Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga is a system of yoga incorporating a series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises which were synthesized from traditional Hatha yoga and trademarked by the Indian guru Bikram Choudhury. Classes run exactly 90 minutes. They are taught in a room Bikram05heated to 105°F with a humidity of 40% and are conducted in front of mirrors to raise body awareness and refine alignment. Bikram Yoga is suitable for all levels of ability and its overall goal is general health. The series of postures combines skills of concentration, patience, determination and self-control. The heat in the studio cleanses the body by flushing toxins and helps deeper stretching and injury prevention, while reducing stress and tension. Bikram’s yoga system stimulates and restores health to every muscle, joint, and organ and increases blood circulation to all parts of the body which helps to prevent heart disease and organ failure. Proper weight, muscle tone, vibrant good health, increased mental clarity, and a sense of well-being automatically follow.

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Bikram Yoga is the Original Hot Yoga

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Bikram Yoga is the most popular and widely practiced form of “hot yoga” and ranks among the top five most popular yoga styles in America. Bikram Choudhury’s own guru, Bishnu Charan Ghosh (brother of Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the classic Autobiography of a Yogi), was one of the greatest and most influential yoga masters of the past century. He scientifically documented the practice of yoga and its ability to cure chronic physical ailments. Gosh trainedGosh&Bikram Bikram in yoga’s purest form. He endorsed and approved Bikram’s yoga system and encouraged him to start several schools in India and bring his curative methods of yoga therapy to schools around the world. Bikram founded the Yoga College of India with headquarters in Los Angeles and popularized his yoga system beginning in the early 1970s. In 1979, he wrote Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class, a book which has been among the preeminent and most beloved of yoga guides for more than twenty years.

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Bikram was the first to introduce heat to the yoga practice. While some other hot yoga styles of today simply add heat to a random yoga sequence in order to create a trendy workout, Bikram’s methods were handed down by an original yoga master and are proven to work. Bikram’s posture sequence is safe for beginners and the risk of unnecessary injuries is greatly reduced. That’s why Bikram Yoga has become a part of the everyday lives of millions of practitioners worldwide over the past decades.

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Research on Bikram Yoga

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Bikram Yoga is the only hot yoga that has been investigated scientifically. Groundbreaking research on its health benefits has been published over the last few years. In 2008 a study conducted at Colorado State University showed that Bikram Yoga improves muscle control, balance and strength substantially [1]. In a subsequent research paper, the authors reported that Bikram Yoga practitioners showed significant gains in spine, hamstring and shoulder flexibility, improved their whole body strength and decreased body fat [2]. Bikram Yoga also helps to reduce cholesterol and the concentration of blood sugar thus improving metabolic health [3, 4]. Over the last decade, the number of people diagnosed with osteoporosis has increased dramatically due to many factors. Research has shown that performing Bikram Yoga preserves and increases bone mineral density in women and hence, can be an effective countermeasure for preventing osteoporosis [5].

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In addition to its physical health benefits Bikram Yoga has also positive psychological effects. A 2011 study suggested that Bikram Yoga gives people the tools do decrease perceived stress which potentially has an effect on chronic stress-related illnesses [6]. A pilot trial is currently underway at Massachusetts General Hospital to examine the effectiveness of Bikram Yoga as a treatment for depression.

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References

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[1] Hart, C. E. F. & Tracy, B. L. 2008. Yoga as steadiness training: effects on motor variability in young adults. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 22(5): 1659-69.

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[2] Tracy, B. L. & Hart, C. E. F. 2012, in press. Bikram yoga training and physical fitness in healthy young adults. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning, DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31825c340f.

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[3] Hunter, S. D. et al. 2013. The Effect of Bikram Yoga on Arterial Stiffness in Young and Older Adults. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 19(12): 930-934.

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[4] Hunter, S. D. et al. 2013. Improvements in glucose tolerance with Bikram yoga in older obese adults: A pilot study. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 17(4): 404-407.

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[5] Sangiorgio, S. N. et al. 2014. Optimization of Physical Activity as a Countermeasure of Bone Loss: A 5-Year Study of Bikram Yoga Practice in Females. Health, 6: 1124-1132.

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[6] Hewett, Z. L. et al. 2011. An Examination of the Effectiveness of an 8-week Bikram Yoga Program on Mindfulness, Perceived Stress, and Physical Fitness. Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness, 9(2): 87-92.