Bikram yoga is popularly called hot yoga.
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Bikram yoga consists of 24 traditional yoga poses and two breathing exercises. Yoga teacher Bikram Choudhury organized them in a certain order to be practiced in a room heated to about 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Bikram believes the pose sequence gives students the best progression into a stretch by first warming up the muscles, ligaments and tendons to be elongated. Bikram yoga does not include inverted poses, contraindicated during menstruation by some teachers, and it is considered safe for menstruating women.
Bikram Yoga for Menstruation
Choudhury established Bikram's Yoga College of India to disseminate his yoga style and train teachers to help with his mission. Although no scientific evidence is provided, the institution's website claims that Bikram yoga alleviates premenstrual syndrome symptoms and regulates the menstrual cycle because of the impact it has on the endocrine glands and reproductive system.
Luteal Phase and Heat
Menstruation starts the day after the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle ends. In a study reported in вЂњMedicine and Science in Sports and ExerciseвЂќ in 2012, researchers found that women's exercise performance declined during the luteal phase when they worked out in a hot and humid environment. Bikram yoga is practiced in rooms usually heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of the proximity of menstruation's first day to the luteal phase, it is possible that at the onset of your period, you might not be able to keep up with Bikram's vigorous pace.
In his book вЂњLight on Yoga,вЂќ B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the world's leading yoga teachers, discourages women from doing any form of yoga during menstruation. But even he makes an exception if a woman experiences excessive menstrual flow by listing several poses he says improve the condition. What seems most apparent is the lack of clear information, perhaps for lack of clinical studies, regarding the effects of yoga on menstruation.
A Personal Decision
Regarding Bikram's claim that his yoga style helps the reproductive system and is safe during menstruation, women are responsible for making their own decision. The menstrual cycle provokes an array of physical and emotional reactions that vary among women. Continue doing Bikram yoga if it invigorates you and relieves symptoms during your period. On the other hand, if the experience is dreadful, take it easy on those days. Your best strategy is to stay aware of your body's responses and respect how it feels.