Bikram yoga is also called hot yoga because the yoga workouts are done in a heated room. However, Bikram isn't just any yoga practice. "Bikram Yoga is a 90-minute series of 26 beginning yoga postures (asanas) and 2 breathing exercises (pranayamas) that are done in the same order," Birrell explains. "Most poses are done twice — the first set acts as a diagnostic, and the second set is where you push a little more and create change in the body and the mind."
The beauty of the Bikram practice is that it works the whole body, with each pose warming you up and preparing you for the next posture and the postures to come. It not only promotes health and strength, it is also very healing, according to Birrell. "A state-of-the-art ventilation system brings fresh pre-heated air into the room throughout class to ensure that there is plenty of fresh oxygen to breathe," she says. "The heat provides many benefits, including increased blood flow throughout the body, and helps detoxify the body through the sweat."
Celebrities, royalty and athletes are flocking to studios worldwide to lock the knee and stare into their own eyes. Anyone can do it! Here’s what you’ll get when you sign up for a 90-minute beginner class in the infamous hot room:
1. Flexibility: No, you won’t be forced into contortionist positions. The heat will allow you to safely reach new levels of personal flexibility in beginner’s postures, which is therapeutic for your body (see number seven). Plus, let’s be honest, being flexible is cool. You’ll be busting out Standing Bow Pose at your next party.
2. Strength: Your own body is your gym. This yoga is low impact and uses muscles you didn’t know you had—trying standing in a wide lunge for Triangle pose on carpet and not sliding! Also, a prime focus is on spine strength, which is key to a long healthy life!
3. Breath:The definition of Hatha Yoga asana is: stillness in a posture while breathing normally. With the added element of the heat, you won’t make it far if you don’t breathe deeply! If there is no breathing, there is no yoga. It won’t take long before you learn to breathe in a full and controlled manner.
4. Cardio: Your heart can work the same way doing yoga postures in a heated room as it does when running a mile, and you never even leave your mat. Particularly in postures when you are balancing and contracting your muscles at the same time. A 90-minute class can burn up to 1,000 calories. The way you stretch and compress your internal organs and glands also stimulates metabolism so you are burning calories quicker outside the room as well.
5. Detox: The heated room helps you to stretch more and get your cardio, but it also helps you sweat. The postures themselves are detoxifying for your muscles, organs, and glands and sweating furthers that.
6. Focus: Most Hot Yoga classes consist of the same 26 postures and two breathing exercises—and if not, there is almost always a dialed routine. The routine helps you to advance your practice through repetition. As you advance, you gain tremendous focus and determination. The ability to focus carries over to your daily life. When you can focus on the task at hand, you’ll excel and you can enjoy it more.
7. Healing: The primary purpose of this yoga is therapy. With a regular practice, these postures can help to heal old injuries and also prevent them in the future. This is especially true for, but not limited to, back pain. Don’t skip the postures that are slightly uncomfortable. Hot Yoga is also known to reduce symptoms of conditions and illnesses including diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, depression, arthritis and obesity.
8. Life:“You’re only as old as your spine is flexible.” ~Joseph Pilates
Additional health benefits of hot yoga: