The benefits of Bikram Yoga

Most athletes hope to sweat profusely and lose weight when working out.  Bikram Yoga may be a quick way to accomplish both of those goals while improving overall health.

I was recently invited to participate in a standard 90-minute Bikram session.  I agreed with cautious curiosity.

Yoga is an ancient Indian practice that combines mental, physical and spiritual disciplines.  It consists of poses or postures designed to increase strength and flexibility.  Another crucial element to Yoga is controlled breathing to relax the body and mind.

Bikram is a form of “hot Yoga” where postures are performed in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40% humidity.  Developed in the 1960s, Bikram Yoga consists of 26 postures and two breathing exercises. 

Many Yoga postures can be prescribed for specific medical problems similar to physical therapy.  The 26 Bikram postures were chosen to provide the best overall mental and physical experience.

The heat component increases circulation to muscles and allows muscle fibers to become more supple.  This reduces the likelihood of tearing and soreness after maintaining difficult postures.

“The most important feature of Bikram Yoga is the fact that anybody can do it,” said Richard Mercer, director and owner of Bikram Yoga Simsbury.  Mercer, a former Division I football player, advises new participants to set small goals of being able to stay in the room for the allotted period and participate in the poses within individual limits.

Bikram is an outstanding workout that uses a variety of muscle groups.  One of the biggest obstacles to a new workout is the degree of post-exercise soreness.  Bikram produces minimal discomfort and presents a good fitness option for both beginners and trained athletes.

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