It’s a hot practice. Literally. With a temperature set to a sizzling 105 degrees and 40% humidity, why has Bikram Yoga spread like wildfire across cities worldwide, both large and small?
Here’s the scoop, and a personal testimony.
Comfort in Consistency
Two hallmarks of the Bikram Yoga practice – discipline and consistency. A Bikram Yoga class – from temperature, to instruction, to poses – is supposed to be the same anywhere in the world you go – much like going to a Starbucks or attending a Catholic Mass.
Core elements to expect:
- 26 yoga poses that you do twice each (except for one pose that you only do once)
- 90 minute long class (60 minute compressed version offered in select locations)
- 105 degrees Fahrenheit, 40% humidity
- Mirrors everywhere
- One official water break
- Start – Hold – Stop – to each pose – no “flow”
The main variable is you.
The Big Benefits of Bikram Yoga
Bikram Yoga is very physical practice, but the emphasis of the practice is to use the physical to transform the mental and the emotional.
Despite the heat and the rigor of the poses, you are instructed to keep your eyes locked on yourself in the mirror at all times. No looking around at your neighbor, no wiping the sweat from your eyes, no adjusting your attire or hair, no drinking water, no flailing around in frustration, no leaving the room, no flopping on the floor, no whining…
In Bikram Yoga you are supposed to have, or develop, the discipline to transcend your physical discomfort and maintain your composure for several reasons:
- Pain and discomfort are a part of our world. Bikram Yoga helps you develop the discipline inside the studio to deal with the world outside of the studio. And sometimes, there’s no way around pain. You just have to go through it, one moment at a time.
- What you do impacts your neighbors. In so many ways, the practice of Bikram actually feels like an allegory for life itself. When you fidget, it makes your neighbor want to fidget. When you take an “illegal” sip of water or leave the room because you can’t stand the heat, it breaks the concentration in the room for everyone else. When you strive for the best, it makes others around you do the same. When we fail to stay on track, it causes those around us to get off track as well.
As I mentioned, every class is supposed to be exactly the same – from pose to instruction to timing to temperature…the main variable is you. You might have a good day, or a bad day, but over time you can measure your progress doing the same poses repeatedly. No one else has your body, your genetics, your good habits, your bad habits, your demons… Your practice is about YOU.
Bikram Breakthroughs: The Personal Problem of Pain
At some point in class, I had this breakthrough about pain – not just physical pain – but all of those things outside of the yoga studio I found painful – putting my clothes away, flirting, doing my taxes…Pain is something you experience moment by moment – you can’t experience it faster or slower, so it’s best not to avoid it. Up until that point in my life, that’s exactly what I had done. I avoided doing the things that I either didn’t like, wasn’t good at, or, the best one yet – I avoided things that I found “too hard”. For most people, doing hard things is just a part of – well, you know, being an adult – but alas, some of us, are just late bloomers. I credit Bikram Yoga, for helping me learn how to use my body to push through the pain.
Bikram Breakthroughs: Body Talk
It’s so easy to see your imperfections, to judge, to compare. UGH. And as if you needed any help, sometimes others like to point out your imperfections to you too. Whether it’s comments about your weight, your height, the size of your butt…people like swerving into other people’s lanes, now don’t they? Bikram Yoga helped me learn how much of a gift I have in the body God gave me (regardless of what anyone else thinks). While I had an active “work out” life before Bikram Yoga, I was focused on the superficial aspects of why I needed to workout. This was another level. The ability to hold a pose and get deeper into that pose, class after class….Also, with so many half naked, sweaty, stinky bodies in class, you start to see bodies for what they are – on one hand, an amazing miracle of God’s creation, on the other hand, nothing more than basic flesh and bone (and sweat gland).
Bikram Yoga: The Controversy
Bikram Yoga has been a life changing practice for me. At the time that I started practicing however, I was unaware of all the scandal that has shrouding the founder of the practice. I will leave it to you to Google if you want to know more, and to form your opinion.