Bikram Yoga for Weight Loss
A study has projected that by the year 2018, 21% of the America’s direct health care spending would be for obesity related reasons. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one third of the population in the United States are obese. About 350,000 people die every year due to obesity related diseases.
One may be unaware of these ground realites but it is unlikely that anybody is not aware of the two ground rules for weight loss, namely, a healthy diet and exercise. Achieving a healthy weight can bring down the risks of the co-morbidities associated with obesity many times. Yoga is an ancient form of exercising and toning muscles in the body. Practising yogis have lithe bodies with no signs of any excess fat anywhere on it. It is actually a whole new way of life.
In this article, we are going to explore a much established and popular method of yoga, namely, Bikram yoga. It is named after the yoga guru Bikram Choudhury, who introduced this particular form of yoga. Bikram Choudhury has been the Guru of the rich and famous in the United States. Yoga studios by his name are found in almost every block in every town. His studio in Beverly Hills is regularly frequented by movie stars of all stature.
The said form of yoga is essentially a sect of hatha yoga. It consists of 26 patented yoga postures and 2 breathing exercises which are known as pranayama. These postures are known as Asanas. It is practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees Farenheit with a humidity of 40%. Hence, the nickname Hot Yoga.
The heat helps to get the most out of the stretching exercises and also prevents any injury. It relaxes the muscles more and enables them to be properly worked out. The 26 postures are so designed, that every muscle in the body is stimulated and exercised. All the joints are lubricated in the process. It strengthens the entire body from head to toe.
Bikram yoga helps in improving blood circulation to all the organs in the body. This particular aspect can help prevent heart diseases and other blood clot related problems. It also helps prevent organ failure.
The pranayama or breathing exercises help to utilize the lungs to their optimum capacity. The lungs are stretched through these exercises to hold more oxygen. Normally, people just use 50% of their lungs’ capacity. Pranayama is extremely efficient in improving cardiovascular health. The retention and absorption of oxygen is more and as a result blood circulation and overall health improves tremendously.
The inhalation and exhalation done during the asanas are termed as extension and compression. Breathing is very crucial while performing the asanas or posrtures, as they are commonly called. The compression of the muscle as a part of the asana actually reduces blood supply to the concerned region. This causes the heart to pump more blood and direct it to the area of the shortage. Once the compressed muscle is relaxed, new oxygenated blood flow is restored to the compressed muscles.
The asanas which are part of the 26 asana workout also aid the lymphatic system in eliminating the toxins from the body.
Bikram yoga is a very safe and efficient method of weight loss too. A 90 minute session ends up burning on an average anywhere between 500 to 1250 calories. However, the specific amounts of calories burned depends on the individual’s body composition, metabolism and the intensity with which the work out is done.
Some of the asanas which are part of the 90 minute workout are the Utkatasana (Awkward pose), Garudasana ( Eagle pose), Ardha Chandra asana with Pada-Hastasana ( Half moon posewith Hands to Feet pose), Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) etc.