Yoga may be good for you, but Bikram is not
Made famous in the early 2000s when Hollywood stars like Ashton Kutcher, Beyonce and David Beckham started shouting about it from the rooftops, Bikram yoga is nothing more than a fad. It’s done in a room heated to 40°C where you complete 26 intense yoga poses over 90 minutes.
Devotees swear they feel “fantastic” after this challenging workout. But studies from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse show it doesn’t give you more health benefits than normal yoga. In fact, it ruins your joints!
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19% more stretch could mean a lifetime of crutches and physio
You see, your musculoskeletal system consists of muscles and bones, ligaments and joints. Since your tendons and ligaments act like rubber bands that keep your muscles attached to bones, they were made to stretch. But not as much as you think.
Anatomical studies reveal you should never stretch these parts of your body 4% beyond their natural capacity. If you do, they can’t recoil to their normal length and this leads to tears, dislocation and joint problems.
To stop this from happening, your body’s smart. It tells you you’re getting too close to your ligaments’ “stoppage point” by sending you a pain
signal that acts an urgent SOS.
This doesn’t happen in a Bikram yoga class.
The heat warms you up to a point where you feel more flexible than you are. This makes you more likely to push your body too far. And, in most cases, people end up stretching their tendons and ligaments 20% - 25% beyond their resting length. Since it feels so good –thank the endorphins exercise releases for that – you also don’t feel your pain
signal when you get close to your stoppage point.
This extreme range has two very big negatives:
It can cause instant tears.
Or, and this is if you’re lucky, over time you’ll stretch them to a point where your ligaments and tendons can no longer support your joints the way they should. The result is permanent joint instability where your joints become displaced or dislocated.
Experts are calling for a warning to be issued on the dangers of hot yoga
In fact, Dr Robert Gotlin, director of orthopaedics at the Beth Medical Centre in Manhattan says he sees in five new patients a week with Bikram-induced joint problems. He cautions that it’s especially bad for your knees and your lower back because so many Bikram poses require extreme bending.
And he’s not the only one adding his voice to those coming out against this form of yoga.
Physical therapist from New York, Lee Staebler adds that: “Stretching beyond optimal limits can compromise joint tissue [because] a loose joint can be like a loose door hinge that prevents the door from closing tightly.”
While Washington University’s Dr Shirley Sahrmann reports that she has “more problems with people who have excessive mobility than limited mobility.”
Is a lifetime of pain, discomfort or, worse, limping around worth the stress
you’re putting your body under to gain more flexibility?
As a dancer who needs to be flexible, I don’t think so. And that’s you’ll find me at the back of a normal yoga class where the gentle stretches help – not hurt – my back and knees.
Doing the wrong exercise – or too little of the right one – is just one of the things that makes you less healthy and ages you before your time. This puts you at risk of a myriad of health problems and complaints. That’s why we’ve teamed up with anti-ageing
specialist, Dr Craige Golding, to show you what’s personally putting you in danger. It’s called the Realage Calculator
. You can take it, here.