It is no secret that Bikram yoga leads to a healthier, leaner you. Performed at a temperature of 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity, Bikram packs 26 poses and two breathing exercises in each 90-minute class. (See Reference 2) Bikram has plenty of health benefits; however, simply performing hot yoga is no guarantee of weight loss. To trim down, you need to feed your body right and stay consistent with your workout schedule.
Bikram alone will not do much for weight loss. Weight loss is all about the calories, and yoga pales in comparison to cardio in this area. Hatha yoga, upon which Bikram is based, burns a paltry 281 calories per hour for a 155-pound woman. Compare this to running six miles per hour for an hour, which melts 704 calories, and it becomes obvious that yoga is not a fast track to weight loss. (See Reference 1) To accelerate fat-burning, hop on the treadmill or bike path three to five days a week in addition to performing Bikram.
Here is where Bikram shines. Through extended muscle contractions, Bikram yoga strengthens and tones muscles for a tighter physique. Although building muscle does not lead to immediate weight loss -- in fact, you could even gain a few pounds -- it plays a crucial role in weight maintenance, because muscle requires more calories than fat. If you add ten pounds of muscle to your frame, you will torch an extra 350 to 500 calories daily. (See Reference 3) Perform Bikram three to five times weekly to maximize muscle building.
Diet will do more to trim your figure than Bikram and cardio combined. For weight loss, the Mayo Clinic recommends consuming 1,200 calories per day. Fruits and veggies should be your diet staples, and carbs should come from whole-grain sources such as popcorn and buckwheat noodles. Choose low-fat proteins such as tuna and black beans, and get your fats from plant sources such as olive oil. Candy and pastries are okay in small quantities only. (See Reference 4)
Bikram yoga has special risks. Stay safe in the studio by bringing plenty of water and showing up properly hydrated. Never push yourself into a pose that causes pain, and stop what you are doing if you feel faint. If the heat gets too intense, do not be afraid to leave the room. If you have ever been ill from excessive heat, see your doctor before trying Bikram. (See Reference 2)
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.