Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What Sucks…Bikram Yoga



I’ll be the first to say there are many benefits to yoga and the yoga lifestyle. It has given countless people across the world the ability to lower their stress levels and lead healthier lives. Plus, in tandem with “Big Granola”, hippy dudes everywhere now have something to talk about other than making their own jewelry and smoking weed. In addition, it has raised the living standard of skinny Indian dudes and with long hair, and given work to people who make yoga mats.

That being said, Bikram Yoga is a hellish torture test, designed by people for whom I can only guess, want to feel as much public pain and discomfort as possible, but can’t get tickets to “Big & Rich”.

For those who don’t know, Bikram Yoga is a 26-pose yoga program, in a room heated to 105 degrees, with 50 percent humidity. It’s twisting your body in hell. Plus, it has a yoga teacher in there with you, which makes it a little worse than hell. I doubt Satan has enough time to give you his unsolicited opinion on why eating meat and driving your car is bad while he’s burning your balls off. He has things to do, you know- making sure Jerry Falwell is adjusting well to his new gig blowing demons, coordinating with Dick Cheney, trading stories with Charles Kuralt, etc.

Perhaps Birkram just isn’t for me. But come on, who’s it for? People who say “Hey, yoga’s cool but I wish we could do it in a sauna, in the earth’s core…at high noon!"?

26 comments:

Invisible Woman said...

Agreed...I don't know where this came from, but it reeks of Western bastardization (read American bs).

Anonymous said...

I love "bastardization". The word, that is.

mickey said...

i'm into laughing meditation.

mamahawtre said...

I love bikram yoga..if you like to challenge yourself it's enjoyable. It just isn't for some people though, I've seen people pass out and throw up..but it happens.

cpmje said...

Hey invisible woman and others...its hot in india and its hot in bikram yoga...the heat helps. but its not for the wimpy or those bastardized. The real bastardization is bs chanting of aum, bearning incense (all about mood)...when you aren't ready for it. I lived as a srf monk for some time and I can tell you...bikram is a great soul....by the way why so negative about the west. You remind of the loser section of our society that embraces failure and rewards laziness....meaning, most naysayers like you who worry about the westernization of yoga may already be doing it wrong yourself. Bikram yoga is very pure....in fact the poses are taught they way they are meant to be taught. I know this is usually not the case. For example, most classes don't have savasana between every floor pose; and they are supposed to.

Anonymous said...

bikram learned yoga from his guru in calcutta. his guru asked him to spread hatha yoga to the west, and he did. it is difficult and challenging, and that is what hatha yoga is about, discipline, not staring into the candle and chanting ohm to the world. bikram yoga is a gift, but most people are just not able to stick with it. oh well

Jillian said...

Bikram yoga is NOT good for you. It forces your body by using heat into postures that it is not ready for and can have long lasting, damaging effects. The only reason it feels like its good for you is because you feel exhausted, drained and defeated. This style gives yoga a bad name. Bikram yoga is limited to 26 poses. They are the same every time! There exists 100s of yoga poses that target different muscle groups and when using them in variety is the only way to get a total body workout. Please, do the research! Bikram is taking advantage of yoga’s good name and claim to medical benefits and not following through.

I am a certified hatha yoga instructor and experimented with bikram for a year until finally injuring by lower back. I know many others who have been injured and never seemed to get any stronger, thinner, or more balanced. If you are looking for a workout, try ashtanga–if you’re looking relief from: stress, anxiety, depression, hypertension, sciatica; try any other form of yoga!! If you like the heat, which was my favorite part, try heated vinyasa flow. Your body and mind will thank you!

Anonymous said...

People get injured from doing just about anything physical, so needless to say there are a few idiots out there that don't take responsibility for there own injuries and blame others. I've studied at Bikram Yoga Collage of India for well over 5 years and feel and see the benefits. And yes the beginning serious has 26 postures while the advance has 80. Get your facts, try it for your self and have fun.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jillian, the Hatha Yoga instructor. Bikram Yoga is not good for you. I have been doing yoga for 6 years to stregthen my back and core. I am naturally very flexible. I just started Bikram Yoga and had to stop because it was reversing all the progress I had made. It also really hurt my knees. Being a marathon runner, this was not something I was willing to do. Ashtanga and Hot Vinyasa are the way to go. I HIGHLY recommend those types of Yoga for anyone that wants to get fit, loose weight, and heal their back pain

Anonymous said...

I love Bikram yoga. I have tried every kind out there and Bikram is the only one that makes me feel as if I have challenged my body and soul. I live in a hot climate, 105degrees does not bother me. I enjoy sweating out all the toxins in my body. It's yoga in a steam room? Big effin deal!!! Saying Bikram is not good for you is really lame.

Kristin said...

Bikram yoga is not pure, not natural. I put it in the same category as "cleanses". There is nothing natural about vigorously exercising in extreme heat, just like there is nothing natural about not eating for ten days. The nausea and headaches your experience from both are not due to your body "releasing toxins", they are due to your body being dehydrated and your body wanting food. Sometimes people get so excited about their "alternative therapies" that it seems they completely forget about basic biology.

Anonymous said...

I'm a physical therapist and some of the poses such as Utkatasana, Supta Vajrasana and Tadasana for example are VERY bad for your knees. Most people never get to the advanced 80 poses and constantly perform the 26 thus creating an imbalance in musculature vs flexibility. This leads to injury. So many of my patients have injured themselves doing something else (surfing, hiking, running) and blame it on that, but I see one commonality between most of them. Bikram follers. Usually after a good musculoskeletal exam I can determine the Bikram follers by telltale imbalances. It should be a PART of your workout regime....it shouldn't be your only workout regime.

Anonymous said...

gree with the criticisms, I cannot STAND Bikram Yoga, or Bikram Choudrey for that matter.

Bikram yoga is the very same 26 poses over and over and over again. I do a Hot Vinyasa sequence six days a week and I have a different instructor, therefore different style every single time. So my muscles are not getting the same workout. My yoga center is cool as in the Hot Vinyasa, the owners let the instructor do what they want in the class.

if an instructor at Bikram studios did this, Bikram would SUE them, as the Bikram instructors are forced to make their studios to Bikram's specifications, forced to have mirrors in the room, FORCED to "stay on script". Many Bikram instructors go and teach a different style of yoga becuase they hate Bikram's fascist-like ways.

Bikram Choudrey is a petty, small, greedy, nasty man with deep pockets who loves to sue the little people. There are Bikram graduates who did not please Bikram to his liking, and in the middle of their building a studio, he would pull his permission for them to use his name, there is a guy in Florida who Bikram did this to and he was left holding the bag.

Bikram's discipes who defend him are either: 1.) Too dumb or naieve to know better

2.) Found out how much of a fraud he is, but they were in too deep to turn back, so they defend him.

Whenever Bikram tells you that he brought yoga to the West, know that he is LYING. Bikram came here in the 60s, there are yogis coming to the United States as early as the 1930, and even one who came here in 1895.

Lock The Knee Larranaga said...

Bikram Yoga doesn't suck, but what definitely DOES SUCK is the unrelenting bullshit that Bikram and his robotic teachers inpart in "seminars." I've been to two -- one in a half-empty Boston auditorim to hear Bikram himself speak, the second in a studio with one of his senior teachers. The former was slotted to last four hours, and went seven and-one-half fucking hours, and the only reason he stopped, I swear, is because he got hungry. The latter was marketed to students -- "to turn their practice around" -- but instead was just a forum for a bunch of instructors to show off their self-perceived perfect asanas. A complete and utter waste of time.

If you practice Bikram, awesome. If you want to improve, do a private with your favorite instructor. If you want to blow your brains out or (worse) sour yourself on the entire Bikram experience, go watch the man talk or go to one of his endorsed-seminars.

Anonymous said...

I did Bikram for about two years, but got burnt out. I switched to Astanga, injured my neck and exacerbated the arthritis in my shoulders. Now I am back to doing Bikram again to deal with the injuries I recieved in Astanga. Bikram isn't for everybody, but it works for me as opposed to other styles.

pierre said...

I started yoga in rishikesh (india himalaya) 7 years ago, I had been travelling India with my girlfriend for about 3 month and I found the place so inspiring that I stayed more than a month practicing yoga and Indian music(her bansuri flute me tabla) every day.... I was 22 at that time, the experience was so rich in so many ways...For about a month I stopped eating meat, drinking alcool and gave up smoking.
day after day I kept feeling better in my mind body and soul...It was like discovering life from a new angle...reaching higher states of consciousness, awareness without the help of any substances.
Today, I've tried many different styles of yoga : vinyasa, ashtanga, hatha, Bikram...
And I must say that after more than 20 classes of Bikram I understood what it's about...
First of all Bikram is a very smart guy, he sensed a big money making buisness in adapting yoga for the western world(at least he was one of the first ones)...
His yoga goes along with life in big city's...you need to be tough out there if you want to get a decent life and be respected...I guess you all know what I'm talking about, no need to explain.
So honestly the only thing that bothers me with Bikram is not him or his yoga but it's the fact that we are so encouraged to be more competitive, aggressiv...that so many of us skip the most important things as sensitiveness, creativity...
So to all of you out there that are into bikram, know that there is much more to discover in yoga and that you will be amazed if you really take the chance to go further in the journey of self discovery...
Om shanti

Anonymous said...

I did Bikram for two months and loved it. I almost passed out in the first few classes. Then I really hit my stride, or so I thought. I told the instructor I had back problems, she said that I should go fully into the positions and that it would open up my spine. I used to have major lower back problems which were gone for many years. Now I have them back. Thanks Bikram for making the herniation and other disk problems I have there resurface. Now my calf and half my buttocks are painful and my lower back is killing me. I am worried as hell since this in not muscle but a disc problem. These people act like they know as much and indeed more than doctors but that is so much baloney. This yoga has severely injured me.

Joshua G said...

I've been doing Bikram yoga for nearly two years. At my peak I was going about 3 times a week. Now I go maybe twice a week. Its the best workout I've ever had.

My body feels great for 3 days after a class and its brought positive change into my life...

Why?

You get so uncomfortable that you'll do anything to make yourself feel more comfortable in the hot room. You don't want to be thinking about a bad habit you have or someone you wronged during practice because it makes you feel like shit and there is no way to escape it. So you make changes in life, that way you are comfortable during practice.

Anonymous said...

Ha, Kristin hit the nail on the head. As a Msc student in thermoregulatory physiology, i find it sad what people will accept as true without looking at the underlying facts, simply because they are so taken with the idea of losing weight faster and eliminating imaginary "toxins." Hot Yoga is a pseudoscientific splinter fad of Yoga that fits right in with our western society: finding a shortcut to losing weight. A heated environment does not increase blood to your muscles or joints or ligaments, making them warmup faster or be more flexible, contrary to what these yoga experts believe. While capillaries under you skin do dilate to increase blood flow and sweating, this has nothing to do with the muscles or organs. conversly, after a period the loss of fluid through sweat decreases blood plasma and as a result decreases stroke volume and increases heart rate. You do not burn more calories either just because the room is hot: this claim is completely unsupported by science and is nonsense. And as for the toxins... oh boy, dont get me started on the "toxins." That our sweat is all of the sudden filled with them is nothing short of quackery.

Anonymous said...

I just went to my very first Bikram Yoga class & also left my last Bikram class. It does not embody the true principles of Yoga. Yoga is about honoring your body and finding peace within yourself. I love the concept of the heated room & humidity because I love to sweat! However, I now understand why the Yoga Alliance does not accredit Bikram. What part of Bikram is about kindness, love & honoring your body? I am very curious? I actually rolled my mat up and left the class after the first 30 minutes! I am a cert RYT trainer & personal trainer who loves physical exertion. Bikram seems to be a bootcamp yoga(which defeats Patajanlis eight limbed path) wiTh indtructors barking orders at the class! FYI---Bikram is not REAL yoga to the core, they just happen to have SOME of the same asanas! Bikram gives yoga a bad name.

Anonymous said...

you need to listen to your body, no matter what physical activities you are doing. if you have old injuries be nice to them! true- some bikram yoga teachers will tell you to push yourself, but in bikram practice they don't come and touch you, only you are responsible for how deep you go. adjustments are all auditory, so you can fix yourself at your own speed. claiming that one form of yoga caused you to hurt yourself is only shifting the blame, take some responsibility... don't go into a pose if you have never done it and have to crane your neck while in it to see what it looks like, don't "lock your knee" if you have a bad knee... WORK ON IT. and if the instructor tells you something you don't jive with, confer with another, get a second opinion just like you would a doctor. you can't put total faith into the words of one instructor, and then blame them when things go wrong.. blame yourself for not doing more research, trusting your instincts, and listening to your body... i understand not everyone is in tune to their body, but isn't that the point of working with the body? if you do things wrong, you take things too far, thats when you get hurt... and sometimes, getting "hurt"- recalling these "old, healed, injuries" - is something that was bound to happen anyways... whether in a yoga room or taking a fall on the sidewalk... so if you were ignoring those old injuries and pushed too hard, your body is giving you incentive and a second chance to get in tune, rebuild correctly and not just mask those old injuries...

Anonymous said...

Can people please stop to call Bikram : "Yoga".
People that have experimented the real Yoga and went deep into the practice can understand that Bikram is simply not Yoga. It is just something created for western people who worship their appearance more than anything else. I also did Bikram for a while to see what it's about and I just can say that there is no consideration of the spiritual part of yoga.
Ok it makes you fit and it could be a good workout for some people who like to sweat in hot rooms...But calling it yoga is mostly ignorance.
So calling Bikram : "Yoga" is just like naming a bird a lobster!

Anonymous said...

We release about 5% of our body's toxins through our skin. It 's the job of liver and kidneys to do the rest. Overheating taxes those very organs. Bikram Choudery offers up some very misguided "science" all the way to the bank in his one of his Rolls Royces. The classes are completely scripted and mechanical and I feel like an idiot myself listening to the idiotic things the teachers say, "Lift your leg way up. Way way up!" I'm sorry, my brain is just not that small for Bikram Yoga.

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