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View Full Version : My doctor told me "Bikram Yoga is stupid"


WordMan
05-03-2007, 07:34 AM
Well - the title pretty much says it all. I did some searching, but only found official Bikram sites - anyone have easy access to some sports/exercise analysis that comments on Bikram's risk relative to other exercise activities?

A bit of background: he's a good doc, really. But I had worked out that morning (for those who don't know, Bikram is "hot" yoga - a 90-minute session in a room heated to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You sweat a little. ;) ). Anyway, seeing him a little over an hour after working out, my internal temp and blood pressure were still elevated, but coming down a lot from the beginning to end of my physical.

When I mentioned that I had worked out that morning, his reply was - well, in the thread title. He went on to say:
- if you want to, run for a couple of miles then take a sauna - don't do both together
- there is a high risk of issues related to dealing with the heat (note: not specific to me, per se - just in general. I am pretty healthy and been going to Bikram for almost a year - I experience occasional light-headedness in some postures, but that is normal for Bikram and most yoga...)
- A few points about how at temps above 100 degrees, most official experts recommend, like, 45 minutes of downtime for every 15 minutes of exertion and since Bikram is 90 minutes straight, it can't be good.

Again, he is a good doc overall. And I know how great I feel when I am done working out, so I don't plan to change things. But I am curious if anyone else is aware of any concerns or risks associated with Hot Yoga?

Harriet the Spry
05-03-2007, 09:02 AM
I experience occasional light-headedness in some postures, but that is normal for Bikram and most yoga...)


This isn't what I've heard from yoga instructors (not Bikram). It was more like, if you feel lightheaded, slowly come back to whatever base position and if it keeps happening, maybe this posture isn't for you.

Other than that, I dunno. Maybe more yoga-Dopers will check in.

KneadToKnow
05-03-2007, 09:36 AM
So, what exactly is the benefit of lightly sauteing yourself again?

GingerOfTheNorth
05-03-2007, 10:58 AM
This isn't what I've heard from yoga instructors (not Bikram). It was more like, if you feel lightheaded, slowly come back to whatever base position and if it keeps happening, maybe this posture isn't for you.

Other than that, I dunno. Maybe more yoga-Dopers will check in.
It's completely normal in Bikram yoga.

I used to do Bikram yoga between 2-6 times per week, but I injured myself and had to stop, and haven't been back. I really enjoyed it, and I miss it, but I have found that it's just not an efficient enough workout for me - buy that I mean that it's an enormous time-suck for me, living a half-hour from the studio. I rarely get the chance for 3 hours without the kids, when there is a class going on.

even sven
05-03-2007, 11:04 AM
It's 110 out. If I do Yoga, is it Bikram yoga?

Honestly, if you are well hydrated and arn't experiencing any ill effects. I don't see what the problem is. Millions of people exert themselves every day in high temperatures.

WordMan
05-03-2007, 11:07 AM
This isn't what I've heard from yoga instructors (not Bikram). It was more like, if you feel lightheaded, slowly come back to whatever base position and if it keeps happening, maybe this posture isn't for you.

Other than that, I dunno. Maybe more yoga-Dopers will check in.


Oh sure - there is a whole lot of "if this posture is causing you trouble, sit it out for now - but don't be afraid to test your boundaries" type of coaching going on. Sometimes I find with backbends, say, that after holding the position for some time, as I recover I get light-headed. But now that I have gotten familiar with how it feels, I can tell the difference between simply re-orienting my sense of balance and "whoa, I should skip this one today"...

WordMan
05-03-2007, 11:09 AM
So, what exactly is the benefit of lightly sauteing yourself again?

Well, for me, I can say that I can really tell that my body's systems are all getting worked - muscular, skeletal, mental - and doing it in the hot room makes it easier to get warmed up and feels very invigorating upon completion. The first few times were murder, but it ends up feeling great and now I seek it out. YMMV.

Valgard
05-03-2007, 11:22 AM
I discussed Bikram briefly with my doctor and her recommendation was "If you want to do yoga, do regular yoga in regular temperatures". Her personal experience was that she'd seen more injuries from Bikram.

The Controvert
05-03-2007, 11:25 AM
So, what exactly is the benefit of lightly sauteing yourself again?

Well, for me, I can say that I can really tell that my body's systems are all getting worked - muscular, skeletal, mental - and doing it in the hot room makes it easier to get warmed up and feels very invigorating upon completion. The first few times were murder, but it ends up feeling great and now I seek it out. YMMV.

That, and you taste better with onions.

What?

GingerOfTheNorth
05-03-2007, 12:58 PM
I discussed Bikram briefly with my doctor and her recommendation was "If you want to do yoga, do regular yoga in regular temperatures". Her personal experience was that she'd seen more injuries from Bikram.
I can understand that. It's HARD.

sunacres
05-03-2007, 01:13 PM
It's 110 out. If I do Yoga, is it Bikram yoga?

Honestly, if you are well hydrated and arn't experiencing any ill effects. I don't see what the problem is. Millions of people exert themselves every day in high temperatures.Seconded. Don't let that wuss doctor bullshit you. When I lived in Saudi Arabia it was 130 most summer days and we still worked out hard every day. The key is conditioning - if you just do it once in a while it'll freak your system out. If you've been doing it several times a week for a year you should be fine. Just pay attention to how you feel.

hajario
05-03-2007, 02:05 PM
I've been doing Bikram yoga twice a week for over a year and a half. It's made a huge difference in my overall fitness. Like any exercise it's not for everyone but I am surprised that any medical professional would call it "stupid." The heat is supposed to make you more limber which is supposed to help prevent injuries and to make you sweat out "toxins."

One of the things that I appreciate the most about Bikram yoga is that they don't spend much, if any, time on philosophy and meditation. It's all about the exercise; stretching, balance and strength.

WordMan
05-03-2007, 02:15 PM
One of the things that I appreciate the most about Bikram yoga is that they don't spend much, if any, time on philosophy and meditation. It's all about the exercise; stretching, balance and strength.

Same here - and by focusing on allowing my body to go farther into each posture over time, I find I have to relax my mind - so I get meditative benefits, without having to listen to (IMHO) anyone else's spiritual mumbo-jumbo...

WordMan
05-03-2007, 02:24 PM
I can understand that. It's HARD.

Amen to that!

It's pretty funny - I have never been one to exercise; I had a running habit for years at a time, but am by no means "athletic." But for some reason, I took to this - it really seems to suit my body, for want of a better term.

What's hilarious is that I find myself in the locker room with very fit guys - clearly habitual workout types - who are experiencing Bikram for the first time and just wiped out. They keep going on and on about how they have never experienced anything like it vs. weight training, running, other cardio, etc. Never thought I'd be in a position to coach someone on how to approach a workout... :cool:

hajario
05-03-2007, 02:34 PM
They keep going on and on about how they have never experienced anything like it vs. weight training, running, other cardio, etc. Never thought I'd be in a position to coach someone on how to approach a workout... :cool:

There was a guy at my studio who was in the Marines. He did the Bikram 30 Day Challenge which is taking a class a day for 30 days straight. He told me that it was physically and mentally more difficult than Marine boot camp.

overlyverbose
05-03-2007, 02:52 PM
I've been doing Bikram yoga twice a week for over a year and a half. It's made a huge difference in my overall fitness. Like any exercise it's not for everyone but I am surprised that any medical professional would call it "stupid." The heat is supposed to make you more limber which is supposed to help prevent injuries and to make you sweat out "toxins."

One of the things that I appreciate the most about Bikram yoga is that they don't spend much, if any, time on philosophy and meditation. It's all about the exercise; stretching, balance and strength.

What kind of toxins are you sweating out? I'm not being snarky - I've just never understood the terms "flush out the toxins" or "sweat out the toxins" when it comes to diet and exercise.

hajario
05-03-2007, 02:55 PM
What kind of toxins are you sweating out? I'm not being snarky - I've just never understood the terms "flush out the toxins" or "sweat out the toxins" when it comes to diet and exercise.

I have no idea and I think that the claim might be bogus which is why I put toxins in quotes.

WordMan
05-03-2007, 02:57 PM
What kind of toxins are you sweating out? I'm not being snarky - I've just never understood the terms "flush out the toxins" or "sweat out the toxins" when it comes to diet and exercise.

I just think of it as "flushing out my system" - I drink a lot of water, I sweat a TON during the session and get my whole body working. I just assume that getting my body working that hard and moving fluids through it is, ultimately, a Good Thing(tm).

I can also say that if I have eaten crap food or drunk alcohol the night before I go to a session, getting started can be a lot harder. Usually, though, by the end, I am back up to speed - so again, I assume that the yoga and sweating is helping my body to process the damage I have done to it and is better off than before I did the session...it certainly feels that way.

GingerOfTheNorth
05-03-2007, 02:59 PM
There was a guy at my studio who was in the Marines. He did the Bikram 30 Day Challenge which is taking a class a day for 30 days straight. He told me that it was physically and mentally more difficult than Marine boot camp.
Yep, I can believe that. I didn't do the 30-day challenge because there is no way in hell I could do that, and I was doing classes all the time.

SparrowHawk
05-03-2007, 02:59 PM
I do Iyengar yoga, not Bikram, but I would say "listen to your body." There's an article here (http://www.yogalearningcenter.com/Articles/HotYoga.cfm?Title=Hot%20Yoga) that emphasizes knowing what the risks, signs and preventive measures are, so you can be aware of how your body is responding. If you're feeling good, I wouldn't think it's harming you.

amarinth
05-03-2007, 03:24 PM
I discussed Bikram briefly with my doctor and her recommendation was "If you want to do yoga, do regular yoga in regular temperatures". Her personal experience was that she'd seen more injuries from Bikram.I can believe that.
I'm doing Bikram right now, twice a week, and it's much easier to do stupid things in Bikram than it is in the other types of yoga I've tried.

The hot room makes it a lot easier (for me) to stretch - so I tend to push farther than I could in a normal room. And I have pushed farther than I should have a few times.

Plus, the way that it gets taught is that the instructor yells the instructions from the back of the room. If they notice something really wrong, they might say something - but they frequently don't notice. It's very possible to re-inforce bad habits, especially when you're repeating. In other types I've tried, the instructor demonstrates (so you have a model to work from), moves about the room, and then will physically move you into place if you're doing something wrong. While I like many of the things about Bikram (I have no desire to become one with the universe - I just want to stretch my hamstrings), I feel much more confident that I'm doing the poses right and in a way that won't hurt me everywhere else.

Epimetheus
05-04-2007, 08:35 AM
Well, on one side, doctors are human and have human follies and flawed beliefs like anybody else.

On the other side, I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand. It might be good for YOU, or you might have been lucky so far. Being a doctor he may see a lot of people injured doing that type of yoga.

Personally I wouldn't ever do the 30 day challenge, but the yoga sounds fun and all things in life have some risk. I can't imagine more people get hurt doing yoga than by weightlifting or running, yet many doctors strongly recommend it.

hajario
05-04-2007, 10:51 AM
In other types I've tried, the instructor demonstrates (so you have a model to work from), moves about the room, and then will physically move you into place if you're doing something wrong. While I like many of the things about Bikram (I have no desire to become one with the universe - I just want to stretch my hamstrings), I feel much more confident that I'm doing the poses right and in a way that won't hurt me everywhere else.

At my studio, all of the instructors walk around the room and correct people who are doing the poses incorrectly as well as praise people who are doing well. Most of them will also do occasional demonstrations.

FlyingDragonFan
05-04-2007, 11:33 AM
At my studio, all of the instructors walk around the room and correct people who are doing the poses incorrectly as well as praise people who are doing well. Most of them will also do occasional demonstrations.
This has been my experience also, with around 20 different instructors and several studios (including the headquarters in L.A.). Yelling the dialogue from the back of the room? Odd.

GingerOfTheNorth
05-04-2007, 11:44 AM
At my studio, the instructor is generally up at the front on the little stage thingie. They will give demonstrations, particularly if there are new practitioners, and they always praise and correct as needed. I remember once when I got a particularly difficult pose after I healed from a pulled muscle, and the look of surprise on the instructor's face and the praise he gave. Still makes me smile.

Captain Amazing
05-04-2007, 12:10 PM
I'm not a doctor, but if you're combining really hot temperatures with heavy physical exertion, aren't you increasing your risk of heat stroke?

amarinth
05-04-2007, 03:15 PM
At my studio, all of the instructors walk around the room and correct people who are doing the poses incorrectly as well as praise people who are doing well. Most of them will also do occasional demonstrations.That sounds much more informative and less conducive to injury. The places that I've tried around here don't do demos. I ended up with the one where that best fit my schedule. (They do say if you're doing something well or not (if they catch it) but they're vague on what makes it look good or not).

If there are new people, they'll have a person in the class demonstrate deep breathing at the beginning, and tell them to watch during the first round of rabbit pose (instead of doing it), but that's as close as I've ever seen to an official demo. (As opposed to noticing in the mirror that some guy has his foot 80 feet above his head in standing bow and trying to figure out how he does that).