It may have been devised over four decades ago, but it’s only in the past few years that Bikram Yoga has become a huge, ongoing fad. The devotion of international A-listers like George Clooney, Lady Gaga and David Beckham to the technique, is proof of its popularity overseas, while closer home, the trend is still catching on.
Ask its creator, Yogiraj Bikram Choudhury, what sets Bikram Yoga apart from the other forms and he explains, “An ideal session consists of a sequence of 26 postures, repeated twice. It is practiced in a room heated to about 105°F (40.5°C) with 40 per cent humidity, and usually last 90 minutes.”
Choudhury reveals that he chanced upon the technique on a visit to Japan. “When I first taught there, I found myself shivering through my postures during winter, so I brought in space heaters. Suddenly it was easier for my students to lock their knees and touch their palms to the floor,” he recalls, adding, “As an added benefit, the sauna-like temperatures heightened their sense of euphoria and purification after workouts.”
He then skips to 1972, saying, “That year, when I launched Bikram’s Yoga College of India in a tiny studio in the North Beach section of San Francisco, the heaters came with me, and Bikram Yoga was born.”
Now, it’s one of the most successful forms of yoga in the world, with franchises dotted along the US, and clientele including some very famous names.
How it helps
Stimulates the heart to pump more oxygen to all parts of the body
Weight loss and rapid body toning
Toning and strengthening of muscles
Increased flexibility and balance
Regulation of sleep cycle
Increased energy and vitality
Slowing of ageing process
Fighting chronic diseases, muscular and skeletal problems
Celebs sweat it out
“I have worked with hundreds of stars over the years, but Jessica Simpson and George Clooney are among my favourites. They do 90 minutes of yoga whenever they’re near a Bikram school — even when they’re overseas. I find that surprising among the crazy crowd of undisciplined lunatics in Hollywood. My other favourites are Jim Carrey, Quincy Jones, Goldie Hawn, Brooke Shields and Diana Ross. I also love Shirley MacLaine. I have even taught Lady Gaga, Richard Nixon, Britney Spears, Ashton Kutcher and David Beckham. I don’t only teach them a healthy lifestyle, but also about emotional healing.”
Try these at home
These simple yoga asanas can improve your flexibility and strength.
Head-to-knee pose or dandayamana-janushirasana: From a standing position, lift one leg so that it’s at a right angle to your body, keep your knee locked, and then bend your upper body forward towards the lifted leg.
Camel pose or ustrasana: On your knees, hands on your hips, bend back until you grab your heels with your hands, then thrust your chest into the air.
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