BIKRAM YOGA is a holistic system of exercise, a form of yoga developed by Bikram Singh Choudhury, which became very popular during the late 1960s. Classes typically consist of a specific sequence of twenty-six postures, practiced in a large room heated to 110 degrees, designed to mimic the climate of rural India. These classes are taught in an instructor-led environment, with a number of different styles and forms of Yoga taught. This article provides a brief overview of these systems, as well as some important benefits associated with these systems of Yoga.
The first of the three principal systems of Yoga is Hatha Yoga. It is characterized by the absence of equipment use. Students may wear loose clothing and often will wear sandals for the purpose of better flexibility and ease in movement. All students are encouraged to keep their body as bare as possible, and will be encouraged to focus their attention on the breath, posture and alignment.
Asanas include physical movements which stretch the muscles, and the emphasis is on the smooth and fluid flow of energy between the various parts of the body. Most of the Asanas have certain common characteristics, such as repetition of the same sequence over, and a controlled form of breathing and movement. However, all students will be trained individually to ensure that their Asana practice is appropriate for each individual.
The next system is Vinyasa Yoga, which is characterized by the use of flowing motion as well as a series of rhythmic postures. A student may spend a great deal of time practicing specific postures or just spending a few minutes performing various movements. Although some instructors may recommend that a student focus on only one aspect of the practice, this is not the typical practice in Vinyasa yoga. Each class is typically broken up into two or more different segments, each of which is devoted to a particular element of the practice, and each segment usually consists of various movements and poses.
There is no prearranged form of breathing and movement in Hatha Yoga, although students may perform controlled breathing and physical movements throughout the duration of the class. In many forms of Vinyasa, students will begin and end the session without a pause, while concentrating on the flow and rhythm of their movements. In addition, this type of Yoga incorporates the benefits of meditation in order to help students become aware of themselves and their body.
Power Yoga combines physical and mental aspects of the practice to maximize the benefits of each. Although a large room with plenty of mirrors and/or music is required in order to fully enjoy the full benefit of Power Yoga, most classes do not require a lot of equipment. Most students are encouraged to practice on their own, using props such as blocks, blankets, cushions and even their hands, to practice in an open space.
Both Hatha and Power Yoga are practiced on a mat, but there are many variations to this. The most common mats used are those which are made from rubber, or other absorbent materials. These mats, along with the heat that is generated by the hot water, provide a great deal of resistance to the heat of the room. While many instructors will suggest that the student not wear any clothes, as clothing can restrict the flow of air, they may be worn if they would like to, provided they do not interfere with proper breathing and movement.
In summary, Bikram Yoga classes provide both flexibility and physical exercise, as well as a meditative atmosphere. Both of these factors are important to maintaining good health, and many practitioners choose to continue to practice for years after completing the classes. In addition, a high level of fitness is one of the key benefits that comes with practicing Yoga, as it helps build strength, flexibility and endurance. As long as the person has the desire to practice, they will reap the benefits.
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