Bikram Yoga & Health Hazards

Bikram yoga can cause heat-related illness.

Bikram yoga can cause heat-related illness.

Bikram yoga is a form of Hatha yoga developed by Bikram Choudhury. The series of 26 postures, or asanas, is performed in a heated room during a 90-minute class. Choudhury recommends a prescribed sequence of postures and a specific room climate for classes to conform to the Bikram yoga standard. According to MayoClinic.com, Bikram yoga isn't for everyone and might even be hazardous to your health.

Room Climate

The recommended temperature in a Bikram yoga studio is 105 degrees Fahrenheit and 40 percent humidity. Physical exertion in extreme heat increases the risk of fainting and can cause the body to overheat, which can lead to heat stroke and dehydration. People with chronic disease or who are taking prescription medications that have been proven to interfere with the body's heat-loss mechanism are at increased risk for heat-related illness and should avoid Bikram or hot yoga.

Overdoing It

Bikram yoga is practiced in a heated room to "allow for deeper stretching" of the muscles, according to Bikramyoga.com. But when muscles and ligaments are stretched beyond 20 to 25 percent of their resting length, tissue can tear. And ligaments don't regain their shape once they're stretched, which can lead to instability and raise the risk of strains, sprains and dislocations.

Risky Postures

Bikram's method is said to have a "tourniquet effect: stretching, balancing, and creating pressure all at the same time." Choudhury says this method stimulates blood circulation. People with blood disorders, high blood pressure, hypertension and heart disease should avoid inversion postures that can cause a rush of blood away from the limbs toward the torso.


Bikram yoga is a more intense and demanding form of yoga. Its "no pain, no gain" practice is contrary to most traditional hatha yoga teachings, which emphasize calm and peaceful acceptance. Bikram postures require lengthy, demanding and "forceful" contractions of all major muscle groups, according to MayoClinic.com.

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About the Author

Aline Lindemann is a health, food and travel writer. She has also worked as a social worker, preschool teacher and art educator. Lindemann holds a Master of Liberal Studies in culture, health and creative nonfiction writing from Arizona State University.

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