Bikram Yoga is a system of yoga that Bikram Choudhury synthesized from traditional haha 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%.
I was first introduced to yoga about 15 years ago when I travelled to India, I fell in love with the practice and the way it made my body feel. When I got home I found it hard to find a place to practice that was as good as my experience over there, something just didn't click. Then I heard about Bikram, and to my delighted a studio opened just off Easter road. Wow! what a challenging practice, but you couldn't deny the results and the feeling of being completely awakened in both body and mind after class.
I've become much more regular with the practice in the past few years and I now find that if I don't go I feel every ache in my body more intensely, that is what motivates me to go as often as I can. That and the fact that it is a completely unique studio, it is not pretentious in any way and everybody is welcome. I'm now officially hooked.
Emma Campion is the owner and founder of this special place in Edinburgh, I asked he a few questions about what motivates her and why she loves it, here's what she had to say:
Have you always practiced Yoga in some form?
I started practicing Bikram Yoga 18 years ago. I had tried a few random classes before, and have learnt from many other yoga disciplines over the years. I always come back to the Bikram series. How did you discover Bikram?
My Godmother, Gilly, was one of the early teachers of this series, she was the first British teacher, although she was living in the U.S.. Why Bikram?
I had broken my spine and it was suggested I try yoga by a chiropractor. All the classes I tried were incredibly painful, and traumatic through fear I was going to make things worse. There was only one Bikram Yoga school in the UK at this time in north London, and I had not yet heard of it; Gilly was teaching the series in the US. She knew the sequence with the heat would get me out of pain, safely. My life was also fairly destructive at the time, primarily from my not recovering well after being raped. Gilly is a very wise and wonderful Godmother and she steered me to Los Angeles. What made you decide to bring it to Edinburgh?
I had been travelling and teaching for 10+ years and was living and teaching in New Zealand, feeling ready to build a school; and had no idea where. Edinburgh came about through many coincidences, happenings, signs, and serendipitous moments in the months following the decision. I can say it wasn’t entirely my choice. I was guided here. What do you believe to be the top benefits of regular practice?
Wellbeing, mentally, physically, emotionally., spiritually. The ability to cope with whatever life throws at you, and to enjoy the waves. Are there specific benefits from the heat and training for 90 mins?
The heat creates a similar climate to where yoga originated. Once you adjust, it makes practicing the asanas much more comfortable and certainly safer. It also greatly increases the asanas benefits to all the systems of the body, and flushes you from the inside out. The discipline, the two sets of everything, the commitment to the practice and yourself is what brings the rewards of this practice. 90 minutes is (roughly) how long it takes each time, to move systematically though every part of your body twice (hopefully always a little deeper the second time). It can be likened to a tune up every time you practice. Although everyone has different capabilities, is there a posture that proves to be most challenging?
Camel (Ustrasana) tends to be challenging for most, certainly at first. It is the deepest backbend of the series. Backbends can feel overwhelming as it is rare that folk do them in daily life, and our body is built to protect the chest and heart, so opening there can be surprising. It can bring up all sorts physically and emotionally. This can also make it the most wonderful posture. What is your favourite posture and why?
Ustrasana. For the reasons above. I never know what to expect. Some days it is the easiest and most enlightening posture, others I can't even reach my feet and I cry and want to vomit. I love it because it always shows and gives exactly what I need.
In your opinion when is the most beneficial time to practice?
For me personally, Mornings, if I have a lot to do that day. Or have a day off and want to feel amazing all day. The evenings classes work for me if I have had a lot on, or an emotional or mental day that I need to shift. If I have things I need to find an answer to, I like to practise in the early hours on my own at home when the moon is still up, I tend to find answers then.
How often do you recommend people take part?
Minimum 3 times a week for general health and wellbeing. More, ideally daily, if you are working through something specific i.e. injury, medical conditions or a problem. Or every day if you simply have, or choose to take, more time to look after yourself and make real change. Less some weeks is also of course going to happen and is ok too. The act of practicing regularly will help you find the balance that suits you and your life. It will only enhance the more you practice.
Can you please explain the 30 day challenge, the benefits etc. Do you see obvious improvements nearing the 30days?
One of the reasons I love seeing people step up to a 30 day challenge is, so often it is the first time in a long time (if ever) they have really devoted time to themselves and their wellbeing.
Each class can be completely different and a challenge helps practitioners embrace that; and to learn to practice Yoga without judgment or frustration. To just let it be and enjoy whatever it brings each day. Mentally and emotionally with life going on at the same time, can prove extremely challenging in just getting to a class.
Consistency of practice will cleanse on every level. Often as this practice starts to shift blockages and bring things to the surface, students can to get uncomfortable and back off for a few days or more. This can let the issue (physical/emotional) go deep again, unresolved. A 30 day challenge, takes you and your body/soul, safely where needed, without the option to run away. You become strong very quickly practicing this series daily. Injuries old and new will rapidly repair, habits can change, ailments and conditions will improve, endurance and stamina will increase, life will be brighter, and things become clear.
Is there a mantra or a ritual that you live by each day and would like to share?
My favourite Uncle used to say ‘Be good and be kind. The rest will happen’ I love and believe those words.
I also love the cheesy bumper sticker ‘If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours’.
If you could sum up Bikram in 3 words what would they be?
Challenging, Accessible. Magical.
If you'd like to try Bikram visit the studio:
B.E Hot Yoga
13 Edina Place
Easter Road, Edinburgh
Check out the website here:
Follow On Instagram: @b.e.hotyoga