The Maykazine

Overthinking so you don't have to.

Bikram yoga is the devil.

Updated July 17, 2011: This. Post. Is. Way. Old. And I let the comments run for much longer than my interest in the threads. If you’re curious, I stopped reading the actual comments a while ago, basically skimming the first couple of sentences of each, just enough to confirm whether or not the commenter had any inkling of this post (and the general fact that my life and this blog go beyond just disliking Bikram yoga) and my stance that: It’s just not for me.

So anyway, I’m releasing this ghost to take leave of its limbo, and have locked further commentary on the issue. I don’t know why this is so popular, and frankly, I don’t care to be an expert in an anti-Bikram movement. Feel free to relive the undeservedly controversial magic in the past comments. Like I say on the About page: Don’t get your panties all up in a bunch.

I’m a bit of a physical activity snob. My repertoire of hobbies includes dance (ballet, tap, jazz, modern, hip-hop, Pilipino, bhangra, Chinese…), rhythmic gymnastics, taiko, hurdling, and wushu. Being that I was actually pretty good at all of these things, I feel I have the right to wrinkle my nose at fitness fads.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, people like to show off how health-conscious they are. Yoga mats, rolled up and wrapped in the most stylish over-the-shoulder bags possible, are like badges of honor. It’s as if having ever considered purchasing a Lulu Lemon product makes you 15% more aware of the energy housed in your core than the average person signing up for pick-up games of baseball.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think yoga is a great form of exercise. It engages your mind and increases your body awareness. Its slow pace is probably more appropriate for the masses and better for our aging bodies than the pounding of improperly-supported sneakers on asphalt. It is more recreational than it is competitive, which is perfect for the many people who simply want to build a healthy habit.

Bikram yoga, however, I think is the devil. It’s the one where they turn the heat up like crazy and you push your way through numerous postures, all the while negotiating your fellow yogi’s sweaty ass in front of you as you try to stabilize your stance. Some people may as well not be wearing clothes in bikram yoga classes, drenching themselves in so much sweat that all you can think is “Write to Nike. Tell them new microfiber material does not prevent transparency when in contact with sweatwater.”

If you like saunas, if you like working out, if you like working out in saunas, then be my guest, but you’re putting your body in a lot of danger by subjecting yourself to intense workouts in extreme heat. Again, it is not the practice of yoga that I am against. It is the false sense of having “warmed up” that bikram followers use as a crutch that I am against. Your body is meant to build upon its own kinetic and potential energy. We are designed to release whatever chemicals are needed to make our way through aerobic and anaerobic workouts. Introducing heat throughout an entire exercise session is foreign and dangerous.

If it’s not what you’re used to, what makes you think it’s right for you?

Consider this: Pain killers. Pain killers and athletes must be mixed with caution. Take too much Ibuprofen and you may mask the pain more than is advisable. Injuries often occur when pill-popping people “feel fine” (thanks to pain killers) and end up pushing their bodies more than they can physically take. Maybe your knee problem wouldn’t be chronic if you didn’t keep overdoing it while your muscles are numbed.

I apply the same theory with the un-ordinary conditions of heat that are introduced to bikram yoga. Sure, you feel all flexible and bendy as you twist and turn, but once you walk out of that heated room, your muscles go into shock. Even if you cool down, your body is probably not ready to maintain the progress you may have made at yoga, nor is it ready to adjust at such an unnatural rate to your normal, daily environment. You increase your chances at snapping or pulling muscles because this type of conditioning was not meant to be for everyone’s body.

Yoga doesn’t need heat. Bikram simply puts too much of a strain on your system. Yo-yo dieting is not a good idea, and neither is yo-yo climating.

I speak from experience, having gone through a trial of bikram last year. I dug up an old journal entry on my first experience of bikram that you can read below, and I have to say my thoughts haven’t changed since then.

That said, excuse me while I go to my first day of training as a front desk receptionist at a bikram yoga studio. Irony abounds.

Editor’s Note: For the record, I refuse to consider myself “employed” just because I was able to bullshit my way through a front desk application process. I am far overqualified for this position and it is a temporary commitment.

It was like Coachella but wetter.
Mayka tries bikram yoga
Yesterday I joined a pack of post-9-to-5ers in a room filled mat-to-mat with sweltering air and sweaty bodies. With Hawai’i coming up in March I figured I’d work out for “spring break” – my first attempt at doing so – and that the best way to do that was to try a fad thing that everyone claims instantly shaves pounds off your body. And thus we meet again, Funky Door, next door. In considering a trial month of Crunch versus a trial month of bikram, I figured the latter option was the way to go, because with all the oft-denied health risks in bikram yoga, I’d be less likely to continue membership there anyway. I just want to take off some weight, not actually commit to anything.

“Celebrate the silence…”
“There is strength in serenity…”
Yeah yeah fuck you.
So anyway, Mayka doing bikram yoga turned out to be a horrible idea. I was that newcomer in the back who got totally nauseated and couldn’t breathe for crap. I felt so sick. It’s not that I underestimated myself in being able to do any postures, it’s that I COULDN’T BREATHE. And that’s it. If I fall over in bikram, it will not because I’m not flexible or stable enough, it will be because I CAN’T BREATHE. I didn’t fall over last night simply because I took, oh, about four or five mini-breaks. At some point I just gave up on everything involving standing on two feet and joined back in with the lying on our backs stuff. It didn’t smell bad in there. But then again, maybe it did. I couldn’t tell, because I COULDN’T BREATHE.

I kept thinking “Where’s my inhaler? Where’s my inhaler??”
But I don’t have asthma. And I don’t have an inhaler.
Though it definitely felt that way and I definitely wish I did

I just couldn’t breathe.

I bothered to stick it through because I had just bothered to pay $29 for a wham-bam-thank you-ma’am month of the worst idea ever to hit American fitness centers. I’m just going to do as many of these sessions as I can with the ultimate goal being to make it through an entire 90-minute class and be as svelte as my 5’3″ frame can be on the beach. Now that I’ve tried it, I can totally knock it.

So basically, I suck. (That’s hard for dancer, former rhythmic gymnast/hurdler to admit.)

I love breaking a sweat, and I think I did kinda like looking at myself sweaty in the mirror, but then this little bird of a reminder flitted in and peeped “You’re not the only sweaty person here.”

Bikram yoga could potentially be a really great place to pick up on a date. Although it took some adjustment, I can kind of see why people would find all of the room’s heavy breathing somewhat arousing. If you’re trying to coax your honey into orgies in the steam room, you should totally start ‘em off here.

I then had to hustle to NDC [Nguyen Dance Company], and by the time I had reached BART (where I had never found the sudden gush of an inbound BART train so inviting…) I had a really nice rosy flush in my cheeks. Also kind of erotic if you think about it. No wonder hippies and uptight businesspeople love bikram. Then again, it’s not like all the Indians in South Asia are running around with all this pent-up sexual frustration after they meditate.

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47 comments on “Bikram yoga is the devil.

  1. Pingback: How to bomb an interview. « theMaykazine

  2. Pingback: Dreams of Bikram yoga sabotage. « theMaykazine

  3. Jillian Edwards
    15 July 2008

    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 for 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!

  4. themaykazine
    15 July 2008

    Wow, thanks for your input, Jillian!

    Update: I no longer work at that studio. Thank goodness.

  5. joanne
    27 February 2009

    Funny article, I’ve been practising Bikram for 5 years, and I love it!!!! Read the book, then maybe you’ll understand the yoga a little more.

  6. Al
    3 April 2009

    Hello Mei! This is cute. It seems people make all sorts of assumptions on what is good for you and what isn’t even when they have no expertise to do so. Yoga has been around for 5000 years. I don’t really think they had air conditioning in India for a lot of that time so I would feel funny doing yoga in a cool room. You couldn’t breathe because your mind wasn’t letting you. It’s amazing what the body can do if the mind will just let it. When you learn that you can breathe in a room of 105 degrees while doing strenuous postures, you can breathe so much easier in many situations. I just happened to be watching the special on HBO about panic and after all the brain scans and analysis of the brain activities, they worked on the people’s breathing! It is the only way we can consciously lower our heart rates, by controlling our breath. Then I was really amused when I went to Jillian’s web site and it talks about using props and music. So instead of doing postures that have been perfected for over 5000 years, we are modifying them with props, which change the integrity of the posture. So unknowing students will think oh this is a cute yoga and it looks easier. To me this is what is really dangerous. I would much rather go with the guy who learned yoga when he was 3 years old, in India from a famous yogi, then from someone who was probably a personal trainer and then took a week long yoga training course to become a teacher. Of course it is amusing to read their articles and comments! Give Bikram yoga a try! And even give Jillian’s a try as well (just be careful) and decide for yourself!

    • themaykazine
      3 April 2009

      Hi Al,

      A couple of things:

      My first name is Mayka, as in “theMaykazine.” My last name is Mei.

      You missed the point that I have practiced yoga, that I come from a dance background, and that, yes, I have tried out Bikram yoga as well. When you speak of “unknowing students,” you are talking about someone else.

      I already decided for myself. I do not like Bikram yoga.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Al
    3 April 2009

    Hi Mayka,

    Yes I understood that. I was addressing you, the first commenter Jillian and the general reading audience with my comment, sorry if that wasn’t clear. To be specific to your article, I was referring to when you said you ‘couldn’t’ breathe and the ‘abnormal’ heat which sends your muscles into shock after you leave the room. This is really a ridiculous statement, it just doesn’t happen. One thought is maybe you brought your preconceived notions of what you think yoga is all about and that led you to do something or feel a certain way. Since you did take another bikram class after your first I’m going to assume you didnt think this ‘shock’ was all that bad anyway. My general concern with your article is that you want to dissuade people from doing Bikram yoga and that’s a shame, especially with those types of statements. The rest of my comment was directed towards Jillian and then just encouraging whoever is reading to try both and make their own decisions. There are really many many people around the world who are reaping so many benefits of Bikram’s yoga. Just because it is not your cup of tea, doesn’t mean you should make outlandish comments about it, in particular that muscle goes into shock comment…

    Cheers and good luck with your blog.

    Breathe : )
    Al

    • themaykazine
      3 April 2009

      You’re right, and like I said before, I decided for myself. I read opinion articles and don’t buy into everything that people profess. I actually appreciate when people tell me the good and bad of their experiences, but if you’re against the practice of “dissuading,” then we’ll just have to disagree on what the value is in sharing one’s individual account.

  8. Al
    4 April 2009

    Dissuading and making outlandish comments are two different things : )

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  10. Mike
    11 May 2009

    Briefly adding my own experiences: I do a wide variety of activities to keep in shape (running, biking, swimming, some weights, etc.), and have also done a fair amount of yoga over the years from various schools of thought (Iyengar, Ashtanga, and hatha under many different teachers). I recently signed up for 2-weeks Bikram “hot yoga”, and was easing into it, doing the “introductory level” class every other day, drinking lots of water, and was honestly loving it. I felt good during and after the sessions.
    The problem is that I had two muscle pulls OUTSIDE OF CLASS during those 2 weeks — I strained a calf muscle while on an easy jog, then a week later I strained a hamstring while bending over to pick a sock up off the floor. It’s hard to directly blame Bikram “hot yoga” for these strains because they happened outside of class, but for me the correlation is too much to ignore — I am very fit and was injury-free, but hurt myself twice in this short period of time while doing easy activities. Not sure how to explain it, but I don’t think I’ll be doing any more “hot yoga”.

    • themaykazine
      11 May 2009

      Thanks for your two cents, Mike. Another friend of mine with a dance background enjoyed Bikram yoga, too. But when her instructors told her how it was “normal” to lose feeling in her right arm during stances, she started to smell the possible fishiness.

  11. Katie
    29 September 2009

    dancers have a hard time in bikram yoga. they don’t know when to say “when”. you over work and over stretch more than your average bear. you don’t know how to control your breathing in that heat. when dancers and other “professionals” step into the room for the first time, do you really expect to keep up with the the dude twice your age standing in front of you, kicking your ass, who has been coming to bikram for years? what an ego you have! you are a beginner in a beginner’s series. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF BEING A BEGINNER!!! you are allowed to sit when you need it. have some water. slow down your breathing. be honest with yourself and sit down. when you step into the yoga room for the 1st time, BE A BEGINNER LIKE YOU ARE! not a dancer, or a basket ball player, or an opera singer. you are a baby bikram yogi, learn how to stand on one leg. the practice is not a competition, you don’t have to prove anything to anybody. if you take this practice seriously, and come to heal your body, ego’s like yours die soon.

  12. Lee
    1 January 2010

    I’ve been doing Bikram for couple of years few times a month…recently went on a Bikram holiday to turkey where we practiced in the open air and I found while I was not able to stretch as much I did find my postures getting stronger. But when I went back to London classes, and doing more of them as I wanted to maintain the progress I made in turkey, with the closed room and high heat I found after a while my knees were getting more ‘noisey’ and clicked a lot which was causing me discomfort.
    Past couple of months I’ve not been going due to shift work and university course and my knees have gotten better so I do question the need for the high heat as I think my joints were getting bad! Bu, another one, I did find the heat helped loosen my tight hamstrings and lower back a lot!
    Like everything there are pros and cons to all things…

  13. Marina
    30 March 2010

    I completely agree. Bikram Yoga is the devil!

    I’m also a dancer and I love to sweat. But I enjoy creating my own heat, instead of being shocked into it. In fact, I think my body did go into shock. Its been two days and I still feel like shit.

    • themaykazine
      30 March 2010

      Oh no! I hope your body returns to normalcy soon!

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  15. Sandy Dee
    6 April 2010

    First, a big congrats to you for writing a post in ’08 that’s still getting responses! I just wanted to add as someone who was also dubious about Bikram, but is now an avid follower and practitioner, that Bikram Yoga can be an amazing experience. Yes, you may have a class one day and see ‘stars’, but the beauty of this practice (and most physical activity)is that every day is defferent. The next day you can feel absolutely incredible, ‘high’ on life! I am someone who had a herniated disk in my lower back …read: bad pain! I tried massage, accupuncture, electro-accupuncture, physio, you name it, I tried it. My experience has been that the only relief I’ve experienced was from practicing regular Bikram. Yes, it’s the same postures every class, and yes, it’s incredibly hot in the room, but my experience has been that the heat makes you find comfort in an uncomfortable situation …a lesson that can be applied ever day off the mat! I love Bikram Yoga! …but I also appreciate that everyone has their own experience and opinion. Namaste.

    • themaykazine
      6 April 2010

      Hahaha, thank you for recognizing how old this post is! It’s like a ghost knocks on my door every time a new comment comes up for this piece.

      That’s great that you stuck through it and learned to enjoy Bikram. I’m going to stick to my dance classes. ;)

      Thanks for stopping by, Sandy!

  16. Dan
    18 December 2010

    I’ve had chronic back pain for years to the point where it completely went out on me about every 4-6 weeks. I tried bikram about 4 years ago after trying other yoga disciplines and liking it. To get the full benefits of Bikram you have to be disciplined in your practice. I go 4-5 times a week to maintain my back and overall health and well being. I’m sure you could go to a dance class as a beginner and get bad advice such as “it’s normal to feel numbness in your arm.” as well but I hope that wouldn’t make you see “the fishiness ” of dance. Bikram is not for everyone, but it has cured my back, which has gone out once in the 4 years I’ve been doing Bikram and the bonus is overall good health. I love it! Theres my 2 cents… :)

  17. Al
    19 December 2010

    yes Mayka, people seem to keep finding your posting! Its been a year and a half since I commented and it’s good to see it still of interest. Happy to see Sandy Dee and Dan healing themselves, so powerful! People can complain all they want but the simple fact is, ‘it just works’. Bikram yoga heals your body more than anything else. it is amazing and simple all at once.

    For those that feel horribly after the class, I would give it another shot making sure you are well hydrated. And dont forget about electrolytes! Too much water can dilute your electrolytes to dangerous levels. My guess is this was related to Mike’s experience above.

    In the last year and a half I have seen many people take control of their health with a regular bikram yoga practice. After one particular class, I was sitting next to an older gentleman who was putting his shoes on. He was in his upper 50s about 6’4″ and 250, big guy. I asked him how long he was doing bikram, he said 8 days, 8 days in a row. He said his doctors had given him one choice 2 weeks earlier, hip replacement surgery. He couldnt tie his shoes 2 weeks earlier. He avoided surgery and changed his life in 8 days. The memory still brings tears to my eyes.

    Hopefully more people will find this incredible way to heal themselves!

  18. Valerie
    24 March 2011

    While I won’t make a general statement that is supposed to apply to all of humanity, let me say this about my Bikram experience: it was garbage. I had been a professional dancer all of my life and was also a professional contortionist at the time I began taking Bikram. It tightened me beyond measure, locked my hips, and effectively brought my career to an end. I was on scholarship at what was one of the first NYC studios and was taking class every day. It took only two months of classes for my body to lose its original flexibility and suppleness. The held and locked parallel positions are anathema to a dancer’s body. It’s another story of The Emperor’s New Clothes: the majority agreeing that they “see” something that is really not there in order not to feel different or uncomfortable. Everything benefits some of the people some of the time; that’s basic statistics. But God forbid you not jump on the “this is so healing for you” bandwagon and refuse to drink the Kool-Aid! Sadly, I drank too much Kool-Aid before I realized what was happening. Happily, a total hip replacement finally undid the damage that Bikram wrought!

    • The Maykazine
      24 March 2011

      I am so sorry to read all of that, Valerie. Have you managed to regain your body’s old abilities at all?

    • Dan
      25 March 2011

      It sounds like yoga is definitely not for you! It’s strange how something such as yoga can be so healing and therapeutic for some and so damaging to others. Even in the dance world. There are all kinds of dancers in my studio who love how flexibility gained from bikram enhances their dance. Sounds like you need to stay away from yoga! At least the ones that require locked parallel positions. I wish you the best in your recovery!

      • The Maykazine
        27 March 2011

        You’re right, Dan. I do enjoy yoga, but I haven’t stepped into a Bikram yoga studio in over two years. I’m sticking to other recreation, and some other dancers are better off doing the same.

  19. Marci
    26 March 2011

    So my friend convinced me to try out Bikram at the studio she is doing the “30 day challenge” in..meaning she is going for 30 days in a row then getting 30 days free. Call that the devil!
    I got a week pass. Now let me tell you I am in super shape- runner, hiker, cyclist, weights…I am lean and flexible. Two days of this RUINED my body. I was weak, tired, fatigued, hurt all over. My running and other activities had to take the backburner, which, if you have a sport/practice that you do…is just not a good thing.
    I would not recommend Bikram yoga.
    Thanks for the post- I enjoyed reading :-)

    • The Maykazine
      27 March 2011

      Eek – Bikram yoga is simply not for everyone. I hope you’re back to your regular routines now, Marci!

      • Dan
        27 March 2011

        You got that right Mayka… As dance isn’t for everyone. Every time I try it, I look like a dork ;)

    • Dan
      27 March 2011

      Marci,
      The sensation you felt after 2 days is normal and every beginner feels that way. The benefit you feel after you get over the hump, as with any intense workout is incredible. It’s funny how when I started lifting weights after 2 days I felt fatigued and hurt all over. Probably best to stick with less intense workouts if that bothers you. For thousands of believers in Bikram it’s amazing. Like anything, try it for yourself and see if it’s right for you.;)

  20. garyharter
    27 March 2011

    I love Bikram. I agree with the earlier poster that it is better learning hatha yoga from a yoga champion who came off the streets of Calcutta as a boy and was taught hatha yoga by yoga royalty (Bishnu Ghosh, brother of Paramahansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi) than it is by an American who has not had the same experience. Bikram’s history (and unrelenting stubbornness) make me think he is teaching true hatha yoga as it was taught for centuries in India.

    Sometimes when people hate their Bikram yoga experience, I think did “you” hate it, or did you ego hate it?? Because when you do a lot of Bikram yoga, your ego is going to get beat down. Your ego becomes your little bitch instead of the other way around.

    My 2 cents. Thanks for the blog!

  21. Yaya
    11 April 2011

    I have been practicing bikram for approximately 1 year now and can honestly agree that it is not for everyone. I myself have been experiencing major symptoms with the excruciating heat. Lately, when I a in the latter part of the class I break out in chills and feel as though my body is running a fever and as a result have broken out in sores throughout my body. I went to the doctor and he said they were fever blisters. My family has banned my from participating in any other bikram sessions. I’m a masochist though because I miss being in that sweaty ass class. Oh, I also forgot which is a result of the high temperatures; since I have exposed my body to these high temperatures it has affected my memory, though pattern and retention. Bikram Yoga is not for everyone and please do be careful when you do try it. Good Luck!!!!

  22. Lucy
    11 April 2011

    I agree with Dan, I have been practicing bikram yoga for about 8 months now and it is the best thing that has ever happened to ME. I have brought friends along that I have seen love it and obtain positives from it all around, and friends who think they’re “going to die”. you must control your breathing, if youre doing those poses, for the first time, and you arent controlling your breathing (which is what youre taught to do first pose of the 90 minutes) you of course are going to feel like youre going to pass out. hydrated yourself all day long. mind! i love it so much i go in happy, love the sweat. love what it does to my muscles in regards to relaxing and my skin! that you dont feel the pain because you are exhausted? ridiculous. i dont know what it is but i always feel more awake and less lazy than the rest of the day, right after class! that, and oh so proud that i made it through because i am by no means saying it gets easier! but it is most definitely do-able. in regards to numbing of the arms, when you do camel pose and even sometimes standing bow (google or youtube those postures if unfamiliar) you are bending your locked arm backwards, your main circulatory traffic ways to and from the forearm get pinched! the numbness is little and for a slight moment coming out of the pose! youre not going to drop dead and your arms are not going to fall off! its silly i think. it is for many but not for all. i am a firm believer that it is definitely first and foremost mental.

  23. JapaneseHamSandwich
    27 April 2011

    So I tried Bikram yoga, loved it, as I had just moved from the tropics to the cold, so the heat was appreciated. I seemed to be killing 2 birds with 1 stone at bikram, cardio, stretch, relax the mind etc.
    A couple months into it, I tore my MCL (tendon in knee) to shreds. It did not happen during yoga, I did not make a connection at the time. Now, I am thinking it is related.
    Anyone considering bikram, do so very carefully, listen to your body, don’t listen to the instructor that wants you to push yourself into a “Japanese ham sandwich”, go at your own pace. There are benefits, but many dangers. If a bikram instructor reads this, I truly hope you and your fellow teachers wise’n up and begin to educate/prepare your new students correctly.

  24. APB
    28 April 2011

    I have done a good amount of research on this subject. I have concluded that the YOGA should be taken out of the BIkram yoga title. This pompous man has corrupted a proved and practiced art form. It is a shame that Bikram yoga is the majority of the western worlds exposure to ‘yoga’.
    He has taken a spiritual practice and turned it into a circus.
    Aside from the horrendous ‘man’ behind it – the practice itself ( i have been to enough classes to make a well informed conclusion) is a sham — I won’t be surprised when all the loyal practicers’ blow their knees out. Re: Lucy — you are never supposed to lock any joints!!!! ever. It is terrible for you. You are absolutely not supposed to lock your elbow or your knee – let alone do it so much that it bows! I am confused how this statement- ‘you are bending your locked arm backwards, your main circulatory traffic ways to and from the forearm get pinched! the numbness is little and for a slight moment coming out of the pose’ – isn’t proof enough for you to realize that it is not beneficial to your body. Because it’s not.
    Working out in that intense of a heat is also not good for your health. And The fact that you can’t drink water is absurd — why? Because some of the moves that King Bikram, deems worthy of his name, may cause you to throw-up?! ( don’t believe that — look it up) It’s such a huge combination of ridiculousness that i can’t believe people don’t see through it.
    Even India’s is making moves to make sure no one can do what Bikram did and Claim ownership of thousand year old Asanas.
    http://boingboing.net/2011/02/06/database-to-foil-yog.html
    I’m sure some people will say !but it works for me! great – to each their own — just don’t pretend like the man has done anything but steal something that was much better left alone. He’s removed the spiritual aspect and added ridiculous measures and rules. It is totally bogus. It’s not as yoga was intended.
    If you’d like to discuss this further maybe we can meet a yoga competition!!!!!!?????? What! A. yoga. competition.??!
    Hopefully you all get educated.
    Because if going to that class doesn’t injure you – listening to that verbiage over and over again will likely cause you to die of boredom or stupidity.

    • Dan
      28 April 2011

      I would recommend that if you want to speak intelligently about the subject of Bikram Yoga you would at the very minimum read his book and research the history of the man and the origins of his training and of Bikram Yoga. It’s apparent in this post that you don’t have a clue.

      Bikram Yoga is not the majority of the western worlds exposure to yoga. There are many, some so “americanized”, that the practitioners end up getting ripped off, and even getting hurt. There are more flavors of hatha yoga in america than ice cream, many even using props, which make matters even worse.

      Bikrams hatha yoga asanas are thousands of years old. He has been a student of hatha yoga since he was three, and began his formal training from his guru. Bishnu Ghosh, at the age of 6 in India.

      The teachers who go through Bikrams teacher training classes go through an intense program of rigorous physical, mental and spiritual training in his Yoga College of India, equal to a year in time and study to a one year professional degree program. Meditation is an essential part of Bikram yoga.

      Your post would have a lot more legitimacy if you didn’t blatantly attack the man, whom you seem to know very little about, but instead focused on the Bikram practice. What he may have “stolen” is a mystery, especially given his training and where he came from.

      I would recommend that you attend a Bikram yoga competition and you may learn more about Bikram yoga. It would be an education in Bikram and his yoga practice that would allow you to speak about it truthfully and you would probably refrain from the personal attacks.

    • Dan
      2 May 2011

      APB- your post is unproductive simply because your generalizations are not worth responding to. I’m guessing that you are attacking only 26 of the 84 asanas that make up Bikram yoga. With all of your “research” surely you are aware that the 26 asanas are only the beginning class. Or did that not come up in your google search in your effort to back up your assertions. You are hell bent on attacking a man and have very little detail on the actual Bikram experience, which is what people care about. Your opinion of the man is irrelevant and pointless. At least the initial post, “Bikram is the Devil” explained her reasons for her view. Yours are pointless and using your term, unproductive. You offer nothing of substance, Your posts are nothing more than a drawn out diatribe of your distain for the creator of Bikram yoga. I hope you get over your bitterness. As for me, my “unproductive” discussion with you is over. ;)
      Ciao,
      Dan

  25. hope
    1 May 2011

    As a physical therapist who experieces daily back pain, I decided to take a fellow therapists advice and try bikram to improve my poor flexibility that probably greatly contributes to pain. Even though I teach my patients how to stretch tight muscles, no amount of stretching, no matter how prolonged, gave me any gains. I have done 7 classes now and although I feel it is boring and my mind never calms, I can now touch my hands to the floor when I bend down versus my ankles. Big deal, u may say, but what won me over is my significant decrease in back pain. My improved flexibility is maintained for days after a class. However, you do have to be really careful. I pushed myself too hard one class where the instructor was singling me out to push harder…and I ended up in pain for days. Had to get a coworker to adjust my sacroiliac joint which had been pulled out of position. And yes, you can overstretch muscles and ligaments with extreme stretches. So I would say to all, proceed with caution, listen to your body, our bodies are not all the same and do not respond the same to all forms of exercise. I enjoyed reading everyones comments about their differing experiences, glad to know other people thought the limited variety of postures gets BORING! But if it helps my back pain, I will suffer through it!

  26. APB
    2 May 2011

    I am well aware of Bikrams history. I’m fairly certain greed and self promotion were not what Bishnu Ghosh had in mind when he sent Bikram to teach and spread the message of yoga. I definetly don’t think that his instructions included blowing up his ego so much that he compared himself to god. But I do thank Bikram for only manipulating 26 of the 2000 asanas.

    Where he came from is one thing – who he is now is quite unappealing. Perhaps you prefer pompous, flashy, womanizing persons to lead you on your spiritual journey. The link between the man and the practice is strong – Especially when you attend such a strickly regimented class. You can feel the weight of his ego in the verbiage.

    Additionally – Unless we are talking about two different things Bikrams Yoga College of India is based in California and is 9 weeks long not a year.

    I have also failed to find the meditation in any of those classes. Except for when i returned home.

    I feel this conversation will be unproductive unless you are willing to remove the veil and take a look at the raging issues of this man and his practice. I understand your will to defend but more importantly you must objectively research.

    I wish you well.

  27. gary harter
    2 May 2011

    yo apb wuddup?

    what is your basis for saying “you are not supposed to lock your knee”. who made that rule, where is it written, if at all? also, you say Bikram yoga is “not as yoga was intended”. according to who? what are the standards you are applying in making that statement? ie what is source for knowing hatha yoga’s true intentions?

    also, what do you know bout yoga competitions? do you know of their history in India?

    you original post is quite crazy and – not very informed. is it a practical joke? people have being doing bikram every day all over the world for decades. thousands and thousand and thousands of men, women and children of every size shape and color practice every day in almost every country and language. if there was truly a risk of them “blowing their knees out”, we would have heard about it by now?

    Hehe – to each their own as you say. :)

  28. APB
    4 May 2011

    Dan — you are correct I never made it past maybe 13 or so classes of Bikram. I never ‘googled’ anything about advanced Bikram because there was so many things i found to dislike about the basics. The rest of your comments are humorous. Arrivederci, amico.

    Gary – wuddup with you? :) So Locking your joints has long been known to cause an enormous amount of stress on the joint and off the muscles, which can lead to joint problems and/or injury. Are you not aware of this? Information can be found everywhere.
    Regarding #2 what i am referring to is Bikram’s sense of entitlement to change a history rich in enlightenment, spiritualism and humbleness. Here’s a man who’s copyrighted his style of yoga, sends cease-and-desist letters to those who dare flout the copyright, and, in interviews, summarily dismisses all other forms of American yoga while also bragging about his large fleet of Rolls-Royces. He once famously told Business 2.0 magazine that his yoga was the “only yoga.” When asked why, he said it was because he has “balls like atom bombs, two of them, 100 megatons each. Nobody fucks with me.” That seems quite different then what was intended, at least to me. I was also under the impression there wasn’t room for an ego in yoga.
    Regarding the competitions – I’m def aware that India has been doing competitions for thousands of years. And while i can admire some aspects I view it as just another way for Bikram to throw himself a party and discuss how great he is. All the postures in the compulsory series are drawn from Bikram’s copyrighted practice, and nearly all the optional poses usually are as well. So, again, i find a difference between competition in India & the States – one that I dislike.

    My original post was definitely not a joke. What I’ve found is that most other forms of yoga are more humbled in their practice and promotion while most Bikram followers are starry-eyed about him – boosting the ego further. ( please note the MOSTS in that sentence) I personally find nothing attractive about the man as well as many faults with his practice. If you can’t see those things, decide to look past them or view them as *gulp* positives then that is fine. That is your decision. I choose something less Jonestown like. I prefer to concentrate on me and my practice and to work around how my body and spirit are feeling that day rather than do what Bikram and his words say – to ‘push more harder’ (when my body says no) or to fold like a ‘Japanese ham sandwich’, which are just dumb phrases. I decided to say my piece because i am tired of hearing about this practice and everyone saying it’s fantastic. (thank you Maykazine!!) I found most the aspects of it to be dreadful. At least we can agree on ‘to each their own’.
    Happy Hump Day.

    • Dan
      4 May 2011

      APB- Just felt the need to clear up the “I’ve done extensive research on Bikram yoga” and “I am well aware of Bikrams history” comments. 13 classes and you are an expert on Bikram. When you are called to the carpet on your comments there is not much left to do than to “be amused”. One last point, Your comments to Gary I find more distasteful than anything I’ve ever heard come from Bikram’s mouth, and he can be pretty crass… If this is where your style of yoga and meditation has left you, I want to be far from it… you are a real peach! ;)

  29. gary harter
    4 May 2011

    apb – dan is right that you have contradicted yourself here quite baldly.

    you said “What! A. yoga. competition.??! ” as if you were against the concept and then when you were called on it all of a sudden it’s not the concept, it’s bikram’s interpretation of it that displeases you. in fact you “admire some aspects” – if that is the case why would you say “What! A. yoga. competition.??!”?

    nevertheless – thank you for clarifying yourself and taking the time to explain your thoughts about bikram.

  30. Laura Hickok
    10 May 2011

    Hi – I have gone to hot yoga this month for the first time – I am generally very healthy, but after 3 sessions I got an upper respiratory infection and UTI. I took a week off (with antibiotics) and healed up. I went back to hot yoga for 3 sessions (one a day) and now have pink eye and bronchitis! More antibiotics…
    Could these be related or am I just very unlucky?
    After the first illness I have drastically increased my Vitamin C and electrolyte intake and I STILL got sick!
    I’m almost afraid to keep going!
    Any thoughts? THANK YOU!

  31. APB
    12 May 2011

    Geez Dan you are a tight one. As i said in the beginning there is no objective view with you. I’d bet money you read my words looking for an argument instead of reading the words. But we’ll end agreeing on one man’s crassness.
    Gary – Regarding the competition note – me stating that i admire some aspects referred to yogi(ni)s putting on display their hard work, focus and dedication to a practice which is something i can absolutely appreciate. Rating one against the other is not. Nor are the aspects regarding Bikram organization of them, as I’ve already stated.
    I enjoy conversing with you also. I appreciate your style- although you most likely have a different opinion you are open listening to others. Be well.

  32. Dan
    12 May 2011

    Not tight at all. I’ve been having fun reading the pros and cons of all who have contributed here. Just not a lot of tolerance with your misrepresentations of “having done a good amount of research on bikram when in fact you have little knowledge and very little to contribute about the practice. Your personal digs on the man may be good entertainment but doesn’t contribute much to those who may be interested in giving bikram a try. There’s just nothing productive there, nothing personal toward you intended. :)

  33. Dan
    17 May 2011

    Hi Laura,
    I would ask the owner of your studio what her cleaning schedule is. My studio is obsessive about disinfecting and cleaning after every session and she does frequent carpet cleanings etc. There is a lot of sweat and moisture in a hot room which can be a breeding ground for germs. Sounds gross but if cleaned and maintained as necessary it shouldn’t be a problem. I hope it all works out but if your studio is causing you to get sick it can’t be a good thing!
    Cheers!
    Dan

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