Contorting the body into 26 postures in a 105 degree room might sound like torture, but the benefits of Bikram Yoga far outweigh any initial discomfort. Bikram Cloudhury developed the program by taking certain aspects of Hatha yoga and adding in the heat element to further purify the body. Because of the intense heat and the specific postures to work every part of the body, practitioners experience multiple health benefits from Bikram yoga.
Continued practice and conscious inclusion of breathing techniques throughout your day result in increased vitality and vigor. The yoga movements build muscle, stretch ligaments and improve circulation. Flexibility, balance and posture improve. Weight comes off. Lung capacity expands and you get a cardio workout each session. Back muscles strengthen and osteoporosis symptoms decrease. You begin to feel and look younger, eat healthier and become aware of the connection between mind and body. The result is a renewed zest for life and yourself and an investment in continued health. Because of this new level of fitness, if you experience a negative health event like a heart attack, the body can handle it better than before Bikram yoga. Sports and muscle injuries also become less common as the body becomes fitter.
Not only does Bikram have you sweating off the pounds in a heated room, but the increased temperature helps you stretch deeper to build stronger muscles. This in turn burns more fat because muscles are basically fat burners. Many practitioners also claim that it encourages healthier eating by making you aware of the connection between your mind and body. The mind begins to crave foods that help the body boost energy, like fruits and veggies, rather than sweets and fats.
Whenever you sweat you release toxins from the body. The high temperature of Bikram yoga encourages this release and helps refresh the pores of the skin. The skin is the largest organ in the body and needs to be kept clean and pure just as much as the liver or kidney; the detoxification aspect of Bikram is a significant draw for many people. A large potential for weight loss exists, as some people lose up to ten pounds in one class. Mental clarity follows detoxification of the body. Stress and unhealthy food cause significant mental “fuzz” in the mind. Once the negative components contained in the body flush out, the mind becomes clearer and sharper. Additionally, many of the poses involve forward bends that send blood to the head, which clears the mind as well.
Of course, no yoga program would be complete without this benefit. Simply taking the time out of the day to devote one hour to yourself helps manage stress. Adding in the yoga postures that stretch and flex the muscles increases the sense of relaxation. The heated room takes it to the max and leaves you feeling soft, pliable and stress-free. The breathing techniques learned in the program, which mainly focus on deeper and conscious breathing, begin to carry through into the rest of your life. Focusing on the different postures also helps eliminate the mind “chatter”, leaving it free to relax along with the body.