By Amruta Kulkarni, CYT 500
The original creator of Hot Yoga is a great Yogi by the name of Bikram Choudhary. Bikram Choudhary is an Olympic champion in weight-lifting. In the 1960’s, he won Olympic Gold in his class. For personal health reasons, Bikram sequenced traditional Yoga poses in a very specific way, in order to promote the health and healing of the physical body and mind.
One of the main aspects of Hot Yoga is that the Yoga asana sequence is performed in a very hot and humid room. Ideally, the temperature is to be set at 105 degrees and the humidity level between 40-50 percent. Performing Yoga asanas in a heated room helps the elasticity of the muscles and ligaments and also enhances the detoxification process.
Bikram Choudhury was born in Kolkata, India in 1946. He began to learn and practice Yoga asanas at the age of three. When Bikram was five years old, he began studying Yoga techniques with his teacher, Bishnu Ghosh. Bishnu Ghosh is the brother of Paramahansa Yogananda, a beloved Yoga instructor and meditation teacher. This lineage focuses on bringing ancient Indian scriptural wisdom to the Western world, while maintaining the integrity of the original manuscripts.
By the age of 14, Bikram was known as an exemplary Yoga practitioner. Within his lineage, he was declared to be a Yoga Raj, or King of Yoga. Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be, at age 20, Bikram suffered a severe weightlifting accident that crippled him. Bikram was told that he would never walk again.
With the expert guidance and support of his guru, Bikram created a series of 26 yoga asanas that ultimately restored his health. To the doctors’ amazement, he made a full recovery in six months through the ardent practice of this 26 asana posture series. Several years later, Bikram opened up Yoga schools in Japan and India. In 1972, he traveled to the United States and opened up the Bikram Yoga College of India that is flourishing today.
The practice of Hot Yoga has grown out of Bikram Yoga. Bikram Yoga outlines a set practice of Yoga asanas, in a specific order. Hot Yoga utilizes Bikram Yoga as a framework from which to build a powerful and effective Yoga practice. The use of a heated and humid room is also a core element of any Hot Yoga practice. Truly, Hot Yoga practitioners and teachers owe a debt of gratitude to Bikram Choudhury and his teacher, Bishnu Ghosh, in the creation of such a powerful and healing Yoga practice.
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