A universal, one-size-fits-all diet doesn't exist for yoga practitioners, regardless of the type of yoga you practice. Many yoga teachers and practitioners make food choices based on their personal ethics and spiritual outlook, which often translates to a vegan or vegetarian diet. However, those are individualistic choices, not ones that are dictated by Bikram or any other type of yoga.
Bikram yoga, also known as hot yoga, is a sequence of 26 postures, or asanas, developed by yoga master Bikram Choudury. Bikram yoga is done in a room heated to about 105 degrees, and practitioners sweat profusely. The heated rooms, which are called "torture chambers" on the Bikram's Yoga College of India website, warm the body and make it more flexible. The heat also aids in sweating out the impurities in the body, one of the main goals of all forms of physical movement yoga, commonly known as Hatha yoga. A Bikram yoga session burns 636 calories per hour and is roughly the equivalent of a 60-minute jog, according to the "Women's Health Magazine."
As the "Yoga Journal" states, the classic texts of yoga don't discuss specific diets or foods. However, there are general guidelines followed by many yoga teachers and practitioners, regardless of the type of yoga they follow. Gary Kraftsow, founder of the American Viniyoga Institute, says, "There are ingredients that enhance clarity and lightness, keeping the body light and nourished and the mind clear." Foods that tend to meet these goals include a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, lentils and other legumes, and whole grains.
There are many variations in the diets of Bikram and other yoga practitioners. Bikram followers who believe it is morally wrong to eat meat become vegans or vegetarians. But other practitioners don't function as well on a meatless diet and discover they feel better when they eat fish or red meat. Some practitioners even find they function best by consuming lots of game meats. Trial by error and intuition often are helpful in determining the best food choices for your body.
The "Yoga Journal" advises you to approach Bikram yoga cautiously. Excessive sweating can result in dehydration, which in turn can lead to heat stroke, a condition that sometimes proves fatal. Obtain your doctor's permission before you begin Bikram yoga classes. Take it easy at the start. Sit in on classes to get acclimated to the heat, and hold poses for a fraction of the time the teacher suggests while you are building up your endurance. Although your diet can vary, every Bikram yoga practitioner needs to hydrate adequately, and that means drinking substantial amounts of water before, during and after your workout.
Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.