Bikram yoga is a relatively new style of yoga, compared to more traditional types. It is based on Hatha yoga and this 90 minute sequence consists of 26 postures, each repeated twice. It is performed in a yoga studio, heated to roughly 40C (105F).
By practicing yoga in a heated room, you allow a greater range of movement, which reduces your risk of injury. It also enables you to take deeper stretches and promotes detoxification from excessive sweating. It is a highly energetic style of yoga that brings its own challenges though.
If you are someone that likes to step it up a notch, you are likely to love this type of yoga!
What is Bikram yoga?
Bikram Choudhury was born and raised in Calcutta, India. Due to injury, Bikram, who had practiced yoga since the age of 4, designed the 26 Bikram yoga poses. He claims is responsible for enabling him to return to health.
Later, in the 1970’s, Bikram started to experiment with heated studios, starting with a moderate 28C heat and slowly building up to what is now the standard 40C. Over the past 5 decades Bikram has become somewhat a guru, taking his method to the United States, initially LA. Here he was yoga teacher to the wealthy and also started his chain of yoga studios, which has now mounted worldwide to over 1,000.
Read more – The Story of How Yoga Got Hot
In the early 90’s Bikram yoga made it’s way to London through one of Bikram’s students, who founded her own chain of yoga studios, Fierce Grace. This has since developed into many yoga studios dedicating their classes to this style of yoga, or having it as a class option.
It is also now a world recognised brand with franchises worldwide. Those who wish to teach Bikram’s method must be an accredited teacher, having completed one of his own teacher training courses.
In more recent years though, Bikram Choudhury’s fame has taken a downward spiral, after alleged sexual assault and discrimination claims from former students.
Bikram yoga poses
Individually, the 26 Bikram poses are based on the traditional Hatha yoga poses. The Bikram sequence however, was designed by Bikram Choudhury as a means for him to heal an injury he endured when he was a teenager, where it was feared he wouldn’t be able to walk again. Making a full recovery, Bikram formalised his yoga sequence to what is now the same sequence practiced every day, by thousands of people in all corners of the globe.
The poses were designed to systematically energise each and every part of the body, including organs, fibres, ligaments, veins and muscles, by circulating freshly oxygenated blood to all areas, enabling healing and restoration.
Read more – The 26 Bikram Yoga Poses
If you are a beginner, the first few Bikram classes will be about trying to acclimatise to the intense heat in the studio and learning some of the simpler poses. In time though, you will be able to recognise the sequence and then focus on improving and deepening your stretches, perfecting your alignment and balance and pushing their body to overcome new challenges.
Benefits of Bikram
You will likely experience the benefits of Bikram for both your body and mind within a short timeframe.
When you practice in a heated room, it:
- warms your muscles
- allows your stretches to be performed to a deeper level
- improves flexibility faster
- reduces the risk of injury in the process.
Due to it’s intensity, the 90 minute workout provides a full cardiovascular workout for your heart and lungs. This leads to greater strength and endurance. If weight loss is a key objective for you, then Bikram yoga can benefit with calorie burning, although you have to work for it.
Deep breathing and intense focus throughout the sequence means Bikram yoga is a good stress-buster. Everyday worries rarely crop up on the mat. This can help you with tackling issues outside of the studio too by building inner strength from determination.
Read more – Hot Yoga Benefits
Bikram Yoga | London
Since the arrival of Bikram yoga to London, studios have popped up all over the city, offering the yoga style as founded and taught by Bikram Choudhury.
If you are high energy and want to try something new, this could be a great choice for you!
Some studios don’t offer Bikram classes but instead provide Hot Yoga classes. These are not the fixed sequence but their own routine in the same heated environment.