The specific yoga postures done in a hot and humid room can bring you benefits of an aerobic workout.
One look at a yoga practitioner and you wish your body could also manage those difficult poses to attain flexibility and control. The age-old tradition from India has been so appealing that millions of practitioners across the globe dutifully get on to their yoga mats every day to seek wellness of both body and mind.
As several yoga masters moved from India to the West, the healing exercise also went along and the support it enjoyed from celebrities like Madonna, Meg Ryan and Ricky Martin turned yoga into a cult.
From Hatha Yoga to Iyengar Yoga, Viniyoga, and now famous Bikram Yoga and Hot Yoga, the original form has undergone several variations thus attracting so many followers. While some learn the poses for overall wellbeing, others see it as a means to lose weight.
Rigid form of yoga
Bikram yoga, developed by yoga guru Bikram Choudhury, originated from Hatha yoga which consists of different poses. It was developed by Bikram with the help of his master to recover from a debilitating knee injury. The successful recovery led to Choudhury opening schools of Bikram yoga all over India and in other countries.
Bikram yoga is much more rigid than any other form. It consists of a set of 26 particular poses to be done within 90 minutes in a room set at a temperature of 105 degrees and 40 per cent humidity level. In fact, even the classes are held in rooms which need to have specific interiors to the liking of Bikram Choudhury.
Warming up with a breathing exercise, the participants move on to 12 standing postures believed to be good for strengthening focus and concentration. Another 12 postures, this time done on the floor, are performed next before ending the session with another breathing exercise.
The postures have to be done only in this particular sequence within the time period of 90 minutes to reap maximum benefits of the stretching muscles and ligaments.
Students are supposed to avoid changing the sequence and use the mirror in front of them to maintain the correct posture. Despite being different in style, several of the poses being done in Bikram Yoga are common to other forms of yoga. Pranayam, eagle pose, cobra pose, triangle and tree poses are just some of these postures.
How the heat helps
The heat and humid atmosphere of the room allows the body to warm up quickly thus helping perform wide stretches and reducing the risk of injury. The profuse sweating also helps in aiding cleansing of harmful toxins from the body.
It is believed that combination of high temperature and yoga poses recreates the cardiovascular intensity as with any aerobic workout.
Participants of Bikram yoga are suggested 10 sessions within a month to get maximum benefits.
However, the calories burned by Bikram yoga would depend on the practitioner’s weight, fat to muscle ratio and the intensity of exercise. It can range from anywhere between 500 to 1,200 calories. In comparison, an hour and 15 minutes of running can burn 600 calories. This is the reason why Bikram yoga has turned out to be a good weight loss programme which, unlike running, does not impact the joints.
Besides helping you shed the pounds, Bikram yoga is also believed to be helpful in relieving joint pain and promoting flexibility, stamina, and strength besides offering the benefits of meditation. In fact, many of the participants rely on Bikram yoga more as a healing exercise to keep ailments of the body and mind away with regular practice. That calories burned by Bikram yoga add up to a big number is a bonus for them.