Yoga® is probably the most wholeness-promoting exercise on the planet!
Taken from the Hatha Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a proven yoga tradition
5,000 years old, this program of physical yoga exercise is done in a room
at 106-110 degrees F. Bikram Yoga® is a set of 26 postures plus two
breathing exercises. The asanas (postures) have been scientifically and
medically confirmed repeatedly, over the centuries and in modern times,
for their benefits to wellness and whole being. This is an outstanding
support tool for building wholeness!
In bringing Hatha Yoga to the world and the West, Bikram Choudhury, the
founder of Bikram Yoga®, remained true to the ancient methods of Hatha,
and thus preserved a centuries-old tradition of developing vitality, immunity
to disease, and “supernatural power” – our birthright
if we will but embrace it. Bikram’s guru was Bishnu Ghosh, the brother
of Paramahansa Yogananda, and Bikram was well versed in yoga’s true
No matter how old or young, how healthy, injured, or diseased, how rich
or poor, Bikram Yoga® is designed for everyone. No study or knowledge
of Eastern ways is necessary; yoga is about being and experiencing, and
then from that knowing. One only needs to try, as best as one can at any
one time, to do the postures the right way to receive the full benefit
and progress toward well being. To succeed, one need only listen and follow
the instructor’s input, and try.
Some say that Hatha Yoga was designed as a companion to and in preparation
for other forms of Yoga, such as Raja Yoga that focuses on developing awareness
and Self-realization through meditation. Be that as it may, Hatha Yoga
aims to open all the senses and positively effect all levels of ones being,
including consciousness, by placing the body into each of these postures
in the right way.
Bikram Yoga® is executed in a warm room (106-110 F). Warmth avoids
injury and, in combo with the postures, provides an excellent detoxification
and rejuvenation that cannot be had otherwise. While other forms of exercise
can cause injury, Bikram will not cause anything negative that was not
already “lying in wait” for a place and time to happen. When
carried out with the proper effort and direction, without forcing (or other
exercises of the ego), Bikram Yoga® will always result in wellness.
forms of Hatha Yoga in the West, Bikram notes:
Hatha Yoga has been badly abused in the West. A number of yogis came to
the West to teach Hatha Yoga. They and their disciples destroyed the Hatha
Yoga system as it has been known for thousands of years. These yogis knew
true Hatha Yoga, but because of their lack of faith in the Hatha Yoga system
and the Western people, they have ruined Hatha Yoga in the West. Ruined
it even down to the three basic principles of freezing the body in the
posture for the prescribed number of seconds, proper control of the breath
while in the posture…, and following the posture with the minimum
20 seconds in savasana, complete relaxation.
“These yogi’s and their disciples failed to recognize that
because of the cultural differences between East and West, teaching methods
that worked in the East could not work in the West. Rather than change
the method…, they changed what they knew to be true into something
that merely resembles Hatha Yoga, but does not deliver the goods. The damage
that these yogis did by not holding to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras has
caused damage far beyond those they taught. They led their disciples to
believe they had learned Hatha Yoga. Of course, they had not. To compound
the problem further, their disciples were taught with a total disregard
to the Hatha Yoga system, which is grounded in discipline. Then these disciples
felt they could do the same as their teachers.
“Americans are very inventive, even if what they invent is wrong.
They invent posture after posture, making up names for them. Then they
sell their wares to innocent, uninitiated people who do not know they are
getting ripped off, even getting hurt…. Most of these so-called Yoga
systems are not Yoga at all….” (Bikram’s Beginning Yoga
Class, B. Choudhury & B. Reynolds, 2000).
Since “wholeness” by definition means all levels of ones being,
the physical cannot be ignored. But this exercise does not merely stop
at the physical but extends into the mind (thought and emotion) and subtle
energy (prana), affecting even the practitioner’s consciousness as
they stay present in the postures. The affect of this exercise on ones
SelfQuesting™ process, in aiding fragmented consciousness to rise
and become accessible for connection and release, can’t be overstated.
But even once relatively whole, the support this yoga offers as far as
strength, energy, flexibility, detoxification and general well being is
invaluable, especially in today’s world of high environmental toxins
and personal stresses. No other form of physical exercise will give you
what these 26 postures and two breathing exercises offer – at any
age or level of wellness – in moving you toward wholeness and supporting
Keep in mind that in Bikram Yoga, as with most things, the improvement
and consciousness is in the details. Pay attention to the details of form
and you will see improvement. Avoiding proper form blocks improvement.
At differing times in your practice you’ll become aware of this importance
on deeper and deeper levels.
To support you through the challenge that Bikram Yoga® will pose, I
recommend using essential oils, raw foods (fruits and vegetables), and
the Chi Machine®. When used as advised, the Chi Machine® will oxygenate
your system (blood lymph, organs), opening the lymph valves and moving
lymph like nothing you’ve experienced. Professionals who work with
the lymphatic system are profoundly impressed with this device’s
ability to move lymph. The Chi Machine® will ease the tiredness, aches,
and pains provided initially by the Yoga, and prepare you for the next
class, oxygenating and detoxifying your system.
Some say that in Bikram Yoga® everyone goes through the same amount
of effort and pain, apparently believing that all people have the same
genetics, toxins, emotional history, etc., and thus experience Bikram equally.
Don’t you believe it! For some just “hanging out in a warm
room” is a major challenge initially that requires considerable effort,
discomfort, and time to work through. While for others, heat offers a considerably
lesser challenge. The fact is that in Bikram, like in life generally, some
sail through comparatively unchallenged, while others work hard to earn
every little achievement. Just remember not to compare yourself with others
(even with yourself and what you did yesterday), stay out of the ego –
be the tortoise not the hare (recalling the story from your childhood of
the race between the tortoise and the rabbit?). In so doing you will see
and appreciate your improvements in and outside the Bikram class.
- the Bikram Yoga site
[Note: Prior to starting Bikram
Yoga, for those new to yoga or strenuous physical exercise, or those
with physical challenges, it might help to begin more gently with a program
like Kali Ray TriYoga (the Hip-Opener DVD is great and can
be done at your own pace in the privacy of your home!). Once a certain
tolerance and flexibility are built up with this gentler program (and the
syndrome described elsewhere here involving adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism
is dealt with), then joining the heat and stress of Bikram Yoga
class can be best utilized.
who tend to be “wasted” by the stress of the Bikram program, or
who have difficulty with exacerbation of low-back and hip pain from this
kind of exercise, please see the note here regarding what I call the “triumvirate
syndrome” of hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue. Once one gets past the
effects of this syndrome on the thyroid (metabolism, thermostat), adrenals
(energy), and pancreas (blood sugar), then detoxification through “hot”
yoga is not nearly so traumatizing or draining. In fact it becomes “energizing,”
as Bikram himself notes.]