Passing heat does not compensate: Bikram Yoga has the same benefits as other types of Yoga (and more risks)
The Yoga is one of the most fashionable activities in recent years: every time we find more offer classes in both gyms and studios or even different types of associations. And the fact is that the practice of Yoga brings us many benefits for our body and for our mind ( many of them scientifically proven ) and it is an activity that can be practiced by anyone (with their proper progressions and regressions in the postures) regardless of their age, sex or physical condition.
Among the different types of Yoga , because not all are equal, one of the most popular is Bikram Yoga : a contemporary practice that became popular from the 70s and that differs from other types of Yoga in which is practiced in a room whose temperature is maintained at 40.6 degrees with a humidity of 40% .
Generally, this type of Yoga has been attributed various benefits such as improving the circulation and functioning of the blood vessels thanks to the fact of practicing in a room with heat. However, the latest study in this regard suggests that the benefits of Bikram Yoga on our body are due to the practice of different asanas or postures , and not to be practiced at high temperatures.
How is a session of Bikram Yoga?
The sessions of Bikram Yoga, as we pointed out, take place in rooms specially designed for this purpose, in which both temperature and humidity are very high. The sessions are usually 90 minutes in length and 26 asanas or traditional posturesfrom Hatha Yoga are carried out (postures with which we are familiar as the posture of the triangle or the posture of the cobra ).
In addition, two pranayamas or breaths are also included , one at the beginning and one at the end of the class: deep standing breathing and fire breathing, typical of Kundalini Yoga .
By carrying out the class in a warm and humid environment, this favors blood circulation, concentration and elongation of muscles , thus improving our flexibility and facilitating certain postures.
Lights and shadows of Bikram Yoga
The latest study on the practice of Bikram Yoga, published only a few days ago in The Physiological Society and carried out by the health and performance department of the University of Texas, points out that the benefits we get from practicing Bikram Yoga They are not due to the high temperatures of their classes, but to the simple practice of the different asanas . Thus, Bikram Yoga would have the same benefits as other types of Yoga like the Hatha, although assuming more risks.
To carry out the study, a group of healthy sedentary adults was divided into three different subgroups: one subgroup continued without exercise, another took Yoga classes in normal conditions and the third practiced Bikram Yoga at high temperatures. At the end of the study, both the group that practiced traditional Yoga and the one that practiced Bikram Yoga had improved their circulatory system in practically the same measure ; while the sedentary group did not experience any improvement.
When practiced at high temperatures, Bikram Yoga students may present a high risk of dehydration , so it is recommended to stay well hydrated with water throughout the session. The excessive sweating can be dangerous leading a possible dehydration, dizziness, falls and other hazards.
The way to promote Bikram Yoga can also lead to misunderstandings: it is usually associated with exercising at high temperatures and sweating with the concepts of weight loss and fat and detoxification of the body. But, as we mentioned last week, sweating is not equivalent to burning fat , and much more effective when it comes to eliminating toxins are the kidneys and the liver ( through sweat we can expel minimal amounts of heavy metals , but it is still water in 99%).