The Bikram Method
During Bikram’s competitive yoga and weightlifting years he also worked with Bishnu Ghosh as a yoga therapist. In yoga therapy a yoga master prescribes hatha yoga postures to sick or injured people based on their symptoms, lifestyle, habits and history, similar to the way a medical doctor prescribes medicines. The postures are designed to stimulate the flow of circulation and energy to the dis-eased areas, returning them to normal function and perfect natural health. In the beginning Bishnu prescribed the postures and then it was Bikram’s job to teach the patients how to do the postures. Eventually Bikram became knowledgeable enough to make the prescriptions and he traveled all over India helping people to heal themselves with hatha yoga. It was during this time that the thought occurred to Bikram, “I wonder if there is a series of postures that people could do before they get sick or injured that would prevent dis-ease before it happened?” The present Bikram’s Beginning Hatha Yoga Class, which stimulates every part of the body, hair to the toes, bones to the skin, is the result of answering that question. Bikram took the experience from all his years of training and studying, all of his experience as a yoga therapist, used his intuition, and created the series of postures now known as the Bikram’s Method. He has been teaching the same ninety minute class, consisting of twenty-six postures and two breathing exercises, for nearly thirty years, helping tens of thousands of people to regain and maintain their health and peace of mind. The postures are aligned in a specific order, scientifically designed so that one posture prepares you for the next posture. Bikram didn’t change or modify the postures from their original form to make them easier, thereby retaining the full healing benefits of the postures. The first half of the class consists of standing postures, developing strength, flexibility and willpower. The second half of the class consists of postures done on the floor, shifting the focus to really getting deep into the body, stimulating circulation and function of all of the body’s systems. For example, the respiratory, circulatory, digestive, endocrine or hormonal, and immune systems. This posture series has eliminated the pain of many, many people with chronic dis-eases such as neck and back pain, digestive disorders, anxiety, asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, among others.
The Hatha Yoga Process
The majority of all symptoms of dis-ease can be prevented or eliminated by stimulating the flow of blood and energy to all the cells of the dysfunctional organ, gland or tissue. This is what the yoga process is designed to do. The postures in Bikram’s Beginning Hatha Yoga Class systematically stretch and contract/compress every part of the body, increasing the flow of blood, that is, oxygen, nutrients and life-force energy or prana, re-energizing, re-activating, re-vitalizing and rejuvenating every single muscle, tendon, ligament, joint, internal organ, gland, tissue, vessel and nerve, alleviating the symptoms of discomfort and dis-ease.
The room is heated to approximately one hundred degrees Fahrenheit to encourage the stretching and strengthening process. Anything that is hot is more fluid, more flexible. Anything that is cold is more stiff, more brittle. As we increase our flexibility, that means going beyond our body’s current capabilities, we can greatly reduce the risk of injury to the muscular/skeletal system if we make sure our bodies are thoroughly warmed up inside and out. The heat also encourages sweating, releasing toxins through the skin, taking some of the burden of detoxification from the liver, spleen, kidneys and excretory organs.