If you have never tried Bikram Yoga before, it might be time that you did. Yoga is great for you in general, but Bikram Yoga, a form of hot Yoga, is truly fantastic for your health and mental well-being. The benefits of Bikram Yoga are long and plentiful, all of which will make you feel a whole lot better. It’s all about breathing right, using your strength, increasing flexibility, and sweating like you are standing in a volcano. Together these aspects work to make your body healthier than you could have ever imagined. Let’s talk about what exactly Bikram Yoga is and how it can help you achieve a healthier lifestyle!
What Is Bikram Yoga?
Bikram Yoga is a specific type of hot Yoga. Hot Yoga is just what it sounds like, a Yoga class that is performed in a really hot room in order to make you sweat. Specifically speaking, Bikram Yoga was created by Bikram Choudhury of India.
This type of Yoga involves 26 different postures, stretches, and various breathing exercises, all of which function to improve your strength and overall health. Yoga is known for increasing things like balance, coordination, flexibility, and so much more, all things which are done better when the temperature is increased as it is in Bikram Yoga. The heat level in a Bikram Yoga class is around 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40°C) and the humidity is set to roughly 40 percent.
Bikram Yoga is slightly different from normal hot Yoga in the sense that it is performed in a slightly hotter environment, plus the poses in normal hot Yoga are a little more fluid and dance-like than in Bikram. However, the benefits of Hot Yoga and Bikram Yoga are pretty much the same so we aren’t going to get too much into semantics here.
Benefit #1: Detoxify Your Body
One of the biggest benefits that you can get from doing a style of hot Yoga such as Bikram is that the heat helps to detoxify your body of unwanted toxins and chemicals. The high heat level inside of a Bikram Yoga studio causes you to sweat like nothing else.
Sweating is great for you because you aren’t only leaking water when you sweat. Along with water you also sweat out a long list of toxins, chemicals, and other unwanted compounds that shouldn’t be in your body. The heat itself is great for you, something that Bikram Yoga definitely capitalizes on. The next time, instead of doing one of those juice cleanses when you want to rid your body of unwanted things, you could do some Bikram Yoga sessions.
Benefit #2: Increasing Flexibility
Another really neat part about Bikram Yoga, or actually Yoga in general, is that it helps to greatly increase your flexibility. All of the different poses and stretches that you do in this type of Yoga helps to increase your flexibility by slowly stretching out your muscles to make them more mobile. It’s a practice makes perfect type of thing and the more you do the specific poses, the better you will be able to do them.
Having more flexible muscles also helps to prevent injuries such as pulled muscles. Moreover, a type of hot Yoga like Bikram Yoga is great for flexibility because the warmer your muscles are, the more flexible they become, thus making it easier to perform the various Bikram poses while also reducing the chances of injury.
The heat makes your muscles more elastic by warming them up and delivering more oxygen to them. Being more flexible is not just good for your Yoga class, but will also make your everyday life easier and more pain-free, not to mention that it can help with athletic performance too.
Benefit #3: Proper Breathing
The next thing that Bikram Yoga is good for is to help you learn proper breathing technique. This is actually something that all types of Yoga help you do. The increased heat level that comes with Bikram Yoga makes it harder to breathe, thus forcing you to use proper breathing technique to keep going without collapsing in a heap.
Proper breathing is also useful in everyday life, especially when it comes to things like walking up the stairs or even sports. A proper breathing technique lets you take in as much oxygen as you can manage. Getting enough oxygen means that you won’t get winded during exercising. It also means that your muscles get more oxygen, thus allowing them to work harder for longer.
Also, this type of Yoga is pretty intense and therefore it also works out your respiratory system. Just like with pretty much any other part of your body, the more you train something the better it gets at its job. In this case, Bikram Yoga trains your respiratory system to be more efficient, work less for increased input, and helps you breathe better in general. The specialized breathing techniques used in this type of Yoga can even help prevent shortness of breath, asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, and other respiratory conditions.
Benefit #4: It’s Low Impact
Another thing that Bikram Yoga is good for is your joints, especially so if you suffer from weak or painful knees and ankles. High impact activities like running may be able to strengthen joints, but that is not so for joints that are already damaged or in pain because the impact can cause further damage.
This kind of Yoga involves no high impact exercises and is therefore a great way to get fit and burn calories without putting undue stress on your joints. Bikram Yoga is a great low impact alternative to various other forms of exercise and it won’t cause damage to your joints either.
Benefit #5: It’s A Form Of Strength Training
We are big fans of Bikram Yoga because it utilizes 26 different poses, all of which work to make you stronger. Pretty much all of the poses force you to engage your muscles in order to hold a certain position.
Of course, we call this bodyweight training, because you are using your muscles to keep your own body weight up. Looking at some of the poses, it may not seem like they would train your muscles all that much, but that is definitely not the case.
It takes a lot of strength to hold some of the positions in Bikram Yoga for a prolonged period of time, especially when you are all sweaty, hot, and slippery. This kind of Yoga also works really well to target all of the major muscle groups in your body, thus giving you a great full body workout that will leave your muscles tired from top to bottom. Some people even say that Bikram Yoga is a pretty decent substitute to weight lifting!
Benefit #6: It’s A Good Cardio Workout
Another thing that Bikram Yoga is great for is to work out your cardiovascular system. The high heat level combined with the intensity of Bikram Yoga itself definitely gets your heart pumping. It may not seem like it, but Bikram Yoga is pretty intense and it will definitely train both your heart and your lungs to be stronger and more efficient.
Of course having good cardiovascular health is really important because a strong heart requires less effort to pump blood around your body, thus reducing the chances of having high blood pressure. A healthy heart and moderate blood pressure are important for preventing heart conditions, artery disease, strokes, and other potentially fatal conditions.
A healthy heart is also great because it makes everyday life much easier and helps improve athletic performance too. A stronger heart and lungs mean that your muscles are getting more oxygen, thus allowing them to do more and do it for longer.
Benefit #7: Weight Loss
Bikram Yoga, thanks to being really hot and physically intense, can help you burn a whole lot of calories. A single 90-minute session of Bikram Yoga can help you burn up to 1000 calories, which is just as good as various other forms of cardiovascular exercise. The various poses that you are forced to hold as well as the muscle contractions that are a part of this type of Yoga really make your heart pump and that translates to some serious weight loss.
Furthermore, the various poses involved in Bikram Yoga causes your digestive system to be more efficient and increases your metabolic rate as well. A higher metabolism means that you can burn more calories and keep those same calories from turning into body fat. If you are looking to lose weight, Bikram Yoga is definitely a good option to go with.
Benefit #8: Friendship
Unless you have your own Yoga studio that you can pump up past 100 degrees Fahrenheit in your own home, you are going to have to go to a professional studio and take some Bikram classes. This may seem like a pain in the butt because you can’t really do it at home, but there are always some tradeoffs to consider. Perhaps one of the best parts about this is that you get to make new friends.
Bikram Yoga classes are full of interesting people and it’s a great way to meet some new people and widen your social circle. There is also the fact that besides a Yoga mat and a towel, you don’t really need any other equipment to get going. It’s a fun form of exercise that gets you out of the boredom that is your home.
Benefit #9: Better Focus
Something that is really beneficial about Bikram Yoga is that it helps to increase your focus and concentration in everyday life. It takes a lot of effort and mental focus to execute and hold some of the most difficult poses in this type of Yoga.
Like we have said before, your brain is like other parts of your body and the more you train it, the better it becomes at its job. The hardcore concentration required to get through a hot Yoga class will translate to your everyday life and allow you to complete tasks with increased ease.
Benefit #10: Stress & Happiness
Now there isn’t any solid scientific evidence to prove this as fact in relation to Bikram Yoga, but logical thought dictates our world and some careful consideration will show it to be true. Exercise causes your brains to release endocannabinoids as well as endorphins, chemicals in your head which have very positive effects on your mental well-being.
These two brain chemicals help to cause feelings of happiness, elation, euphoria, and calmness, thus helping you relieve stress, reduce the effects of depression and anxiety, and make you feel better in general. Interestingly enough, endorphins can also reduce the amount of physical pain that you feel, thus making your life just that much more enjoyable.
Benefit #11: Healing Old Injuries
The last big benefit of Bikram Yoga is that it can help reduce the pain of old injuries. Much pain is caused by weakness and inflexibility, especially when an old injury is involved. Since Bikram Yoga makes you stronger and more flexible it can help to alleviate various forms of pain.
Bikram also uses something called the tourniquet effect, which blocks off blood supply from a certain area. Upon release of the specific pose, the blood that is rich in nutrients and oxygen flows en masse to damaged areas, thus helping healing old injuries and dealing with scar tissue.
A Few Precautions To Note
Bikram Yoga is a great way to get fit and stay healthy, but there are a few concerns to be noted, concerns that arise from the very high heat level involved in it. First off, no pregnant women should be doing Bikram Yoga because the heat may damage the fetus or cause complications during birth. Also, you need to be careful to keep yourself hydrated before and after any type of hot Yoga because dehydration and ensuing conditions pose a serious risk. Furthermore, people with pre-existing heart conditions such as hypertension should also not engage in hot Yoga because it may actually exacerbate heart conditions. Otherwise, if you are physically healthy, hot Yoga like Bikram should pose no serious risk.
As you can see, there are a great number of benefits of Bikram Yoga that you can and definitely should take advantage of. It’s a really fun pastime and a good form of exercise that will help you burn calories, keep your heart and lungs healthy, increase your concentration, make you stronger and so much more. It’s not just for women either. Bikram Yoga can be done by men, women, and virtually anybody that loves to sweat. If you haven’t tried this kind of Yoga before, you probably should. The benefits are fantastic and you will feel like a whole new person after just a few sessions!
- The Best Yoga Mats Reviewed & Compared
- The Best Yoga DVDs Reviewed & Compared
- 9 Benefits of Yoga for Men That Will Change Your Life
- The Best Yoga Bags Reviewed & Compared
- 11 Benefits Of Yoga That Will Have You Wondering Why You Never Tried It Before
- How a Yoga Balance Board Can Revolutionize Your Yoga Sessions