Some Like It Hot: The UK Bikram Yoga Obsession
We’ve almost reached our longest day and most of us are still waiting for real summer heat. There are some people, however, who crave heat in their exercise routine and the temperatures they require are even hotter than any UK summer can offer. These avid heat enthusiasts practice a form of yoga known as Bikram.
If joint range of motion and doing all you can to avoid injuries is important then you should give Bikram a try.
If all our plans go well we’ll have a class on Sundays at Trojan Gym in Cheltenham before Summer ends (if it ever starts!)
The Ins and Outs of our Bikram Yoga sessions:
Your typical Bikram session takes place in a room that can get up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit and can reach humidity of 40%. MAD, right? As you can imagine, the extreme heat of the room makes you sweat quite a bit and raises your body temperature to tremendous temperatures. You must wear layers and expect to strip most of them off quite quickly. You’ll need a small towel and a large water bottle too!
The whole idea behind the intense and often uncomfortable temperatures is that your body becomes very relaxed and malleable. While encouraging deeper stretching and supporting injury prevention, it also reduces stress and tension both mental and physical. Tissues release and with the correct breathing you’ll find yourself improving every session.
Bikram classes run 60-90 minutes and consist of a set series of postures and breathing exercises. As you progress through the session, you shift your body smoothly from pose to pose. There are no breaks between positions, the unbroken chain of movements helps stretch and strengthen target muscles, ligaments and joints making it an ideal cross-training format.
According to Bikram Choudhury, the father of the method, this particular style of yoga stimulates and restores health to every part of the body including muscles, joints and organs. Although in my teaching I concentrate on the physical benefits I do believe the stress release experienced through regular practice improves wellness, general health and fat loss goals! The high room temperatures along with the stretching techniques increase blood circulation throughout the body, making you more limber and energetic.
Chances are you’ve heard of Bikram Yoga, or at least Hot Yoga, by now. It’s definitely become a major craze among exercise and wellness enthusiasts over the past few years. But why is it such a big deal? What makes it trendy?
One explanation for the Bikram obsession is its health value. People walk away from a Bikram yoga session feeling truly energized and fit. There are countless testimonials from couch potatoes who have seen the light and become Bikram fanatics. It’s a form of exercise that can be both accessible and humbling—the typical studio may contain 80-year-old schoolteachers and college-aged marathon runners.
That’s because both will benefit even though their practice might look very different.
If your sport or training makes you very muscular and tight on one side of a joint you will lose the healthy balance around that part of your body and set yourself up for injury. If that sounds like you it’s time to add a little more Yin to your Yang!
Another reason why Bikram has become so trendy has to do with its prominence in popular culture. In the 1970s, Bikram Choudhury migrated to the United States from India and established yoga studios in California. Yoga had been a prominent form of exercise for quite some time, however the Bikram phenomenon received much attention for its innovative and challenging approach. Aficionados of the technique include huge celebrities and sports stars such as Madonna, Lady Gaga, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and David Beckham.
Bikram has become a huge fad among health and fitness devotees and for good reason. It isn’t something that only Madonna or Beckham are capable of enjoying—those hot and humid studios are full of all walks of life. So come along and experienc the heat! It’s time to feel fit and energized again!!
New Sunday classes planned for August at Trojan Gym, Cheltenham.