Bikram Choudhury’s Hot Yoga (aka Bikram Yoga)
Properly named “Bikram yoga” from its creator, Bikram Choudhury, this type of yoga gets its nickname from it being practiced in rooms of 95-105 ∫F (or 35-41 ∫C). High humidity is also common. This heat increases bodily flexibility, lowering risk of muscular injury. The profuse sweating brought on by room temperature and the yoga session detoxifies the body. Hot temperatures also develop muscle tone, increase the probability of weight loss, and strengthen the immune system.
Bikram Choudhury’s Hot Yoga method includes a set series of 26 poses, including two breathing exercises. Each breathing exercise is performed twice per 90-minute class. The classroom includes carpet and mirrors. It’s a very intense, highly physical workout. Regular practice of Bikram yoga has been proven to relieve chronic pain and disease symptoms.
Since this yoga master, born in 1946, is still living, he can file lawsuits. And he does. He refuses to allow his name to be attached to generic yoga practiced in a hot room, demanding that instructors of Bikram yoga follow his proscribed yoga methods and be properly certified from his institute, the Yoga College of India, founded in 1974. He has tried to copyright his series of 26 poses and tries to claim rights over all sequences that have substantial similarity. His methods of self-expansion (like seeking to open a franchise of yoga studios) bother some people. He teaches at Yoga College in Mumbai, India, as well as other worldwide locations.
Thus, the term “Hot Yoga” also comes into use to avoid lawsuit. Any yoga that takes place in a hot room might be called Hot Yoga; it may or may not precisely follow Bikram Choudhury’s precise proscribed methods. If you want to take a Bikram yoga class, make sure the studio you choose for your class is certified to teach the method.
When taking a Hot Yoga class, you must have your own mat and towel to handle the profuse sweat. Most students also choose to wear little clothing, to avoid overheating. Drink plenty of water before and after the session (not caffeinated beverages), and avoid eating for two hours prior to the class. You should drink well over eight glasses of water on days you have Hot Yoga classes.
Pregnant women should not practice Hot Yoga. Although, I have been in a Bikram yoga class with very pregnant women who have modified the postures and have been told by Bikram instructors that pregnant women can practice Bikram yoga, I would not recommend it. The high temperatures and the extreme postures, raises the core body temperature. It’s best to consult your physician before doing this type of yoga, pregnant or not. The individual who attempts Hot Yoga must have a high heat tolerance and be somewhat accustomed to exercise and yoga. Beginners often find the environment difficult to learn in.
Photos by Ron Sombilon Gallery (cc)
Bikram Choudhury photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons;bikram yoga)
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