Hot Yoga, a brilliant recreation of the Indian Hatha Yoga* or Hata Yoga*, has been introduced to the people of America since the early seventies of the last century by Bikram Chaudhary who has honorably extracted and devised the therapeutic value of Yoga. Learners in Hot Yoga are led to push the body to the extreme and to use it as a medium to bring the mind back to the brain’ in order to perform a ‘perfect marriage between body and mind’ and thus they can ‘knock the door to the spirit’. Scintillating personalities like Madonna, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones of Hollywood have been reportedly with this Hot Yoga and this Yoga is in use in different medical centers.
Hot Yoga consists of a set of 26 poses, instead of traditional 84, along with two breathing techniques traditionally termed as Pranayama* in India. The learners are to practice each pose twice and each for a period of 15 to 20 seconds in a class of 90 minutes under an unusual environment where temperature is set to reach to 105 degree Fahrenheit (43 degree Celsius) or more. The learners are instructed to stretch and turn and twist the body from the position of rest (a standing position) to left or right bends in pre-determined designs. They do sweat excessively because of extreme heat. Hot Yoga postures are simple and also challenging in any way.
The extreme heat has been justified with the ground that such warmth will enable one to utilize hundred percent performance of the vascular system when blood carrying oxygen will be allowed to be circulated better than ever. This blood, sufficiently and easily, will reach to the tissues of each and every corner of the muscle and to the tissues of all the organs of the body. The exhaustion awards the muscles and joints greater elasticity and flexibility and the collagen encompassing the joints will achieve positive tenderness. Thus a person engaged in sports and games will find his or her position always above the risk-line.
In each class in Bikram’s Yoga centre more than 600 calories will be burnt paving way for the much expected loss in weight and the body will be freed from toxins simultaneously. Students serious in the Hot Yoga classes are sure to have a reshaped body, a body energetic and strong and at the same time slim.
Hot Yoga helps in the improvement of metabolism and digestive system. The extreme heat acts against infections. It is said that diabetic or cancer patients or patients suffering from insomnia or from anychronic diseases have been greatly benefited by Hot Yoga.
The tremendous exhaustion built up by this process over the body saves the mind from getting entangled or getting disturbed by any kind of external interference and capacity of concentration is remarkably enhanced. Hot Yoga leaves fabulous effect on the nervous system and persons regular in the studios feel happy as they develop a mind free from all sorts of stress and tension. A balance in the functions of the body is urgently needed and Hot Yoga awards perfect balance and co-ordination inside the body and redefines relaxation. Learners find a very blessed mind, a mind strong and disciplined and always focused.
Yoga was invented by the people of India thousands of years ago. Students of the history of ancient India have differences about the time of origin. A valuable seal containing image of an old person in a Yoga pose found during the excavation in Harappa has been named as Pashupati Shiva. Thus people of the Indus Valley Civilization may be accepted as the first ever contributors for Yoga. Again, in many Vedic literature, from the Rikveda* to the later Upanishadas*, Yoga and one of its variation named Hatha Yoga or Hata Yoga have been stated with great importance. Some religious aspirers like Ajibikas and other sects have been contemporaries of the Buddha or Mahabira Jain. Their unbelievable austerity in practicing Hatha Yoga in different poses under the scorching sun is also a part of the Indian history. Use of heat for the well-being of the body has also been noticed in ancient Greece. Some ancient Greek physicians used to raise body temperature for an immune defense mechanism against infection. But Yoga is something different and something greater. Yoga presents some techniques to attain physical and mental perfection. Yoga has been practiced and developed years after years. Hot Yoga is a stream of it and is undoubtedly a powerful stream. Hot Yoga has been successfully developed by Bikram Chaudhary in America. Bikram is a great Yoga teacher and he is a living legend. He founded the Yoga College of India in Every Hills in 1974.
In stead of cautions:
a) Practice awards perfection and few persons are perfect in the poses. Everyone has his shortcomings. One should not give up at the initial failure, and instead, try to find a better day.
b) Heat is extreme and it will be very uncomfortable in the beginning and a learner must learn to endure this hostile environment.
c) Learners should wear light clothing and must reach to the Hot Yoga studio with their own towels and mats. In a place where people sweat profusely this is a must for all.
d) Learners of Yoga other than Hot Yoga may raise unfriendly questions. These are not to be counted seriously as in most of the cases ignorance is the reason of such outbursts.
e) A learner may face headache/vomiting/weakness. He should try to keep cool and he should be patient.
f) One must not eat anything within two hours before the start of the class.
g) Learners should drink plenty of water from hours before the start and also during the class.
*Hata Yoga is very important in the Siddha Philosophy. According to the Siddha Philosophy, “ha” means Sun, “ta” means Moon. Thus union of Sun and Moon is Hatayoga. In the middle of the spinal chord, there is an energy channel known as Sushumna. The energy channels in the subtle body are called Nadis in Yoga terminology. To the right of Sushumna Nadi there is Surya Nadi (Sun Channel). It is also called as Pingala. To the left of the Sushumna there is Ida or Chandra Nadi or Moon Channel. Through Surya and Chandra Nadis, achieving the union of Prana and Apaana is called HataYoga Vidya.
*Pranayama is not merely some breathing exercise. In reality it is regulation of energy behind all our mental and bodily activities. And through breath it can be easily regulated.
Sage Patanjali in his Patanjala Yoga Darshana says Pranayama removes the veil of ignorance and leads one to Self realization.
Pranayama consists of three actions. One is Puraka(Inhalation of breath), Kumbhaka(Retention of breath) and Rechaka (Exhalation of breath).
Prana is the controlling energy behind mind, body and breath.