Bikram Yoga: Ignite Your Agni Fire

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bikram yoga
Author Name: Beth Rush
Date: Friday February 17, 2023

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Do you like to sweat a lot during your workouts? If you live by the motto that you only feel the burn if you come out dripping, then Bikram yoga might be the right practice for you. 

This energetic style can help you take your fitness to the next level. It’s also ideal for detoxing and stretching your muscles in between days of heavy weight or cardiovascular endurance training. However, you’ll still elevate your heart rate and sculpt a lean physique. 

Many studios today prefer the term “hot yoga,” but Bikram has some unique differences. Here’s what you need to know about Bikram yoga to ignite your agni fire. 

The Origins of Bikram Yoga 

Bikram yoga originated in India under the yogi Bikram Choudhury. He emigrated from his native Calcutta to the United States, where his teachings soon became a hit fad among the Hollywood elite. 

The most distinctive feature of Bikram yoga is its emphasis on recreating the muggy conditions typical of much of the Indian subcontinent. Classes are held in rooms heated to 104° Fahrenheit with 40% humidity. Even standing around in such conditions can help you break a sweat — moving your body through the various asanas will leave you dripping. 

This practice helps you ignite the agni fire in your belly. This yang life force propels you to action, developing attributes like stamina and power. 

Bikram himself borrowed many of the poses from Ashtanga. Some instructors today strictly adhere to a modified primary series in their classes, while other guides mix up the moves in various order and add new variations. 

Why Some Studios Avoid the Bikram Name 

Why do so many yoga studios today avoid the name “Bikram” on their class listings? If you watched the Netflix documentary “Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator,” you know the score. 

This style’s founder remains in exile today, having fled the United States after sexual abuse allegations surfaced from many participants. Horrific tales of racist and sexist comments and reported rapes understandably make many modern teachers distance themselves from the practice’s founder. 

As a result, you’ll often find Bikram-style classes advertised as “hot yoga.” They may or may not adhere to the heat and humidity tradition, although all of them crank up the thermostat considerably. 

The Benefits of Bikram Yoga 

Bikram yoga has oodles of health benefits. Here’s what you can expect to gain by starting your practice. 

1. Increase Calorie Burn 

Does room temperature matter to overall calorie burn? Yes. In general, your body has to work harder in high temperatures, which means it expends more energy to keep you moving. Even though you drop considerable water weight, you also torch slightly more fat. 

2. Improves Flexibility 

Here’s an experiment: take a rubber band and place it in your freezer. Let it harden, then give it a good yank. What happens? Rip. Conversely, holding that same band between your palms to make it nice and toasty gives it plenty of spring. 

There’s a valid physiological reason that fitness professionals advise you to warm up before a workout. Warm muscles are easier to stretch than cold ones. The added heat loosens the tissues around your joints, helping you move more freely and improve your flexibility. 

3. Elevates Your Heart Rate

Remember that high temperatures make you work harder. It isn’t only your skin that sweats more. Your ticker also has to keep up the pace. 

Your heart may have to circulate two to four times more blood per minute to fuel your muscles during a Bikram yoga workout. The extra intensity can greatly benefit your overall cardiovascular conditioning. 

4. Boosts Overall Circulation 

Improved blood flow is a glorious thing. It bathes your body in nutrients and oxygen, helping all of your various tissues function more efficiently. 

People leaving a Bikram yoga class often have a rosy glow. That’s the flush of blood rising to their skin’s surface. While you don’t technically “sweat out” toxins, your body can carry waste materials from your dermal cells to your kidneys more efficiently, where you expel them through your urine. 

5. Relieves Stress 

Even though it increases your workload, heat is soothing and relaxing. Furthermore, Bikram yoga involves plenty of deep breathing, which taps into your parasympathetic nervous system to help you relax. 

Many people with depression and anxiety find that their symptoms improve with regular practice. Bikram yoga can be a useful addition to your treatment protocol. Although few insurance companies cover yoga therapy at the moment, you might have luck using your HSA or FSA funds to pay for your sessions. 

6 Tips for Getting Started With Bikram Yoga 

Are you interested in starting your Bikram yoga journey? Here are six tips as you get started with your practice. 

  • Clear it with your doctor: People with existing heart conditions must exercise caution with Bikram yoga. The combination of heat and intensity can create excessive strain. Talk to your doctor before you begin to ensure that you’re healthy enough for the program and get specialized tips for staying safe. 
  • Find the right guide: Some Bikram guides are quite traditional, taking a hands-on approach as they adjust you into various postures. However, some people with sensory issues or past trauma get very uncomfortable from a stranger’s touch. Talk to your guide if this applies to you. 
  • Go early: Arriving early does more than assure you a spot in popular classes. It gives you time to talk to your guide about modifications for poses you find difficult. 
  • Bring lots of towels: Prepare to sweat. A lot. You’ll need something to mop it all up, if only for safety’s sake. 
  • Hydrate like a camel: Dehydration is a valid fear in Bikram yoga classes. Drink plenty of water before you go and sip throughout class. Stay away from alcohol, as this can further dehydrate you and leave you dizzy on the mat. 
  • Get a good mat: Bikram yoga can leave you slip-sliding away if you aren’t careful. The right mat gets grippier when wet — look for those specially made for sweaty sessions. 

Bikram Yoga: Ignite Your Agni Fire 

Do you like it hot? If so, Bikram yoga may be the right style for you. 

Follow the tips above to get started in your Bikram yoga practice. You’ll sweat your way to a sculpted, flexible body while gaining mental endurance. 

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