Many people swear by Bikram Yoga: they say it’s like a workout, a massage, and a trip to the sauna all rolled into one.
Bikram is different from other types of yoga. It is performed in a room at 105°F—hot enough to make most people woozy. The 90-minute classes consist of a fixed series of 26 poses, each done twice with a short rest in between. No matter what Bikram yoga studio you attend, the class is essentially the same.
1. The heat loosens joints
There is nothing like 105°F heat to get your joint fluid flowing. People find their stiff joints loosen up more easily in hot, steamy conditions, and the benefits can last long after the class is over.
2. It’s easy on the hands and wrists
Many other yoga classes require participants to frequently put weight on their hands. For example, downward dog pose requires people to rest their full body weight on their hands and feet. Bikram yoga avoids poses like that—in fact, the last 30 minutes of class is spent doing poses while sitting, kneeling, or lying on the floor. (And if you can’t kneel—or even sit on the floor—don’t worry. A good instructor will help you or give you other options.)
3. It’s a great way to monitor your condition over time
Because every class presents the same poses performed in the same order, participants are able to monitor their joints’ flexibility and function over time. People who attend class frequently typically report that they notice slow and steady progress towards increased flexibility.
If you are new to Bikram, tell the instructor about your joint problems ahead of time; he or she can help you come up with alternative poses when things get too challenging. And trust me, it will get challenging—many beginning students need to sit or lay down to rest one or more times per class. That’s okay. People of all abilities are welcome and can reap benefits from attending.