What Bikram Yoga Can Do For You
Bikram Yoga to some, like me, is a torture sentence. Being stuffed into a 105-degree room and put through your paces of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises, no thank you. However, to others, like its inventor Bikram Choudhury born in Kolkata in 1946, hot yoga is not only an exercise routine but a life saver.
Choudhury says he suffered a horrendous weight lifting injury at age 20 and was told by doctors that he would never walk again. With the help of Bishnu Ghosh, a champion Yogi, Choudhury was not only able to walk again, he says it only took 6 months. From there Choudhury took Bikram Yoga to California and Hawaii where it slowly but surely grew into the multi-billion dollar business that it is today. It should be mentioned that Choudhury was recently forced by a court to give up part of his income as part of sexual harassment and wrongful termination suit. He also has six other civil sexual assault cases pending. No criminal charges were filed.
However, despite the alleged inappropriate behavior of the Bikram Yoga’s inventor, the practice is still not only sound but amazingly beneficial. Here a handful of the incredible benefits of Bikram Yoga.
This is an obvious but crucial benefit of locking yourself in a steaming room and exercising. Similar to sitting in a steam room, Bikram yoga will make you sweat, profusely. Any terrible food you’ve eaten, any alcohol consumed, and all of the additives in our food, along with bacteria and viruses come out in the torrents of sweat that Bikram induces. Today juice cleanses and fasting are popular ways of detoxing, as people more and more want to excise harmful toxins from their body. Juices may help to clean your body but if that’s a concern for you, skip the juice and get a sweat.
Another major benefit of the scorching temperature in Bikram Yoga is the weight loss. Browse the internet about weight loss and Bikram and it won’t take long to find stories like Lindsay Dahl, who lost 40+ pounds doing Bikram, or Jenna Bergen who lost 30. These accounts shouldn’t be taken as gospel that Bikram will automatically take 3 inches of your waistline regardless of how you comport the rest of your life. That being said, combined with proper dieting and nutrition, Bikram Yoga absolutely provides the type of exercise that will transform not only physiques but mental acuity as well.
Improves Immune System:
The intense heat and humidity of Bikram Yoga promotes healthiness by increasing blood flow throughout your muscles. By increasing blood flow Bikram boosts the body’s lymphatic system, thereby, improving the immune system. A study done in Norway stated that “We hypothesized that these practices may have measurable rapid effects on gene expression patterns in circulating immune cells of participants.” In English, that means yoga appears to improve the immune system by improving circulation of various virus-fighting antibodies. So if you’re always sick consider some Bikram.
The yoga studio may be viewed as a place for cute girls and leggings but a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that Bikram Yoga not only improved strength in participants but in an unexpected area. Researchers measured participants before and after 24 sessions of Bikram Yoga in the following areas, isometric deadlift strength, resting heart rate, blood pressure, hand grip strength, maximal oxygen consumption, along with lean and fat mass. They found that gains were made in every area except hand grip strength, cardiovascular measure, or maximal aerobic fitness. That means that while Bikram Yoga may not have shown the cardio gains that many expected, it did improve strength and flexibility considerably.
While Bikram Yoga may have been invented by a man accused of sexual assault, the benefits are undeniable. There are literally hundreds of thousands of anecdotes from practitioners of Bikram Yoga proclaiming amazing benefits, ranging from losing weight to the rehabilitation of broken backs. Many of these stories may be over the top but it would be foolish to dismiss them as ravings of yoga sycophants. Bikram Yoga is a difficult, exhausting workout that drives your body to improve in a number of ways. If you’re looking for an easy way to get to fit, Bikram isn’t for you. If you’re looking to push yourself and see great gains in self-improvement, get ready to sweat.