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Why I Love Bikram Yoga

Why I Love Bikram Yoga

Of all the well-known styles of yoga, none have quite achieved the notoriety of Bikram. A style of hot yoga that isn’t a good fit for casual yogis or heat-haters, Bikram was developed about 40 years ago in the belief that extreme heat can have positive effects on the body. To me, trying Bikram for the first time was like climbing a mountain filled with rabid mountain lions and sharp rocks. After a lot of pain and tension, though, my body became used to the punishment, and I experienced a gratifying feeling that worked its way into many aspects of my life.I love Bikram yoga because…

It shows me my physical limits.

Doing 90 minutes of physical activity can be daunting in and of itself. Once the heat’s cranked up to 105° Fahrenheit, “daunting” comes closer to “masochistic.” Bikram creates intense sensory-overload and pushes my body to the edge — and for me, that’s the whole point. Whenever I’m not sure my body can handle something, I know that real progress is being made. Let me tell you: There isn’t an ego-killer quite like not knowing your own limits. Once I hit them, I’m able to figure out how to push them even further.

There’s some decent science to back it up.

Bikram-yoga aficionados believe that doing specific movements and breathing exercises in the heat will improve physical performance. This is likely true, given that in the heat, blood vessels dilate and tissue expands to give better blood flow — thus increasing oxygen output to the body. It isn’t unlike high-altitude training, where the extra stress on the body induces better overall performance. Many athletes like to work Bikram into their workouts, as it’s a great supplement to cardio and strength training. Of course, a big component of Bikram is the bucket of sweat that pours from your pores, which helps flush toxins from the body.

I’m happy in the heat.

When I began doing Bikram, I didn’t quite understand that there would be physiological benefits — mostly because I felt like I was bringing myself to the brink of heatstroke. Sure enough, a few weeks of Bikram produced some very noticeable positive effects. My ability to do other fitness activities — particularly boxing, biking and running — saw a huge boost, thanks to my increased breathing capabilities and improved flexibility. That made me feel great, since I felt capable of doing more. Bikram also gave me nights of deeper sleep and a better overall sense of well-being. I was able to meet work stresses more handily than ever before. I haven’t felt this level-headed in years!

I’ll bring back that mountain analogy, because every session of Bikram is like climbing a mountain and having an incredible rest once I reach the top. Every time I get there, I feel like I’ve really accomplished something.

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Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.