Performing Bikram Yoga after Surgery

After surgery, it is understandable that you’ll want to resume your old life and health routine as soon as possible. However, if your fitness regime includes the challenges of Bikram yoga, you are better off taking it slow. 

What Is Bikram Yoga?

Bikram yoga is one of the most strenuous flavors of yoga available. Also called “hot yoga,” it involves a 90 minutes yoga session covering 26 distinct and highly challenging yoga positions. Its founder, Bikram Chouduary, designed the routine to “systematically stimulate and restore health to every muscle, joint and organ of the body.” Another thing that sets bikram yoga apart is that it is performed under adverse environmental conditions. Classes are usually held in a room kept up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40 percent humidity. The idea is that the profuse sweating incurred by these conditions will help cleanse the body.

Know the Risks

Even if you are not recovering from surgery, there is evidence to suggest many health risks associated with Bikram yoga. The intense heat can lead to heat exhaustion and dehydration. It is not uncommon for beginners to feel sick or even faint during a session. Also, because of the strenuous poses, people who do Bikram yoga are more likely to suffer an increased risk of muscle, ligament and lower back injuries. Some medical professionals question the health benefits of bikram yoga as compared to the dangers of practicing it.


These dangers are intensified if you are recovering from surgery. Even if enough time has passed that you’re feeling like your old self, you most likely have not yet completely healed. Bikram yoga requires a great deal of stretching, contorting, and stressful physical performance. You cannot tell by looking or even feeling, if your internal incisions have healed or if your body has fully recovered from the trauma of surgery. You must give your body plenty of time to recover from the stress of surgery before attempting bikram yoga. It is good to remember that one of the five aspects of mind that bikram impresses upon it’s practitioners. That aspect is, Patience.

Returning to Bikram after Surgery

Many bikram instructors will urge you to return to your bikram studio as soon as you are able to be up and around. However, your job, until you have healed, is to sit in the room, meditate and visualize participation. This allows you to reap as much of the spiritual benefits of the session as possible without damaging your body. For returning to actual physical participation of bikram after surgery, a good rule of thumb is to give yourself at least 8 weeks. This number goes up to six months if you’ve had intense joint surgery, such as a hip replacement. The safest approach is to ask your doctor. Make sure your doctor understands that Bikram yoga is not regular yoga. They might assume you are talking about a gentle stretching session instead of a overheated hour and a half of intense physical toil.

If you understand the risks of Bikram yoga and choose to make it part of your fitness or spiritual life, understand the Bikram tenet of patience. Patience after surgery and waiting to resume your Bikram practices, will reduce health risks and allow your body to attain peak performance.


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