“Yoga is the only exercise in the world you can do at any age. There is always some posture that will improve your health, mind and soul.” - Bikram Choudhury
The popularity of yoga has exploded in recent years in the UK. In fact, doing yoga is also becoming increasingly popular in gyms and sports centres as a way to tone and build muscle. Of all the different types of yoga about, we’re going to focus on Bikram yoga.
In recent years, a number of dedicated Bikram yoga centres have opened in the UK. The popularity of Bikram yoga is proof that people want to take care of their bodies, to get fit, to improve their mind and spirit, and generally become healthier beings.
So what is Bikram yoga? Why should you do it? What’s it for?
If you're considering attending yoga classes to improve your flexibility and aren't sure whether you should do Ashtanga yoga, Bikram yoga, or Vinyasa flow yoga, you can find the answers to these challenging questions in this article on Bikram yoga.
The Origins of Bikram Yoga
When you first start doing yoga, it’s important to decide which type of yoga and which yoga techniques you want to practice. With kids yoga, yoga pilates, yoga Nidra, and dynamic yoga, for example, there are plenty of different terms you need to decipher before you can choose what to do. You need to choose one particular yoga style, understand how it works, what the rules are, and learn about the history and origins of it, too.
If you’re thinking about Bikram yoga, you should find out where it comes from and how it evolved into the style we know it as today. It’s worthwhile learning more about the type of yoga you’re thinking about doing as it can really help you to choose the right style for you. This is especially important with yoga because it requires discipline and a lot of techniques you’ll have to master.
Where Does Bikram Yoga Come From?
Bikram yoga was founded in Calcutta, India, in 1946, to be exact. It’s named after its founder, Bikram Choudhury. He’d practised yoga from the age of 4 with his spiritual master, Bishnu Ghosh. Bit by bit, Bikram Choudhury developed his own techniques which would later become known as Bikram yoga.
So how exactly was this style of yoga born?
Not in the nicest circumstances, to be fair. Bikram Choudhury was involved in a car accident which paralysed his legs. Following the accident, the courageous Bikram decided to carry on practising yoga and managed to drastically improve his physical and spiritual condition. This was all against the advice of his doctors (something we don't recommend!).
By the end of the 1960s, he’d decided to create his own style inspired by the postures he’d been mastering from the age of 4 which were mainly from Hatha yoga. This technique, which is known as Bikram yoga, became a global success and people (including us) are still talking about it today.
In 1973, Bikram Choudhury opened his first yoga centre in the United States. The success didn’t stop there and there are now nearly 600 Bikram yoga centres around the world. While his accident was inevitably sad, it gave rise to a special type of yoga which renewed an ancient discipline and allowed it to evolve.
While Bikram yoga is seemingly everywhere, it’s important to know what this discipline entails and what a typical session is like in terms of breathing exercises, stretches, and effort. We’re going to have a look at the key details of Bikram yoga, what makes it special, and how it’s more demanding than just simply chaining together a few poses or yoga postures.
The Specificities of Bikram Yoga
To understand the specificities of Bikram yoga, you need to understand the inner workings of the discipline. Rather than solely focusing on the practice itself, we’re going to try to also understand why and how we practise it. In short, what a typical yoga session is like and how a Bikram yoga session differs!
The idea is pretty simple: you’re going to spend 90 minutes doing 26 different poses (asana) and two different breathing exercises (pranayama). That’s not all, though! To top that all off, the room is heated to 40°C with 40% humidity.
Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?
Not really since the results of practising in a hot yoga studio speak for themselves.
The high temperature and humidity are to replicate the conditions in which Bikram himself practised yoga in these conditions which helped him make the physical progress that he did. It’s very easy to get physically and mentally caught up in this type of yoga.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that there are no consequences to doing this type of yoga. For example, it’s not recommended that people susceptible to hypothermia take part. If you have any concerns or pre-existing conditions, it’s recommended that you ask your doctor whether or not you can do Bikram yoga as even though it’s great for improving your physical and mental wellbeing, it’s also very demanding. It might be worthwhile doing a taster session before you start doing Bikram yoga regularly.
Hot yoga can help you eliminate toxins as well as work on your mindfulness through breathing exercises and challenges. These exercises can help you to bring your body, mind, and spirit together while detoxing and toning at the same time. It’s a way to get into shape while letting go.
So what are you waiting for?
The Effects of Bikram Yoga
The Physical Effects of Bikram Yoga
The benefits of yoga speak for themselves: improving your physical health, inner peace, a better mental state, etc. Bikram yoga has all of that while focusing on making sure that you break a sweat. Thanks to the heat and humidity, you’re going to be able to also get rid of toxins through sweating.
Sweating also makes life difficult for you which, with all the poses you’re adopting, will help you become a veritable Bikram yogi. You’ll be in a better physical condition and you’ll also be able to stay in shape through regularly doing it.
There are plenty of benefits to Bikram yoga, even if you haven’t done any physical activity in a few days, as you can balance your chakras. However, regular practice is essential if you want to get better at it. Of course, don’t forget to bring a bottle of water!
Bikram Yoga: A Complete Discipline
The first Bikram yoga session might surprise you with just how hot and humid it is. However, by your second session, you’ll start seeing all the physical, spiritual, and mental benefits. It’ll rejuvenate you, making your body feel better as well as eliminating toxins from your body through sweating for an hour and a half.
Whether in London or elsewhere in the UK, you should be able to find a Bikram yoga centre near you where you can practise either in one-on-one sessions or in a group Bikram yoga class. It’ll help you lose weight and gain and tone muscles through gentle exercise. It’s one of the most complete disciplines.
So if you feel like giving Bikram yoga a go, you’ll need to head along to a gym or sports centre to try it for yourself and enjoy the benefits of this technical style of yoga that has many followers around the world. Between exercise and mindfulness meditation, Bikram yoga is the way to go!
Don't forget that if you're completely new to hot yoga classes, you can always look for a yoga teacher on sites like Superprof, where you can find nearby yogis who are looking for a new student yearning to gain a deeper understanding of their body and mind through yoga workshops or tutorials.
The yoga community is obviously very welcoming and many yoga studios even offer drop-ins and introductory sessions for beginners who'd like to do yoga. If you can't do Bikram hot yoga, don't forget that there are plenty of other styles of yoga that may also take your fancy.
Don't be shy! Everyone was a beginner once and both yoga instructors and other students will tell you that it's never too late to change your life with yoga.
If you have previous injuries or any medical concerns, don't forget to speak to your doctor before taking up physical activities such as yoga. You don't want to injure yourself in the first session!
You can run a search online for 'hot yoga near me' to see what classes are available.