Basic questions about the Yoga, and its benefits
Why the heat?
If you think about it, it makes sense.
Any exercise program focuses on warming up your body before vigorous activity. The temperature of the yoga room is similar to your body’s own temperature, and this accelerates many of the benefits of your yoga practice.
Regular exercisers recognise that peak performance occurs when fully warmed up and your body generates heat from the inside, radiating out and into your muscles.
The heat means we can get into postures more deeply and effectively, and the benefits of the postures come faster. Like many thousands before you, you will find that practicing yoga in the warm room creates a satisfying feeling of achievement. The heat also promotes detoxification through perspiration.
Heat therapy is once again becoming known for the valuable healing tool that it is. It’s earliest known use dates from Ancient Greek physicians who raised body temperature as an immune defense mechanism against infection.
Why do we need to sweat?
The moisture in the air is the reason you will probably sweat quite a lot. Many confuse the humidity with the actual temperature. The more people in the room, the more moisture from our breath, the more we sweat. Our room is thermostatically controlled so the temperature never gets too high. Experts agree that the moisture level for optimal lung function for protection against colds, flu and other respiratory problems such as asthma is around the 60-70% mark. So enjoy the sweat! It is doing you so much good on so many different levels!
Regular profuse sweating generated by heat will:
- Flush toxins out of the body
- Promote relaxation and well-being.
- Accelerate cardiovascular action.
- Facilitate calorie burning.
How can I do yoga if I am not flexible?
This is the most common misconception about Yoga, one that prevents many people from ever starting. Yoga is not about how flexible you are, but rather about how you can strengthen your spine, your body and your mind. All that matters is that you try the postures the right way – to your personal edge and you will get 100% of the benefits. Yoga strengthens your mind and your body and with regular practice you will see great improvements in your flexibility.
Is yoga a cardiovascular workout? Will I lose weight?
The cardiovascular system consists of the heart and a system of blood-vessels. The blood in the circulatory system is pumped by the heart around a closed circuit of vessels throughout the body. Aerobic activity trains the heart, lungs and cardiovascular system to process and deliver oxygen more quickly and efficiently to every part of the body by elevating the heart rate. In Bikram Yoga, be prepared to elevate your heart rate! Each posture combines flexibility, strength and balance to work your whole body, and with persistence, patience and dedication you can lose inches, develop muscle tone and strength that you may not have found through other forms of exercise. Whatever your level of fitness, you will find Bikram Yoga challenging.
What are the goals of my yoga practice?
How quickly you progress will depend entirely on you – on your natural ability to a small extent, but mostly upon the honest time and effort you give to Yoga. It will have little to do with how “perfectly” you can do the poses. Instead, it will have to do with how well you understand what you are trying to accomplish in each pose, how honestly you try to accomplish your goal, and how supple your muscles and joints have become in comparison to the point at which you began. Do as much as your body allows on that day, always respecting and listening to your body’s needs. In Yoga there is no standard of comparison except yourself. Yoga is beyond goals. Just continue to show up, practice in the present moment, and you may be delighted by the unexpected benefits that emerge.
Will yoga help improve my sporting performance?
Yoga benefits all people who play sports – any sport, and at any level. Yoga works well to help prevent and build resilience to injury by increasing your flexibility and agility, and in particular, increases the range of mobility in the joints. Other benefits, such as learning correct breathing, gives greater control over the respiratory system, boosting strength, stamina and endurance. All these contribute towards preparing the body to make sport more enjoyable and rewarding. Mastering and learning to relax the mind can help cure the nervousness often experienced before competition.
How qualified are the Instructors?
Instructors who teach Bikram Yoga must go through an intensive 500-hour course held twice yearly at Bikram’s Yoga College of India in Los Angeles. Only those candidates who successfully pass Bikram’s stringent qualifications graduate and receive permission from Bikram to teach his form of Yoga in their own studio. Only teachers personally trained by Bikram are licensed to teach Bikram’s Yoga.
How will I feel after the class?
Generally, you can expect to feel warm, loose and energized. Sometimes people feel tired after the first class, commonly the result of toxins being flushed from the body. After just a few classes, you will feel full of energy and ready to take on the world.
How often should I take a class?
To derive maximum benefit and enjoy prolonged health, the Bikram series should be practiced on a regular basis. We recommend 10 classes in a 30-day period as a minimum commitment to begin to see and feel the sustained revitalization in your body and to get a healthy glow in your cheeks. The more frequently you practice, the more rapidly you’ll retrain all of your systems (circulatory, respiratory, digestive, muscular, nervous, metabolic, lymphatic, skeletal). A daily practice from the beginning can relax into a 3 or 4 times a week routine, once your systems are out of the stress-syndrome. You’ll find you want to do this practice. It’s fun. It works. You’ll start organizing your schedule to fit it in. Remember that this yoga is powerful and challenging. Pace yourself; don’t force yourself; and don’t expect to be perfect overnight!
How often should I take a class?
If you’re experiencing health or emotional issues, yoga will support you, so come as often as you can. It’s our job to push you to achieve your best, it is your responsibility to know what is enough for your body on any given day. Progress is a slow, sure, but an enjoyable process! Your improvement will depend entirely on the time and effort you put in. Respect your limits (without babying yourself), and expect those limits to change. Just do your best. The harder this yoga is for you the more you need it and the more you will get out of it. There is no need to show off, nor is there a need to be embarrassed about your level of practice. The secret in the success is in the FREQUENCY of your practice. All the hard work pays off. The effort you put into this yoga will return to you in many ways. It’s the very best thing you can do for your health, your body, your vitality, and your sense of well-being.
What if I can’t complete the class?
No problem. Just relax on your towel and let your body gradually acclimatize over a number of classes. The first class is always an experience – just take it as it comes, and see where it leads.
What benefits can I expect from Bikram’s Yoga?
There is much evidence both scientific and anecdotal to support the benefits of practicing yoga on a regular basis.
Some of the benefits include:
- Expanded capacity to breathe deeply and fully
- Prevention of injury and may prevent or improve chronic illness
- Better sleep – you may even need to sleep less
- Fabulous body toning effects
- Weight loss or gain, depending on your body’s needs
- Improvements in posture and body awareness
- Improve the healing and regenerative powers of your body
- Strengthen your immune system
- Improvement in your lymphatic system
- Lengthening and strengthening of muscles
- Increased flexibility
- Improved peripheral circulation
- Improved metabolism / digestion
- Gives the body a cardiovascular workout without negative impacting forces
- Nervous system is exercised
- Endocrine and exocrine glands are massaged and stimulated
- Muscular and skeletal systems are enhanced
- Weight-bearing exercise may help prevent osteoporosis
- Works every organ, gland, nerve, tendon, ligament and muscle in the body
- Improved heart and lung function
- Improved back conditions of pain and misalignment
- Improved flexibility of your spine in its range of motion in all directions allowing the improvement in function of your central nervous system.
- Better nervous system communication means a better functioning body and mind
- A sense of well-being and a more peaceful mind
- Integration of both sides of the brain to improve memory, learning, body coordination and balance
- Builds mental strength and teaches you to hold your mind in a focused and meditative state.
Why is yoga better than other forms of exercise?
Many people engage in physical exercise where trancelike states occur as the exerciser repeats the same movements again and again. The gym exerciser can often feel some relief from their everyday stresses while performing rigorous exercise, but these benefits are usually only limited to the session and the exerciser leaves with a feeling of reduced energy.
Yoga is different because it cultivates awareness and mindfulness whilst achieving better coping mechanisms for stress. Whilst being a superb body workout, this is an incredible path to mind and body fitness – and you’ll leave refreshed and regenerated with new resources of energy.
A regular yoga practice not only brings physical benefits, but also restores a natural grounded feeling, balances emotional states and virtually eliminates stress. Many students report an ‘unexpected’ feeling of well-being and vitality even at the very beginning of their practice. Why ‘unexpected’? Because most students enrol to lose weight or reduce stress – without realising that a whole new life is ahead of them!
Whether you approach your postures as a physical regime or a spiritual practice, the benefits will be there for you.
Who is Bikram’s Yoga best for?
The Bikram Yoga series is designed as a beginning class, anybody can do it any age, size, shape, condition, background, or problem. We do only beginning Yoga postures – if you follow the instructions, there’s nothing that can hurt or injure you. The postures are maintained motionless at maximum effort, not in continuous movement, (a primary principle of Hatha Yoga).
Although the first emphasis is on the correctness and safety of the postures, the class is very challenging and you will have to make demands of yourself. It requires tremendous concentration, careful listening to the teacher’s dialogue (precise instructions), patience, determination, trust, and discipline. As these are required of you, they also develop within you. Bikram’s teacher, Bishnu Ghosh, said: “Never too late, never too old, never too bad”, and Bikram added: “Never too sick… to start from scratch once again”.
More questions? More answers!
In something as physical as yoga, experience will trump information. The best way to learn whether this is for you or not is to just give it a try. Take a 10-day introductory trial, do as many classes as you can in that time, (at least three!), and see what it can do for you.
For more frequently asked questions, see Bikram’s website ( FAQs – click here
), and for testimonials from other students, go to ( Testimonials – click here
Feel free to e-mail or call if there is any other question you need answered.