|Established||late 20th century|
|Unchanging sequence of postures in a heated room, designed as a rejuvenating exercise to strengthen the entire body, from head to toe.|
Bikram Yoga is a hot system of yoga as exercise that Bikram Choudhury synthesized from traditional hatha yoga techniques. It became popular in the early 1970s. All Bikram Yoga Beginning Series classes run for 90 minutes and consist of the same series of 26 postures, including two breathing exercises.
Bikram Yoga is a hot yoga style, and is ideally practiced in a room heated to 35–42 °C (95–108 °F) with a humidity of 40%. All official Bikram classes are taught by Bikram-certified teachers, who have completed nine weeks of training endorsed by Choudhury. Bikram-certified teachers are taught a standardized dialogue to run the class, but are encouraged to develop their teaching skills the longer they teach. This results in varying deliveries and distinct teaching styles.
Bikram Choudhury was born in Calcutta in 1944, Choudhury began practicing yoga at age four. He stated that he practiced yoga 4–6 hours every day. He asserts that at the age of thirteen he won the National India Yoga Championship and was undefeated for the following three years and retired as the undisputed All-India National Yoga Champion.
Choudhury later devised the 26 postures sequence of Bikram Yoga and founded the Yoga College of India. He has also written books and sings.
The 26 Asanas
The following are the 26 postures of Bikram Yoga, as named there; the Sanskrit names differ from those used for the same or closely related poses in other schools of yoga. These are taught in the Beginning Bikram Yoga Class. The sequence is taught by people who have been trained and certified by Bikram Choudhury.
|1||प्राणायाम||Standing Deep Breathing (lit. Breath Extension)||May help prevent respiratory problems|
|2||अर्धचन्द्रासन with पादहस्तासन||Half Moon Pose with Hands To Feet Pose||Strengthens muscles in body's core along with improving flexibility of the spine|
|3||उत्कटासन||Awkward Pose||Helps tone and shape legs|
|4||गरुडासन||Eagle Pose||Opens up the 14 largest joints|
|Standing Head To Knee Pose||Improves the sciatic nerves flexibility and may strengthen hamstrings plus other leg muscles|
|6||दण्डायमन धनुरासन||Standing Bow Pose||Helps develop balance while potentially firming upper thighs and the abdominal wall|
|7||तुलादण्डासन||Balancing Stick Pose|
|8||दण्डायमन विभक्तपाद पश्चिमोत्तानासन||Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose||Helps stretch and strengthen sciatic nerves and tendons in the legs|
|9||त्रिकोणासन||Triangle Pose||May help alleviate lower back pain and crooked spines while improving muscles|
|10||दण्डायमन विभक्तपाद जानुशीर्षासन||Standing Separate Leg Head To Knee Pose||May help trim the lower body|
|11||ताडासन||Tree Pose||Helps improve posture, balance and flexibility while strengthening oblique muscles|
|Toe Stand Pose||Helps strengthen knees, ankles, and feet|
|14||पवनमुक्तासन||Wind Removing Pose||Helps strengthen the arms, abdomen and thighs while improving hip flexibility|
|15||पादहस्तासन||Situp||Helps increase flexibility to stretch the spine|
|16||भुजङ्गासन||Cobra Pose||Helps strengthen the spine and may relieve pain from scoliosis, arthritis and menstrual disorders|
|17||शलभासन||Locust Pose||Similar benefits as Cobra
Helps strengthen the upper spine and legs
|Full Locust Pose||May relieve pain from scoliosis and slipped discs while strengthening the middle spine and increasing elasticity of the rib cage|
|19||धनुरासन||Bow Pose||Helps increase circulation and strength of the spine while opening up the rib cage to expand lungs|
|20||सुप्तवज्रासन||Fixed Firm Pose (lit. Reclining Thunderbolt Pose)||Helps improve strength and flexibility of the lower spine, knees, hips and ankle joints while increasing circulation that may relieve pain|
|21||अर्धकूर्मासन||Half Tortoise Pose||Stretches the lower part of the lungs while relieving tension in the neck and shoulders|
|22||उष्ट्रासन||Camel Pose||Improves flexibility of the spine and neck while stretching the abdominal organs and throat|
|23||शसांगासना||Rabbit Pose||Increases elasticity of the spine and back muscles and may relieve tension near the neck and shoulders|
|24||जानुशीर्षासन with पश्चिमोत्तानासन||Head To Knee Pose with Back Stretching Pose|
|25||अर्धमत्स्येन्द्रासन||Spine Twisting Pose (lit. Half Lord of the Fishes Pose)||Helps improve elasticity of the spine and increases circulation in the spinal nerves while relieving lower back pain|
|26||कपालभाति||Blowing In Firm Pose (lit. Skull Illuminating)||Strengthens the abdominal organs while increasing the elasticity of the lungs|
A 2013 review of yoga-related adverse events included Bikram Yoga. Of 76 previously reported adverse events, Pranayama (yoga breathing) was the most commonly cited yoga style (4 cases), followed by "Hatha" (3 cases) and Bikram (3 cases). The most common posture which led to adverse events was headstand (Sirsasana), which is not practiced in Bikram Yoga. The three case reports involving Bikram yoga included one case of Rosacea, one psychotic episode, and one case of hyponatremia (low salt levels).
One controversial component of Bikram Yoga is its involvement in Yoga Asana Championships. There are second-hand reports that yoga competitions have been around for over a century in India, where yoga originated. Yoga Sports Federation (founded by Bikrams ex-wife Rajashree Choudhury) which hosted The 9th Annual Bishnu Charan Ghosh Cup in June 2012 says that yoga competitions inspire both practicing yogis and newcomers to sharpen their skills. Another aim of the Federation is to turn Yoga Asana into a recognized Olympic sport.
Copyright claims on Bikram Yoga
Choudhury has claimed that Bikram Yoga is under copyright and that it could not be taught or presented by anyone whom he had not authorized. Choudhury began making those claims in 2011. In 2011 Choudhury started a lawsuit against Yoga to the People, a competing yoga studio founded by a former student of Choudhury's and with a location near one of the Bikram Yoga studios in New York, and later started another against the Florida-based Evolation Yoga. Choudhury lost at first instance in both cases and appealed the decision, but the Court of Appeal ultimately dismissed his copyright claim over yoga poses in Bikram Yoga.
As a result of that lawsuit, the United States Copyright Office issued a clarification that yoga postures (asanas) could not be copyrighted in the way claimed by Choudhury, and that Yoga to the People and others could continue to freely teach these exercises.
Two lawsuits accusing Choudhury of rape were filed in May 2013, in which a Jane Doe also alleges sexual battery, false imprisonment, discrimination, harassment, and other counts in a cult-like atmosphere. In other lawsuits, Minakshi "Micki"Jafa-Bodden, Head of Legal and International Affairs from Spring 2011 to March 13, 2013 when she claims she was "abruptly and unlawfully terminated", claims she was victim and witness to Choudhury's "severe, ongoing, pervasive and offensive conduct" to women and other minorities. Bikram teacher Sarah Baughn and two unnamed women filed sexual harassment suits accusing Choudhury of sexual harassment, intimidation and rape in 2013. In a 2015 CNN interview with Baughn, Bikram spoke out for the first time denying the allegations. Bikram stated "I have no intention to have sex with any of my students or any women... Sometimes students, they commit suicide. Lots of students of mine, they commit suicide because I will not have sex with them". In 2015, the accusations raised larger questions in the yoga community, including an article by the Washington Post "asking whether it's wise to put so much faith in a guru". In 2016 HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel aired an interview with Choudhury and three women who accused him of raping them. In 2017, the Los Angeles County Court awarded $7 million to Choudhury's former lawyer, Minakshi Jafa-Boden, and, subsequently, when he fled to India without paying up, gave control of his yoga business to Jafa-Boden.
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