While hot yoga can be any kind of yoga. Many people have heard of a type of hot yoga called Bikram. Why do people like Bikram yoga?
Let’s talk really quickly about what Bikram yoga actually means and why people like it. “Hot usually means over 100 degrees. Heated is usually somewhere in the low to mid-90s,” Jessica Matthews, M.S., a yoga instructor. American Council on Exercise spokeswoman, and ACE-certified personal trainer and health coach, tells SELF. “Though I see the terms interchanged often, typically when you say hot, you mean a Bikram or Bikram-like class. Heated is more like a power Vinyasa.”
Founder Bikram Choudhury started Bikram yoga in 1972 in San Francisco.
Choudhury taught yoga in Japan and used space heaters to warm up the cold room. He believed that heat made it easier for students to stretch and made them feel more euphoric after their practice. so he made it an integral part of the yoga school he started when he moved to the U.S. in the ’70s. You can now find Bikram studios worldwide. In 2013, news broke that a former student had accused Choudhury of sexual harassment, discrimination, and defamation. By 2016, six more women had filed lawsuits accusing him of sexual misconduct.
some Bikram studios have changed their names. it’s still the word people often use to refer to a type of hot yoga.
1. It lets you sweat it all out and more flexible.
Naysayers can say what they want about Bikram, but one thing they can’t knock is its incredible ability to make you sweat. Now, you won’t have a dedicated flunky in class patting you dry as you perspire, but trust that you’ll be completely drenched and detoxed in the hot box. The heat in Bikram encourages the loosening of your joints, letting you stretch and bend your body in many different ways. Be careful not to overdo it though, stretching without integrity or proper form can lead to injury.
It’s true that it’s best to stretch your muscles when they’re warm. “We know that a warm muscle is more flexible and we have better flexibility benefits by stretching a warm muscle,” exercise physiologist Dustin Slivka, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., associate professor in the School of Health and Kinesiology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, tells SELF. “That’s why you should do a general warm-up before flexibility training. You’re essentially doing that in hot yoga since you’re stretching in the heat.”
2. It improves your sense of balance.
Bikram standing and balancing poses promote grounding yourself through the heels. Distributing your weight evenly throughout the four corners of the feet. Engaging your hamstrings and locking your knee, and aligning your hips and tailbone with your spine, all of which do wonders for your balance. Like other forms of exercise, Bikram yoga also helps you let go of stress and anxiety while helping you expend enough kilojoules of energy, so you’re totally winded and can sleep like a baby come nighttime.
3. It increases your focus and ton of energy
The first half of Bikram class requires that you hold a series of standing and balancing poses anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute, training and enhancing your mental resolve. Your mileage may vary here, but if you usually hit the sack pretty early, you may find that going to Bikram in the evening keeps you up way past your bedtime. Practicing it in the morning, however, generally expands the number of hours in your day for both productivities as well as recreation.
4. It teaches you how to really breathe and stay calm.
Bikram fondly calls the hot room his “torture chamber,” and for good reason! Between the heat, the fact that you’re expected to do the poses as your teacher says, and the diverse tendencies of the monkey mind, this practice can trigger your “fight or flight” response.
However, you’re taught ujjayi breathing here deep and slow, mouth closed, your nose used only as a passageway, lungs, and chest expanding on the inhale and contracting on the exhale. This keeps you calm and relaxed throughout the class and in stressful moments in real life. Proper breathing is also useful in everyday life, especially when it comes to things like walking up the stairs or even sports. A proper breathing technique lets you take in as much oxygen as you can manage. Getting enough oxygen means that you won’t get winded during exercising. It also means that your muscles get more oxygen, thus allowing them to work harder for longer.
5. It makes you feel amazing.
Finally, one of the best reasons to do Bikram yoga is to feel infinite.
Whether you were able to “nail” a pose you’ve been working on, that final Savasana really hit the spot for you, or you’d just come back after a long break. Bikram yoga gives you this lingering feeling of absolute awesomeness and bliss, like you’re a giant and an immortal and can take on anything.
With Bikram yoga, you get all-over strength, flexibility, stress reduction, and mindfulness.
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