While yoga has been a popular health practice for decades, in recent years, one particular branch has seen a tremendous rise in popularity. Bikram yoga is gaining followers by the thousands, and with good reason.
This particular style has benefits that no other branch of yoga and no other fitness routine can offer. Just what makes it so beneficial? Here's a look at the origins and the benefits of Bikram yoga.
Origins of Bikram
Bikram Yoga takes its name from Bikram Choudhury, an Indian man who also founded the Yoga College of India. Born in Calcutta in 1946, he actually began practicing yoga for four to six hours a day at only four years old. At just 13 years old, he was already one of India's premier practicioners of Yoga, winning the National India Yoga Championship. A knee injury at 17 had doctors telling him that he would lose his ability to walk, but he found natural healing through the art of yoga. This healing coupled with his years of experience inspired him to develop the 26 specific postures that now make up Bikram.
In short, Bikram yoga is traditional hatha techniques that are conducted in a hot room (usually over 100 degrees) with high humidity. This heat is intended to mimic the warm, humid conditions where Bikram Choudhury first perfected this art. 26 postures and two breathing exercises are conducted in a set order and led by a certified trainer.
Why practice Bikram?
One of the greatest benefits of Bikram Yoga is detoxification of the skin, as heavy sweating helps flush toxins from the body. In addition, the increased heat allows your body to move more deeply into stretches, which is great for recovering from injury and increasing flexibility. Stretching in hot conditions also increases the body's heart rate, making the body work harder with less effort. People looking to develop strength and tone their bodies often find that they can get a much more intense workout with this style of yoga.
Several recent studies have shown that Bikram has benefits beyond physical fitness. Patricipants who utilized Bikram practices reported a reduction in stress levels and more restful sleep than those who participated in traditional yoga.