Sweating Buckets: What’s the Point of Bikram Yoga?
If you’re not a fan of strenuous exercising inside a pressure cooker, why anyone would choose to sweat their life away on a mat in a Bikram yoga class might seem a little mind-boggling. We’ve all heard the tall tales of *someone* having spent the whole of their first hot yoga class laying flat on their mat for fear of fainting. But for every naysayer, there’s a throng of hot yoga evangelists out there claiming that it makes you “sparkle and not sweat”. So what exactly is Bikram yoga? And who is it for? What exactly are all these “health benefits”? And where can I sign up for the free sparkles, please?
Have you ever googled “how to stop sweating” before in your life? If the answer is yes, you might like to pass on hot yoga. For everyone else, Bikram Yoga is a classic Hatha series practiced in a room heated to 100°F (42°C). It always consists of the same sequence of 26 postures and two breathing exercises, and it lasts for 90 seriously-sweaty minutes. The reason it’s practiced in a heated room is to provide your muscles with more elasticity and protection from the cold. This results in a deeper, more satisfying session. It’s that simple.
Still not convinced? Here are some of the health benefits of a sweaty Bikram session.
Bikram will detoxify your body
Get ready to sweat. A lot. The amount of sweating incurred in Bikram will help reduce your body’s water retention and release a lot of toxins and chemical compounds that shouldn’t be there. That doesn’t mean you’ll sweat out last night’s bottle of sauvignon or that extra cheese pizza. Rather that you’ll be forced into consuming more water (and really, please do). Your system will detox itself via better hydration.
It’s a great metaphor for real life
Be present. Don’t leave the room, even if you feel like you may be roasting alive. I promise you, you are not. Keep with it, face it, embrace it. It might be unpleasant as you’re acclimating to this climate, but you’ll be so proud you stayed until the end. Not to mention, you’ll feel amazing afterwards. After all, isn’t that a wonderful metaphor for all of life’s little challenges? You’ve got this.
It’ll do wonders for your flexibility
Of course, any type of yoga will help improve your flexibility, strength, and balance. But the added benefit of heat is that it’ll give you so much more ease of movement. Try it for yourself. You will feel more flexible in all of your poses and it’ll also be a lot safer to go deeper.
Great for your heart, too!
That’s right, Bikram yoga is also great for your heart. According to several studies, the practice could help reduce arterial stiffness and insulin resistance. The heat could also be responsible for lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease. Aside from that, exercising in a heated room will systematically raise your heart rate, forcing your body and your heart to work harder, and therefore improving your cardiovascular capacities. Yay!
Your skin will glow
We tend to forget this, but our skin, much like our kidneys, is an organ of elimination. It’s no coincidence that saunas, steam rooms, hammams and other beauty techniques promoting perspiration have existed for thousands of years. By boosting skin’s perspiration with Bikram yoga, you will not only improve the appearance of your skin, but you will also activate the body’s natural detox process by helping remove toxins that clog your skin.