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Bikram, the Yoga Challenge

By: Corinna Underwood - Updated: 3 Jul 2013 | comments*Discuss
Bikram Yoga Yoga Choudhury Hot Yoga

According to Bikram Choudhury, the founder of the worldwide Yoga College of India, "no matter how old or sick or out of shape, you can still stretch and have a new beginning with yoga." Like Hatha yoga, Bikram yoga is concerned with physical and energetic purification and training. Its goal is to bring the body and mind into a perfect state of health through a series of physical postures and breathing exercises.

Yogiraj Bikram Choudhury began opening Bikram schools in India on the advice of his yoga instructor. They were so successful that he gradually began to open them all over the world. Nowadays you can find classes for a drop-in session or those catering for yoga fans who want a long term commitment and it's becoming more and more popular. But can yoga cure illness? According to Choudhury there is no such thing as a cure. He goes on to explain that what actually happens when the doctor tells you that you're cured is that a group of particular symptoms have been alleviated. However, there is no guarantee how long this relief will last. His claim is that Bikram yoga can free you from your symptoms, with continued practice. And certainly participants claim that Bikram has healed a range of their diseases from diabetes and heart disease to PMS and insomnia.

A Different Kind of Yoga

So what is the difference? Well, for a start the room is heated to up to around 43 degrees. This is aimed keeping your muscles warm enough to encourage them to work through Bikram's 26 physically challenging asanas, so you can push your limits without tearing a muscle or putting your back out. As an added bonus the heat induced sweating flushes toxins from your body.

Bikram Yoga is a series of 26 postures conducted over 90 minutes, it commences with a breathing exercise to warm-up, then goes through 24 asanas (or postures) and ends with a breathing posture that is designed to eliminate toxins. Each posture is completed twice; each exercise leads on from the next in order to prepare the body. Some of the asanas are maintained while lying on the floor, others while standing. The postures use all muscle groups and each one has specific benefits besides just building muscle including, increasing concentration, centering the nervous system, balancing blood sugar levels, reducing depression and relieving arthritis and rheumatism. The warm temperature not only promotes flexibility, it also minimizes lactic acid build up (associated with the burning pain felt in your muscles after an intense exercise), which means you can practice longer without straining.

No One is Too Old for Bikram

According to Choudhury, yoga is the only exercise in the world that you can do at any age. He claims that there is always some posture that will improve your health, mind and soul. Though, he does advise first-time students to start steadily by doing yoga every day for two months to experience better health, more energy, and a renewed vitality. But is Bikram really a route to good health for everyone or is it too challenging for yoga beginners? Bikram is definitely intense and even beginner classes can be challenging, especially if you don't already have proper alignment or are suffering from muscle strain. Dr. Chris Minson, professor of movement science at the University of Oregon offers advice for students who attempt Bikram yoga for the first time. "The risks are pretty great for someone who is not exercise-trained," said Minson. He recommends that first time students try only 20 or 30 minutes of the routine, and to be wary if they start to feel dizzy or nauseated.

A Favourite With the Stars

Bikram yoga has been popular amongst Hollywood stars including Madonna, Brooke Shields and Candice Bergen for decades. If you feel ready for the challenge classes and retreats are available throughout the country.Keywords- Bikram yoga, yoga, Choudhury, hot yoga, challenge, intense, health, purificationBikram yoga Bikram Yoga is a series of 26 postures conducted over 90 minutes. It differs from other forms of yoga in that it is practices in a room heated up to 43 degrees.

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