40 degrees room temperature, 40 percent humidity and guaranteed sweating: Bikram Yoga is very popular all over the world. Even Hollywood celebrities swear by it. A traditional hot yoga class usually consists of a fixed sequence of asanas. According to the founder Bikram Choudhury, this yoga style promotes detoxification of the body in particular.
But be careful, hot yoga doesn't always mean Bikram yoga. Here you can find out which Bikram yoga exercises make up the yoga style and why this type of yoga is also suitable for reducing weight.
Yoga at 40 degrees: What is Bikram Yoga and how does it work?
Bikram Yoga follows fixed guidelines. A class always consists of 90 minutes in which 26 asanas from Hatha Yoga including two breathing exercises are practiced in a fixed order. The Pranayamas represent the meditative element of a Bikram Yoga class.
There are two repetitions of almost every exercise. If a hot yoga lesson deviates from this system, it may no longer be called Bikram Yoga. In addition, only officially trained Bikram yoga teachers are allowed to teach the yoga style.
The yoga classes take place in a so-called hot room, which is usually equipped with large mirrors. This serves the purpose that the yoga students can observe and correct themselves during the practice. 35 - 40 degrees room temperature and 40 percent humidity ensure a sweaty workout. Dripping wet clothes, sweaty hair and a red head are definitely signs that yogis have just come out of a Bikram yoga class.
There is a good reason that this particular type of yoga is practiced when it is very hot. The focus of Bikram Yoga is on strength and exertion, the entire body should be opened in all directions and holistically trained. The training of yoga at 40 degrees room temperature should protect against injuries and make the muscles more flexible. In addition, the circulation and blood flow should be stimulated.
Benefits of Bikram Yoga
Hot Yoga has the advantage that the body detoxifies almost by itself due to the excessive sweating during the exercise sequence. However, this has not been scientifically proven - many Bikram yoga fans swear by this health-promoting effect.
The special combination of asanas is intended to systematically address every part of the body and train it intensively. In contrast to yoga styles such as Vinyasa Yoga or Power Yoga, the individual postures in Bikram Yoga are practiced statically and do not merge into one another through flows.
Many people who want to start with Bikram Yoga are interested in the question of whether they can also lose weight with this training. And that should be possible: Measurements show that a hot yoga session according to Bikram Choudhury can burn up to 700 calories. The exercises help to define the muscles and generally to become fitter - if you exercise regularly.
This is how Bikram Yoga works:
- You train strength and endurance
- You strengthen your cardiovascular system
- The intensive exercises help you switch off from everyday life
- The excessive sweating detoxifies your body
- You can continue stretching through the warmth
Bikram yoga exercises
Bikram Yoga is suitable for people who are physically fit and who want sports training without spirituality. The yoga style is clearly fitness-oriented. Due to the “extreme” conditions, it is important to listen carefully to your body and to take breaks during the series of exercises if your circulatory system stops working.
You should get used to the fact that sweat can drip onto the mat during class: A non-slip yoga mat, towels (preferably one for the mat and one for the shower afterwards) and a large bottle of water are essential.
Birkam Yoga for Beginners
Bikram Yoga is definitely beginner friendly. No matter where you attend a Bikram yoga class, the sequence of the choreography is always the same. By constantly repeating the same 26 exercises, progress is quickly visible.
The clear announcements from the teachers also help you as a beginner at the start. The warmth in the hot room allows intensive stretching after a short period of getting used to it.
Course of a Birkam yoga class
One unit of Bikram Yoga consists of 26 exercises. Each class begins and ends with a pranayama. The deep breathing at the beginning prepares the body for the exertion, the fire breathing at the end provides a cleansing and invigorating effect. Between the breathing exercises, the yogis practice a series of 12 standing asanas, a series of seven lying asanas and seven sitting asanas.
Almost all of the exercises are repeated twice. Between the standing series and the lying series, the participants relax in Savasana for a few minutes. At the end of the 90 minutes there is another Savasana, during which the teacher usually already leaves the room. The pupils can decide for themselves when they want to end their relaxation after the lesson.
12 standing asanas
- Pranayama (deep breathing)
- Ardha-Chandrasana (half moon) & Padahastasana (Standing Forward Bend)
- Utkatasana (chair)
- Garudasana (eagle)
- Dandayamana-Janushirasana (forehead-to-knee while standing)
- Dandayamana-Dhanurasana (bow while standing)
- Tuladandasana (Libra)
- Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Paschimottanasana (forehead-to-floor in the straddle)
- Trikonasana (triangle)
- Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Janushirasana (forehead-to-knee in the straddle)
- Tadasana (tree)
- Padangusthasana (toe stand)
7 lying asanas
- Savasana (death pose)
- Pavanamuktasana (abdominal press)
- Sit-up (seated forward bend)
- Bhujangasana (cobra)
- Salabhasana (half grasshopper)
- Poorna-Salabhasana (whole grasshopper)
- Dhanurasana (bow)
- Supta Virasana (Lying Hero)
7 sitting asanas
- Ardha-Kurmasana (Half Turtle)
- Ustrasana (camel)
- Sasangasana (rabbit)
- Janushirasana (forehead to knee when sitting)
- Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend)
- Ardha-Matsyendrasana (swivel seat)
- Kapalabhati Vajrasana (Fire Breathing)
About the story: the origin of Bikram Yoga
The yoga style is named after founder Bikram Choudhury. The yoga teacher was born in Calcutta in 1946 and enjoys a controversial reputation in the yoga scene. He himself was a student of bodybuilder and Hatha Yogi Bishnu Charan Ghosh, but represents the Bikram Yoga series as his sole development. He has the name Bikram Yoga protected as a brand and created a kind of yoga franchise from it. Some yoga studios that do not follow the strict rules therefore only label their classes as hot yoga and not as Bikram yoga.
Bikram Choudhury has been training certified yoga teachers at his Bikram Yoga College of India in Los Angeles since 1973. The teacher training there takes place twice a year. There are now Bikram Yoga schools around the world that are affiliated with the founder's company and also train teachers.
Some yogis swear by the cleansing effect and the deep relaxation afterwards, others find it difficult to rediscover the original (and spiritual) yoga thoughts in it.
If you love heat and like to push your physical limits, a 90-minute Bikram Yoga session could be just the thing for you. Don't forget to pack a towel, water bottle and your ognx hot yoga pants of course !