It is no secret that yoga provides incredible health benefits, no matter your age, gender, or physical condition. One type of yoga in particular, known as Bikram yoga, can show major benefits to the practitioner.

What is Bikram Yoga?

Bikram Yoga is a series of 26 yoga poses, borne out of Hatha Yoga by founder Bikram Choudhury. Classes typically run for 90 minutes, with each pose being repeated,and here’s what scares a lot of people off- the room the class is performed in is typically heated. And not just to a comfortable room-temperature 70 degrees. Generally the temperatures exceed 100°F. It is recommended that you drink 8-9 glasses of water throughout the day prior to the class, and bring a large bottle in with you. Also, listen to the instructors- they are there to help and ensure the safety of all participants. Don’t push yourself past a healthy limit, and be willing to take small breaks if you feel dizzy or lightheaded.

Why Would I Subject Myself to That??

The benefits to this type of yoga, practiced in a hot space, are proven. According to this article on Shape.com, the Bikram practice helps the user to “stretch, detoxify, relieve stress, tone, and heal chronic pain such as arthritis, joint aches, knee injuries, back problems, and more”. A study conducted by Catherine Woodyard in 2011 found that yoga itself can “enhance muscular strength and body flexibility, promote and improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, promote recovery from and treatment of addiction, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, improve sleep patterns, and enhance overall well-being and quality of life”. Further, yoga is often incorporated into holistic addiction treatment programs, because it forces the practitioner to stay in the moment, get centered, practice mindfulness, and utilize beneficial breathing techniques.

Personal Experience with Bikram Yoga

Not only does the research back it up, but from personal experience, this writer can tell you that Bikram provides incredible benefits when you practice it on a consistent and regular basis. The first few times I went, I had to take it slowly. I had to set my ego aside, and be willing to lay down or sit when I felt light-headed. (Excellent practice for a competitive and ego-driven recovering alcoholic like myself!) The heat element in Bikram forces you to pay close attention to your body, and be patient with the progress you make. For me personally, an hour and a half in Bikram is like an hour and a half-long meditation- time that I am not in my head or obsessing over past/future events, but a firmly grounded in the now and in the “doing”. This is also known as mindfulness, which has proven benefits for addiction recovery. It has taught me to have compassion for myself, and to set aside my pride for the sake of my practice and my sanity- a skill which carries over into my daily life and the program I try to work every day.

If you or a loved one needs help with an addiction, and you are interested in how yoga can be incorporated into a treatment program, call the team at Serenity Acres today, 1-800-203-2024.