Home > Life > Is Bikram Yoga Worth the Sweat?

Is Bikram Yoga Worth the Sweat?

Bikram Yoga is becoming a popular practice of hot yoga. Unlike traditional yoga, hot yoga is practiced in a heated environment at temperatures of approximately 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). While Bikram Yoga has several benefits on the mind and body, it also increases the risk of injuries. The decision to practice it should not be taken lightly and not without prior understanding of how the human body functions.

Benefits of Bikram Yoga include reduced stress and improved discipline. The increasing difficulty of postures helps increase focus, mental concentration and self-awareness. The heated environment loosens up the body’s muscles. Therefore one can stretch his or her muscles beyond their usual limits, increasing flexibility.

The biggest risks of high temperatures are dehydration and heat stroke. Warning signs include dizziness and nausea and they shouldn’t be ignored. That is the brain saying there is something unusual going on and should be addressed soon. Since one can stretch his or her muscles beyond their usual limits, there is a chance of pulling one’s muscle from over-stretching. At high temperatures, the body may unknowingly push its biological limits without a compensatory response signal to the brain telling the body to stop.

One of the biggest benefits of Bikram Yoga cited by practitioners is the removal of toxins from the body although I am skeptical of this claim. Human perspiration is mostly water with minuscule amounts of salts, minerals and urea. While it is true toxins can diffuse from the blood vessels to the sweat glands, the liver and kidneys are the organs most responsible for removing those wastes, not the skin. The amounts of these toxins released with sweat can be considered negligible. In fact prolonged exposure to high temperatures may impair liver and kidney functioning since our bodies have evolved to function optimally at natural temperatures. The sweat that ends up on the floor is precious water one needs to stay hydrated, not a puddle of poison.

Although it is safe to practice Bikram Yoga if the proper precautions are taken, one should consult a physician first especially if there are any histories of illnesses or conditions as this activity is not suitable for everyone. Keep in mind the mental benefits of Bikram Yoga stated earlier can be as easily attained in traditional yoga without the risk (and potential discomfort) of high temperatures. As such I would recommend starting out with traditional yoga first to become familiar with its practices then transition to Bikram Yoga if one wishes to do so.

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