legged on your towel (remember to bring one, you will need it anyhow). If that doesn’t help you may lie down for a bit until you feel strong enough to continue. You may then take a sip of water and continue doing your Bikram Yoga positions.