Yoga’s rejuvenating and mind-clearing abilities are pretty much undisputable at this point, but what about the more intense, physically trying experience of Bikram yoga, a growing trend amongst yoga devotees? Here’s my experience with Bikram yoga, and why I’ll most certainly be doing it again.
Bikram yoga is a specific style of yoga founded by Bikram Choudhury. Bikram yoga is often referred to as hot yoga as it is practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees with a humidity of 50%.
The origin of this type of yoga is spiritually derived from Hinduism and regionally from Yoga College of India. Bikram yoga consists of 26 asanas or postures and two breathing exercises.
The word asana translates to the word “seat” which refers to the spirit in relation to the divine. Asanas are intended to lead back to sitting in meditation. Asanas are meant to improve your muscle flexibility and strength.
Asanas are meant to be done in conjunction with pranayama or breathing work. Your breaths should be through the nose, not the mouth, and should be slow, not forced, and totally natural. To receive maximum benefit from practicing asanas, all tension and tightness in the body should consciously be let go.
A glass of water before practicing asanas enhances the experience and asanas should not be done on a full stomach. The practice of Bikram yoga is meant not only to improve muscle strength and flexibility, but also to establish a balance of our physical beings in relation to the divine.
Yoga is a path to attain a balance of the body, mind and spirit. Yoga can, if done correctly, be a means to control the ongoing complaint in all of our lives, stress. Optimum health is the ultimate goal for everyone of us. Health does not just refer to our physical beings but also to our mental attitudes and spiritual growth.
Bikram or hot yoga addresses emotional as well as physical well being and flexibility. When I visited my daughter in California, she signed me up for my first experience with hot yoga. Being in my fifties, I was a little concerned about the prospect of being a complete amateur at any kind of yoga and the possibility of being the oldest participant in the class.
When I entered the flaming hot classroom, it was clear to me that, to my relief I was not the “oldest one” in the class room. I was happily surprised at my ability to do so many of the postures. My self realization during the hot yoga class was my need to “stress” or hurry up at all times.
Constant focus on slowing down the breath and only breathing through my nose was a challenge for me. The heated room was something I thought I would not be able to tolerate. The fact that the room was so hot and the humidity was so high may seem like an added burden, but in fact, I believe this was the reason I did not come away with muscle aches the next day.
During some of the postures, I was keenly aware of my need to improve my balance and my sense of my physical position in space. For ongoing achievement of balance, I have been practicing the art of yoga via an instructional DVD in my home.
Particularly useful to me, in addition to the improvement of balance is the yoga reminds me to slow down and relax the tension in my body. The concept of the heated room in Bikram yoga is to diminish the risk of injuries and to allow you to go deeper into each posture.
The perspiration experienced during hot yoga enhances the release of toxins. The postures consist of warm up poses that can be done prior to a yoga class. There are standing poses and seated poses. The twist yoga poses have the purpose of strengthening your back, toning the abdomen and helping with digestion.
Inverted poses help you with your circulation. There’s supine and backbend poses and finally the finishing poses to end your yoga session with relaxation.
Bikram yoga is designed to assist you to lose weight, tone muscles and increase blood circulation. Since this form of yoga helps lower stress levels, it can improve mental clarity and focus. The relaxation and focus on one’s self and inner reflection and complete oneness with one’s body allows us to focus more on our lives and even on the job.