Guide to Bikram ‘hot’ yoga
Improve your flexibility and balance with ‘hot’ yoga
The latest ‘hot’ thing in yoga is Bikram Yoga. Hot Yoga, as it’s also known, involves yoga workouts in high temperatures and high humidity, and is fast becoming the workout of choice of both celebrities and sports stars. But how hot is Bikram yoga and should you be considering giving it a try?
What is Bikram yoga?
Bikram ‘Hot’ is a form of yoga that is based around a strict set of 24 ‘asana’ (postures), 2 ‘panayama’ (breathing exercises) and a high temperature dynamic and is becoming increasingly popular.
So, what does Bikram Yoga entail? Well, let’s get one thing straight: it’s not for the faint-hearted this intense workout takes place in a room that is warmed to a heatstroke-inducing 40ºC (105ºF) and 40% humidity. The cardiovascular class generally lasts for 90 minutes and in that time students are put through a gruelling regime of stretches and flexibility exercises aimed at increasing strength, balance and suppleness.
Other benefits of ‘Hot’ yoga are its ability to aid in recovery from sports injuries, and helping to relieve muscular tension.
The exercise form is nothing new though (the postures having been around in one form or another for about 5,000 years), but it has recently come to prominence with a host of sporting stars and other celebrities admitting to being disciples of the ‘Hot Yoga’.
Students of Bikram Yoga
Among these is British tennis star Andy Murray who admitted that his win against Roger Federer in the gruelling heat at the Dubai Open had been largely down to the physical and mental agility he had gained through Bikram yoga. Of his fitness secret he said, "Bikram Yoga has been great in helping me get fit and preparing for the on-court heat."
A number of celebs have already taken up this now fashionable means of keeping fit. Stars such as George Clooney, Daniel Craig and Elle McPherson have all been spotted posing in 40ºC heat.
A Bikram workout like any other form of yoga consists of a series of poses or ‘asanas’. With names like ‘Eagle Pose’, ‘Tree Pose’, ‘Dead Body Pose’, ‘Cobra Pose’, ‘Locust Pose’ , ‘Half Tortoise Pose’, ‘Camel Pose’ and ‘Rabbit Pose’, you get the impression that Bikram Yoga is going to be pretty energetic.
The exercises are in part based around a process of oxygen exchange, whereby the blood vessels circulating around the body go through two stages of ‘Extension’ and ‘Compression’, thus strengthening them and increasing their flexibility – rather like muscles themselves.
Give Bikram yoga a try
Bikram yoga studios are beginning to pop up all over the place with many instructors having been on training courses with yoga yoda Bikram Choudhury himself to learn the art of ‘Hot’ yoga in India. India is where the idea of the heated workout originated as the rise in temperature facilitates greater muscle extension and flexibility.