Bikram yoga is a relatively new style of yoga, compared to more traditional types, although it is based on Hatha yoga. This 90 minute sequence consists of 26 postures, each repeated twice and it is performed in a yoga studio, heated to roughly 40C, 105F.
The added temperature is designed to allow greater range of movement, reduced risk of injury, deeper stretching as well as detoxification from excessive sweating. It is a highly energetic style of yoga that brings on its own challenges, firstly from acclimatising to the hot room, but also it suits those who like to step it up a notch!
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, which 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, where 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, and has since developed into many yoga studios dedicating their classes to this style of yoga, or having it as an option on the menu.
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.
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
For Beginners, the first few Bikram yoga classes will be about trying to acclimatise to the intense heat in the studio and learning some of the simpler of the 26 poses. In time though, students will be able to recognise the sequence and then focus on improving and deepening their stretches, perfecting their alignment and balance and pushing their body to overcome new challenges.
Bikram yoga benefits
The benefits of Bikram yoga, by those who practice, are considered vast, for both body and mind.
Simply practicing in a heated room, with warm muscles, allows for stretches to be performed to a deeper level, improving flexibility faster and reducing the risk of injury in the process.
Due to it’s intensity, the 90 minute workout provides a full cardiovascular workout for the heart and lungs, leading to greater strength and endurance and if weight loss is a key objective, then Bikram yoga can benefit with calorie burning, although it is important to note you have to work for it.
Deep breathing and intense focus throughout the sequence means Bikram yoga is a good stress-buster, as everyday worries rarely crop up on the mat. Building inner strength from determination can help with tackling issues outside of the studio too.
Read more – Hot yoga benefits
Bikram yoga London
Since the arrival of Bikram yoga to London in the 1990’s, studios have popped up all over the city, offering the yoga style as founded and taught by Bikram Choudhury.
Try one of these London studios: