Few can contend that the heated studio used for Bikram yoga classes allows tight muscles to release faster and stay loose throughout the session… it stands to reason really – muscles contract in cold environments and loosen in warm ones… and that room gets pretty warm!
Which means that the combined heat and humidity of a Bikram Yoga class gradually loosens muscles and allows the body to safely stretch deeper and longer than is possible with traditional exercise… we have all *heard* about how hot yoga can greater improve and increase our flexibility – but exactly *what* benefits does increased flexibility bring?
Well, some of the benefits of better flexibility include…
Basically you’re more prone to injure your muscles, as well as the tendons and ligaments around them, if you’re super stiff…. that’s because the tendons around the muscles, and the muscles themselves, stiffen when you don’t do regular stretching to keep them flexible.
Having tight muscles gives you a reduced range of motion, meaning it’s easier to accidentally go past that range of motion and injure yourself…. sooo, by improving your range of motion, via becoming more flexible, you therefore lessen the likelihood of injuries. Makes sense.
We’re gonna get into this one a lot more in our downloadable feature on Back Pain, but one of the most notable benefits of increased flexibility gained through Bikram classes is that it promotes muscle relaxation – and because of this, can reduce, and even eliminate, lower back pain. Since our back muscles are commonly contracted throughout the day just from our day-to-day activities (especially sitting – though other daily stuff too) they can become over tightened and cause pain. Becoming more flexible in the hip flexors and hamstrings especially, plus other muscles, can help reduce that stress on the lower back and thus reduce the tightening that causes pain.
Sorta leading on from the above, increased flexibility can improve your posture because tight muscles affect your spine’s alignment. Flexible muscles also have less tension, so you’ll likely feel less stressed (another topic we cover in much more depth via a downloadable feature we have in this series)… which means you’re less likely to carry a tight, tense body. Ahhh….
Tension in the muscles affects circulation, which can prevent nutrients and oxygen from properly moving through the body… the good news is that stretching increases the blood supply to muscle tissues, and your entire body, delivering essential nutrients through your blood stream. When the muscles are more flexible, they can more easily relax and create improved circulation. Plus, regular stretching also encourages circulation just by simply helping blood move to the muscles and joints… so overall pretty good stuff.
Further benefits: all of the above also leads to…
Rather cleverly, Bikram uses your body weight to provide resistance – so because your working against gravity, Bikram Yoga strengthens your bones, whilst the contraction and release of the postures stimulates and builds muscles. The holding of the postures also makes it have aspects similar to resistance training – building more muscle and strength even further…
Which leads to…
As you deepen your practice you’ll notice you start to gain a whole lotta focus and determination – and this ability to focus carries over to your daily life. And whilst physical endurance is obviously the most obvious thing you might notice that develop, you’ll come to learn (and appreciate!) how much mental strength and endurance is also equally important. We hear from so many students and teachers alike that with regular practice, the focus and endurance acquired through Bikram Yoga will spill over to increased discipline, determination, and self-confidence in life outside that hot room.
Which eventually leads to…
We hear so many remarkable stories of the ways in which Bikram Yoga has helped so many people that it’s impossible to cover them all here! It’s well known to reduce symptoms of all sorts of conditions and illnesses, including the aforementioned back pain, asthma, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, depression, and obesity… the list goes on.
Go to our testimonials page to read just a few; and in the meantime know that with regular practice, these postures can help to heal many an old injury; both physical and emotional… and also prevent them in the future.
…. so you see, flexibility has *a lot* more benefits than just being bendy