A Different Kind of Workout
Hot Yoga is a work out. But it's a different Kind of work out. This practice is designed to cleanse and rejuvenate every muscle and organ system in your body in just 90 minutes a day.
It's less a work-out regimen, and more a restorative practice. In fact, it is a perfect compliment for other regimens like competitive sports, running, aerobics and weight training that can be hard on your body over time. Bikram Hot Yoga can work to counteract and balance out these other regimens by bringing your body back to a natural state of healing and regeneration through a process of gentle and consistent cleansing from the inside out.
Think of a dirty sponge. How would you clean it?
Well, you would hold it under hot running water and squeeze it, and stretch it, and twist it, and smash it, and wring it, and smooth it, and squeeze it, and stretch it, and twist it, and smash it, and wring it, and smooth it. Then refill with hot water and do it all over again until it was... purged of all the impurities within it.
There you go, a fresh, clean, usable sponge. And for you, a fresh, clean, usable body.
But your living body is able to do so much more than a sponge. Your body, purged of the sludge that is holding it back, is able to heal and grow, and become flexible and strong. Your body knows what's wrong with it, and your body knows how to fix itself. You just have to get out of its way and give it what it needs to do it. "Can I get a Witness?!"
Stretching a muscle opens it up, stretching the cells, loosening its hold on impurities that shouldn't be there. Relaxing the muscles allows fresh blood to flow into it, collecting the waste and grime. Contracting that muscle squeezes the cells together, forcing the blood through the capillaries to wash it all away (back to the liver to be filtered and eliminated).
Each pose is designed to stretch, relax and contract all your muscles in just the right ways to accomplish this rinsing of tissue.
Your Lymphatic System:
Your lymphatic system is the cleansing lubricant of your body. There are ducts and resiviours and free-flowing lymphatic fluid through-out your entire body. Like oil in an engine, it circulates and cleans, lubricates and filters your body. But unlike an engine there is no "pump" to force that circulation. It's your body's movement that is the pump for your lymphatic system. Your muscle contractions and body contortions squeeze and massage the fluid through-out.
The twists, bends, curls and lengthening in each pose works like a high-power flush to clean your body's lubricating system in every class!
All major organs are systematically compressed (squeezed like a sponge) and relaxed (refilled with blood and fluids) multiple times during class. Flushing them of the gunk they can collect over time.
This is one of the main reasons it is important to do each posture correctly.
Why do I have to curl forward and touch my forehead to my Knee? Well, because (among other things) it forces your body to compress and squeeze certain the organs in your abdominal cavity, wringing them out.
Between each vertebra in your spinal column, there is a cushioning disk made of up of a "spongy" material. These disks are very important to the health of your spine. There is a great deal of focus in class on working your spine front to back, side to side, and twisting it as well. Why? Because when you bend your spine to the left, the blood is squeezed out of the disk's left side. Then when you bend your spine to the right, blood rushes back into the left side of the disk, flushing it, while the right side is squeezed in turn. In class your entire spine is thoroughly wrung out and cleansed.
A clean, healthy spine equals a healthy life, and your spine gets a lot of attention in Bikram Hot Yoga.
You will sweat a lot in class. And this is one of the main ways the body cleans itself. Almost everything that doesn't come out in the normal restroom fashion will come out of your skin through sweat. Drink lots of water. It acts like a radiator flush for your body.
Think of it as "taking a shower" from the inside out. :)
The Hot Water:
So, let's go back to that sponge. What if you had tried to rinse it out with cold water... Well, we all know it wouldn't have been quite as effective.
The high temperature in class is designed to facilitate the flushing of your body just like hot water does with the sponge. It's a good thing.
So, you may be thinking "All that body flushing is great. But I'm here to work out!"
Well, the good news is that all this wringing, and squeezing, and twisting, and contorting isn't doing it by itself, your muscles have the burden of making all this happen. And it is quite the workout.
In addition to creating a healthy clean environment for your body to maintain and heal itself, you will be building muscle strength, flexibility and endurance. Your body, in its cleaner, stronger state will naturally burn more calories, and as you become healthier, you will naturally take better care of yourself, eating right, drinking right, living right.
Win, Win, Win.