The Origin of Bikram Yoga

Born in Calcutta, Bikram Choudhury began studying yoga at the age of four with his teacher Bishnu Ghosh, brother of Paramahansa Yogananda (author of “Autobiography of a Yogi”, and founder of the Self Realization Fellowship). Bikram practiced Yoga four to six hours a day with six thousand other students at Ghosh’s College of Physical Education in Calcutta. At the age of thirteen, he won the National India Yoga competition and remained undefeated for three years. At the request of his teacher, he withdrew from competition and gave Yoga demonstrations instead. This earned him the title of “Yoga-Raj”. He is the youngest ever to earn such a title.

“Falling out of the posture means you are human. Getting back into the posture means you are a yogi.” -Bikram Choudhury

As a young man he was a top cyclist, marathon runner and international weight lifter, competing in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. At the age of 20, Bikram severely injured his knee in a weightlifting accident and was told by doctors he would never walk again. Not accepting this, Bikram went back to Bishnu Ghosh’s school, for he knew that if anyone could help to heal his knee, it would be his teacher. Bishnu Ghosh put him through a slow and careful therapy program that totally rehabilitated his knee within 6 months. Ghosh was a celebrated physical culturist, and the first to scientifically document yoga’s ability to cure chronic physical ailments and heal the body.

Bikram was asked by Ghosh to start several yoga schools in India. Bikram came into his own. The schools were so successful that, at Bishnu’s request, Bikram travelled to Japan and opened two more. Under the guidance of his teacher, Bikram worked for three years with doctors and scientists at Tokyo University Hospital and developed his unique Hatha Yoga series. He has since brought his curative methods of yoga therapy around the world.

What is the difference between Bikram Yoga and Hot Yoga?

The fundamental differences between Bikram Yoga and Hot yoga is safety and continuity.  Hot yoga is a variation of more traditional forms of yoga, like vinyasa, and varies from studio to studio greatly.  Hot yoga does not require certifications making it potentially dangerous in the wrong instructor’s hands.  Bikram yoga is uniform and controlled – always taught by Bikram certified instructors that can keep you safe in this strenuous environment.  Our instructors are all required to have a certification in Bikram instruction before they are allowed to teach.

Why We Love It…

Bikram Yoga is a series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises conducted over 90 minutes in a room heated up to 105 degrees with 40% humidity. This series of postures was scientifically designed to systematically work through the entire body.

There are many reasons for the heat.

  • When you stretch, you create heat in your body. When you do yoga in a room that’s lower than your body temperature, you are fighting that process.
  • The heat allows oxygen from your blood to be released into the system more easily.
  • Heat speeds up the breakdown of glucose and fatty acids.
  • Helps your muscles to become soft and supple so you can stretch safely.
  • Improves coordination and removes heart irregularities.

The room is mirrored to enable better body awareness and refinement and deepening of postures through easy self-correction. No special equipment or props are required. Each posture in the series warms and prepares the body for the next posture. In the heated room you will gradually work deeper into your muscles, tendons and ligaments, stretching, strengthening and toning – changing your body both inside and outside.

The poses work synergistically to return the body to a balanced state. The yoga assists in creating more energy, stamina and flexibility. The postures have a tourniquet effect, stretching, squeezing and massaging the internal organs, flushing out the cardiovascular system and stimulating the endocrine and nervous systems. The well-maintained body is self-regulating and self-adjusting.

As we age, our muscles tend to stiffen, creating more pressure on the joints. Regular stretching prevents this gradual stiffening and joint deterioration, which is why yoga has such a rejuvenating effect. Through a regular practice, we liberate a vast amount of energy that we can use in daily life. We look, move and feel younger. The series works equally well for beginners and advanced students.

Whether your goal is to lose weight, learn to relax, aid in the healing of injuries or illness, strengthen, stretch or tone your body, or simply to achieve overall well-being, Bikram Yoga is suited to all levels of health and fitness.

“It’s not time to smell the coffee, it’s time to change. All you need are the right tools, the right keys. You can’t start a Cadillac with a Toyota key; yoga is the master key that opens all doors.”
-Bikram Choudhury