What is Unique About Bikram Yoga?

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  • Written By: Niki Foster
  • Edited By: Sara Z. Potter
  • Last Modified Date: 05 September 2018
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Bikram yoga is unique because it is a copyrighted yoga practice that is virtually the same every time and every place it is practiced. Bikram yoga is named after its creator, Bikram Choudhury. It is practiced in a heated room of at least 105°F (40.5°C) and consists of a set series of asanas, or poses, performed for specific lengths of time. A Bikram yoga practice lasts 90 minutes and includes 26 poses and two breathing exercises. The instructor must use a set dialogue to guide the practice.

Bikram Choudhury, born in Calcutta, India in 1946, has practiced yoga since childhood and won four of his country's National Yoga Championship awards as a teen. He began teaching yoga in his 20s, opening schools in India and Japan. In the 1970s, Choudhury opened a yoga school in Los Angeles, California and began developing his trademarked method. He first obtained a copyright for his book Bikram's Beginning Yoga Class in 1979. Today, there are studios around the world, from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Paris, Tokyo, and Calcutta, all using the specific series of asanas developed by Choudhury.


In the 1990s, Choudhury began offering a 9-week training course for instructors. In 2002, he officially sought copyright for the series of postures contained in his book, insisting that teachers were not allowed to use the series or the name Bikram yoga without receiving a license from him. This move was somewhat controversial in the yoga world, and some objected that yoga postures and series could not be copyrighted but were in the public domain. Choudhury's right to hold copyright over the method he developed was upheld in a court case against Open Source Yoga Unity in 2005.

Bikram yoga is one of the most popular forms of yoga practiced today. If you are interested in trying it, chances are there is a licensed studio near you. The official website lists class locations around the world. If you do not live close to one of these locations, you can practice this type yoga at home with the help of an official Bikram yoga book, compact disc, or video.


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Post 3

I went to my first Bikram yoga class today! It wasn't as bad as I had expected. I thought I would feel dizzy most of the time and have to take really frequent breaks and that only happened a couple of times. Besides the heat, the yoga class was much less intense than others I have done. I guess the heat intensifies things in its own way.

I did notice that the room was just a little smelly - I guess when people sweat that much, you never quite get the smell out. I drank a lot of water during and after the class. It was really really hot in the room but I definitely felt "cleansed" - and exhausted!

Post 1

Bikram yoga is very interesting because I'm not sure how being hot helps in yoga. It's SO HOT and you sweat so much, which can be a little disturbing when you are with strangers. Don't forget to drink LOTS of water if you are practicing Bikram yoga because you can get really dehydrated by sweating that much.

Bikram yoga claims to reduce injury and facilitate calorie burning by having it be so hot. I'd be interested to see if that is really the case (could I just go to Death Valley and burn a lot of calories by being hot?)

I also didn't know that all the moves were copyrighted. I thought the unique part of Bikram yoga was just the heat - since my friends and I have always called it "hot yoga." I wonder if anyone has started hot yoga but with a different flow of postures.

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