Bikram Choudhury created Bikram yoga in the early 1970s by adapting traditional Hatha yoga poses. Bikram differs from other types of yoga in that you perform the poses in a studio heated to at least 104 degrees F, commonly referred to as torture chambers. This added feature gives you other benefits beyond those achieved through traditional yoga. Bikram yoga involves some advanced poses, but Choudhury asserts that students of all levels will benefit from his practice. Check with your health-care provider before you work out in excessive heat.
Bikram yoga involves 26 poses, also called asanas, common to other types of yoga. However, unlike most other forms of yoga, Bikram yoga is performed in the exact same sequence each time. Certified teachers help beginning students adapt the more advanced poses, such as Eagle, Standing Head-to-Knee and Locust.
Benefits of Standing Poses
Bikram yoga consists of 12 standing poses, including the Tree, Toe Stand, Triangle, Standing Bow and Balancing Stick. Standing poses help stretch and strengthen the abdominals and lower extremities. Major benefits include opening of the pelvic area, relieving sciatica and arthritis, and improving circulation.
Benefits of Floor Poses
The remaining 14 poses of Bikram yoga are performed on the floor. They include the Cobra series, Fixed Firm, Half-Tortoise, Camel and Rabbit. Performing these poses predominantly helps stretch and open your spine and neck. This leads to improved functioning of the central nervous, digestive and reproduction systems, while relieving lower back pain, constipation and scoliosis.
Overall Benefits of Bikram Yoga
The heated room in which you perform Bikram yoga typically leads to excessive sweating. This removes toxins from your body, enhance circulation and better function of the immune system, according to "Yoga Journal". It's extremely important to bring water to class; and drink at least 16 ounces before and after class. The two breathing exercises performed in Bikram yoga also help in relaxation and healing.
General Yoga Benefits
Performing yoga on a regular basis helps improve your posture, flexibility, balance, range of motion and muscle strength. This enhanced fitness will help you in other areas of exercise, such as cardio and strength-training activities. Yoga also reduces stress, aids in weight loss and assists in better management of chronic conditions, such as depression and insomnia.