Bikram’s beginning yoga class is a series of 26 demanding postures completed twice in a heated room for 90 minutes. Classes are suited for all ages and levels of ability. Each posture stretches and strengthens specific muscles, ligaments and joints stimulating the organs, glands and nerves to move fresh oxygenated blood to 100% of the body. With regular practice, the Bikram Yoga system will improve health, increase energy, help prevent illness and injury and limit the effects of aging. As a physical challenge, the Bikram yoga method will change the body’s shape, developing muscle tone and losing inches.
As a mental challenge, this system combines the skills of concentration, patience and self-control to improve mental clarity and reduce stress.
Bikram Choudhury began learning Hatha Yoga poses in his native India at the age of 3 under the study of Bishnu Ghosh, the brother of Paramahansa Yogananda, founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship. Bikram quickly became a yoga champion and at age eleven was the youngest contestant ever to win the National India Yoga Competition. At age 20, a weightlifting accident crippled Bikram. With the guidance of his guru, Bikram created this 26 posture series which restored his health. Through his experience, he became known as the world’s most knowledgeable yoga teacher. Combining the Eastern discipline with Western medicine, Bikram perfected his comprehensive system suitable for all ages and levels of fitness and brought it to the United States 1973.
Bikram founded the Yoga College of India in Beverly Hills, California in 1974. Since that time, Bikram has cultivated a following as his postures have been proven to help heal our western cultural problems of stress, knee injuries, asthma, insomnia, type II diabetes and many other chronic ailments. Bikram teaches at his school in Beverly Hills and hosts two training courses twice a year for 9 weeks. Under his tutelage, several thousand yoga practitioners have become certified to teach his healing technique. Today over 750 schools around the globe teach the Bikram method and he frequently makes appearances bringing the benefits of his yoga to millions of individuals worldwide.
The room is intentionally heated to approximately 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit to protect the muscles for safe deep stretches. The heat helps to detoxify the body by opening pores in the skin to flush out toxins. The heat increases the heart rate for a better cardiovascular work-out, helps to improve strength by putting muscle tissue in its optimal state, and softens collagen around the joints for more freedom of movement.
The heat in the room helps ignite our body’s own heating system. Breathing exercises in the beginning of class coupled with the heat in the room, begin to warm the body from the inside out. The metabolism starts to speed up, preparing all systems to start working. As the lungs fully expand and take in more oxygen, the heart starts to pump oxygen-rich red blood cells.
The 26 postures are sequentially designed to isolate portions of the body a section at a time by closing off circulation to a group of muscles, organs, and glands for a few seconds. Once released from the posture, oxygen-rich blood returns at a high speed to the closed part of the body, sending in nutrients and flushing out waste. By this method of stretching and contracting, circulation is improved and we open up blocked areas of the body.
By the end of 90 minutes, Bikram Yoga has given you a full body work-out: every cell has been re-vitalized, the spine is strengthened, and all systems are restored to their intended 100% working order, giving you an energized body and a relaxed mind.
This is the most common misconception that prevents people from coming to a yoga class. Yoga is not about how flexible you are already, but about strengthening your body and spine in all directions and, gradually, improving flexibility. Through consistent Bikram Yoga practice, your flexibility will improve, but it is not necessary to be flexible before coming to class.
To get the optimal results from Bikram Yoga, expect to practice at least 3 times a week. Over a short period of time, with this frequency of practice, you can expect to see and feel the reshaping of your body. Physically you will lose inches, gain muscle tone, and improve strength and balance. Mentally, you will notice improvement in concentration skills, willpower, and a reduction in stress. Medically, you will notice that you are sick less and not as prone to injury. Bikram Yoga is proven to help those suffering from insomnia, depression, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, shoulder, knee and back injuries. Through these changes in the body, there will be changes in the mind, attitude and behavior–all positive changes to help improve your quality of life.