What is Hot Yoga or Bikram Yoga?
Increasing popularity of hot yoga: Basic tips, benefits and myths
Hot yoga or more popularly Bikram yoga is getting very popular around the world and particularly in the US. It was invented by Bikram Chaudhary in the decade of 70s. Less precisely this is any yoga class done in a heated room and room is usually done at a temperature of 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit. An intense yoga session at high temperature causes profuse sweating and makes the body very warm. Though, some parts of this yoga are in themselves calorie-burning and helps in muscle-building but it is more an individual choice.
This method of hot yoga is a series of 26 yoga postures that comprises two breathing exercises. They are performed twice during the 90-minute session. Bikram Choudhury, born in Calcutta, established Yoga College of India in Beverly Hills. He and his wife Rajashree were both yoga Gurus
Tips for Hot Yoga -for beginners
You should have your own yoga mat as you will be profusely sweating. This is precisely students tend to wear less clothes during the session.
Drink sufficient water so that you don't get dehydrated. Don't eat anything 2-hours before the class.
- If you do yoga from Bikram method, studio should be certified to teach Bikram Yoga.
- Pregnant women should avoid doing hot yoga.
- Bring a bottled water, towel for face
- You can wear regular yoga clothes.
- What happens in the hot yoga session?
The moment you enter the class temperature suddenly changes and this sudden change will shock your system. Few people don't prefer wearing clothes so don't get surprised if you cross half naked men in the classroom. Be prepared for immense sweat during the session. You can wipe out your faces in between the session.
Logic behind Bikram Yoga
The heated studio makes your body more flexible. The postures and asanas stimulate and restore health to muscles and joints. It is a fact that most of the people don't use full capacity of lungs and hot yoga session helps you realize full potential of lungs. Thus you take more oxygen and exhale more carbon di oxide. This improves blood circulation resulting in improvement in cardiovascular activity. Extension and compression of lungs work simultaneously in order to inject fresh blood to every joint and organ. The pumping of excess, fresh blood is called extension.
Benefits of hot yoga
Hot yoga warms and stretches muscles, ligaments, and tendons .It detoxifies body by releasing toxins. This reduces stress and improves circulation of blood in the body. The profuse sweating results in loss of weight and strengthens muscles. It helps a lot in chronic diseases diabetes, thyroid and arthritis. It prevents body from injuries. Bikram had suffered a knee injury while training for weightlifting. He was told by doctors that he would never walk again .After that Bikram started practicing his Yoga practice it allowed him to rebuild his muscle and walk again.
Controversies surrounding Bikram Yoga (hot yoga)
Medical experts are of the view that excess strain exerted on muscles in hot environment increases danger of muscle or ligament stretched beyond biological limit causing damage. But there is other side of coin also. Many scholars of yoga explain that the demand for energy in heated environment stimulates metabolic processes and slows down other processes. They opine that Yoga should be practiced in optimum & comfortable conditions. Explaining further they say, Yoga is all about relaxation and it is not stressful exercise. In hot yoga the heart rate, respiration rate and blood pressure increases and this can be dangerous. They emphasisze that Yoga should be done on the line of methods prescribed by Patanjali. The relaxed body results in lowering of respiration rate, blood pressure and normal heart rate which in turn lowers the metabolic rate. As per experts, "The in Bikram's 26 poses, especially the Hero and Camel poses, may cause damage to lower back, groin, knees and ankles." On the other hand there are yoga scholars who talk about the many fold advantages of hot Yoga refuting claims against hot yoga.
However to be on a safer side it's best to consult a physician before taking up any work out regime -including hot yoga.