What is the Bikram Yoga craze that has swept the nation? Popular with celebrities and mere mortals alike, Bikram yoga (a.k.a. “hot yoga”) promises to change your body and your life—no small order!
Hear from Elaine Rosenberg, owner of Bikram Yoga Tenleytown: Yoga College of India, about the Bikram buzz—and find out if hot yoga is more than just hot air.
Elaine, what is ‘hot yoga’?
Very simply, Bikram yoga is a series of 26 poses (asana series), each done twice, over 90 minutes in a room kept at 105 degrees. Bikram yoga was created by India-born yoga expert Bikram Choudhury and introduced to the U.S. in the early 1970s. Bikram’s 26 asana series was tailored for the Western individual—and, specifically, the cultural problems related to job stress, overeating, bad posture, and aggressive lifestyles.
The benefits of Bikram yoga are really endless! You gain flexibility, strength, balance, better concentration, skin problems clear-up; it’s full-body rejuvenation, a 90-minute detox. People often leave class calm but energized. Calm energy is much different than nervous energy. It changes you—from inside out!
What about the hot? Does that scare people off?
My approach to new students is to not tell them too much. It’s important to stay positive; it’s going to be hot, you are going to sweat and you will feel some effects from that, but it’s going to be fine.
Heat helps muscles loosen up so you can get deeper in each stretch. You don’t even notice how your body is supposed to feel until you start to put it back into place. We are hunched over all day at desks, on computers. Bikram yoga helps counteract all of that.
Who is Bikram yoga for?
It’s for everybody; all levels and all ages—men and women. Anyone can come in, work to their best ability and get benefits from it. For someone that feels they are too inflexible, that is the wrong attitude; you’ve got to go and start. You’ll get there.
Someone that can really benefit from Bikram yoga is a person with a high stress job, or trouble focusing and concentrating—we attract a lot of Type A personalities. Once you are in the class, you have to stay focused on yourself, your body and your breathing for 90 minutes, no distractions. Your mind and body relax, even though you are very engaged throughout the class. Even after class, you’ll continue to unwind.
Should Bikram yoga be the only program you do, or as a complement to more intense work-outs?
Many people only do yoga, like me! But it’s also a great complement to running or weightlifting—it lubricates the joints, it’s a total body benefit. Also, if you have arthritis or old injuries, Bikram yoga provides great benefits.
When people leave class after 90 minutes, what do you see in them?
Their faces are completely lit up. Consistency is important, it’s a progression and each person is different. You have to be patient with yourself. It’s a different mindset from someone that is not used to unwinding, slowing down and being still. When no one can get to you, no access and you just have to be; people struggle with that. Just let your body relax, sink in and absorb. It brings everything back to normal, your body calms and you get to total relaxation.
You have to let it all go. And with practice you will.
This article has been republished with permission from HerExchange, an online destination for women on their journey to be happy, healthy, and whole.
Photo courtesy of lululemon athletica.