Bikram yoga is an offshoot of the yoga practiced by the Indian yogis since time immemorial. Bikram yoga is a style of yoga that has been developed by Bikram Chaudhary. Born in Kolkata (India), Bikram trained in yoga under Bishnu Ghosh, the brother of Paramahansa Yogananda, the great exponent of ancient Indian yoga. He founded the Yoga College of India in Beverly Hills in 1974.
Bikram yoga is also called hot yoga because the yogic exercises are performed in a room heated to a temperature between 105°F to 115°F. The humidity level of the room is kept 60% higher than the normal in order to prevent dehydration that can occur because of the heat. The exercise regime comprises of a total of 26 exercises including breathing exercises called “Pranayaam” and physical postures called “Aasans.” Each physical posture is specific to a certain part or organ of the body. The total exercise regime, thus, aims at improving the all-round fitness of the body and mind of the practitioner.
Traditional Yoga vs Bikram Yoga
Traditional yogic exercises are generally performed in the open air. Bikram yoga, on the other hand, is practiced in a hot room. It is quite well known that when an object is heated, it expands and becomes soft and malleable. Bikram yoga applies this basic principle of heat to the organs of human body. Practicing yoga in a hot room promotes profuse sweating, which in turn, eliminates the toxins from the body. Secondly, heat makes the muscles more flexible.
How Does Bikram Yoga Improve Health?
Yogic postures involve two processes, compression and extension. Both the components function in tandem with each other in every yogic posture. While the compression part of the yogic posture temporarily cuts off the blood supply, the extension part pushes the heart to pump in fresh blood. Both these functions together promote blood circulation.
The pumping in of the blood brings in a fresh oxygen, which reaches every joint, cell and tissue of the body and rejuvenates its functioning. Moreover, the increased influx of the fresh blood pushes the toxins, which breed bacteria and cause infection, out of the body.
Hot yoga warms up and stretches every muscle, joint, tendon, ligament, vertebrae and organ of the body. Once the body becomes flexible, it becomes much easier to perform the various “Asanas” or exercises that involve a lot of movement and stretching. In other words, the heat in the room eases the limbs, muscles and joints, making them supple and flexible. The heat also dilates the capillaries, tissues, cells and glands, which can take in the increased supply of blood along with the fresh oxygen. The fresh air not only nourishes the body, but also cleans it by eliminating the wastes.
Bikram yoga also promotes weight loss. The body, when warm, burns fat more efficiently. There is an increase in metabolism, which in turn, accelerates the assimilation of glucose and fatty acids. Therefore, you can lose fat from problem areas in a short span of time.