Bikram yoga involves a series of 26 postures that are always performed in the same sequence in a heated room. The combination of poses serves to improve every vital system of the body -- cardiovascular, respiratory and digestive, according to certified Bikram yoga instructor and studio owner Pam Parker. Consult your physician before starting any new exercise program.
Each Bikram yoga pose is held for 10 to 60 seconds, depending on your experience with the pose and your current fitness level, according to Parker. The poses work your muscles to bring your skeletal system into its natural alignment. This process happens over time, with careful practice of the poses.
Breathing is Key
Breathing deeply keeps you energized and prevents your muscles from tensing as you hold Bikram yoga poses. You can stay in each pose longer and get a better stretch by breathing well during your session.
Listen to Your Body
Bikram yoga studios are heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Warmed muscles are more flexible and have greater range of motion for stretching. When doing yoga poses in a very hot room, avoid injury by keeping your stretching a little less intense than your perceived limits. Remember that yoga is not a competition. Hold poses for a shorter time if you are feeling fatigued during a practice session.
Set Your Own Pace
If you’re new to hot yoga, you’ll avoid dehydrating or over-exerting by working your way into it slowly. In your first few sessions, you may want to hold poses for less time than the teacher suggests, says exercise physiologist and yoga instructor Leslie Funk. You’ll gradually build endurance for the intense heat and be able to stretch farther and longer with continued practice.
Always drink plenty of water before, during and after a Bikram yoga session. If you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, diabetes or cardiovascular disease, the intense heat of Bikram yoga may prevent your participation. Ask your doctor if Bikram yoga is appropriate for you.