By: Lauren Young
Anusara, Hatha, and Kripalu are just some of the various types of yoga that exist. Anusara is a heartfelt type of yoga that tries to incorporate a sense of humor, Hatha is the classical approach to yoga that focuses on breathing and postures, and Kripalu incorporates the three components of knowing, learning, and accepting your body . However, a more popular form of yoga is emerging: Bikram Yoga.
Bikram yoga, discovered by Bikram Choudhury, consists of a set of 26 poses that are usually in a temperature regulated room around 95-100 degrees. Some of the necessary poses are correspondent to animal postures (i.e. the camel pose, rabbit pose, half-tortoise, cobra, and eagle). They were designed to “warm and stretch muscles, ligaments, and tendons” . These poses are done in a specific, structured order rather than by random choice.
This trending type of yoga has proven benefits to its participants by improving skin, flexibility, stress and focus. Aside from exercise itself, with the addition of a heated environment, the excessive sweating allows for pores to open up and clear up complexion. Flexibility is helped by warming the muscles, while stress is aided because it allows for a rush of endorphins . Another effect could be enhanced focus on breathing patterns or the pose that you must hold for a certain period of time, rather than distracting thoughts.
Although these benefits may prove valid, there are still potential hazards associated with Bikram yoga. High temperature exposure can lead to heat exhaustion and heat dehydration. Heat exhaustion derives from when the body attempts to cool itself through conduction, convection, and evaporation but the humidity in the room prevents that from happening which results in a collective increase in internal and external temperatures. Consequently, this can lead to “dehydration, decreased blood pressure, and increased heart rate” . Though sweating can help clear complexion by opening up pores, it does not necessarily release all the toxins in your skin because most of what you will be sweating is simply water weight. Without the proper hydration and primary focus on health rather than appearance, the goal of Bikram Yoga cannot be attained.
My colleague, Nicolas Do, has recently taken up Bikram Yoga and described his experience saying, “Right after the session, it felt nice because everything is cooler than the room. You feel very energized and alive. However, the next day you feel exhausted. It’s something that needs to be done multiple times a week to really reap the benefits.”
Much of my research has shown that on average, Bikram Yoga is approximately the same price as regular yoga. Many companies also offer a trial period, so why not try it out and see if this works for you!