Make no mistake: Bikram yoga is toasty! The style is practiced in a room well above body temperature (approx. 40.6 degrees Celsius or 105 degrees Fahrenheit); in other words, if you didn't know your shins and elbows had sweat glands, you're about to find out. Bikram yoga aims to increase general health, and students of this style believe that a heated room will help drive a deeper stretch while preventing injury. Bikram consists of a set of 26 poses and two breathing exercises.
Bikram yoga was founded by Bikram Choudhury, who was born in Calcutta in 1946 and started practicing yoga at four years old under Bishnu Ghosh. At 17, Choudhury suffered a knee injury that led European doctors to believe that he would never walk again, but yoga healed his knee and inspired him to found Bikram Yoga and take it to communities around the world.
Some of the benefits students of Bikram yoga enjoy include enhanced flexibility, successful recovery from injury (due to deep stretching), and the endless flushing of toxins due to increased perspiration.
The heat can be intense, however after a few classes it becomes a warm and welcoming sensation; after feeling some of the benefits of heated studios, students come to appreciate the temperature. Bikram is a great place for beginners to push themselves – just remember to stay hydrated before and during class.
Next to nothing…or anything that feels like nothing, that is. Clothing that breathes and is moisture wicking is ideal, and anything with mesh and extra venting will also be your best friend in the heat. Do yourself a favour and steer clear of cotton and other fabrics that will hold sweat and weigh you down; there is no reason to create more heat for yourself. Form-fitting clothing will help avoid restriction in postures and keep you from feeling sticky
Water! Drink plenty of water before practice, during practice, and yup, you guessed it: tons of water after practice. Hydration is very important in Bikram yoga to avoid dizziness and to give you a break from the heat. Most studios will provide a mat and a towel (usually for a small cost) but you can also bring your own.
Expect to sweat from all angles – even places you didn't know existed. Expect a full class, and every kind of yogi under the sun, from curious beginners to advanced students who practice daily. Don't feel pressure to do all 26 poses; rest when you need to and listen to your body.
For more info on Bikram Yoga: http://www.bikramyoga.com/
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