2

votes

Is bikram yoga beneficial?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 04, 2012 at 6:06 AM

I've broken my wrist during a snowboarding trip in New Zealand and have been advised to stop playing indoor soccer, or doing anything that could risk re-injuring my wrist for the next 6 weeks. In an attempt to not go crazy and try to keep up some level of physical activity I thought I'd give yoga a try. I've actually done it before and loved it, but someone suggested I try bikram yoga, where the room is super heated, and yoga is performed. Can anyone tell me if this is actually more beneficial than regular yoga?

Things I'd like to achieve from yoga are mainly more flexibility and toning (especially in my legs as I have knee issues) and relaxation/reduced stress levels.

Cheers!

8c8e9d8778ce73ac08045e2dbc34b870

(20)

on September 05, 2012
at 01:15 PM

Can't disagree with you on Bikram being generic. I my case generic means simple, but obviously in your situation generic could mean tricky. I remember them always asking about injuries before the class and giving some advise and support how to progress through a class.

166f449979d83186bd876e8f466d0a69

(1317)

on September 04, 2012
at 11:42 PM

I have done ashtanga and hatha as well. I found bikram more calming because the heat helps to ease you into the class, but some of the stretches and holds can be challenging, particularly triangle pose and rabbit (for me). My ITB is always very tight and there are quite a few poses to address/ease that, and I found locking my knee as required in bikram also helped with knee issues.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on September 04, 2012
at 11:37 PM

I can definitely see the benefit of heat for increase muscle range, though the fixed set of stretches kind of puts me off a bit, in my case I don't have the use of my right hand and lower arm, so I may not be able to perform some of the poses, and being generic it doesn't really address people's personal goals as much as a tailored yoga class would.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on September 04, 2012
at 11:30 PM

This is what I was thinking, and why I'm questioning it. There is plenty of public hype for it, with everyone claiming that the heat makes you 'sweat off all the fat, calories and toxins', but it's very hard to find a balanced opinion. It does seem kind of 'faddy' and obviously not how yoga was traditionally intended to be. But this doesn't necessarily mean it's no good. Maybe it's worth squeezing out a free trial from someone :)

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on September 04, 2012
at 10:53 AM

Thanks Sophie, good advice on the water too :) Can you compare it with regular yoga? I guess toning isn't as much of a priority as de-stressing and becoming more flexible, mostly in my legs (ITB, calves as they have been causing a few knee problems).

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4 Answers

2
5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on September 04, 2012
at 02:48 PM

I kind of view it as a western way to try and make yoga into an exercise instead of an activity. I also think the room itself is fairly disgusting, with all those people sweating that much on the carpet. I greatly prefer regular yoga to Bikram.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on September 04, 2012
at 11:30 PM

This is what I was thinking, and why I'm questioning it. There is plenty of public hype for it, with everyone claiming that the heat makes you 'sweat off all the fat, calories and toxins', but it's very hard to find a balanced opinion. It does seem kind of 'faddy' and obviously not how yoga was traditionally intended to be. But this doesn't necessarily mean it's no good. Maybe it's worth squeezing out a free trial from someone :)

2
8c8e9d8778ce73ac08045e2dbc34b870

(20)

on September 04, 2012
at 01:05 PM

I started attending Bikram classes after climbing injury (finger) as I couldn't climb for few months.

Not that it dramatically improved my flexibility and general well being my injured finger totally recovered (anyone who does any significant amount of rock climbing knows that finger injuries usually are chronic and never really want to heal completely).

There are few personal reasons I prefer Bikram to "normal" yoga:

  1. Heat. I only can stretch properly if my muscles are warm. But properly I mean the wider range of movements.

  2. Fixed set of exercises. So basically in the beginning you learn them, but very soon you are pretty much on auto pilot and you know what to do, so you can concentrate on "how you do it".

  3. I like that half of the exercises are to strengthen you muscles and other half stretching.

  4. And finally it's hard, so by the time you finish the session you really feel like you DID something :)

Having said that I think I want to renew my membership :)

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on September 04, 2012
at 11:37 PM

I can definitely see the benefit of heat for increase muscle range, though the fixed set of stretches kind of puts me off a bit, in my case I don't have the use of my right hand and lower arm, so I may not be able to perform some of the poses, and being generic it doesn't really address people's personal goals as much as a tailored yoga class would.

8c8e9d8778ce73ac08045e2dbc34b870

(20)

on September 05, 2012
at 01:15 PM

Can't disagree with you on Bikram being generic. I my case generic means simple, but obviously in your situation generic could mean tricky. I remember them always asking about injuries before the class and giving some advise and support how to progress through a class.

2
166f449979d83186bd876e8f466d0a69

(1317)

on September 04, 2012
at 10:31 AM

I did Bikram yoga for about a year and found it most beneficial for relaxation, improved posture and flexibility, which is what you say you're after. The heat definitely helped stretch out tight muscles and after most sessions I felt amazing.

However, I did not find it really toned that much, other than a slight bit of bicep bulge in my otherwise puny arms at the time, and I notice that the teachers can be skinny-fat compared to teachers of other types of yoga (though this is more likely due to the fact they have to stand in front barking orders rather than actually participate in the class, therefore have to practice at other times).

For me it helped with stomach nervousness I was experiencing at the time, but now I've moved onto weights, sprinting and other more intense forms of exercise. Like with any kind of exercise regime I'd just say give it a go and see how it makes you feel, which is the more important thing.

Oh, and if you do do it, don't copy everyone else and guzzle 2 litres of water through the class. STay hydrated through the day before class and rehydrate after, instead of having a mini paddling pool sloshing around inside while stretching.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on September 04, 2012
at 10:53 AM

Thanks Sophie, good advice on the water too :) Can you compare it with regular yoga? I guess toning isn't as much of a priority as de-stressing and becoming more flexible, mostly in my legs (ITB, calves as they have been causing a few knee problems).

166f449979d83186bd876e8f466d0a69

(1317)

on September 04, 2012
at 11:42 PM

I have done ashtanga and hatha as well. I found bikram more calming because the heat helps to ease you into the class, but some of the stretches and holds can be challenging, particularly triangle pose and rabbit (for me). My ITB is always very tight and there are quite a few poses to address/ease that, and I found locking my knee as required in bikram also helped with knee issues.

0
4e93374187b0127c8b5af86daece92df

on January 09, 2013
at 03:19 AM

Referring to another comment above, I definitiely dont agree that it's a western way to turn yoga into exercise. The definition of exercise is "organised physical activity" which all kinds of yoga definitely is even if people dont view it that way.

I have always been a very active person and have a very intent focus on my health. I originally purchased a voucher which gave a good deal on Bikram because I wanted to try it out. My first class was so amazingly difficult that I was determined never to go back again... but I had this burning desire to do it again a few days later. Since then (and that was about 7 months ago?) I have continued to go (buying deals for different studios because it is a tad expensive..) and am now more addicted than ever.

Not only does it relax me after (or before) a long day at work. It helps me focus on ME and my health rather than any stresses I might be going through. I have never been more flexible in my life, and my improvement in all of the strength poses is very noticable as well. I have noticed that I AM more toned and this could be partly due to the exercises but also due to Bikram motivating me to become even more strict on my diet.

Also.. I run fairly frequently also (varying distances but on average I might run 6km twice a week?) and I have noticed an improvement in my cardiovascular fitness since performing Bikram yoga also.

One of the best things about Bikram is the mental challenge that you encounter in each class to push yourself through what is a very uncomfortable and difficult 90 minutes. You learn to deal with it and how to focus on making the most of being in that situation.

I would recommend it to anybody.

Did you ever decide to give it a try? : )

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