With Yoga having such a long and storied history (it originated approximately 5000 years ago) there are going to be a lot of different styles and types available. But the big questions is, which is the best one and why? What makes one type superior to another and how can it benefit you the most?
Ideally a great yoga workout will focus on muscle endurance and flexibility. There will be a great deal of core work done as well. A good class will involve an instructor who is available to help new practitioners learn the various poses to ensure they are being done properly for the most effect. There is also a natural meditative aspect that many people find unexpectedly refreshing and keeps them coming back.
Bikram Choudhury has created a form of yoga simply known as Bikram Yoga or Hot Yoga that he employs at various studios are the country. This style is performed in a room that is heated to 105 to 115 degrees with a certain level of humidity. With sessions lasting 60 to 90 minutes, the practitioners work up a serious sweat to go with the fairly standard yoga routines.
The program starts with a simple warm-up breathing exercise to relax the mind and body. From there the instructor leads people through a series of 20 to 24 forms that progress from one to the next. They involve both standing and floor postures. The routine is finished with a simple cleansing breathing routine.
Many new people cannot complete and entire session initially because if the length of the routine as well as the heat in the room. Often times people nearby would be forced to stop and just drink water to replace fluids sweated out.
Benefits of Bikram Yoga
The intense heat helps keep the body loose and warm. In turn this creates more flexibility in the muscles for easier, deeper stretches. The constant sweating helps flush toxins from the body (much like intense cardio). You do burn calories as your body is on overdrive due to the heat.
Generally this yoga program also provides the following benefits (regardless of the heat): flexibility, strength, stamina, improved circulation, and improved balance. The by-product of all of these aspects includes sleeping better, better level of health, reduced stress, and improvement of your immune system. Of course those things are typical by-products of any good workout or training program.
Should You Try It?
Most definitely you should try yoga and specifically Bikram Sweat Yoga. It is a very difficult session to complete. People of all levels of fitness will find this very challenging. But afterwards there is a great feeling of accomplishment and peace. However it is a good idea to drink lots of water prior to a session and be prepared to completely sweat through whatever you are wearing. This class is not for people who get upset if their physical appearance is mussed. You will sweat from every pore in your body and need to sit on a towel for the drive home. Most studios don’t have shower facilities so plan ahead!