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Bikram Yoga: The Complex Arithmetic of Wellness
The studio’s instructors are certified in the sweat-inducing, blood-restricting practice of Bikram yoga. Peruse our examination of Bikram to understand the principles behind this steamy form of fitness.
By definition, Bikram yoga is all about the numbers as practitioners make their way through 26 poses and two breathing exercises (or pranayamas) inside a studio heated to at least 105 degrees for a total of 90 minutes. This amalgam of precise components relies on poses plucked from the world’s yoga repertoire and arranged into a sequence that progressively stretches the entire body. The sweltering temperatures are meant to 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 is meant to encourage 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.
Certified instructors teach Bikram yoga at more than 500 studios worldwide. Although these hot venues are often playfully nicknamed “chambers,” instructors maintain that students of any age and experience level can benefit from the practice, so long as they focus on proper form. Lady Gaga, Kobe Bryant, and David Beckham have all taken up the program, cycling through such stances as the Eagle, the Camel, the Locust, and the Cobra.