Does Bikram Yoga Promote A Greater Weight Loss?

Posted Sat, 12/26/2009 - 7:13am by Denise Reynolds

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Bikram Yoga was developed by Bikram Choudhury, a renowned Hatha Yoga Master currently living in California, over 30 years ago after sustaining a knee injury in a weight-lifting accident.

Bikram yoga poses, or asanas, are not different from those of other yoga practices. Bikram yoga is a pre-set series of 26 postures conducted over 90 minutes. What makes Bikram yoga different is that it is performed in room that is heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. For this reason, it is also known as “Hot Yoga.”

The warmth from the room allows for greater flexibility and minimizes muscle strain, thereby reducing the chance of injury. Other noted benefits of Bikram yoga are the improvement to oxygen flow from dilated capillaries, increase of cardiovascular fitness, and detoxification through sweat.

As with other yoga methods, Bikram yoga starts with a pranayama series, or breathing exercises, to prepare the body for the poses. The first half of the poses are done standing and the second half are floor postures. The entire sequence is repeated twice. At the end, as with other typical yoga classes, the practitioner relaxes and cools down in Savasana.

Bikram yoga is often promoted as a weight loss exercise. The heat during Bikram yoga is thought to increase metabolism, providing a greater calorie burn. A 150 pound person doing 60 minutes of Bikram yoga could burn up to 1021 calories, roughly equal to an hour and a half of running a 10 minute mile. The same individual doing an Ashtanga or Power Yoga class for an hour would burn 714 calories.

Performing Bikram yoga instead of Ashtanga yoga three times a week can possibly result in an increase of 921 calories burned. At this rate, one could theoretically lose an extra pound over the course of one month without any additional workouts.

Much of the reported initial weight loss is likely to do with fluid loss during the practice. The heat from the room increases perspiration. Without adequate hydration, the body cells lose fluid which has mass and weight. Therefore, statements that Bikram yoga provides instant weight loss are likely to be a result of dehydration, and the weight will likely return once fluids are reintroduced.

However, weight loss can occur over time with Bikram yoga, or any other yoga practice. The more physical activity and physical challenges that are placed on the body will strengthen lean muscle mass and increase metabolism and calorie burn. In addition, most yoga masters believe in the holistic aspect of yoga, which includes a proper diet, breathing and stress reduction, and acceptance of self — all of which can lead to an improved appearance.

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