QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Who should do Bikram yoga?
Regardless of your fitness level, if you want to improve your health or simply feel good in your body, Bikram yoga is for you. The series is designed for beginners as well as experienced practitioners so previous knowledge of yoga is not a requirement. As you continue to do Bikram yoga and deepen your practice you will notice how it evolves, adapting to your new level and needs. Although every class may feel different, you will always leave balanced and refreshed.
Is Bikram yoga for men?
Of course it is!!!! Bikram yoga is for everyone. Don't use the phrase "Real men don't do yoga" because it's not true. It improves, stamina, golf swings, baseball arms and relationships.
What if I'm not flexible or out of shape?
This is the most common misconception that prevents people from coming to a yoga class. However, yoga is not about how sporty and or flexible you are. All that matters is that you try the right way and find your personal "edge," and you will get 100% of the benefit!
What are some of the benefits of Bikram yoga?
There are unlimited benefits to Bikram yoga; it reduces stress, increases blood circulation and improves strength and flexibility. Regular practice (at least three times a week) can reduce the symptoms of many chronic diseases (e.g. arthritis, and thyroid disorders) it’s also excellent for back pain, sports injuries, bad posture and promotes relaxation and correct breathing.
Is it a cardiovascular workout and can I lose weight?
You will not only work your heart but also strengthen and nourish your entire cardiovascular system because of the "tourniquet effect" created by the postures. This effect works by cutting off the blood supply in arteries and veins, creating pressure that, when released, causes blood to rough through the veins and arteries, flushing them out. Also, pressure is applied to the heart by its position relative to the rest of the body. No matter what your level of fitness, you will find a Bikram yoga class very challenging and can burn between 500 to 1000 calories per class. With persistence, patience and dedication, you can lose inches and develop muscle tone and strength that might never come from other forms of exercises.
How long is the class?
All classes are 90 minutes.
After my first class i was exhausted and had a headache. Is this normal?
Yes. After 90 minutes you have worked every muscle, organ and joint in the body. It is normal to be exhausted after anything you do for 90 minutes. Generally, as a beginner, you may feel very tired after the first few classes - this is your bodys way of releasing toxins. If you experience a headache, this maybe due to lack of water. Continue to hydrate throughout the rest of day after class to replenish your lost electrolytes.
After a few classes you will be better able to manage your self and your needs. Don't give up after one class!
Why is the room heated to 40°C?
The heat helps to:
- Detoxify your body through sweating
- Protect muscles to allow for deeper stretching
- Thin the blood to clear the circulatory system
- Increase heart rate for a better cardiovascular workout
- Improve strength by putting muscle tissue in optimal state for reorganization
- Reorganize the lipids (fat) in the muscular structure
What if I cannot stand the heat?
The room is intentionally heated to keep the body from overheating (contrary to popular belief). In the beginning you may find that the heat, combined with intense exercise, is too much for you. You can always sit through a pose if necessary during class and then start again. Your body will soon become acclimated to the heat and will help your practice to progress quickly.
Why always the same routine?
The series was designed to work your entire body in every class. The postures complement each other, enhancing the progress in the practice and changes in the body. It takes about three classes for your body to begin to work with the postures. By practicing the same series, you are able to work deeper in the postures and ensure more benefits over time.
How often should I practice?
For best results, you should practice at least 3 times a week, optimally 5 times a week, so the different body parts and systems keep the benefits and continue to evolve and correct themselves. We encourage you to come as often as you can with an unlimited yoga card. Bikram recommends daily practice and, for a complete overhaul, challenges you to take six classes per week for one or two months.
What should a new starter know?
- Pre-registration is not required
- Arrive 20 minutes before any scheduled class and sign in.
- All classes are 90 minutes in a hot room, so arrive hydrated
- Bring a yoga mat, towel and water bottle. (or rent/buy from us)
- Avoid eating big meals within 3 hours of class.
- Wear clothes that you can stretch in. Something light and comfortable.(Women: leotards/shorts and tank & Men: bathing trunks/shorts)
- Consult your physician about physical conditions or drug prescriptions contrandicated to hot rooms
- First timers should set up their mat in the second or third row. This enables you to view more advanced practitioners in the first row and makes it easier to follow along through example
- Relax and breathe. Competence and exploration soon come
What if you have injuries or illnesses?
If you have any health concerns, consult your doctor. Be sure to inform the instructor before class if you have any concerns, injuries, illnesses or special conditions. You may still be able to do most yoga postures, with a few modifications which the teacher will show you.
Should i practice if I have bad knees or experience knee pain?
Whether the knees are arthritic or injured, Bikram Yoga will definitely help. Bikram actually healed his knee, which was crushed by a 300 pound weight, with his guru's help doing yoga. You must move the knees to get circulation to them, and Bikram's Yoga helps you do both.
So how should you proceed? Make sure to listen carefully to the alignment instructions in each posture. When you are told to keep your feet parallel in standing postures, please do so. A half inch in either direction away from parallel has its effects all the way up the knees and into the hips.
In standing balancing postures, it is also important to keep the standing foot straight and the standing knee pointing straight ahead. If your knee bows back (hyperextension) you should bring the weight forwards towards the toes so as to engage the quadriceps muscle ("lock the knee") and lift the kneecap upwards. This action brings the leg into one line and brings true strength to the knees.
When you are bending your knees in any of the standing postures, keep the knees pointed over the toes. This will ensure that the knees and hips are strengthened evenly inside and out.
In triangle, when you are told to push your hips forward as you bend your front knee, this will keep your hip in line with your knee in line with your foot. This is also good for even strengthening of hip and knee joints.
In some of the standing postures, it might be very difficult to bend your knee to a 90 degree angle. So do the best you can without creating pain. Better to keep proper alignment bending 1% than to go 100% in poor alignment.
In the floor poses, notably fixed firm, half tortoise and perhaps rabbit, it might be difficult for you to bend your knees enough that the hips sit on the heels. To test your knee flexibility, keep lots of weight in your hands and bend the knees gradually to the point (but not past) of pain. You must be able to relax and breathe in the posture, holding it steady, for anything to happen. As the pain decreases and you start feeling more comfortable, you can gradually take the weight out of your hands and allow more pressure on the knees. Eventually you'll be able to go all the way into the posture, and you won't even remember the time when you couldn't even sit down!
You'll find that little by little your knee pain goes away and soon you'll realize that you can walk, climb up and go down stairs, even run a little without pain!
Should i practice if i have back problems?
Picture your spine as a series of ball bearings (vertebrae) one on top of the other, each separated from the next by a cushion (a cartilage disc). When the spine in shiny and new, all the ball bearings are smooth and round, moving freely in all directions, and the cushions are strong and thick. Now picture your daily activities. In one position after another, probably ninety-five percent of the time, that spine is leaning forward.
What is happening, then, is that each vertebra of your back is compressing its cushion in a front wise direction. This goes on year after year until there is no resiliency left in the front of the cushions, while the two sides and back have grown weak and slack from disuse. In addition, lack of movement has made the bearings rusty and barnacles have developed. The result: backache, stiff neck, headache, and countless other complaints.
The cure: exercise! Make the spine work so that resiliency and strength are restored to each cushion, so that the rust and barnacles are worn off the ball bearings, so that an X ray would show them smooth and round, sitting snugly on their fat, renewed cushions.
Beginning with Half Moon, Bikrams series of exercises is designed to make your shocked and shriveled spine work to both sides, to the back, and then to the front. Only by exercising in all directions can your spine be healthy; and only with a healthy spine can you have a healthy nervous system.
If your chronic problem is something such as sciatic pain, lumbago, sore back muscles, whiplash, vertebrae out of line, shoulder trouble, radiating pains down the arms, tension headaches, swayback, spinal curvature, pinched nerves, or "something not quite right that the doctor said I ought to watch," stop watching. Act! Get to work on these exercises. Even those who have had spinal surgery should get to work--with their doctor's okay and a qualified teacher who can lead them in Bikrams particular series of exercises.
People with slipped disc are often in such pain that Yoga seems further torture. However, in numerous slipped disc cases, determined Yoga can save the day. So endure the pain but please note that those with slipped disc should also work under the supervision
Should i practice when menstruating?
It is perfectly safe to do Bikram's yoga when menstruating. Inverted postures are normally the postures contraindicated for menstruation. But there are no inverted postures in Bikram's yoga.
So in fact, Bikram's yoga is very good for toning the reproductive system as it directly affects the reproductive organs and the endocrine glands- pituitary, pineal and thyroid gland in particular. The women's cycle becomes regular; complaints of irregularity and PMS decrease.
What if you are pregnant?
We do not recommend you practice Bikram yoga in your first trimester. If you had a regular practice before you became pregnant then we recommend you come back in your second and third trimester. The teacher will be able to help with modifications for the poses.
Is all hot yoga the same?
No. Authentic Bikram yoga schools only offer class with the 26 asana sequence postures and 2 breathing exercises, illustrated on our 26 Postures page. Please visit www.BikramYoga.com and use the Class Finder to identify legitimate Bikram Yoga schools.
All of our instructors are certified in the Bikram method of yoga and have completed an intensive nine-week training session requiring over 500 hours of study. A certified instructor provides the best possible instruction in the Bikram Method. Certified Instructors have a continuing connection to Bikram Choudhury and his training staff, allowing the Certified Studio to draw from all of the resources Bikram's training center has to offer. This includes special seminars, posture clinics, guest instructors, and answers to questions which may arise in a particular practitioner's Bikram yoga practice.
Many can claim that they teach "Bikram Yoga", but unless there is a Certified Instructor supervising how and what is taught at that studio, you are not getting the true Bikram Yoga.
credit - Bonnie Kuykendall
What is happening in my body during Bikram yoga?
Muscles are contracted and stretched at a cellular, biochemical level. Lipids and proteins reorganize optimally in such stretching, allowing for better circulation. Joint mobility and range of motion is increased, and strength is built by the use of gravity. Muscles and joints are balanced.
Blood and calcium are brought to the bones. Working against gravity strengthens the bones. The organs of the immune system within the bones (red marrow) are boosted.
The lymph nodes are massaged, lymph is pumped throughout the body, and white blood cells are distributed throughout the body as the lymphatic system works more efficiently.
There is compression and extension to the thymus, spleen, appendix and intestines; lungs are stretched and flushed out by increased blood circulation. The endocrine glands are encouraged to secrete appropriate hormones, and the communication between hormones and various glands and systems of the body is perfected. Toxins and waste are eliminated through the organs of elimination.
The nerves are stimulated by compression and extension, improving communication within the systems of the body and supplying fresh blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout. The brain is stimulated by improved circulation and by varying blood pressure.
Does Bikram yoga help with balancing the emotions?
Bikram Yoga helps balance the emotions in several ways. Physiologically, regular practice harmonizes the nervous and endocrine systems, two systems which figure heavily in emotional well-being.
In addition, practicing Bikram Yoga cultivates the mental faculties of faith, self-control, concentration, determination, and patience. As we become more aware of our inner life, we notice how events, interactions, and even the atmospheric pressure effect us. When we are aware, we can exercise choice in our response. This helps us balance our emotional life.
What is Studio Etiquette?
- Learn to listen during class. Ask questions before and after class, as practice during class is silent except for the instructor
- Turn off cell phones and pagers prior to beginning class and leave them locked up outside of the yoga room
- Avoid wearing perfumes, colognes and strong fragrances of any kind
- No shoes or socks in the studio
- Please let your instructors know of any medical conditions you may have
- If you need to take a break, stay in the room and sit on your mat until your ready to resume