Designed by Bikram Choudry, Bikram yoga consists of 26 postures and 22 breathing exercises. The movements stretch every part of the body including joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments. It was developed in California and then brought to Los Angeles, and this then gave it the nickname of ‘hot yoga’ as the postures were performed in a minimum temperature of 40 degrees.
It is fair to say that Bikram yoga differs to the other styles in that it is probably the most demanding and intense style of hatha yoga, however the benefits of studying this style are great. The heat ensures that the body is warmer and more flexible even at the start of the class; this is beneficial as there is less chance of injuries such as pulled muscles. As the body is more flexible, the stretches become more pronounced and so the rewards are greater.
Understandably, when students perform demanding postures in a hot environment, it would be very easy to become dehydrated so it is necessary for students to drink copious amounts of water before and after the session to prevent this from occurring.
Bikram yoga is considered to help correct and improve sleep patterns, promote better digestion, improve cardiovascular functions and metabolism, so it is no wonder that there are dedicated followers to this style.
Having a qualified Bikram yoga teacher on hand to guide and to encourage is always beneficial. As with any other form of yoga, ensuring that the postures are correct is vital. In a class there is usually a mirror so that students can self-correct and perhaps it can be said that correct alignment is more important than reaching advanced positions.
Other benefits include a feeling of walking tall, improved posture, clarity of mind and increased confidence. Attending a class several times a week and then supporting this with yoga practice at home, will enable the student’s progress to be vastly accelerated.
The sequence of movements in Bikram yoga tend to flow and are perfectly balanced to compliment each other, it is then finished with a cleansing and energizing breath called Kapalbhati
The breath is very important in any yoga style but an important tip is to breathe through any difficult postures and learning to recognize negative thoughts, which may also impact your yoga session.
The mind can sometimes tighten up at the thought of a difficult or less favorite posture, so by recognizing that this happens and using the breath, the mind can be controlled and the body will then open up to the demands of the posture.
Bikram yoga adds additional dimensions to a usual yoga practice and the feeling is much more intense than in any other style. Some people find the heat and the intensity a problem but others revel in the style and their progress may be much greater than within a usual class and there is always a new challenge for them to strive towards.