Bikram yoga is a form of yoga in which a series of 26 standing poses, floor poses and breathing exercises are performed in a very hot room. The typical Bikram yoga studio is heated to about 105 degrees F with humidity at 40 to 60 percent. Proponents of this style of yoga say the intense heat and humidity not only help your body sweat out toxins, but help to loosen muscles and lubricate joints for increased flexibility. Others believe that Bikram yoga might be unnecessarily dangerous; here's why.
Bikram Yoga Carries Heat-Associated Risks
Practitioners of Bikram yoga are at risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and fainting, due to the high levels of heat and humidity in Bikram yoga studios and the strenuous nature of the workout.
Proponents of Bikram yoga claim that the excessive sweating that occurs during the practice helps your body to detoxify. While it's true that your body does release some toxins through sweating, anyone trying to treat toxification problems by practicing Bikram yoga is only putting himself at further risk. Your liver and kidneys are the organs most responsible for detoxification. If you become dehydrated, these organs function less efficiently.
Bikram Yoga Can Be Dangerous for Those with Pre-Exisiting Medical Conditions
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, especially if you suffer from a chronic illness like diabetes, cardiovascular disease or a respiratory ailment, Bikram yoga may not be for you. If you are pregnant, Bikram yoga may not be for you. If you're taking any type of medications, Bikram yoga may not be for you. Certain medications change the way your body responds to heat, which could make Bikram yoga dangerous.
If you are suffering from any type of medical condition or are pregnant, or if you're taking any type of medication, consult your doctor before taking Bikram yoga classes. If you've suffering from any type of heat related illness in the past, talk to your doctor before taking Bikram yoga classes. Past incidents of heat related illness make it more likely that you'll succumb again.
Bikram Yoga Increases Practitioners' Risk of Injury
Proponents of Bikram yoga claim that the high heat and humidity loosen your muscles and ligaments and lubricate joints to give practitioners increased flexibility. While it's true that high levels of heat can increase your flexibility, it's also true that such high levels of heat and humidity might make you so flexible that you push yourself too far without realizing it. Practitioners of any type of yoga are at risk for muscle and joint injury, and especially lower back injury, due to the precise nature of the practice and the high levels of strength and flexibility required to perform yoga poses. Practitioners of Bikram yoga, however, are at increased risk of injury because they are stretching their muscles far beyond normal limits.