Bikram’s beginning yoga class is a series of 26 demanding postures completed twice in a heated room for 90 minutes. Classes are suited for all ages and levels of ability. Each posture stretches and strengthens specific muscles, ligaments and joints stimulating the organs, glands and nerves to move fresh oxygenated blood to 100% of the body. With regular practice, the Bikram Yoga system will improve health, increase energy, help prevent illness and injury and limit the effects of aging. As a physical challenge, the Bikram yoga method will change the body’s shape, developing muscle tone and losing inches. As a mental challenge, this system combines the skills of concentration, patience and self-control to improve mental clarity and reduce stress. BYSJ welcomes all first time yoga students and regular practitioners.
For more information about the Bikram Yoga method, please see the Bikram Yoga website.
Bikram Choudhury began learning Hatha Yoga poses in his native India at the age of 3 under the study of Bishnu Ghosh, the brother of Paramahansa Yogananda, founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship. Bikram quickly became a yoga champion and at age eleven was the youngest contestant ever to win the National India Yoga Competition. At age 20, a weightlifting accident crippled Bikram. With the guidance of his guru, Bikram created this 26 posture series which restored his health. Through his experience, he became known as the world’s most knowledgeable yoga teacher. Combining the Eastern discipline with Western medicine, Bikram perfected his comprehensive system suitable for all ages and levels of fitness and brought it to the United States 1973.
Bikram founded the Yoga College of India in Beverly Hills, California in 1974. Since that time, Bikram has cultivated a following as his postures have been proven to help heal our western cultural problems of stress, knee injuries, asthma, insomnia, type II diabetes and many other chronic ailments. Bikram teaches at his school in Beverly Hills and hosts two training courses twice a year for 9 weeks. Under his tutelage, several thousand yoga practitioners have become certified to teach his healing technique. Today over 750 schools around the globe teach the Bikram method and he frequently makes appearances bringing the benefits of his yoga to millions of individuals worldwide.
The room is intentionally heated to approximately 104 degrees to protect the muscles for safe deep stretches. The heat helps to detoxify the body by opening pores in the skin to flush out toxins. The heat increases the heart rate for a better cardiovascular work-out, helps to improve strength by putting muscle tissue in its optimal state, and softens collagen around the joints for more freedom of movement.
The heat in the room helps ignite our body’s own heating system. Breathing exercises in the beginning of class coupled with the heat in the room, begin to warm the body from the inside out. The metabolism starts to speed up, preparing all systems to start working. As the lungs fully expand and take in more oxygen, the heart starts to pump oxygen-rich red blood cells.
The 26 postures are sequentially designed to isolate portions of the body a section at a time by closing off circulation to a group of muscles, organs, and glands for a few seconds. Once released from the posture, oxygen-rich blood returns at a high speed to the closed part of the body, sending in nutrients and flushing out waste. By this method of stretching and contracting, circulation is improved and we open up blocked areas of the body.
By the end of 90 minutes, Bikram Yoga has given you a full body work-out: every cell has been re-vitalized, the spine is strengthened, and all systems are restored to their intended 100% working order, giving you an energized body and a relaxed mind.
This is the most common misconception that prevents people from coming to a yoga class. Yoga is not about how flexible you are already, but about strengthening your body and spine in all directions and, gradually, improving flexibility. Through consistent Bikram Yoga practice, your flexibility will improve, but it is not necessary to be flexible before coming to class.
What kind of benefits will I see?
To get the optimal results from Bikram Yoga, expect to practice at least 3 times a week.* Over a short period of time, with this frequency of practice, you can expect to see and feel the reshaping of your body. Physically you will lose inches, gain muscle tone, and improve strength and balance. Mentally, you will notice improvement in concentration skills, willpower, and a reduction in stress. Medically, you will notice that you are sick less and not as prone to injury. Bikram Yoga is proven to help those suffering from insomnia, depression, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, shoulder, knee and back injuries. Through these changes in the body, there will be changes in the mind, attitude and behavior–all positive changes to help improve your quality of life.
* Less frequent attendence will still impart benefits, but they will not be as quick or as complete.
Doing Bikram Yoga during pregnancy is not only safe but also a healthy experience throughout the term of your pregnancy. With your doctor’s permission and knowing Bikram’s modifications, continuing your practice during pregnancy can be a beautiful time for you and your baby.
Courtesy of the Portsmouth, NH Bikram studio, “Yoga has been reported to help pregnant women throughout pregnancy, labor and delivery. There are some important notes to consider before starting or continuing your practice. Women who practiced Bikram Yoga during pregnancy have reported feeling better during pregnancy, fewer complications, greater ease and less duration of delivery and calm, happy babies. You can learn to breathe, cope with stress and stay comfortable in your body through all of the changes pregnancy has to offer.
If you are currently a practitioner of Bikram Yoga, feel free to continue your practice as long as possible, under the advice of your doctor or midwife. Many women have practiced right up until delivery. Once you complete your 13th week, your teacher can instruct you in the modifications for pregnant women. To see illustrations and descriptions, ask at the front desk. You may notice that the practice is very challenging in the first trimester as you are adjusting to hormones and increased blood volume.
If you have never done Bikram Yoga before, wait until you have entered your second trimester before beginning classes. From the beginning, you will practice the pregnancy modifications.
Many women may feel intimidated by the heat of the room. Doctors often caution women from saunas and jacuzzis. Unlike a jacuzzi or a sauna, the body temperature rises minimally during a Bikram Yoga class, on average 0.6 degrees, because of all of the sweating and liberal use of fans. You have nothing to worry about. Do the best that you can. You may even want to bring a thermometer to class to prove to yourself that you and your baby are okay.
Important notes for pregnant women:
The series was also made into a DVD video specifically for pregnancy by Rajashree (Bikram’s Wife) which is available for purchase in our retail section.
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