Yoga styles: Bikram yoga

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  • The style became popular in the 1970s.
  • It's practiced in a heated environment to replicate the climate where it all began.
  • The style is relaxing, and therapeutic.


Bikram yoga is ideal for those suffering from chronic pain, and the heated studio setting can be beneficial for those in need of detoxing. If you're thinking of trying Bikram yoga, we put together a few things you need to know.

Here is some background information about Bikram, an introduction to the jargon, and what you can expect from your first session.

History

Bikram yoga, a style that became popular in the 1970s, was devised by Bikram Choudhury, based on the writings of B.C. Ghosh. 

What it is

Bikram yoga is a style of Hatha – the literal meaning of the word is "force". It can, therefore, be defined as "the yoga force". Bikram is performed in a series of asanas (postures), and according to a recent article, this style of yoga is practised in a heated environment of 40.6°C and 40% humidity. This form of yoga is, however, more than just meditation in a heated studio. Practising this style of yoga will leave you feeling relaxed – possible as a result of the release of endorphins – and its therapeutic nature will contribute to an improved quality of life.

How to do it

Bikram Yoga Beginner Series classes run for 90 minutes and consist of 26 asanas (postures); 24 are fixed sequences and two are pranayama (breathing exercise). The heated space is intended to replicate the Indian climate where it all began.

How to prepare for your first heated yoga experience:

1. Hydrate

The heated experience will leave you thirsty; make sure you drink enough water. Depending on the time of your session, make sure to fill up, but not too close to your class, as you wouldn't want to practise with a full bladder. It's essential to continue to hydrate after your session has commenced.

2. Eating

Fuel up! While hydration is important, you also need to have a meal or snack around two hours before your session to ensure a good supply of energy and to avoid nausea or lightheadedness. Make sure also to have some high-protein snacks after your workout.

3. Dress comfortably

Wear comfy, yet moisture-absorbing activewear. The heated room will leave you dripping, so it's best to avoid cotton fabrics. You also need to pack an extra set of clothes for after the session.

4. Equipment

Pack your yoga mat, a towel and a water bottle.

5. Positive attitude

Bring your best self. The first session may be gruelling, but you'll soon become more flexible, and before you know it, you'll be able to perform all the poses.

Short- and long-term benefits

Bikram yoga is fit for anyone and particularly beneficial for those suffering from chronic joint pain. There have been many studies evaluating the health benefits of this style of yoga, and researchers have concluded that Bikram yoga improves lower body strength, lower and upper body range of motion and balance in healthy adults.

In essence, Bikram yoga is beneficial for overall mental and physical wellbeing as it improves many aspects of long-term health.   

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