By Sheryl Goh (guest contributor)
You have probably heard of yoga but do you know about Bikram yoga? Bikram Choudhury is the founder of Bikram Yoga, one of the most popular forms of hot yoga.
Bikram Yoga Basics
It is usually conducted in a heated room of 40 degrees Celsius and lasts for 90 minutes. It consists of two breathing exercises, a standing series (12 poses) and a floor series (14 poses). The 26 poses are done twice according to the instructions given by a yoga teacher. Water can only be drunk at intervals during the poses and not during.
For those attending Bikram Yoga class for the first time, it can be overwhelming as you are not used to being in a heated room for 90 minutes. Most beginners have to go for a few lessons to truly understand and get accustomed to the poses and reap the benefits. Only then should you decide if Bikram Yoga is for you.
5 Health Benefits of Bikram Yoga
What makes Bikram yoga followers practise it faithfully and what are the benefits of Bikram yoga?
1. Detoxification of the body and improved blood circulation
With Bikram yoga’s extension and compression poses, blood circulation is improved as these two are believed to work together to bring fresh oxygen to the body and stimulate the release of serotonin in the brain. By sweating out the toxins in your body, your body may be detoxifying itself from all the free radicals it has been exposed to.
2. Toning and strengthening of your muscles
Your muscles get stronger and more toned as each pose requires you to hold it for at least 30 seconds to a minute.
3. Better flexibility
(photo: Edson Hong)
Being in a heated room warms and loosens your muscles, thus allowing them to stretch deeper and further than you would at normal room temperature.
4. Calming of the mind helps you to focus better
As some of the poses can be quite challenging, it requires mental energy and trains you to calm your mind and focus. In return, your balance, coordination and discipline improve.
5. Weight loss
Perhaps one of the most popular reasons why people try out Bikram Yoga is because of the possible weight loss that they may experience. By practising regularly at least three times a week, which is a total of four and a half hours, it is well above the recommended 30 minute a day exercise routine that is often recommended.
In addition, each session can burn up to 350 to 700 calories depending on the weight of the individual. When practised in conjunction with a well balanced eating plan, one could easily lose weight.
It is important to note that hydration is very important and Bikram himself encourages drinking as much water as possible to replenish the body of any loss of liquids during the practice and also to maintain a healthy living lifestyle as much as possible to reap the full benefits of Bikram Yoga.
Those with a history of heat illnesses like heat stroke, pregnant women and people suffering from chronic medical conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease or respiratory disease are strongly advised not to practise Bikram Yoga though.
Have you tried Bikram Yoga or any other types of yoga before? How has it benefited your lifestyle?
By guest contributor Sheryl Goh, freelance writer, long distance runner and avid Bikram Yoga practitioner. Via HealthMatters.sg, a Singapore Health and Fitness blog that aims to help you lose weight, keep fit, and live healthy. Click here to get our free guide “Eat Your Way to Health – Secrets of a Healthy Diet”.