Bikram Yoga: Sweating It Out While You Stretch It Out
Bikram or hot yoga is the hottest trend in the “yogi” community. These classes take place in a room kept at a steady 104 degrees and 40% humidity. Bikram yoga is done in the hopes that the additional sweating during the class will assist in weight loss and improve overall health. But is this really the case?
Much to the chagrin of the Bikram yoga fans, it’s been shown that all that the effect of excessive sweating might actually be for naught, zilch. Some research has revealed that the amount of calories burned is about the same as someone who is briskly walking would burn. Sure, your heart rate is rising as well as your core body temp but the metabolic rate doesn’t change too drastically.
So why get all gross and sweaty (more so than a usual workout) if you can get the same weight loss results going for a nice cool walk/jog in the morning? Well, even if you aren’t burning a ton of calories, you are still getting a good workout and it’s pretty tough! Yoga itself is pretty challenging, just trying to learn the poses is pretty hard! (Downward facing dog? So…. Scrubbing the floors without the actual scrubbing? Ha!) Adding the heat puts your endurance to the test and you get a cardio workout in there as well as working out those superwoman muscles.
Let’s not forget about the mental benefits of yoga. You’re completely focused on your body and your breathing, it doesn’t get much more relaxed than that, now add on the feeling of triumph when the positions get easier and you can walk into that hot room and not start sweating like a pig the moment your foot crosses the threshold. (Seriously, I can NOT emphasize the amount of sweating you would be doing… Brett Michaels in an outdoor concert in the middle of an Arizona summer, sweating. Yeah. Ew.)
However, buckets of sweat aren’t the only thing released during Bikram Yoga, there are also those wonderful things called endorphins or as we like to call them: TNHC – The Natural High Chemicals. Sure, all kinds of exercise releases endorphins, but imagine, you just mastered that crazy pretzel moves you’ve been practicing…. IN THE HEAT and you didn’t even pass out! Wow! If I could do that, I’d probably hug myself… Well, after a shower that is.Speaking of passing out, it could happen. You could sweat so much that you become overheated and dehydrated. Just like an athlete working out in the summer heat, you need to pay close attention to your body, even after the hot Bikram yoga session is over. If you feel dizzy, nauseous (not from the B.O. of course), confused or lightheaded, take a break. Get some water and rest. You might even want to make that some Gatorade or Powerade so that you can replenish all the electrolytes you lost.
There hasn’t been a vast array of studies done on Hot Yoga, which is odd considering there are millions of people who participate in this sweaty activity, but what we do know about it, we can’t really say for sure scientifically that it’s worth it. That being said, with millions of people doing Bikram Yoga every day and so many swearing by it, there has to be something great about it I’m sure. I don’t think anyone would sit in a hot room full of sweating people and twist their bodies all around if they weren’t getting something out of it. Some have even called it a life-changing experience.
If you’re looking into taking a Bikram Yoga class, the best advice would be to give it a try and see if you like it; it’s certainly not for everybody. Keep in mind, be mindful of your body, stay hydrated, and know your limits. Bikram Yoga is not for everyone, but if you like to sweat and twist your body around into different (probably uncomfortable) positions, give it a try! You never know, it could end up being a game-changer for you and you're go-to for relaxation, fitness, and overall health.