Bikram Yoga for Athletes

Bikram Yoga is a highly recommended practice for athletes, who you would normally assume get in some major sweat sessions as it is. However, practicing yoga, especially the Bikram variety, can help take your sport performance–and recovery–to the next level.  Though there are many varieties of yoga, the Bikram style was created by Bikram Choudry, an Indian weight lifter and yoga champion. It is performed in a 105 degree room, which causes muscles to warm quickly and allows for deeper stretches and more accurate postures.

What Is Bikram Yoga?

Bikram Yoga involves 26 different postures or asanas, that stimulate blood flow, oxygenation of body cells, and increases flexibility, self awareness and the mind body connection. The asanas, or stretches, have been known to help athletes recover from surgeries, injuries and general body pain.

Continuous practice of Bikram Yoga can also prevent injuries and pain due to increased muscular flexibility. Any type of yoga is said to increase flexibility, tendon strength, repiratory and circulatory function, stamina and concentration. Choudry himself states that practicing yoga trains the mind in five key areas that will undoubtedly carry over to your sport in both physical and mental function and awareness. These areas are spiritual faith, self-control, determination, concentration and patience.

Another facet of Bikram yoga is practicing of pranayama, or breathing exercises. Choudry, and other yogis, attest that the lungs, being muscles themselves, need to be stretched just as other muscles do. The pranayama, according  to Choudry, will eventually enhance oxygenation of the blood and improve circulation, making it easier for athletes to work harder and longer.

Performance and Rehabilitation

The benefit of Bikram yoga for athletes on the most fundamental level is increased ability, agility strength and range of motion, contributing to increased performance. In sports where a lot of running is involved in conditioning or the events, athletes tend to shorten hamstrings, reduce range of motion, and often bring on lower back pain. This in turn causes shoulder tension to strike as well.  Most athletes, even if  they don’t suffer from an injury, do have pain from time to time. Yoga practice is your first step in prevention or rehabilitation. For weight lifters, this same muscle lengthening can bring on increased strength as well.

Mental Improvement

Performing the asanas in a heated room is more likely to mimic what most athletes would consider a worthwhile workout, rather than a REALLY long stretch session. It is also challenging enough to cope with the heat, causing epic sweat production.  Distracting?  Sure.  Difficult?  Of course!  So, the extra push that causes so many people to actually need to leave the room equates to the challenge that will aid in training a sport-minded person to filter out other distractions and encourage them to focus on the task at hand. Using your determination and concentration are necessary here!

Finally, the “work under pressure” mentality that is typical of competetive sports requires release and self-awareness to help maintain a strong mind body connection. The relaxation and concentration will undoubtedly aid in body awareness and stress relief, providing strategies to function properly in the competetive setting.

Despite the fact that athletes get killer workouts on a regular basis, Bikram yoga, though it is a great workout itself, will help athletes of all levels improve performance, shorten rehabilitation, and assist in their mental toughness during the game.


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