For some reason, I had the time to sit down and watch a little television, and as luck would have it, Bikram Choudhury was being interviewed on 60 Minutes Wednesday.
My wife, Marie and I don’t often get home at that time of the night, as we are usually closing up the wellness center, so this was fate and a bit of luck.
Our center does not have 105 degree Bikram classes or hot Yoga classes, but we are familiar with Bikram’s style and his wife’s many accomplishments. Rajashree Choudhury is a five-time winner of the All-India Yoga Championship competition.
I am not a Bikram fan, but I am not swayed by some of the anti-Bikram articles that work their way into the world of Yoga.
Before I touch some of the finer points of his interview, I must concede that he snatched the lime light with exuberance and now I know why some love him, while others don’t feel so warm and furry about him.
I laughed at his rhetoric, equally, as much as watching Jerry Seinfeld or Ray Ramano, do a stand up comedy routine. The man is pure entertainment and he has a point.
In reference to his style of yoga, he said ì I don’t sell cheesecake, you know that. The fact is anyone who visits a Bikram style Yoga class knows what they are getting into. How could you miss 105 degrees Fahrenheit?
More to the point, America is a country of extremes and there are estimates that only 10% of the population exercises regularly. While, another 35% of the population, drift in, and out, of exercise, depending upon the season, a fad, or a whim.
The remaining 55%, of America’s population, have taken a pledge to avoid exercise at all costs. Maybe the “couch potatoes” can only grasp the concept of a “kick in the pants.”
Some people need a drill instructor personality and as Bikram would say, “torture chamber” to understand Yoga. America made him the “Guru of the Stars,” and he understands public relations. Let’s give credit, where credit is due. If you love Yoga and missed this interview, see if you can catch the re-run.
Bikram Hot Yoga
Most people have a passing knowledge with what Yoga is, or think they know about what it sets out to achieve. But until you have tried Yoga it is impossible to know whether you have the type of personality that can truly excel under it’s influence. Yoga, quite simply can be a life changing experience and the discipline and mental strength that result from it can completely change your perspective and world view.
One method of Yoga which is currently very popular is know as Bikram Yoga. Bikram Yoga, often referred to as ‘hot yoga’ follows the Bikram Yoga Method. As with all Yoga it has multiple goals – to build your inner strength as well as your outer physical strength. A vital component of Bikram Yoga is the flexibility and balance required to perform the exercises and it is believed that this comes from mental strength as much as physical practice. The roots of Bikram are in Hatha Yoga, which is a healing form of Yoga that strengthens both body and mind.
The founder of Bikram Yoga was Bikram Choudhury, a yoga practitioner and innovator. After a weightlifting accident Bikram Choudhury was determined to recover and set about investigating the healing ability of practicing certain types of exercise. The result was Bikram Yoga, which so many people found to be an effective method of healing that it’s tenants were recorded and passed on as a new form of Yoga. Those who practise Bikram Yoga purely for it’s healing benefits are plentiful, but there is also a strong holistic component, which is a key reason behind using Bikram Yoga for many of those who are regular users.
They key to success with Bikram Yoga is to develop the mental strength required to discipline yourself in it’s use. If you can master this side of the Yoga then the physical benefits will be forthcoming. They have been proven by scientists including a group from the Tokyo University Hospital. The medical benefits are beyond question and have been shown to improve chronic ailments as well as greatly assist in the treatment and recovery of tissue injuries.
At the 1972 International Medical Conference the findings were presented and it was concluded that Bikram Yoga had the ability to assist in the recovery of internal tissue. The explanation given was that the positions practised by Bikram Yoga replenish cells and assist in the lymphatic system flushing toxins from the body. In addition to the toxin drain the cells are assisted by higher oxygen flows during and after exercise.
Bikram showed that to get the best benefits from the exercise a healthy and well balanced body was important. Where the body is weak Bikram Yoga will have less affect in the healing process, which relies on correct balance and circulation.
Bikram demonstrated 26 exercises and recommended a regime, which was to be practised every single day in order to best treat the body. Each posture exercise was developed based on a background of both Eastern and Western Yoga disciplines. They all focus on the movement and pressure on muscles, nerves, ligaments glands and organs. The exercises are meant to be performed together and in sequence, because they are all inter-related to each other.
Bikram Yoga is low impact and can be performed by people of all different ages. The important component is the discipline required to perform the posture exercises every day for maximum benefit.
Why Not Try Bikram Yoga?
There are many types of yoga, but Bikram yoga tends to stand out from the rest. Even though the practice is largely the same, you’ll immediately notice the difference in the environment — the room in which Bikram yoga is performed is heated between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit!
Bikram yoga follows a consistent program, employing 26 various poses, each of which you practice twice during a session.
The poses flow as follows. You’ll start with Standing Postures, then progress to Backbends. Then you’ll practice Forward Bends and Twists. You will do the poses using the Kapalabhati Breath or the Breath Of Fire techniques, which are advanced techniques known for their energizing and cleansing qualities.
It’s Getting Hot in Here
The purpose of the heat in Bikram yoga is to help you ease in to a deeper, safer pose. The heat helps your body’s flexibility, making it easier to achieve better postures and making your overall practice more effective. Some of the poses you’ll do in Bikram yoga are quite challenging, and the heat will help you enter them more comfortably, and ideally get more out of them. Also, with the increased temperature, your body will sweat more readily, releasing more toxins from your pores. The heat also lowers your risk for injuries.
When you practice Bikram yoga, you aren’t simply stretching the muscles in your body. You’re also working and massaging the internal organs, which helps to strengthen and lubricate the body’s glands and improve the nervous system. With Bikram yoga, you’ll work and strengthen your muscles, joints and ligaments. All this work — especially with the help of Bikram’s specialized environment — helps to flush toxins out of your body and provides the kind of exercise your muscles crave.
Can You Stand the Heat? Get Into the Kitchen!
Aptly named, this yoga practice was developed by Yogi Bikram Choudhury, who first began his yoga practice at the age of three, then studied yoga for a long while with the renowned physical culturalist, Bishnu Ghosh. Together they developed this form as one of the ultimate ways to help the body through series of especially challenging stretches and poses. It goes without saying that the Bikram beginner requires a skilled instructor to get started, as these poses are more challenging than some. The high temperature is also key to the process. As a result, more than other forms, you’ll need to take instruction at a yoga school or some of the higher end fitness clubs.
You can easily learn more about Bikram yoga to any of the on-topic books available on the Web. You’ll find that Bikram yoga offers a wide range of challenging poses, and many people find it a wonderful way of widening their yoga experience. If you’re ready to branch out and try something new, be sure to try Bikram yoga.