Bikram Yoga: The Complex Arithmetic of Wellness
Tucson is a hot city. Summer days here average 85.7 degrees Fahrenheit, making it one of the 20 hottest cities in America. But only the most sweltering summer days rival the temps inside many Tucson yoga studios, where Bikram yoga instructors turn the heat way up for their classes.
By definition, Bikram yoga is all about the numbers. There’s a minimum temperature, a set number of poses, and even specific methods of breathing. Read on to learn more about this steamy form of fitness.
By far the most memorable thing about a Bikram yoga class is the heat. The temperature is cranked up to at least 105 degrees Fahrenheit, enough to make a person sweat as soon as they enter the studio.
Students perform 26 poses, or asanas, plucked from the world's yoga repertoire. The precise sequence of postures—including the Eagle, Camel, Locust, and Cobra—is designed to progressively stretch and strengthen the entire body.
During practice, students perform two breathing exercises, or pranayamas. One, the Standing Deep Breathing pose, is done at the very start of class. This rhythmic progression of deep inhales and slow exhales prepares the body by increasing blood circulation and heart rate. The Blowing-In-Firm pose, which is done on the knees at the end of class, expels toxins and cools down the body.
The entire sequence lasts a total of 90 minutes.
Certified instructors teach Bikram yoga around the world.
How It All Adds Up
The sweltering temperatures work in tandem with the poses to render limbs more pliable while encouraging sweat to ferry toxins out of the body. Meanwhile, the specific ordering of the postures creates a tourniquet effect—a process that occurs when a prolonged hold cuts off blood flow to one part of the body, only to flush fresh, oxygenated blood through that area once the student releases the hold.
This may all sound difficult, but instructors maintain that students of any age and experience level can benefit from the practice, as long as they focus on proper form. Bikram yoga gyms in Tucson, such as Hot Yoga Tucson and Sumits Yoga Tucson, can help newbies get off to a good start.