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Why The Heck Is Bikram Yoga Is Becoming So Popular?
Bikram yoga might not seem like something you’d normally be interested in, but you should at least do yourself the favor of learning why it is so popular.
Plain old yoga has been hugely popular all the way back to the BC ages, and for good reason. Flexibility, strength and meditation are just some of the incredible benefits that yoga can deliver to you. But Bikram yoga takes it a step further.
Bikram yoga is what people mean when they say “hot yoga”, and is normally practiced for 90 minute sessions in a room heated to 105F.
Why would you force yourself to sit in a freakishly hot room bending like a banana?
Well, there are many reasons – here are some of the biggies.
Even though we try as hard as possible to stay on track with our diet and resist too many alcoholic drinks in one sitting – sometimes we slip up. Even if your diet is near perfect and you live a clean, wholesome life, you can always do with detoxifying.
Living in cities, driving, dust, animals, cell phones, eating out, computer useage… Whatever the current buzzwords are that you should probably do less of, your body will benefit hugely from Bikram Yoga. Sweating is a great way to detox, and exercising in the heat and humidity will force all of the nasty buildup of toxins to flee your body.
If you can master your own body, nothing else will be a problem in your life. Bikram yoga teaches you how to develop true body strength by using yourself as the barbell. None of the exercises are particularly high impact or high risk, so it is a great workout if you have previously had injuries. Bikram yoga focuses on building a strong and healthy spine and back, which we all need to live a long and healthy life.
Discipline & Focus
Most Bikram Yoga classes will focus on the same 26 asanas (postures), and the class lasts for 90 minutes. So you can calculate pretty quickly that it isn’t a high paced, HIIT class that has your mind and body working a 100 miles an hour. You will learn to focus on one thing at a time and build some discipline – something we can all benefit from.
One of the biggest reasons for doing Bikram yoga is for the healing properties it holds. Stretches are normally prescribed by physios for injuries, and performing them in a heated room makes them more effective. It doesn’t take a scientific study to know that you can stretch further and deeper when your muscles and body are warm – and on this front Bikram can help you. Often stretching old injuries can be painful, however the hot room helps to make this a far more pleasant experience. The strength gains that can come from yoga also help to make future injuries less likely.
Help Reduce Depression, Mood Swings and Stress
A 2005 study in Germany took 25 women who were described as “emotionally distressed”, and got them to take 2 90 minute yoga classes per week for 90 days.
A control group of women in the same circumstances were asked to continue as normal and not change their routine at all.
This is what resulted:
Depression scores improved by 50%, anxiety scores by 30%, and overall well-being scores by 65%. Initial complaints of headaches, back pain, and poor sleep quality also resolved much more often in the yoga group than in the control group (1).
These sort of studies give you concrete proof that yoga has real benefits, and although Bikram yoga has few studies surrounding it to give hard scientific evidence, you really need to experience it to see for yourself if it is right for you.
The benefits of hot yoga are a lot harder to quantify than the benefits of, say, HIIT, cardio, weight training or sport specific training.
When you train to throw a ball further, you can train for a couple of months and then see if you are any better.
Improving your mental state, old injuries, detoxing etc can be a lot harder to track accurately, but it is something you should seriously consider. It has been said before:
“The number one goal in the gym is to not get injured”
I can’t actually remember where this originated from, but it is 100% true, and Bikram yoga can help you to clear up those old injuries. When you feel at your best is when you will get the best gains because you can put 100% into your sessions.