By Faye Martins
Bikram is a type of yoga training in which 26 poses and two breathing exercises are done in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, at 40 percent humidity. Developed in the early 1970s by Bikram Choudhury, this style has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years. Beginner’s classes run for exactly 90 minutes, and each class is performed in exactly the same way, every time. Bikram’s style is often called “hot yoga.”
There are some definite pros and cons to this type of yogic exercise. Some of the benefits include weight loss due to the large number of calories lost during each session. The profuse sweating that happens with each session helps to cleanse the body of toxins, and the warmth allows for more flexibility and deeper stretching.
Some other pros are that Bikram’s style offers a great cardiovascular workout that is especially challenging during the first half of the class. Since each session will not vary at all, there can be a certain repetitive comfort to it. This style offers sales and is often less expensive than other yoga schools as well, and many people enjoy the heat in cold winter months.
Some of the controversy that has come out of this style includes the possible safety hazards of doing such strenuous exercise in such a hot room. Some practitioners actually have spells of nausea and dizziness, which could be related to a sudden loss of potassium and other electrolytes. If one is taking medication for high blood pressure it would be wise to consult with your doctor prior to practicing yoga in a hot room. Additionally, there is also a component of competition with Bikram Yoga, which is unheard of in other types of yoga.
Some of the cons are that the classes can become quite monotonous as there is never any variation to look forward to, and the 26 poses are done three times through the 90 minute classes. Their specialized yoga teacher training intensives produce instructors who strictly follow their exact policies. The series of asanas have been copyrighted by Bikram Choudhury, so deviance from the series is strictly forbidden, and there is also a reputation for instructors to be rather draconian. There is little attention given to the upper body with these poses, and there is a lot of standing, especially during the first half of the class.
Bikram is one of the most controversial types of yogic exercise. There are those who believe that it is simply unsafe and those who believe that it is more of a brand than something that will bring the body, mind and spirit together as one. Some believe it is a physical style that makes one pay for the sins of bad health. It is certainly not a style of yoga that’s for everyone.
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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