Bikram yoga: fashionable and controversial
Bikram yoga is not new, and it has managed to remain in fashion since the early 1970s. Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram’s Yoga College of India, and a respected author, created these asanas.
Based on the concept of traditional hatha yoga, Bikram yoga is practiced in a room heated to about 40°C (or 100 F) and is comprised of a sequence of 26 yoga asanas that make you sweat and release harmful toxins from your body.
Students of Bikram yoga have to perform yoga poses for exactly 90 minutes, and during this time, the exercises stimulate and heal all the muscles, joints, and organs in the body. A hot and humid environment increases blood circulation in the body, and this lowers the risk of diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.
Students are also taught to breathe in the yoga classes in order to increase the capacity of their lungs. Breathing exercises, or pranayama, stretches the lungs and increases the blood circulation to every part of the body. All the 26 postures in bikram yoga are designed to massage the internal organs and eliminate harmful toxins and bacteria in the body.
This type of yoga is not very easy and beginners sometimes feel a little bit nauseous and dizzy. Bikram says that this initial unpleasant experience soon gives way to a healthy feeling and a disease-free body. However, health care providers warn that people suffering from heart problems should stay away from Bikram yoga, as rigorous exercises in a heated chamber may cause more harm than benefit to some people.
Some students cannot exercise in a heated room and faint during these yoga sessions. Trained instructors are available on these occasions to help the students, provide them first aid, and guide them to resume the classes when they have recovered from the initial shock.
Instructors at the Bikram Choudhury yoga studio advise students to avoid eating too much or going totally hungry before the yoga sessions. It is best to eat about three hours before entering the exercise room and avoid drinks such as coffee or tea before a session.
You can keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of water before and during bikram yoga classes. Mix a dash of salt or half a spoon of lemon juice in the water you carry to your classes as it will hydrate you more than plain water.