What is Bikram Yoga


How Bikram yoga came into existence


Bikram yoga came


The 1970s saw a period of sudden growth in the number of people practicing a certain type of yogain the United Statescalled Bikram yoga, named after the founder, Bikram Choudhury.


Better known in the media circles of America as the “Bad Boy of Yoga”, Bikram Choudhury was born in 1946 in Calcutta, a heritage city in India. Bikram’s yoga practice started at the tender age of four and he was trained by Bhishnu Ghosh, who was the younger brother of the renowned Paramahansa Yogananda, who authored “Autobiography of a Yogi”. With continuous practice and guidance from his expert trainer, Bikram earned the title of best yogi in India and was the youngest winner in the national contest. Bikram had achieved this feat when he was only eleven years old and held on to the title for the following three years. He became so popular that Swami Sivananda named him the king of the yogis!


When Bikram turned 17, he was bodybuilding and severely injured his knee. The intensity of the injury was so high that the doctors declared that he would not be able to walk. However, his willpower and the training of his guru, Bhishnu Gosh, enabled him to practice a certain type of exercise which comprised of26 postures and two pranayama techniques, which are better known as breathing exercises. These exercises were chosen from Hatha yoga, and eventually he was able to walk again! This type of yoga suddenly became famous and Westerners also started to getfamiliarized with it. A few researchers from Tokyo University studied Bikram yoga and their findings indicated that this yoga technique improves the human body at a cellular level and it also supports the harmonization of the body, which made it a popular yoga technique!


With his popularity spreading rapidly, Bikram was invited to America by the American Medical Association who wished to learn this yoga technique. Bikram’s first student was President Nixon, who suffered from thrombophlebitis. Ever since, Bikram has been in the limelight and his students include celebrities from Hollywood too.


By taking the best of Western and Eastern medicine and improvising the 26 positions based on people’smodern lifestyle, Bikram came up with this yoga technique that can be practiced by people of all ages and health conditions.


The main idea behind Bikram yoga is that the classes are conducted in a room where the temperature is 40 degrees Celsius and it may differ by a degree or two based on the humidity factor in that area.


When an individual performs yoga, the internal structure of the body changes.Before the body starts to change in such a way, it must be at the required temperature.When such a temperature is attained, sweating and cleansing of the body happens and as a result, the skin is cleansed. When you perform Bikram yoga, all the cells in your body will get nourished.


Bikram Choudhury also started a college named the “Yoga College of India”, in Los Angeles, USA, and it has a chain of over 1,000 international schools operating as of today. The main intent behind these schools is to promote the benefits of Bikram Yoga to people all over the world.


The way Bikram yoga classes are held


The way Bikram yoga


The ideal temperature in which Bikram Yoga classes are held ranges between 38 – 40 C and the humidity levels are maintained at 80%.The students perform 26 asanas ata very quick pace so that the body remains heated up. This is done along with the 2 breathing exercises that are followed. The order of doing this is highly important as it ensures that the blood flows in the body to the required locations in a proper manner.


People who are new to Bikram yoga should perform the exercises correctly and feel how it impacts the body rather than trying to finish it quickly. You will not be able to do it correctly in the perfect form when you do it for the first time. However, when you start practicing, eventually you will do well enough and you will feel the pain while doing the asanas, thereby improving your health and overall body condition.


While practicing this yoga, understand that the intent is not to cause yourselfpain but to knowthe correct method. Hence, it is best recommended that you perform it under an experienced instructor. You can start practicing on your own once you get the method right, and you can also deepen your knowledge by reading books and watching video tutorials.


Steps to be taken before you prepare for Bikram yoga classes


People from any age group can enroll inBikram yoga. However, you have to make sure that your body and mind will allow you to perform the exercises. There is no special preparation that is required, as the process will strengthen your body eventually.


It is recommended that you perform this yoga technique either early in the morning or late at night based on your convenience.


Once you start with the yoga practice stick to a strict schedule, and you should drink a minimum of 2 liters of water daily and avoid carbonated drinks. When you practice this yoga, your body tends to become dehydratedso make sure that you are prepared.


Do not try doing this exercise on a full stomach, and make sure that you do not do this yoga until 2 hours after you have eaten.


You will require the following items for the class:


  1. Yoga mat
  2. Towel
  3. Loose and comfortable clothing
  4. A water bottle to sip from in between poses


Things to take care of


Before you start practicing this yoga, make sure that you do not have any chronic diseases, and if you have a history of illness please inform the teacher so they can plan your exercises based on that information. Also, the instructor will be able to give you the required attention in case there is an injury while you perform yoga.


Do not start practicing this yoga technique if you are pregnant. For women who are pregnant, there is a special type of yoga known as Hatha yoga for pregnant women. You can start with thatand try regular classes once the baby is born.


If you have any heart or blood diseases, please inform the instructor and do not perform any intense asanas, as it will stress your heart further. Even if you have a mild condition, make sure that you do not exert yourself as it might prove to be dangerous.


Asthmatic patients are vulnerable and they might face an attack at any point intime. If you have any respiratory disease, be careful when you practice as it might give you an asthma attack.


When you are menstruating, the body heat might increase the bleeding and it might lead to inflammation ofthe genital organs.


If you have SARS or influenza, Bikram yoga is not recommended.


Diabetic patients have a risk of drastic changes in their blood sugar levels, so they must be careful.






Breathing techniques while practicing bikram yoga


The standard technique while performing the asanas is that, you will have to inhale while climbing and exhale while going down. You will have to feel the flow of air through your lungs and how you exhale it out of the body. This will ensure that you do not have any unnecessary thoughts while performing the asanas and in turn, your mind will relax while doing yoga. This conscious performance of the asanas will result in best results.


The breath should be slow and deep and with sync with the exercise you perform. The right breathing is highly essential when you perform yoga and it ensures that you get the best result of the asanas.


There are 26 asanas in total that are to be performed in the correct sequence. By doing so, you will ensure that prana or the vital energy gets circulated in your body thoroughly. Each of the exercise you perform has to be repeated twice. Even if you get tired mid way, make sure that you do not stop.


  1. Pranayama is required as it makes your breathing normal and it gets rid of fatigue or any other unwanted thoughts running in your mind.
  2. When you do Ardha Chakrasana, your muscles will gradually relax and stretch, allowing you to perform the main exercises properly.
  3. Padahastasana, or sloping of the feet enables the buttocks and legs to be stretched, which improves the blood circulation in your body and stabilizes the blood pressure.
  4. Utkatasana, or the position of the chair strains the leg and results in your abdominal muscles getting toned up and the heart getting massaged too.
  5. Garudasana, better known as the pose of the eagle ensures that you have a proper coordination, in which you exert pressure on your muscles and some other muscles relax during the same time. This asana helps you get rid of back and joint pain and improves the blood flow in your legs.
  6. Dandayamana Dzhanushirasana, gives you an overall stability and emotional balance. It is a great exercise for your leg and back.
  7. Dandayamana Dhanurasana, better known as the bow pose increases the flow of blood in the heart and chest area. Due to this, the gluts and abs also get strengthened.
  8. Tuladandasana is to swallow. It strains the heart moderately and enables it to pump more blood, thereby cleansing the blood vessels in the process, which will keep all heart diseases at bay.
  9. Dandayamana Bibhaktapada Pashchmottanasana is useful for the back muscles and the blood circulation in the joints is improved due to this. Toxins are eliminated from the body and the intestines are also cleansed as a result of this asana.
  10. Trikanasana, the asana in the shape of a triangle is done to boost the metabolism of the body and it is recommended among women who have irregular menstrual cycles.
  11. Dandayamana Bibhaktapada Dzhanushirasana relies on compression of the body and it has a great effect on the thyroid, thereby protecting the body from diseases of the reproductive system and reducing the chances of migraine attacks.
  12. Tadasana, or the position of the tree improves the spine and gives strength to the back muscles. It relieves an individual of the tension and also improves the posture.
  13. Padangushtasana, will ensure that the will power is strengthened and it results in the leg muscles getting worked on.
  14. Savasana, or the posture of relaxation will ensure that each and every muscle in your body relaxes and the blood and lymph will be able to move throughout your body, thereby improving all the organs of your body.
  15. Pavanamuktasana makes sure that all the internal organs get massaged properly and it also boosts the functioning of your digestive system.
  16. Sit ups are useful as it cleanses your body and gets you active.
  17. Bhudzhangasana or the cobra pose will work on your arm and back and make it highly flexible. This will make sure that you will not have arthritis and back pain. The blood pressure is also regulated and your spleen and liver are also maintained healthy.
  18. Shalabhasana, or the pose of the locust is useful for the pinched sciatic nerve and it makes sure that the vertebrae is in good health. The buttocks get toned up and extra fat from the region is removed.
  19. Purna Shalabhasana is a great exercise for the abdominal muscles and they get worked.
  20. Dhanurasana is familiar to everyone and it resembles a boat. It tones all the internal organs and improves the movement of the spine and other muscles surrounding it.
  21. Supta Vajrasana is the pose of a hero and the muscles located in the back and ankle get stretched when you perform this asana. It prevents the gout and varicose vein diseases. By doing this asana, the internal organs are healthy and you will also have a weight loss.
  22. Ardha kurmasana, known as the pose of the tortoise is useful as the yogis of India say that it results in better memory, blood circulation and also increases the life span of an individual. It will also result in improving the sleep quality of an individual, making them feel relaxed.
  23. Ushtrasana or the pose of the camel aids in stretching the muscles in the back and improves the health of the nervous system, which will result in anxiety and emotions getting rid.
  24. Sasangasana or the pose of the rabbit results in an individual getting relieved from tension and it improves the neck and shoulders, eliminating tonsillitis and colds.
  25. Dzhanushirasana and Paschimottanasana is useful in regulating the metabolism of the body and it helps in individuals to maintain a healthy diet.
  26. Ardha Matsiendrasana or the twist of the spine revitalizes the entire body and all the organs present in the body.






The overall session is spread over 90 minutes, but you will be able to realize the effects within 10 minutes and you will sweat a lot. During this session, the blood and lymph circulation in your body increases and the vital energy, or prana, gets circulated throughout your body.


As per the teachers of Bikram yoga, how the yoga shows results depends directly on the person. If you do it dedicatedly, you will be able to witness results within the span of a month and you will appear and feel healthy within no time. However, recovery and stabilization would require that you perform the yoga at least 2-3 times every week.


Listed below are the advantages of Bikram Yoga:


  • Toxins get eliminated from the body and the health of your skin also improves as you will sweat during the yoga session.
  • The joints get lubricated and strengthened and the bones and muscles will also improve considerably.
  • Your body will be more flexible.
  • The elasticity of your skin improves and it will start glowing.
  • You will start losing weight as the excess fat present in your body is burnt.
  • Cellulite is secreted.
  • The spine and joints present in your body improve significantly.
  • Eliminate the risk of migraine attacks.
  • Cardiovascular and respiratory systems will be wonderful.
  • The joints become healthier.
  • There will be no chronic diseases of the internal organs.
  • The emotional and psychological condition of the individual is also improved when this yoga is performed.
  • The overall activity of the brain also stands improved.
  • The stress you undergo during your work life will also be kept at bay when you do Bikram yoga as the asana and breathing technique will greatly cal, you down.
  • The balance, strength and flexibility of the body are improved.
  • The immunity of your body is also improved.
  • Lymph nodes of the body are strengthened.
  • The endocrine glands functioning will also improve.
  • Capacity of the lungs and functioning of the heart will also improve greatly.
  • The overall energy level of your body also improves significantly.
  • The productivity of your body improves greatly too.
  • Risk of sports injuries is reduced and you will recover sooner.


Advantages of Heat and Humid atmosphere:


  • Blood flow to the vessels improves and as a result, your muscles will get strengthened.
  • Oxygen and hemoglobin get separated in the blood.
  • Glucose and fat present in your body break down at an easier pace.
  • The muscles get more elastic and as a result, the risk of injury reduces.
  • Coordination of muscles in the body is improved.
  • The fat loss takes place at an accelerated pace.


How does Bikram Yoga have an impact on the cardiovascular system of humans?


As per a report from World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases account for 38% of the deaths in US and you will be surprised when you understand about the effects of Bikram yoga on the cardiovascular system.


There was a study conducted on young and old participants and the study spread over eight weeks of training. At the end of the study, the cholesterol levels stood reduced and the High Density Lipoproteins (HDL), which transport that transport cholesterol and in the case of older participants, the Low Density Lipoproteins, or LDL, was reduced. Overall, both the reductions of LDL and HDL cholesterol from the body are considered to be very healthy signs.


Over the study period that was spread over eight weeks, the blood pressure of the participants had no much change. But people who were practicing Bikram Yoga had a lower blood pressure when compared to the average blood pressure of people in the United States. By performing Bikram Yoga, the blood pressure remains stable and it is a wonderful remedy for patients who are subject to hypertension. Stress is a major contributor for blood pressure and as per the study,  it was found that Bikram Yoga helps in lowering the stress levels of individuals.


Glucose tolerance witnessed no change among the young practitioners of Bikram Yoga, but the older practitioners had an improved glucose tolerance level, which is linked to a better insulin resistance, common among overweight people.


How does Bikram Yoga effect the physical condition of a person?


The overall health of an individual can be attributed to five different indicators that are listed below:


  1. Cardiovascular System.
  2. Endurance of the muscles.
  3. Strength of the muscles.
  4. Flexibility of the Muscles.
  5. Composition of the body.


The overall physical condition can be assessed based on the reaction time, speed, agility, coordination, strength and balance of an individual. When you have a look at all the above mentioned conditions, you will get a fair idea about the overall health of an individual.


There was a study conducted among several people who practiced Bikram Yoga for over three times weekly and it was carried out for eight weeks without any other type of exercise or change of diet. Once the time period was over, the study clearly indicated that the individuals had a better flexibility and the strength of the body also improved significantly. The balance and mobility of knee joint found a 10% improvement within 8 weeks!


Studies indicate that the hot and humid environment allows more mobility to the muscles. When asana is performed standing on a single leg, the balance of the body improves greatly. As each asana focuses on strengthening specific areas in a body, at the end of a yoga session, the overall flexibility and strength of the body improves significantly.


With better levels of strength, flexibility and balance, the overall condition of life improves significantly.


There was no much change in the composition of the body of individuals who practice Bikram Yoga. However, weight loss improved significantly among obese people performing Bikram Yoga and the Body Mass Index, or BMI, improved considerably.


When you perform a typical session of Bikram Yoga, the body roughly burns 179-482 calories.  Also, people who have been practicing Bikram Yoga for a long time showed better results when compared to individuals who had just started practicing Bikram Yoga. As per the results obtained, it has been proven that Bikram Yoga results in the calories burning at a much better rate when compared to the other forms of Yoga.


The effect of Bikram Yoga on lungs


When individual ages, the functioning of the lungs reduce and might lead to asthma, bronchitis, chronic diseases or any other syndromes. As per the study conducted on 31 people practicing Bikram Yoga, there was no affect on the functioning of lungs. However, if people who have lung disorders start practicing Bikram Yoga, there will be a significant improvement.


How does Bikram Yoga improve the Bone Mineral Density?


Mineral density of the bones should necessarily be maintained throughout and it can only be achieved if there is a proper balance in the diet of an individual and the physical activities he indulges in. Bikram Yoga necessarily strengthens the lower body and it reduces the risk of fractures in an individual. Hence, by practicing Bikram Yoga, you can ensure that the bones remain healthy. Even among people who are unable to exercise daily, Bikram yoga is the best option.


Nine women were monitored continuously for five years and they showed an improved BMD in their premenopausal time. Among women who were in their postmenopausal stage, the BMD slightly lowered, which is natural for their age.


How does Bikram Yoga enhance your sleep quality?


Different factors need to taken into consideration that influences the quality of the sleep. They include the stress levels, hormonal imbalance and obesity. When you perform Bikram Yoga, the sleep quality improves significantly and the survey was conducted among people ranging from different age groups.


As per the study, the time required for falling asleep, the duration of sleep or the sleep cycles did not change based on Bikram Yoga. However, among people who practiced Bikram Yoga, it was found that they had sound sleep when compared to the others.


How Bikram Yoga influences you psychologically?


Among the most common conditions that people go through, chronic diseases, stress and cardiovascular diseases top the list. The survey was carried out among people aged between 20-54 years and they had varying levels of fitness. During the span of study, these people practiced Bikram Yoga for a minimum of three days every week up to a period of eight weeks.


The stress levels dropped significantly among people who practiced Bikram Yoga. This is mainly due to the fact that the exercises in Bikram Yoga also involve aspects of meditation in it, which results in an individual having lower stress levels and healthy mind. Also, when physical activity is performed along with the right breathing techniques, it results in the mind being in a healthy state. Thus, by practicing Bikram Yoga, stress related diseases can be kept at bay.


As a person ages, the muscles start getting more stringent and thus, exert more pressure on the joints. Hence, when you stretch regularly, it prevents the tightening and the muscles will not get deteriorated.


There was a research conducted in the Tokyo University Hospital and it was proved that Bikram Yoga regenerates the tissues and thereby, helps in the treatment of chronic diseases.


When you exercise, your body will feel energetic to a great result and as a result, you will feel healthier, fresher and will feel younger when you exercise regularly.


The final verdict about Bikram Yoga


final verdict about Bikram Yoga


There have only been a few studies and researches conducted on how Bikram Yoga impacts the health of an individual. Based on the studies conducted, it is evident that there are tremendous benefits. However, an in-depth research is required to prove it further. But all that you have to know is that there was a huge difference even when people practiced Bikram Yoga for a few weeks too. Thus, to start with, try doing Bikram Yoga for at least three days a week and you will start seeing the results within a very short span.


But you will also have to remember that it is not safe for all individuals unlike other physical activities. If you are suffering from any chronic disease, make sure that you have a word with your doctor before enrolling yourself for Bikram Yoga.


If you are aged above 50 and are not indulged in any physical activity, it is best recommended that you consult a doctor before you start the risk of cardiovascular diseases increase as you age.


The research and studies were conducted on healthy people and it is surprising that there were no great changes. However, Bikram Yoga definitely had a positive impact on individuals.



What is Bikram Yoga?

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