A little bit about Bikram Yoga
A lot of people have been asking me how can I support Bikram Yoga and at the same time being so attached to the traditional yoga, and this is how I want to answer....
When I was living in India, I studied traditional yoga in this college Kaivalyadhama, the first college that started studying yoga as science, the first place that made the yoga empirical. So, I took my time spending lots of hours in the library, to make a little research and prove to myself how traditional Bikram Yoga is.
As many of you know, Bikram Yoga is a series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises, its a 90 minute practice (not less) in a room heated to 35–42 °C (95–108 °F). Bikram Choudhury is the creator of this- the creator of the hot yoga-, he builded up this series, synthesizing it from traditional hatha yoga techniques that his guru Bishnu Gosh (Paramahansa Yogananda´s brother) gave to him. As an Indian, his dream was to bring the yoga to the west side of the world and he started proving his method (hot yoga) in Mumbai or Bombay on that time, then he went to Japan until he decided to go to California and bring the proper and first traditional yoga to this continent.
What does it mean to be traditional?
A traditional asana practice has to come directly from the real Hatha Yoga principles, it has to stick to the asanas that the ancient yogis -more than 2000 years ago- developed and its said that Shiva gave to the world without modifications or objects to be used, that would make the practice easier to the western body; it has to have a stillness in the posture, a stability to develop the understanding between your brain and your body; it has to have the balance between the asana (masculine/ active) and the savasana (feminine/passive). If any practice doesn´t have any of this principles It can not be called traditional, it can be yoga but tradition comes from the ancient vedas.
A traditional yoga asana series has to be focused on the spine as a base and around the spine you build the whole body. Bikram Yoga is the only series that is completely focused on that, is the only series where the strength comes from the spine, not from the pushups or the core strength. Thats why it has a lot of backbends, and thats why the results are so powerful.
Why the heat?
India is the place where yoga started, where the practice of asanas was developed, and India is a really hot place, in the summer, I remember being in places where the weather was 48 °C and I would practice yoga outdoor.
So, it´s simple he wanted to bring India to the west side of the world bringing the yoga practice knowing how non spiritual we are (but we call ourselves religious) and how stiff our bodies are because we only focus on working out, and he did it creating a different idea without compromising the tradition sticking to the real hatha yoga principles but protecting the western human body with the heat, making it accesible to everyone, with the idea of making them more flexible but protecting the muscles and joints so that in his yoga there would not exist any injuries, and until today, it has been like that.
Also, because of the heat, you enter directly to another state of consciousness, if you don´t learn how to breath properly, normally -normal breathing is the breathing that should appear on any traditional hatha yoga practice- you only think about the heat, so the heat pushes you to enter to that state where the only thing you think about is your breathing and the movements in the body.
Why the mirrors?
"Yoga shouldn´t be practiced with mirrors, its such and egocentric aspect" ..
This is one of the things that a lot of people has told me, I understand that having a mirror is an easy way of making yourself better through the practice, because you are watching everything you are doing, so it can be counted as cheating, and it can get tricky because you can enter an automatic state through your meditation so you don´t connect properly, but, as Bikram would always say: "your mind can be your biggest enemy and you have to teach it to be your best friend", the mirror can be a way to encounter yourself with your real self, to make peace with your being, to accept yourself. You will enter your Bikram yoga practice hating your body, criticizing and judging yourself or maybe their would be moments where you will realize how you can not look at yourself in your eyes, and after 90 minutes you would reborn and fall in love with yourself, with your body, with your life.
Why the dialogue?
At the beginning, there was not proper dialogue, but Bikram would be always saying the same words to teach the postures.
There is only one way to explain a posture to a person, and its making sure that you say the same thing so that they start printing the words on their minds and eventually inside their bodies, the same explanation/instruction over and over and over again will eventually pop on their minds and their bodies will have a reaction to that.
Whenever you enter a Bikram Yoga Class, the teacher will alway be saying the same words, as a beginner you will start getting freaked because it seems that every class is same haha. Anyways, the teacher will be giving the exact same commands in the exact time so that your body and your mind enter the moving meditation.
The dialogue works like mantras on your spine and whenever a teacher has rhythm and sings the mantras in a proper way it becomes the best song for the human soul, your spine starts working the same way a mantra would work on it, and it will start relaxing and you will start moving accordingly to the words.
After my research, and all the hours I invested in realizing and proving how Bikram Yoga is traditional, now I can say with facts on my hand, that Bikram Yoga is the most attached yoga to the tradition principles is as pure because while you practice it you also work with your mind (raja yoga) the stillness inside the postures gives a big gap to the brain and mind to work together there is no "flow" that opens the mind to distraction and theres is a pure state of Dharana that means to be focused on one specific thing.
Bikram Yoga is one of the most powerful practices ever created, the effects and results comes out on the very first day you took your first class, if you start being conscious, you´ll realize how from day one you start sleeping better, you start being more patient towards traffic, you start drinking more water and that cleanses your body, you sweat all the toxins and the bad things of your life and you learn to love yourself and to accept yourself the way you are.
Tell me about the yoga you practice, let me know if you have taken a class of Bikram Yoga and how was it...
Leave a comment, let me know what you think
Don´t forget to Just Keep Swimming