Bikram Hot Yoga
My favorite form of yoga is definitely Bikram Hot Yoga.
Despite the fact that I was raised in a family where my father and sister were both professional athletes and my whole life was all about sports, I somehow managed to become a black sheep in the family. I never had any relation to sports, nor was I ever interested in it. With time I understood the importance and affect it has on your body, mind and finally health. But still, despite all the knowledge, I still struggle to get myself moving and doing any type of sports.
When doing my first detox in Thailand, I signed up for a program that I didn't even know much about. It was to my surprise when I got there, to find out that I was having, other than 12 days of raw food only, I was having three workouts a day! Three a day! I am still trying to figure out what was a greater shock for me, the vegetables and raw meals or three workouts a day! :)
You can only imagine my endurance level, the shape I was in, the will power... But I knew I was there to transform my life so I courageously faced it. I gained 8kg in 6 months, no sports or any activities, and all of a sudden - 3 workouts a day! Hot Yoga being one of them. Everyone was talking about it, how tiring and challenging it was. By what I was hearing from people, I wasn't even sure I was going to survive the class.
The morning started with juices - that was our breakfast, muay thai and then came the moment for this glorious hot yoga. Imagine the state I was in after doing muay thai, I was ready to call off the day but, no! The best was yet to come :)
So what's all the fuss about?
Bikram Yoga classes run for 90 minutes and consist of the same series of 26 postures, including two breathing exercises. Bikram Yoga a hot yoga style, and is ideally practiced in a room heated to 40 °C with a humidity of 40%. All official Bikram classes are taught by Bikram-certified teachers, who have completed nine weeks of training endorsed by Choudhury. Bikram-certified teachers are taught a standardized dialogue to run the class, no demonstration. You basically listen and follow what others are doing.
Bikram yoga is the 26 postures sequence selected and developed by Bikram Choudhury from Hatha Yoga.
It has been proved and experienced by millions that these 26 postures systematically work every part of the body, to give all the internal organs, all the veins, all the ligaments, and all the muscles everything they need to maintain optimum health and maximum function. Each component takes care of something different in the body, and yet they all work together synergistically, contributing to the success of every other one, and extending its benefits.
Bikram Yoga's twenty-six posture exercises systematically move fresh, oxygenated blood to one hundred percent of your body, to each organ and fiber, restoring all systems to healthy working order, just as nature intended. Proper weight, muscle tone, vibrant good health, and a sense of well being will automatically follow.
Hot Yoga results and benefits are amazing.
After my muay thai first class, when I entered a hot and humid room, I thought I was going to faint, either from the heat or exhaustion, I wasn't sure. Luckily I can handle well high temperatures and I actually prefer high temperatures, but this was scary, because I knew I had to exercise under these conditions. I was well equipped with clay water (good for detoxing) and towel to wipe away all the toxins and sweat that were bursting out, which soon made me understand why everyone was half naked. I was sweating from places I didn't even know I could sweat; ankles, fingers, toes, I was soaked. Dripping. Unbelievable. The best thing about it that 90 minutes fly by. And then the best part of the practice -shavasana, corpse pose.
Corpse Pose- My favorite part of the practice ;)
Dead Body pose is a restorative pose and it is perhaps the most important part of a yoga practice. It serves many purposes: physical, spiritual and philosophical.
After the exertions of the practice, Shavasana allows the body a chance to regroup and reset itself. After a balanced practice, the entire body will have been stretched, contracted, twisted and inverted. These means that even the deepest muscles will have the opportunity to let go and shed their regular habits, if only for a few minutes.
Furthermore, the physiological benefits of deep relaxation are numerous and include:
- a decrease in heart rate and the rate of respiration
- a decrease in blood pressure
- a decrease in muscle tension
- a decrease in metabolic rate and the consumption of oxygen
- a reduction in general anxiety
- a reduction in the number and frequency of panic attacks
- an increase in energy levels and in general productivity
- an improvement in concentration and in memory
- an increase in focus
- a decrease in fatigue, coupled with deeper and sounder sleep
- improved self-confidence
An intelligent yoga practice will furnish the nervous system with a host of new neuromuscular information. Shavasana gives the nervous system a chance to integrate that in what can be thought of as a brief pause before it is forced once again to deal with all the usual stresses of daily life.
After so much time being bound to the actions of the body, the practitioner's awareness is hopefully turned inwards and purified of sensory distraction. Shavasana then becomes the beginning of deeper, meditative yogic practices. In state of sensory withdrawal it becomes easier to be aware of the breath and of the state of the mind itself. Though not the best position for prolonged meditative contemplation – the reclined position dulls the mind too much for the kind of discernment necessary to achieve deeper meditative states, this can be a successful introductory practice for those not yet ready for formal meditation.
The yoga practice is a form of ritual. Regardless of the style of yoga, most classes follow the same pattern. It begins with a short opening period where the practitioner gathers him or herself up, turning inwards, away from the mundane world and setting an intention for the practice. Following that comes the practice itself. And to end there comes an integration phase where the effects of the practice are allowed to take hold and penetrate deep into the self of the practitioner. Shavasana is the primary vehicle of that process.
What I found to be benefits of Bikram Yoga
- Flexibility - The heat allows you to become more flexible and reach your new levels of flexibility
- Strength -With each asana, we gain more strength. The more we practice the stronger we get.
- Stress-free - Feeling after the practice is amazing- relaxed, blessed and free.
- Transforms your life - The feeling after the practice is indescribable!
- Challenges you with the postures and the heat conditions, and motivates you as you see improvement rapidly.
- Healing - Yoga is known for its healing effects. It is not only a physical therapy but also mental therapy.
- Focus & Determination - The practice being a routine will eventually help you to advance your practice through repetition. As you advance, you will gain tremendous focus and determination that can be implemented in our daily life.
- Detox - Heated room helps you stretch and become more flexible but also detox through sweat.
- Cardio - Your heart is working during this practice as if you are running (90 min practice = 1000calories burn).
- Breath - Learning to breathe in a well controlled manner is essential.
Things to have in mind when practicing Hot Yoga
- Handle the heat - How do you handle the heat? It can be too hot and humid for you, therefore listen to your body, don't overdo it. Adjust yourself to it first and then you will work on mastering the postures.
- Don't forget to stay hydrated. Ideally drink a lot of water throughout the day (approximately 2 litres is recommended), and bring water to the class.
- Eat 2 hours before the class. Eat light. If hungry, eat a banana or something energizing but still light enough to be able to practice.
- Don't be late to the class. It is important to arrive and start on time. You don't want to miss the sequence and the benefits of it.
- Don't push it. Listen to your own body and respect your own boundaries.
- Sweat. Sweat. Sweat. Enjoy it!
- Don't compare yourself to others. Love and respect your boundaries. Practice makes perfect.
- Look hot. It's literally hot yoga. Wear something that will allow you to release all the toxins out.
- Coconut water afterwards is a real treat. Especially since it rehydrates and replenishes the electrolytes lost during the practice.
Unfortunately, in Qatar, there are not yet any Bikram Yoga studios, but Dynamic Hot Yoga has started a similar concept. That's close enough and the feeling is as good and as blissful. :) For more information, visit www.dynamichotyoga-doha.com