Bikram claims that you release toxins through sweat during Bikram yoga.
Each Bikram yoga class goes through a series of 26 specific poses - a sequence that yogi Bikram Choudhury developed - for 90 minutes. But what characterizes Bikram yoga is the intense heat in which a class is practiced. The recommended minimum temperature is 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and many classes go well beyond that. Plus, the minimum humidity level is 40 percent. Bikram yoga can provide many benefits, but it also comes with some potential risks.
Burn More Calories
If you're looking for an effective workout, Bikram yoga offers a high-intensity session with a high calorie burn. The Bikram's Yoga College of India website explains that Bikram yoga can help you burn up to 600 calories in a typical 90-minute class between the high heat and the high-intensity workout. This number of calories burned is much higher than types of yoga that incorporate gentle poses and meditation.
Boost Flexibility and More
Bikram's website claims that his method of yoga has many health benefits from the heat and from the specific sequence of poses. It claims that the intense heat softens your body so you can perform a pose at its optimum level, and that the sequence offers benefits like detoxing the body, strengthening the muscles and thinning the blood to help circulation. Bikram yoga does have some measurable results. For example, one study in вЂњThe Journal of Strength and Conditioning ResearchвЂќ found that healthy young adults had improved deadlift strength, a small amount of fat loss and more flexibility in the lower back, shoulders and hamstrings from Bikram yoga.
Despite its health claims, Bikram yoga has many critics that include yoga instructors and health professionals. In his book вЂњYoga as Medicine,вЂќ Dr. Timothy McCall explains that the heat can cause ligaments to stretch further than normal, potentially causing an injury. He also notes that hot yoga can cause dehydration and heart attacks, and aggravate conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis and inflammatory conditions.
So is the high heat of a Bikram yoga studio unsafe? Bikram's website claims that the high heat actually prevents the body from overheating. A study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise found that people who practiced hot yoga did not have high increases in their core temperatures or heart rates. However, the study was conducted with yoga in 92-degree Fahrenheit heat and a Bikram yoga class is at least 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, research is needed on the high heat of Bikram yoga in particular.