What Is So Special about Bikram Yoga?
An Interesting Story about Bikram and Yoga
Yogiraj Bikram Choudhury, the founder of what is now the worldwide "Yoga College of India" was born in Calcutta, India, in 1946. He started the practice of yoga at a meager four years of age, working with India's most renowned physical culturist - Bishnu Ghosh, who happens to be the younger brother of Paramahansa Yogananda. He is the author of the most popular book about yoga, The Autobiography of a Yogi. He also founded the Los Angeles based Self-Realization Fellowship.
For at least four to six hours a day, Bikram practiced yoga. He did his yoga at Ghosh's College of Physical Education, in Calcutta, India. When he was only 13, he won a very high honor, the National India Yoga Championship. For the next three years he was undefeated, and after that he retired as the undisputed All-India National Yoga Champion.
In an unfortunate accident, at age 17 he injured his knee while weight-lifting. Many leading European doctors believed he would never even walk again. He did not believe them, and would not accept this fate. He had them carry him back to Bishnu Ghosh's own yoga school, because he knew working with his teacher was the best way to heal his knee. Sure enough, as Bikram practiced yoga, only six months later, his knee was totally healed. His teacher, Bishnu Ghosh, was the first to document scientifically the ability of yoga to heal the body and even cure chronic physical ailments.
Bishnu Ghosh asked Bikram to start yoga schools in India. These schools were so unbelievably successful that Bishnu then asked that Bikram go to Japan and open two more schools. Since then, his own curative methods of yoga therapy have been brought around the globe.
What's Different about Bikram Yoga?
One major difference between Bikram yoga and other types is that the room is kept very warm and moist. They recommend the temperature be a minimum of 105F degrees, and with about 40% humidity. This is for several reasons: it keeps the body from overheating, protects the muscles so they can stretch deeper, opens the pores of the body to let the toxins out, thins the blood to clear the circulatory system, increases the heart rate for a better cardiovascular workout, improves the muscle strength, and reorganizes the lipids (fats) in the muscular structure.
The beginning Bikram's Yoga Class is a 26 pose series. It is designed to scientifically warm and stretch the ligaments, tendons, and muscles, in the proper order. The Bikram Yoga's exercises are designed to take fresh, oxygenated blood the all of the body, restoring the body to health. Bikram Yoga believes that these things create an environment where muscle tone, proper weight, vibrant good health, and a sense of well-being will naturally occur.
In Bikram yoga, these certain postures - but not including inversions - are learned first, in the beginner classes, so that it safely builds the strength the body needs to be healthy throughout the body. Several years later, as the yogi advances in their study of this yoga method, some of the traditional inverted poses are added. Before then, the benefits of inversions are found by separate leg stretching, rabbit pose, and other parts of the series.