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Bikram Yoga 101

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be putting the spotlight on some of the most popular forms of yoga. Since there are so many different styles of yoga to choose from, educating yourself on what they are all about will help you make a decision in choosing which kind of yoga to practice.

One of the most well-known kinds of yoga is Bikram. If you’ve heard of people practicing yoga in a room that is heated to over 100 degrees, this is the type of yoga they were sweating through. Bikram yoga is also referred to as “Hot Yoga.”

What is Bikram Yoga?

bikram choudhuryBikram yoga was founded by Bikram Choudhury, a teacher born in India and received his training in Calcutta. Choudhury currently lives in Beverly Hills, California where he first found his copyrighted style of yoga.


The intention behind having the room heated so high is to ensure the student will sweat profusely, thereby ridding the body of toxins. The intense heat also makes the muscles very supple and warm which enhances flexibility. The sequence of postures is also designed to relieve stress, reduce tension and prevent injury.

What is a Bikram yoga class like?

bikram yoga positionsBikram yoga involves doing a set sequence of 26 postures, or asanas, and two breathing exercises in a class that is heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Students are guided along the class by Bikram-certified teachers who instruct using a specific dialogue. Each class lasts approximately 90 minutes.

The authentic Bikram method recommends that you practice it every day.

Given the high heat and the length of time that each posture is held, Bikram yoga is very strenuous. Even though beginners are encouraged to sample a class, if you have a strong aversion to the heat or get faint quickly, you might want to think about first trying out another kind of yoga class that heats the room, but not as high as in a Bikram class.

Bikram Tips

Since you sweat so much, make sure that you bring your own yoga mat and towel, or two. Also, drink plenty of liquids after class. And just as with any yoga class, refrain from eating 2-3 hours before you roll out your mat.

Pregnant women should not practice Bikram Yoga because it raises the core body temperature.


Bikram Choudry holds a U.S. copyright on his yoga, and yoga instructors must undergo a paid training and certification process to teach it. This has been met with much resistance by some members of the yoga community who feel that placing a copyright on yoga postures that were not developed by Choudry is unjust and goes against the nature of yoga itself.

In addition, the high heat in Bikram classes has received criticism for its potential to promote injury because it gives the muscles a false sense of flexibility. Also, locking joints, like the knees, are a required adjustment. Many exercise experts feel that locking the joints shuts off the muscle and can lead to hyperpronation of the joint.

Here is a short video clip of Bikram yoga in action: