Bikram Yoga - What you need to know

By HYS teacher, Michelle Shenton

I love teaching Bikram at Hot Yoga Sheffield. It’s an absolute pleasure to teach this series of postures to such a fantastic community of yoga students and so far all I have seen is focus determination and discipline in the hot room. This is what Bikram is all about!

What is Bikram Yoga?

Bikram yoga is a set sequence of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. It is conducted in heat – 40 degree heat and 40% humidity to be precise. Most of you probably already know but the heat helps you to get deeper into postures without hurting yourself. The humidity is present the assist in sweating – yeah, you sweat A  LOT! Detoxing through sweat will help you to take in more water, it can change your appetite, and it can help you to sleep better. There are a multitude of health benefits!

All true Bikram instructors are trained by Bikram himself in a grueling 9 week teacher training course where they practice twice per day for 6 days per week. Its hard, very hard, but the lessons learned in that 9 weeks are invaluable in order to become a good teacher.

Where did Bikram Yoga come from?

Bikram yoga was created by Bikram Choudhury. Born in Calcutta, Bikram began studying yoga at the age of 4 and was a yoga champion in his teens. In the 1970’s he was left wheelchair bound from a crippling accident and was told he would never walk again, but Bikram made a complete recovery thanks to heat and yoga.  It was out of the remarkable regime that he developed his sequence of yoga postures and breathing exercises that he still teaches today. Bikram has over 2 million students and hundreds of schools worldwide.

Why Bikram Yoga?

Bikram Yoga is a challenging class but it is intended for all abilities from beginners through to advanced.  Through challenges in the class room we learn that our breathing is our best ally and our mind can be our worst enemy. We learn to use the breath to calm the mind, in turn, we can then focus more on the postures and concentrate our attention on the instructions promoting a mind-body connection. Lessons in the yoga studio can help us in our daily life as we learn more about our ‘Self’, we will be more relaxed, focused, patient and have a greater connection with our body than ever before.

It is 90 minutes of ‘open eye’ active meditation where keeping the eyes open keeps us in the present moment. This will help you to feel like you have nothing else to think about and nothing else to do.

What if I feel like I need to leave?    

Your only goal in a Bikram class is to stay in the room. Remember, sit down when you feel like you need it and come back to your breathing slowly through the nose, we have our whole lives to master these postures and each class is a journey, a process – it’s a journey for you and your body only on your mat on that day at that time. Each day is different, we quickly learn that about our body, amongst lots of other things. There is no pressure to complete any of the postures, ignore the ego and let it go…..

How will Bikram yoga benefit me?

Through regular practice a student can expect to lose weight, look younger with a clear, glowing complexion, and develop stamina, tone muscles, and speed up recovery from injuries with increased blood flow. It can help to relieve asthma, improve digestion, and stabilize blood pressure.