In the 1970s, Bikram Choudhury invented the increasingly popular form of "hot yoga" practiced in studios heated to 105 degrees. A subset of 26 asanas, or poses, from hatha yoga are always performed in the same sequence, beginning with pranayama (standing deep breathing) and ending with savasana (corpse or dead body pose). Bikram yoga, like other forms of yoga, offers a framework for mind-body exercise to tone muscles, improve balance, change personal outlook and even lose weight.
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Yoga in a Heated Room
Yoga originated in ancient India, the hot subcontinent of Asia. These ancient yoga practices have evolved into modern-day forms of yoga, such as Bikram, which are practiced throughout the world. The focus of studio franchises in many large North American cities, Bikram yoga is practiced in a heated room. The heat is considered an essential element, serving two functions: it limbers the body, allowing it to be more flexible; and it creates more sweat, helping to flush impurities released through the asanas.
Weight Loss in One Session
After a beginner's first few classes, water breaks are discouraged, except at designated times in the sequence of poses. This minimizes interruptions to the group's practice while building an individual's concentration, discipline and focus. However, this can lead to water and electrolyte loss from sweating in the heated room that needs to be replenished after each class. A small drop in weight before and after a single session indicates water loss rather than true weight loss.
While maintaining the same dietary intake, adding any activity that burns more calories will naturally lead to weight loss. Bikram yoga, with its structured approach and heated studio, offers a more challenging workout than other traditional forms of hatha yoga. Weight loss will be gradual, although improvements in muscle tone and body image may be noticed early on. Combined with modifying your diet to reduce the number of calories eaten, Bikram yoga will further enhance your weight loss program.
Yoga and Diet
Yoga is not just an activity, but also a lifestyle. Beginning a serious practice of Bikram yoga requires mindful alterations to your diet, including preparation for class by hydrating the day before. Choose healthy, high-energy, slow-burning foods like almonds, fresh fruits and whole grains, and cut down on caffeine, processed sugar and fatty foods to achieve sustainable weight loss. Paying attention to how the mind and body interacts with food can offer insight into how the food you eat makes you feel -- how certain foods boost energy and enhance well-being.
Beginning Your Bikram Yoga Practice
Before starting any weight-loss plus Bikram yoga program, you should check with a health care provider. Women who are pregnant or nursing should especially be cautious of doing Bikram yoga because of the risk of dehydration and overheating. During each workout, remain aware of your body's signals and avoid overdoing it. Seek medical attention for any medical symptoms including headache, dizziness, heart palpitations, fainting or other concerns.