How does Bikram Yoga Work?
By the tourniquet effect: stretching, balancing, and creating pressure all at the same time. The blood supply in arteries and veins is being cut off, creating pressure.
When released a locked gate effect is created, causing blood to rush through veins and arteries, flushing them out.
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.
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 due to increased 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 from 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.
Why the heat?
Yoga changes the construction of the body from the inside out, from bones to skin and from fingertips to toes. So before you change it, you have to heat it up to soften it, because a warm body is a flexible body. Then you can reshape the body any way you want.
Hatha Yoga flushes away the waste products, the toxins of all the glands and organs of your body. It provides a natural irrigation of the body through the circulatory system, with the help of the respiratory system. It brings nourishments to every cell of your body so that each one can perform its function and keep your body healthy. Bikram Yoga also employs heat to further that cleaning process: When you sweat, impurities are flushed out of the body through the skin.
Practicing yoga not only increases our supplies of oxygen, but it also teaches us how to use that oxygen properly – we learn to control the breath through pranayama.
I feel nauseous, dizzy during class and very tired after my first class. Is this normal?
It is not unusual to feel nauseous or dizzy during your first class. Practicing yoga in a heated room reveals to us our present condition, and inspires us take much better care of ourselves.
Usually the problem is that we do not drink enough water for daily living, let alone for exercising in a heated room. Nutritionists tell us that we need 64-80 ounces of water a day to help the body function properly.
In the heated yoga room, your body needs adequate fund of water to allow perspiration to release heat from the body as you practice. So we estimate you need another 64-80 ounces (sometime during the day) to allow for your 90 minutes in the room. Once you are drinking enough water your body will tolerate the heat better and you will actually enjoy the heat.
If you feel disoriented or like you need a good nap after your first few classes, this is likely because your body has begun to cleanse itself as a result of the yoga practice. Don't be scared. After the first few classes this sensation will pass. The more you can relax as you give your 110% honest effort during class, the more energized you will feel throughout the class and throughout the rest of your day.
How many times a week is it recommended to practice?
In the beginning, do the Full Class religiously each day for two months until you are performing all but the very difficult poses such as the Standing Bow Pulling and Stretching Pose eighty percent correctly. If you are restricted by any medical condition or have any chronic disease, you should continue daily until your condition is resolved.
Even when your progress is measured in fractions of inches that add excellence to what is already good, rather than in bold strokes, like being able to balance on one leg for ten seconds, you should continue your Yoga practice daily.
When you are performing ninety percent of the postures ninety percent correctly, you should still not feel complacent about doing your Yoga. Doing this Hatha Yoga class every day is like everything else you do in your life that is good for maintaining life. You don't plan to give up doing those things because of the daily benefit you receive.
Is it ok to take class 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.
With High Blood Pressure?
Unstable high blood pressure responds so quickly to diligent Yoga practice that doctors sometimes doubt their instruments. (This quick response of the blood pressure is one of the most telling demonstrations of Yoga's ability to regulate and synchronize body systems.) If you are tested about a week after starting Yoga, you may see a slight rise in pressure. Don't be alarmed. By the second week, that pressure will be normal or close to normal and will stay there as long as you maintain your yoga regimen.
Without knowing the cause of your asthma, we can tell you that Bikram Yoga will be good for you in several ways. It is done in a warm room which promotes relaxation of the muscles and nerves, and is the type of exercise that you can do with as little or as much intensity as appropriate for your needs.
In other words, you can do each posture with less effort if you're concerned about overexertion triggering an attack, or you can sit down and rest whenever you need to during the class.
It will relax your mind and help let go of tensions, toxins and negativity. It also strengthens your heart and lungs, improving your lung function. You will breathe easier and deeper than you ever have before.
Is it safe to practice Bikram Yoga with Arthritis?
Hopeless-type maladies? Yoga can help arthritis conditions. That is, it can relieve symptoms. This is not a miracle; it is common sense.
Many people think arthritis occurs because of an overabundance of calcium in the body. But there is really no overabundance. The problem is that the calcium is deposited as a form of calcium phosphate in the joint-tissue, including the spine. At that point, the calcium phosphate deposit begins to build layers in the joint--spiky crystal formations like a cactus--until no room is left for the joint to pivot smoothly in its socket. And these spiny needles irritate the surrounding muscles and nerves, and the agony of arthritis begins.
Rheumatism? It is closely related to arthritis. You have only to do your Yoga and you may be free of rheumatism.
Gout is also a problem that attacks the joints. And again and again in this series of exercises, you find we address specifically exercising the joints. If it seem we are reducing some of the oldest, most painful, and perplexing diseases to lack of exercise, you're right. But that is what they often seem to boil down to.
Exercise, meaning daily Yoga practice, maybe the answer you are seeking for your condition.
With 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 is 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, Bikram’s 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 this particular series of exercises.
As you can see, the best thing is to adopt a Yoga regimen before any of these troubles develop--for if you do, they probably won't develop.
I have bad knees. I experience knee pain. Can Bikram Yoga help me?
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. 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. 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!