Bikram Yoga 101

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be putting the spotlight on some of the most popular forms of yoga. Since there are so many different styles of yoga to choose from, educating yourself on what they are all about will help you make a decision in choosing which kind of yoga to practice.

One of the most well-known kinds of yoga is Bikram. If you’ve heard of people practicing yoga in a room that is heated to over 100 degrees, this is the type of yoga they were sweating through. Bikram yoga is also referred to as “Hot Yoga.”

What is Bikram Yoga?

bikram choudhuryBikram yoga was founded by Bikram Choudhury, a teacher born in India and received his training in Calcutta. Choudhury currently lives in Beverly Hills, California where he first found his copyrighted style of yoga.


The intention behind having the room heated so high is to ensure the student will sweat profusely, thereby ridding the body of toxins. The intense heat also makes the muscles very supple and warm which enhances flexibility. The sequence of postures is also designed to relieve stress, reduce tension and prevent injury.

What is a Bikram yoga class like?

bikram yoga positionsBikram yoga involves doing a set sequence of 26 postures, or asanas, and two breathing exercises in a class that is heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Students are guided along the class by Bikram-certified teachers who instruct using a specific dialogue. Each class lasts approximately 90 minutes.

The authentic Bikram method recommends that you practice it every day.

Given the high heat and the length of time that each posture is held, Bikram yoga is very strenuous. Even though beginners are encouraged to sample a class, if you have a strong aversion to the heat or get faint quickly, you might want to think about first trying out another kind of yoga class that heats the room, but not as high as in a Bikram class.

Bikram Tips

Since you sweat so much, make sure that you bring your own yoga mat and towel, or two. Also, drink plenty of liquids after class. And just as with any yoga class, refrain from eating 2-3 hours before you roll out your mat.

Pregnant women should not practice Bikram Yoga because it raises the core body temperature.


Bikram Choudry holds a U.S. copyright on his yoga, and yoga instructors must undergo a paid training and certification process to teach it. This has been met with much resistance by some members of the yoga community who feel that placing a copyright on yoga postures that were not developed by Choudry is unjust and goes against the nature of yoga itself.

In addition, the high heat in Bikram classes has received criticism for its potential to promote injury because it gives the muscles a false sense of flexibility. Also, locking joints, like the knees, are a required adjustment. Many exercise experts feel that locking the joints shuts off the muscle and can lead to hyperpronation of the joint.

Here is a short video clip of Bikram yoga in action:

4 Responses to Bikram Yoga 101

Good day
I am compelled to respond to your article about Bikram 101.
I have been with Bikram for almost 25 years ,practicing and teaching and I must say to you that it is a personal choice for pregnant women to practice Bikram Method Hatha Yoga.I have had more than a hundred yoga students,if not more for sure, practice this yoga during the full term of their pregnancy. The heat is not an issue with the girls. My latest student Theresa just gave birth to her new baby,Anthony last week. She started a 100 Yoga Day Challenge being 2 and 1/2 months pregnant. She practiced for 193 days straight and her labor was sooo short,4 pushes and she had her baby.She was hoping to get to 200 days…..I have been told by some of the Baby Doctors that practice at my school that the Body temperature naturally will go up a degree or half when a women is pregnant. The girls bring in thermometers if they are concerned and NEVER have the temps been raised higher than normal even at a triangle pose. The main reason they leave the room is to go pee!
If you are practicing proper relaxed breathing in class…..nobody’s temperature rises.Bikram Yoga is NOT exercise …nothing even near like it….it is not a sauna either.
The main reason for the heat is allow the release of oxygen into the body from the hemoglobin exponentially fast.It is not to make class hard.It takes the pressure off the heart when we are more efficient in gaining oxygen in the lungs,in the body.
The list is too long to go into everything fantastic that happens to women when they practice this yoga…. Again… for some women,it is emotional and a personal choice if this is for them. You cannot make such blanket statements like you did. This yoga is about health and healing. When a woman is in the middle of the most amazing creation… this yoga is NOT all of the sudden going to be bad for you.
Secondly,a looked knee is not a hyperextended knee.It is beautiful example of moderation… not too tight,not too loose.From the side view ankle,knee and hip joint are stacked in a perfect straight line,90 degrees from the floor to ceiling.The term is VERY misunderstood and your article is a perfect example of that. People only stretch as far as they can…until they can stretch farther later.
Hyperextended knees are people who need to develop some strength to make the proper alignment.They are too flexible and over time, will find the correct posture. Patience is most important.
Third ,I have been the victim of yoga schools opening too close to my schools and copying the Bikram Series from my school and then financially affecting me by aggressively competing with me. Bikram NEVER tried to copyright yoga postures…ever. This is “Lynch Mobbing” at it’s best by the rest of the yoga community. I find this hypocritical and “not very yogic”.Bikram has a copyright on his “sequence” and his name. He does not want uncertified teachers representing his yoga sequence incorrectly and without permission.He does not want him using his name. I see no problem with this. He has Never tried to copyright “yoga”. Please do not print untruths about someone so casually. You are VERY uninformed about this. There are sooo many other famous yoga practitioners who have now followed Bikrams model and started copyrighting their techniques and licensing their names. I am not going to mention them here.I am sure they will be included in future articles by you.
Bikram Yoga has saved my spine and has healed so many of my students. It is miraculous and I am glad it is on the planet. It is Scientific Method and it IS for everyone. Not everyone may choose it,but just the same,it IS for everyone. My oldest student is 93 years old,never drinks water in class and never sits down.he takes class 7 days a week. My students deal with depression,MS,broken body parts,tumors,yoga babies,broken immune systems,digestive problems,heart and lung problems… and we are all taking class together. This yoga boosts the immune system and pours fresh oxygen into the body.It IS amazing. I am glad I know about it. I am glad I know Bikram and I am glad I practice this yoga.
Good luck to you in the future.

heather says:

Dear Mary

I am so happy that you have found in Bikram yoga, a practice that speaks to you physically, mentally and spiritually. As a dedicated Ashtanga yoga practitioner for the past 7 years I am more than aware and respectful of the loyalty that comes only following a style of yoga for such a long time.

On a personal note, I practiced the full Ashtanga primary series throughout the entire nine months of my pregnancy even though many yoga texts and/or teachers recommend otherwise to pregnant women.

In my post, I in no way meant to offend the Bikram style of yoga. I merely gave readers an overview of what this method is about. I appreciate the time and thought you took in responding to my overview and I wish you well in your pursuit and dedication of Bikram yoga.

Wow what a fascinating article and comments! I cannot wait to try Bikram!

Dana says:

Bikram’s the thing that really helped me change my body shape. After the initial loss, it took changing my diet, too, to keep losing weight, but combination of the two works great for me.

For me the key thing of Bikram is the fact that it’s the same series all the time (like Ashtanga). After going regularly for awhile, i can walk into the room in any headspace and my body will just start doing the postures.

So if i’m not feeling great or am distracted by a lot of stuff, i can just go in and after a short while, that’s all gone and it’s just me and the postures.

If i’m feeling okay or better, the lack of trying to keep up with what the teacher is doing or describing helps me focus on the pose.

At one point i did 80 days straight (this helped with the memorization), and from that i can say the one thing that made a complete difference of how i felt in class was: How much water i had to drink before hand.

Going daily means it does’t matter if you feel good or bad, you have to go. Days i felt good and didn’t drink a good amount of water were not good days in class. Days i didn’t feel so hot but drank a lot of water, i felt better coming out of class than going in.


Just to also add that i’ve seen a lot of pregnant women in Bikram classes. I think there were about a dozen pregnant at one time regularly taking classes at the studio i was going to.

The teacher was pregnant, too. 🙂 She had two kids while teaching and taking classes.

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