Bikram yoga is performed in a room with an elevated temperature and humidity level. The theory behind this practice is that the conditions help with muscle flexibility, allowing you to move deeper into the 26 standard poses, which may increase the benefits that yoga provides. Despite its benefits, the potential for injury is there when engaging in Bikram yoga. If you experience any chest pain after a session, you likely need medical attention.
The combination of poses and breathing exercises used during a Bikram yoga session are designed to flush toxins from your body, increase relaxation and burn calories. In addition, yogis may notice toned muscles, reduced stress levels, better balance and more energy. Despite these benefits, Bikram yoga can cause injuries or exacerbate underlying health conditions, particularly if you aren't using proper form. Chest pain is the symptom of many of these issues.
Chest pain always requires prompt medical care to rule out a heart attack, which is one of the many causes. The poses used in Bikram yoga manipulate your muscles, including those in the chest region. Overextending them or straining one of them while getting into and out of the poses could cause chest pain. Inflammation in your lungs, an embolism or high blood pressure are other culprits that aren't caused by doing Bikram yoga but may be exacerbated by the practice. Injured ribs can also produce chest pain, particularly after exercise, including yoga. Heartburn often mimics the chest pain associated with a heart attack and might be aggravated by the changes in posture and position required during Bikram yoga. If you suffer from asthma, the heat and humidity might make it difficult to breathe. Trying to get enough air into your lungs during practice could make your chest hurt as well.
What to Do
Anytime you experience chest pain, after a Bikram yoga session or otherwise, call your doctor or head to the emergency room. It is more likely that you have a muscle injury, but if a heart attack is occurring, quick care is vital. Do not continue going to Bikram yoga unless your doctor approves. The poses, heat or humidity could be the cause of your chest pain, and avoiding future sessions may be necessary for controlling it.
During Bikram yoga, be sure you are executing the poses properly, which reduces the risk of muscle injuries that could cause chest pain. Taking a class is a good way to learn the techniques and movements involved. Move into and out of the poses slowly to prevent sprains and strains in your chest muscles. If the heat or humidity in the room makes it hard to breathe, try a different form of yoga for similar benefits. If you have an underlying health condition, follow your doctor's advice regarding the safety of Bikram yoga.