My doctor told me "Bikram Yoga is stupid"

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. :wink: ). 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?

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.

So, what exactly is the benefit of lightly sauteing yourself again?

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.

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.

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”…

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.

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.

That, and you taste better with onions.


I can understand that. It’s HARD.

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.

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.

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…

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:

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.

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.

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™.

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.

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.

I do Iyengar yoga, not Bikram, but I would say “listen to your body.” There’s an article here 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.