Bikram yoga is hot for eight reasons

For years, I had a love-hate relationship with Bikram yoga. A natural rebel of authority, the strictness of the sequence, the sweltering (and stinky!) room, and the discouragement of creative freedom left me feeling frustrated. I preferred Vinyasa yoga, where I could move and stretch and try new things. I lacked discipline.

A new Bikram Studio opened around the corner, and I decided to try the practice again. This time, I was going to give it my best shot — three months of practicing 3-4 times per week.

I did. After about 20 classes and six weeks of my new routine, I began to see a change in my attitude towards the discipline. Bikram has become a part of my daily life. Here’s why:

The chakras are balanced

The Bikram Sequence is composed of 26 postures. The sequence balances all the chakras.

The first step is to find your balance in standing poses. Next, you move to the ground to strengthen the muscles in the back. Finally, lengthen your spine by placing the top part of the head onto the mat towel. This will work on the parathyroid and pineal glands.

You know what I mean if you can tune into the energy in your body. It feels great to balance the chakras by using proper spinal alignment and sequencing.

Thermoregulation Works

The room is HOT. The room is HOT.

This can be torture for someone who is already warm or in menopause. The ability to remain in the hot room is one of the biggest obstacles to consistent Bikram. Once you’ve mastered the technique, thermoregulation will begin to happen.

The endocrine system, the pulmonary system, and the integumentary system (skin) are all involved in adapting to heat. The body is able to cool itself more efficiently, reaching homeostasis when exposed to heat, both internally as well as externally. This time is when chemical changes occur in your blood (carbon dioxide expulsion, sodium, potassium chloride, and magnesium regulation, and elimination of lactic acid). These changes regulate the body at a cellular scale.

The body compensates quickly. Once it has, heat becomes less of an issue. In a humid, warm environment, it feels good to move around. You no longer feel uncomfortable in places that were hotter before. Women who are menopausal or postmenopausal experience less hot flashes and less hormonal imbalance.

The body is a machine that has been fine-tuned.

Spinal Alignment Is a Good Thing

Bikram’s sequence of asanas was carefully designed to align the spine. The space between the vertebrae is found, and you can move in all six positions: spinal flexion, extension (right and wrong), lateral flexion (right or left), and lateral rotating (right or left).

This movement helps to lubricate the spinal disks and relax tense muscles. It also improves the range of motion of the spine. As the core (abdominal and paraspinal muscle) strengthens, shoulders relax, and tight hips are released, and posture improves.

Bikram Yoga brings the spine to a neutral, healthy, and natural space. This allows the rest of the system to work at its best.

The Tourniquet Effect

Bikram is a series of postures that constrict blood flow in different parts. Then, you release the constriction, and oxygenated blood rushes back into your body. The benefits of this practice are based on science.

Asanas are performed after the body has been heated, which increases the oxygen content in the blood. The poses are held for 10-20 seconds with an intense contraction, which causes vasoconstriction. Then comes a deep relaxation to allow for the recirculation of blood and nutrients into the tissues.

This results in super-happy cells and tissues.

It’s a lifelong practice.

Bikram can be practiced for the rest of your life, unlike other fitness trends and activities that place excessive stress on the joints. No part of the body can be overworked. The practice is repeated, but no two classes are the same.

Each class allows the body to make micro-adjustments, allowing it to use the benefits for the areas that are most needed. If your hamstrings are tight, you will find that the practice helps to release tension from the posterior hips and the back of the legs. Attending class can help you feel rejuvenated if you’re tired.

Living in the moment helps the body find healing and peace, no matter how difficult the situation is or how far you can push yourself in a pose.

Anyone can do it.

Big. Small. Young. Old. I’ve seen people of all shapes and sizes in Bikram classes. You don’t have to “fit” into a mold to maintain a consistent Bikram yoga practice.

I used to attend and teach a lot of barre classes. It became monotonous after a while to see the same clients with the same physique and aspirations for magazine covers. A slightly overweight girl or boy would stand out in class. They didn’t “fit the mold.”

Bikram has a much more accepting attitude. It is refreshing to be in a room with a variety of body types and skin colors.

Sweating is so good for you!

It is widely reported that sweating in Bikram classes is bad for you. It can cause dehydration and electrolyte balance.

It has become apparent, after reviewing the research done on Hot Yoga and thermoregulation, that there needs to be a warning. Bikram may not be suitable for those who are pregnant or nursing, have hypertension, heart disease, or suffer from hypertension.

Heat and sweat are intense. The sweat that you lose in the first 15-30 minutes of class is mostly water and electrolytes. The sweat is mostly water after that. It is best to avoid practicing if you are dehydrated or have an illness that requires your body’s use of more water.

Plan. Do not eat or drink anything for at least two hours before you practice. This will allow your body to adapt quickly to the heat in the room and to focus its energy on the muscles and tissues working.

It feels great to sweat at the end of the workday.

Moving Meditation

Consistency is comforting for me. It’s comforting to know that the flow of the practice is constant. After 20 classes, it became a form of moving meditation.

It is easy to follow and understand. There is no need to guess or think about what you should do. Listen to the words, and then watch how your body moves in the mirror. It becomes more comfortable over time, just like satisfying a desire.

Bikram has helped me improve my morning meditation because I can now relax and focus much easier than before. The mind will be at ease when you stop worrying about the heat or sweat in your eyes and instead learn to be calm.

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