AustinPUG Health

AustinPUG Health

Care to add to your cardio routine in the name of a healthier heart and lungs? Performing yoga in an overheated room may be your answer to increased health, as well as a boost in relaxation and focus.

Enter Bikram Yoga.

A Short History of Bikram Yoga

Devised by Indian Yogi Bikram Choudhury in the early 1970s, Bikram Yoga is a style of the popular exercise that takes place within a hot room and covers 26 very particular poses, along with two breathing exercises.

Described commonly as hot yoga, the Bikram style quickly became popular with the health-conscious west, leading to wide adoption of the techniques among everyone from fitness fanatics to casual exercisers looking to lose both weight and stress. In the 40 years since its inception, Bikram Yoga has become the most popular yoga style of its kind, resulting in millions of practitioners – not to mention the more than 1,600 yoga studios owned by its founder today!

How Bikram Yoga Works

Where many forms of yoga are fairly loose in their demands on environment and body, Bikram Yoga demands exactitude in everything. The room in which the routine takes place must be heated to a balmy 105°F (about 40.6°C) with a humidity of 40%, conditions that are claimed to promote many of the exercise’s already highly beneficial aspects.

Each session of Bikram Yoga must last 90 minutes and encompass all 26 poses and two breathing exercises in order to offer the full array of benefits. Each pose follows a theory of extension and compression, stretching and retracting parts of the body in order to temporarily cut off circulation, apparently causing the heart to pump blog faster in response; once the pose is completed, the quick release of freshly oxygenated blood into the system is said to rejuvenate the previously compressed arteries, leading to reduced blockage and permanently improved blood flow.

The Benefits of Bikram Yoga

The very specific routines associated with performing Bikram Yoga are claimed by its founder to offer equally specific benefits to the human body. It’s worth noting before moving forward that these claims are often disputed and that no accredited medical studies have confirmed them.

The heated studio is intended to encourage deeper stretching by practitioners, even while lowering the risk of injury during practice, by loosening muscles and relieving stress and tension. The combination of the warm, wet air and the physical postures required by the practice is said to increase blood circulation and oxidation to every joint, muscle and organ of the body, increasing their individual health.

One of the specific goals of Bikram Yoga is the reduction of risk for heart disease. With increased circulation achieved by the style’s 26 postures, two very specific breathing exercises are intended to simultaneously increase lung capacity; Choudhury himself has claimed that this will eventually allow steady practitioners of his yoga routines to enhance oxygen absorption in the lungs, completing its overall goal of increased cardiovascular health, along with obvious benefits to muscles and other tissues.

Should I Practice Bikram Yoga?

While its requirement of high heat and difficult poses make Bikram Yoga potentially dangerous for some, even the lack of medical accreditation does not detract from the fact that these circumstances will almost definitely improve blood flow, making this style of yoga of particular benefit to those looking to improve their general cardiovascular health. Combined with a regular exercise routine that encourages moderate to vigorous activities like walking or running, Bikram Yoga offers an excellent way to ensure that your body’s circulation of blood and oxygen is the best that it can be.

As always, be sure to consult your physician before making any major changes to your exercise routine, especially if pre-existing conditions are a factor.

Categories: Fitness

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