Bikram Yoga: High on Heat, Lower Problems
July 9, 2005
By: Mandi Bishop
the safety of some pain medications has been questioned, a lot of
people are looking outside their medicine cabinets for relief. News 4
WOAI's Tanji Patton found some who say they found an answer in an
It's close to 100 degrees outside, so why
in the world are some people working their tails off in a room that's
even hotter? They're practicing Bikram Yoga, a series of stretches,
balances, and muscle compressions all done for 90 minutes in a 105
The people in this hot room aren't just
sweating to lose weight. Some of them say they're being healed. Lucia
Garza says because of Bikram Yoga she has dramatically reduced her
insulin intake for her type 1 diabetes.
"I've noticed that when I, the days that I
do come to yoga, my blood sugars stay under 200," explains Garza. Plus,
her foot problems from her disease are diminishing, as well. "My feet
were not hurting me anymore and I was able to, five days later I was
able to climb the stairs."
Joan Supik suffers from rheumatoid
arthritis. Tired of years of pain and hundreds of medications, Joan
sought alternative routes. She credits Bikram yoga for much of her
"I'm off drugs and I have been for three
years," says Joan. "I can stand on my tip toes and I haven't been able
to for twenty years. That's awesome...My elbows are open. They were
almost 90 degrees. Now, I can put my hands above my head."
Then there's Roy Gonzalez. He started
Bikram to compliment his martial arts practice, but a funny thing
happened the more he came to sweat.
"I've been on Lithium Carbonate for bipolar
disorder for twelve years. As my practice continued, I realized I had
more control of my moods because it's a more challenging place to be in
there with the heat and having to listen and not talk. We started
tapering off meds and I've been off of mediation for two years."
Owner Stevan Falk says these stories are
not uncommon. "Back pain, knee pain, people who are overweight. They
come in. They work hard. It's challenging and difficult. The ones that
stay with it get very good results.
"We do the same series everytime...they are
26 challenging postures and they are what Bikram, the teacher, felt
were the best yoga, the best postures for the most people out in the
So, why does the room have to be so hot?
Falk says, "Obviously, you're warmer, the muscles become more relaxed.
They can improve circulation, the heart rate elevates, so it's more
aerobic. You can stretch deeper. Fatty acids are mobilized better in
the heat, so you're going to burn more fat."
But is exercising for this long in this
extreme heat safe? We asked Dr. Tamyra Rogers, with Health Link. She
tells us, "I think it's healthy as long as you follow some
recommendations: making sure you're really hydrating yourself and
making sure your core body temperature is not getting too hot which is
really going to require a lot of hydration as you are exercising."
That's what attracts a lot of people to
Bikram initially, the thought of losing weight, but as you can see,
some people are getting a lot more out of it than that.