According to Bikram Choudhury, founder of the Bikram style of yoga, you should do Bikram yoga once or twice a day every day for at least 100 days to see improvement. While that may be true, performing the 26 poses over 90 minutes in greater than 100-degree heat may pose health challenges for those not accustomed to the intensity of this yoga practice. Consult a doctor before starting Bikram yoga.
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Bikram yoga is also known as hot yoga because of the necessity of performing the 26 different yoga poses developed by Choudhury in a studio heated to over 100 degrees. The benefits of practicing yoga in the heat include increased softening and mobility of the muscles and joints, along with an increased oxygen supply and a natural flushing of the toxins built up over time within the body.
While some in the medical field may agree that practicing in extreme heat can increase flexibility, and possibly help certain ailments, the idea of detoxifying the body with hot yoga has not been scientifically studied or proven. While hot yoga is easily practiced by those in overall good health, children, or those over age 60 should steer clear of hot yoga because of the increased risk of heatstroke.
The room temperature of a typical Bikram yoga class is 105 degrees. Some of the problems related to working out in intense heat can include heat cramps and heat exhaustion. Symptoms of heat exhaustion can include a high heart rate that stays elevated even after the workout, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, cramps, fatigue and weakness. If you experience any of these symptoms during your yoga class, you must stop exercising, get out of the heat, drink lots of fluids and rest. If your symptoms continue, seek medical help.
There are precautions you can take to avoid becoming ill or sustaining injury because of exercising in the heat of a Bikram yoga class. Take plenty of water with you to class and drink often to avoid dehydration. Clothing should be light. The more bare skin, the better, as you release heat easier with less clothing. You can also modify your poses during class, if necessary, especially if you are new to Bikram style yoga or haven't been practicing long.