Is Bikram Yoga Worth It?

Updated: Oct 7, 2019

Bikram is one of the more recent additions to the world of Yoga.

Founded in the 1970s by Bikram Choudhury, it is technically a form of Hatha Yoga but it’s best to think of it as a different “experience”, rather than a different form of Yoga entirely.

What do you mean by that?

Well, Bikram follows a set routine of 26 poses with 2 breathing exercises, much like a Hatha session will focus on holding postures, rather than flowing.

The difference here is that you’re doing it in a sweltering 35-42˚C room. The idea being that the extra heat will increase weight loss, improve circulation of blood and increase flexibility in your muscles more than a normal session because, well, they’re more pliable from the heat.

The additional sweat will help your body detoxify, excreting the toxins that are just camping in your body.

It’s an interesting concept and one I do want to try just for the experience (although the class near me is a hot vinyasa, rather than Bikram).

I’m sure you can find one of these classes near you. It’s become a bit like a franchise within the yoga world, rather than an actual form of yoga. Apparently, the instructors follow a taught script to get you through the class, rather than a natural teaching.

Does it work?

I’ve tried to find some studies online that compared hot yoga with normal yoga to see if there were any conclusive results that suggested we should be in sauna in tree pose.

I’m going to be honest, I couldn’t find any…I’m sure there’s something out there but I couldn’t easily find it.

One study found that the 26 poses done in a normal temperature actually had similar benefits to doing it in a hot room, when body fat percentage and other factors were monitored.

Another study of a group of participants split between normal yoga and Bikram classes demonstrated a similar increase in the function of the artery lining so there wasn’t a huge benefit of doing Bikram when it came down to circulation.

Bikram has been shown to increase fitness and increase weight loss when looking at body composition, flexibility and using the deadlift as a benchmark for performance.

…however, I am going to add that this study doesn’t compare Bikram to normal Hatha, it just looks at the effects of doing Bikram on it’s own…so yes, Bikram in itself will improve these areas because you’re doing yoga…but will it end up being the same result if you did the 26 poses in your living room at a nice temperature?

So why do it?

I’m, personally, not entirely convinced I need to be signing upto a block of hot sessions but I am open to trying one just to experience it for myself.

But the question of whether it’s worth it or not is in comparison to other forms of yoga that are more readily available.

I’m certain just by doing yoga, whether it’s hot or not, benefits are there to be gained. So if you like the heat, sweat and the experience of Bikram then crack on, if that’s your thing. It’s better than doing no yoga!

What do you think? Am I wrong or do you agree it might not be worth the effort?

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