One of the most challenging forms of Yoga in the world is Bikram Yoga. Bikram Yoga is perhaps the oldest modern form of Hot Yoga, a form of Yoga that takes place in a hot environment to imitate the humid climate of India. This form of Yoga is perhaps most famous for its focus on the twenty-six poses of Bikram Yoga.
While this form of Yoga is popular, it is also difficult, and may not be suitable for absolute beginners. However, if you are interested in trying out Bikram Yoga, read on to learn more.
What is Bikram Yoga?
Bikram Yoga is one of the most challenging forms of Yoga in the world. This form of Yoga is based on two key concepts. Firstly, Bikram Yoga takes place in a hot room. Most Bikram Yoga studios set their temperatures at around 41 degrees Celcius, with high humidity (about 40%). Secondly, Bikram Yoga is highly regimented. Each class is 90 minutes and involves completing the same 26 poses in a row.
While Bikram Yoga is one of the most difficult forms of Yoga, it has been growing in popularity rapidly over the past half-century. Today, there are over 1,500 Bikram Yoga studios around the world.
Bikram Yoga has many fantastic benefits. We will analyze some of these benefits more in-depth later in this article, but some of these benefits include; weight loss, reduced stress, and improved focus. While Bikram Yoga is not for everyone, if you are willing to give it a try, you will be able to access many of these benefits.
However, as mentioned previously, Bikram Yoga is hard. Many people cannot stand the heat and humidity of this form of Yoga. You may also find the unchanging routine of Bikram Yoga not as interesting as traditional forms of Yoga.
While Yoga itself is an extremely ancient practice, Bikram Yoga is a surprisingly modern form of Yoga that has its origins in the middle of the 20th century. The practice is named after its founder, Bikram Choudhury. Bikram was mentored by one of the most famous and influential Indian Yogis, Bishnu Ghosh, who popularized the idea that Yoga could be used as a form of physical exercise.
The first Bikram Yoga studio was opened in Japan during the 70s. Bikram Choudhury found that by increasing the temperature in the studio to the heat he was used to in India, people would get a more complete workout. After some experimentation, he concluded that the best temperature and humidity for his form of Yoga were 40 degrees Celcius and 40% humidity.
Bikram eventually made his way to Hollywood in California. It was here that he refined and popularized his teachings. In Hollywood, Bikram set down the sequence of 26 poses that make up every class, even today. As celebrities such as Martin Sheen began to attend these classes, the popularity of Bikram Yoga exploded across the Western world.
More recently, however, Bikram Yoga has entered a slump. This is mostly due to sexual assault allegations against Bikram Choudhury and the increasing popularity of Hot Yoga, which offers more variety and similar benefits to Bikram Yoga. Even so, Bikram Yoga still attracts many practitioners from across the world due to its challenging and consistent nature.
If you want to learn more about Bikram Yoga’s history, read this article from Yoga International.
Due to its challenging nature, Bikram Yoga comes with many benefits if you are willing to struggle through the initial hump. Just some of these benefits include:
- Weight Loss. Due to the increased temperatures in Bikram Yoga, you can expect to lose a lot more calories than from Traditional Yoga. According to Colorada State University, you can expect to burn between 330 and 460 calories per 90-minute session.
- Improved Flexibility. All forms of Yoga improve your flexibility, but Bikram Yoga is especially good for your pliability. The temperature in Bikram Yoga means that your muscles will warm up much more quickly, meaning that you will be able to stretch further and avoid injuries.
- Less Stress. Bikram Yoga has many mental health benefits. In particular, the effect it has on stress is very positive. By practicing Bikram Yoga, you will have a chance to clear your mind and exercise your body – both of which are proven to reduce stress.
- Develops Focus and Discipline. Improving your ability to focus has many advantages and can improve your quality of life dramatically. Due to the uncomfortable environment and repetitive nature of Bikram Yoga, you will practice paying attention and working hard, even when you don’t want to.
Watch this video if you want to learn more about Bikram Yoga’s many benefits.
While many millions of people safely practice Bikram Yoga every year, there have been reports of people getting hurt during these classes. To keep yourself safe, make sure to follow these steps:
- Talk to your doctor/instructor. Before starting any new exercise routine, especially a method as intense as Bikram Yoga, make sure to talk to your doctor beforehand. They will be able to advise you of any health risks you may face should you decide to take part in Bikram Yoga. If you do have any conditions but can participate, inform your instructor about them so that they can advise you on adjustments.
- Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated while practicing Bikram Yoga is incredibly important. Due to the high temperatures of Bikram Yoga studios, you should always stay hydrated when practicing. Make sure your bottle is insulated from the heat as well so it does not evaporate due to the temperature.
- Be ready to stop. If you ever start to get dizzy or light-headed, leave the class to cool down. Do not compromise your health out of politeness. Ask your instructor to leave and find a place to cool down slowly, making sure to drink plenty of water.
While Bikram Yoga does not require as much equipment as Aerial Yoga, for example, you need to consider the unique nature of Bikram Yoga classes and choose your equipment based on this. Bikram studios are hot and humid, so you are going to sweat. Given this, you will need the following equipment:
- A Yoga Mat. All forms of Yoga require a mat. However, if you want to practice Bikram Yoga, you need to get a mat suitable for the environment. Firstly, it should be reasonably thick as many poses require kneeling. If you can get one that is sweat resistant, that is also a great option.
- Towels. Due to the amount of sweat you will produce in Bikram Yoga, you will need a few towels. A small hand towel for wiping off sweat can be useful. However, you will need a larger towel, such as a beach towel, to prevent you from slipping off your mat during class.
- Water Bottles. Staying hydrated is a must when practicing Bikram Yoga. As such, make sure to get a bottle that can hold a lot of water (at least more than 1 liter) and handle the high temperatures of this class. An insulated bottle is likely the best option.
- Clothes. When it comes to clothes, make sure to wear clothes that are light and breathable. Avoid cotton t-shirts and heavy bottoms. Leggings, tank tops, and shorts are the best options.
Bikram Yoga Vs. Classic Yoga
As discussed before, Bikram Yoga is one of the most unique and challenging forms of Yoga in the world. There are several differences between Bikram Yoga and more classic forms of Yoga. We will analyze just some of these differences now. Just some of these differences include:
- Temperature. Most traditional Yoga studios are cool, temperature-controlled environments. On the other hand, Bikram Yoga is not. Most Bikram studios are hot and humid; with temperatures of over 40 degrees Celcius and humidity of over 40% common.
- Equipment. Classical Yoga does not require much equipment – only a mat and some light clothing. Meanwhile, if you want to practice Bikram Yoga, you need to be prepared to bring a few towels, a thicker mat, and a large water bottle.
- Variety of Poses. Traditional forms of Yoga consist of between 84 and 200 poses. In class, you can expect to do many of these poses in any sort of order. However, Bikram Yoga is different as it consists of only 26 poses that are repeated in the same order every time.
- Impact on your Body. Bikram Yoga is harder on the body than traditional forms of Yoga. Due to the incredible heat and humidity, your body will be pushed much harder than in a normal Yoga class.
Bikram Yoga is certainly a challenging form of Yoga. If you are interested in giving this form of Yoga a try, you may have some questions, which we will try to answer for you here.
While many Bikram Yoga studios are very welcoming to new students, Bikram Yoga may not be suitable for total beginners. This is because the intense heat and humidity of Bikram Yoga classes make even basic poses more difficult. Therefore, if you are trying to learn Yoga, it is recommended that you try another form of Yoga before jumping into Bikram Yoga.
Yes, you can practice Bikram Yoga at home. While it may be difficult to create a hot room, you can certainly practice the sequence of poses that make up Bikram Yoga.
If you want to get the studio experience while at home, purchase a small heater that can help you get a sweat on, or turn up the temperature in your home.
There are over 1,500 Bikram Yoga studios around the world, so it’s certainly possible that there will be a studio that suits your needs nearby. If you cannot find a Bikram Yoga studio, look for other studios that offer Heated Yoga classes, as many studios offer Bikram Yoga under this name.
The average Bikram Yoga Class follows a similar format. It will start with a short warm-up. After this warm-up, you will start the sequence of 26 poses that makes up Bikram Yoga. Each class lasts between 60 and 90 minutes. One thing you should expect is to feel uncomfortable due to the heat and humidity.
Bikram Yoga is, as you can tell, an interesting and exciting form of Yoga with many benefits. You will need to be ready to be uncomfortable and sweat a lot. However, if you can get over these challenges, you will lose weight, improve your flexibility, and develop discipline.
If you have any questions, be sure to ask them in the comment section below.