Hot Yoga 101

Since a warm body is a flexible body, Bikram yoga is practiced in a room heated to about 105° F (~40.6° C) with 40 percent humidity. This challenging yoga comprises 26 Hatha yoga postures and two pranayama breathing techniques. The sequences work synergistically to improve health and wellbeing. Popularized in the early 1970s, Bikram yoga is named after its founder, Bikram Choudhury, who created this system of hot yoga synthesized from traditional hatha yoga techniques. It is said that Choudhury devised the system as a result of a knee injury and was able to recover after six months of practice. Bikram is known for its healing benefits and for its ability to train and calm the mind. The practice was developed to target every cell of the body, creating a revitalized, strong, lean, balanced and healthier body. The purpose of the heated room is to help deepen stretching and prevent injury, while also reducing stress and tension. Bikram claims that this form of yoga has the potential to restore health to all parts of the body, inside and out, targeting muscles, joints and internal organs, from the lungs and digestive system to the lymphatic and immune systems. Circulation is also a large part of Bikram’s theory, as many of the poses create a tourniquet effect at certain joints, cutting off circulation for a moment before allowing freshly oxygenated blood to circulate through. Bikram also maintains that the breathing exercises, or pranayama, can help with lung capacity.

Types of bikram yoga

Know Before You Go

Every class is the same: 90 minutes long; 26 beginning, classic Hatha postures; and two breathing exercises, all in a 105° F room. While in class, everyone is asked to stay in the room, no matter how you are feeling. If you tire, or feel dizzy or nauseous, instructors encourage you to sit down until you feel grounded. Not only is this for safety reasons, it also helps to develop concentration, determination, and discipline. Staying hydrated throughout the day, before and after practice, is important. It is advised to refrain from eating a meal at least two to three hours before class. Wear light and tight clothing as you will be sweating—women usually wear sports bras or tight tanks with tight shorts or leggings; men don shorts. Mat and towel rentals are available at most Bikram studios. First-timers: It is recommended to arrive 10-20 minutes early to fill out paperwork. Bikram’s sequence of postures and breathing exercises is accessible to anyone, regardless of fitness level, flexibility or yogic experience. In fact, it’s said that those who have injuries, haven't been working out or have other medical problems are the first to see the benefits.