Bikram Yoga

The philosophy and practice of Yoga date back to ancient times, originating perhaps as early as 5,000 to 8,000 years ago. It has been argued that the rules or percepts set down in the first systematic work on Yoga, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, do not set forth a philosophy, but are practical instructions for attaining certain psychological states. Over many millennia, different yogic meditative techniques had been developed and used to restore and maintain health, and ultimately to attain states of enlightenment.

Yogic meditative techniques have been transmitted through Kundalini yoga, Sahaja yoga, Hatha yoga and the other yogic lineages. Though there are numerous styles of yoga; the styles vary according to the emphasis and combination of four primary components: asanas, pranayamas, mantras, and the various meditation techniques. In Kundalini yoga, there are thousands of different postures, some dynamic and some static, and also thousands of different mediation techniques, many of which are disorder specific.

Kundalini yoga meditation techniques are usually practiced while maintaining a straight spine, and employ a large number of specific, and highly structured breathing patterns, various eye and hand postures, and a wide variety of mantras. All of these techniques supposedly have different effects and benefits in their respective combinations. 38 History of Bikram Yoga Bikram Choudhury founded the Yoga College of India in Beverly Hills, California, in 1974. Bikram combined ancient yoga doctrines with scientific input from doctors at the Tokyo University Hospital to put together a modernized and standardized workout.

Bikram yoga is an intelligently designed series of twenty-six postures that works the body from the inside out. Each posture strengthens and stretches the muscles for the next posture. Breathing is coordinated with the postures, and there are also separate breathing exercises. Bikram yoga also trains the mind through meditation to improve self-control, determination, concentration, and patience. (Simpkins, Annellen 36) This is one of the most often prescribed yoga styles. Bikram Choudhury was himself a multi-sport athlete.

He was a marathon runner and a world record holder in Olympic weightlifting. Once known mainly as “the yoga of the stars,” this style of hatha spread the United States via Beverly Hills. Bikram yoga is better known today as “Hot Yoga” because it is taught in a room kept at approximately 90 degrees Celsius. What many people do not know is that although this style is purported to have originated with its namesake Bikram Choudhury, it actually can be traced back to Bishnu Gosh, the brother of Paramahansa Yogananda who founded the Self-Realization Fellowship in 1925. 26 Asanas of Bikram Yoga

The important pranayama and asanas for correcting abdominal disorders are: Pranayama with Rechala and Puraka, Uttanapada asana, Pawana Mukta asana, Bhujanga asana, Shalabha asana, Pashchimottan asanas, and pranayama are described and illustrated: PRANAYAMA (with Rechaka and Puraka) Pranayana is a special kind of breathing exercise. There are various forms of pranayama; though each is done differently, most have these three steps in common: Rechaka (Exhalation) Puraka (Inhalation) Kumbhaka (Retention) In this particular pranayama, there are only rechaka and puraka but no kumbhaka (retention of the breath).

One significant aspect of this pranayama is that it is a diaphragmatic breathing. In this exercise, the stomach is rhythmically pulled in and out. It is very important to remember that the stomach is not pushed upward and downward. Benefits: This asana activates the kidneys, liver, pancreas, and the whole abdominal area. Because of this internal activation, it removes constipation, wind troubles, indigestion, dysentery, diarrhea, acidity, and gastrointestinal disorders. This asanas also brings flexibility to the spine and invigorates the eyes, face, lungs, chest, neck, shoulders, and the whole upper area of the body.

Since it is a harmless asana, it is recommended for every practitioner. (Sinha 34) PASHCHIMOTTAN ASANA (Posterior stretch pose) Sit on the floor and stretch both legs in front. Keep the heels and toes together. Be seated firmly, with the spine, neck, and head straight. At this stage, the hands should be on the floor on both sides of the legs. DHANUR ASANA (Bow Pose) Lie on your stomach. Keep your arms stretched on both sides. Rest your head on either cheek on the floor. Bring the legs and heels together. Breathe normally. Bend both legs at the knees and bring the heels close to your hips.

Then grasp the right ankle with the right hand and the left ankle with the left hand. If you find it difficult to reach the ankles, your may hold the toes. Now, holding either the ankles or the toes firmly, bring the knees and the ankles close together. Keep the cheek on the floor. Benefits: Dhanur asana activates all the glands of the endocrinal system. The pancreas becomes fully energized because of the internal as well as external impact of this asana on it. Thus, there is an all-round conditioning of the pancreas. As a result, its normal health is restored and it begins to release insulin properly.

The asana has a good effect on the adrenal, thyroid, parathyroid, pituitary, and sex glands. Because the cells of all these glands are activated, the secretion of their respective hormones becomes normal. This asana corrects disorders of the joints, spinal cords, lungs, chest, and abdomen. It removes various types of stomach troubles, develops digestive power, and eliminates extra weight and fat. The asana has some specific benefits for women: it corrects menstrual disorders and order troubles related to the reproductive organs. (Sinha 63,64, 44, 45)

UJJAYEE PRANAYAMA (In Lying Position) Pranayama is mainly a kriya (exercise) with air. It contains “life force” (Prana Shakti). It also has an absorbing, activating, and massaging capacity. Because of these qualities, air is regarded as a great purifier as well as a giver of life to the inner organs of the body. The body makes full use of these qualities during pranayama. Ujjayee Pranayama can be practiced in two positions: standing and lying. There is full impact of it in the first position and a little less in the second. But the first is a strenuous and the secondis easier.

Therefore, practitioners are advised to practice Ujjayee lying down for one month and then may switch to the standing position. Benefits: The most remarkable benefits of Ujjayee are that it does the internal purification, activation, and energizing, together with external control and conditioning, all at the same time. For asthmatics, Ujjayee is most effective for correcting and strengthening the lungs and the bronchiole linings. (Sinha 70, 73) TARA ASANA (Palm Tree Pose): Stand up and make a forty-five degree angle with the feet. Let the hands hang loosely at the sides. Keep the body straight and look ahead at eye level.

Breathe normally. This is the position of readiness. Benefits: Tara asana strengthens the lungs and chest. Though the outward activation in this kriya is of the hands, it internally activates the lungs, muscles of the chest, and the respiratory system. For asthamatics, therefore, it provides a corrective as well as a strengthening effect to their bronchioles and lungs. For general practitioners, Tara asana has several benefits. It enhances the measurement of the chest. Those whose chests are not properly developed can find this asana more beneficial by making the chest proportionate.

It builds up the chest muscles in an all-round way and has a curative effect for any disorder of this area. To add a few inches to their height might also find it very rewarding. People suffering from pain in their shoulder joints can correct their disorders through Tara asana. (Sinha 76, 79) YOGA MUDRA (Yoga Symbol): The perfect way of practicing the Yoga Mudra is to be in the Lotus Pose first. But it is not easy for everyone to sit in the Lotus Pose. Hence, those who cannot do it should sit on the floor with folded legs. Bring both hands behind the back. Grab the wrist of one hand with the other hand.

Make a fist with the hand which is being held. At this stage, keep the hands loose and let them rest on the back. Straighten the spine. Look in front while keeping the neck and head erect. This is the position of readiness. SIMHA ASANA (Lion Pose) Put a blanket or a towel on the floor. Bend both legs at the knees and sit on the curve of soles and toes, keeping the heels apart and turned upwards under the hips. Since it might be difficult for some persons to make this curve with the toes, soles, and heels, they are advised to sit on their bent legs in any position they can possibly manage to make.

After being seated either on the curve of the heels or in any position, do the following: straighten the body. Keep the head, neck, and spine in one line. Look in front. Put the palms of the hands on their respective knees. Breathe normally. Benefits: Simha asan is very famous for its various remarkable benefits. It has medicinal value for curing throat trouble, voice deficiency, and tonsillitis. It also has a good effect on the respiratory system. It activates the larynx, trachea, and all the bronchioles. It invigorates the thyroid cartilages.

Because of this internal activation and invigoration, health is restored to the whole respiratory system and its disorders are removed. This is an easy asana which can be done by anyone. (Sinha 83, 84) SARVANGA ASANA (Whole Body Pose) Lie down on your back on the floor. Place the palms down next to the body. Bring the heels and toes together and keep them loose. Straighten the whole body and look towards the ceiling. Breathe normally. Benefits: Sarvanga asana is one of the most valued asanas of the Hatha Yoga system. As its name indicates, it is indeed an asana of the whole body.

There is hardly any area of the body which is not energized, activated, and exercised during this asana. Because of its wholeness in effect, it is regarded next only to the king of all asanas—Shirsha asana (Head Stand Pose). The asana has countless benefits. Therefore it is a very desirable asana for general practitioners. It corrects any disorder of the circulatory system; supplies blood to the facial tissues; removes constipation, gastric disorders, and abdominal troubles; strengthens the digestive system; and energizes all the sex glands. (Sinha 85, 86) MATSYA ASANA (Fish Pose)

After practicing Sarvanga asana, it is necessary to do Matsya asana. There are several good reasons for this. Certain asanas activate certain parts of the body more than others. To reverse this difference of impact, such asanas are followed by particular asanas to create a balance. For example, during Sarvanga asanas the head, neck, and shoulders are passive and the lower areas of the body are active. To create a balance, Sarvanga is followed by the Matsya asana so that the head, neck, and shoulders become active and the lower areas of the body remain passive.

Thus, by doing the Matsya asana after the Sarvanga asana, the whole body is activated properly and in a balanced way. There are two ways of doing the Matsya asana: 1) With the Lotus Pose, and 2) Without being in the Lotus Pose. The first form is regarded as superior to the second, but both are equally beneficial. SANTULAN ASANA (Balancing Pose): Place a carpet on the floor and stand on it. Make the body straight and firm. Look straight ahead. Let the hands hang at the sides. This is the position of readiness. Benefits:

Santulan asana is mainly a kriya of the major joints of the body. It removes their rigidity and makes them flexible. It also normalizes the blood circulation in the affected areas and tones up the muscles. As a result of enhanced blood circulation and muscle conditioning, pain in the joints is corrected. This asana has a curative effect on the knees, ankles, shoulder joints, wrists, palms, and fingers. SETUBANDHA ASANA (Bridge Pose): Lie down with your back on the floor. Bend the legs at the knees and bring the heels close to the hips.

Keep the heels about two or three inches apart. Let the knees also be about three inches apart. Bring your hands close to the body on both sides. Put the palms on the floor. Look straight up and breathe normally. This is the position of readiness. Benefits: The main impact of Setubandha asana is on the spine and the hip joints. Those who have pain either in any part of the spine or in the hip joints strongly advised to practice this asana. SIDDHA ASANA (Auspicious Pose): Persons with moderate joint pain of any type can be completely cured if they practice the asanas of this series.

Chronic cases, however, might take a little longer time than up to this point to become fully cured. Therefore, patients with chronic arthritis are advised to practice all the asanas regularly. Sit on a carpeted floor and stretch out both legs in front. Keep your spine straight and firm. Look in front. Keep the hands on the floor. Breathe normally. This is the position of readiness. (Sinha 87, 93, 95, 106, 107, 108) It must be emphasized that one must eat a proper diet along with the regular practice of yoga to get satisfactory results.

Other forms of Bikram Yoga like Ardha Chandrasana with Pada-Hastasan (Half Moon Pose with Hands to feet Pose),Utkatasana (Awkward Pose), Garurasana (Eagle Pose), Dandayaman –JanuShirasana Standing Head to Knee pose), Dhanurasana (Standing Bow Pulling Pose), Tuladandasana (Balancing Stick Pose), Dandayamana (Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose), Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), Padangustasna (Toe Stand Pose), Pavanamukrasana (Wind Removing Pose), Sit Up (Sit Up), Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Salabhasana (Locust Pose), Poorna- Salabhasana (Full Locust Pose), Supta-Vajrasana (Fixed Firm Pose), Ardha- Kurmasana (Half Tortoise Pose), Ustrasana (Camel Pose), Sasangasana (Rabbit Pose) Janushirasana with Paschimottanasana (Head To Knee Pose with Stretching Pose), Ardha- Matsyendrasana (Spine Twisting Pose), Khapalbhati (Blowing In Firm). All these forms of Bikram Yoga are beneficial for the health of both men and women. All forms have their own special significance and provide extra energy to the body. Harms of Yoga: Yoga or any other exercise—done carelessly or aggressively can be harmful. Do not approach yoga practice hastily or aggressively.

Constant attention to breathing an alignment distinguishes yoga form calisthenics and acrobatic, making it rehabilitative for the body and the spirit. Using each pose to create inner quietness and peach will move you towards healing and rejuvenation. But if a person attempt to do yoga poses without attention to the principles of good body mechanics and proper spinal alignment, it will hurt. If people have limited flexibility, person can suffer back injuries in forward bends or backbends. And it person will attempt to fit his inflexible (or overly flexible) body into yoga poses as demonstrate by accomplished yoga practitioners, harm can result. (Schatz 30) Conclusion:

In Bikram yoga practice, the body temperature is forced up by sealing off the room and turning the heat up high; this helps to warm muscles and flush toxins from the body. Bikram involves a set sequence of postures. There are twenty-six of these, and each one is usually practices twice. Standing and balance poses come first, followed by back bends, forward bends, and twisting postures. Breathing is emphasized, and the Ujjayi breaths as well as fire breath are practiced. In a Bikram yoga class, use a mirror and are encourages watching yourself; it’s said that you are your own best teacher. A Bikram yoga class makes for an intense workout and tends to attract men for that reason. However, Bikram yoga is meant to be open to everyone whatever your sex, age, or state of health.

A certified Bikram yoga teacher should be able to help you pace yourself and make any necessary adaptations to postures. (Tomlinson 80, 81)) References Meditation practices for health state of the research. US: DIANE Publishing38 Simpkins, Alexander. Annellen, M, Simpkins. (2003). Yoga Basics. US: Tuttle Publishing. 36 Sinha, Phulgenda. (2005). Yoga Therapy for Common Health Problems: (Including Drug Abuse, Alcoholism…US: iUniverse 34, 63, 64, 44, 45, 83, 84, 85, 8687, 93, 95, 106, 107,108) Schatz, Pullig, Mary. (1992). Back Care Basics: Doctors Gentle Yoga Program for Back and Neck Pain Relief. London: Rodmell Press. 30 Tomlinson, Cybele. (2000). Simple Yoga. Red Wheel Publishers. 80, 81.

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