What makes the style of yoga originally developed in the early 1970s by Bikram Choudhury so trendy is that it’s hot – but exactly what’s hot about Bikram Yoga? Quite simply, it is practiced in an environment with levels of heat and humidity simulating the naturally hot and humid climate of the birthplace of yoga, India, where these two factors have always been considered an important part of the practice due to their capacity to purify and detoxify the organism. The ideal room temperature for practicing hot yoga, in fact, is 105°F (40.5°C), with a humidity of 40%.
Practicers of Bikram Yoga or Hot Yoga (which are somewhat different but both based on the use of heat and humidity) claim that these conditions favour deeper stretching, help prevent injury, reduce tension and stress, stimulate the circulation and burn more calories than traditional forms of yoga.
Yet hot yoga should not be practiced without bearing in mind that there are risks involved. Many experts of traditional yoga caution against underestimating the strain that high temperatures can put on a body already challenged by such a demanding discipline as yoga. Those wishing to try out hot yoga, therefore, should meet several health requisites: a healthy heart and joints (hip, knee, spine and shoulder), no balance problems or neurological ailments and, obviously, a good tolerance of high temperatures.