Is Bikram Yoga Only Focused on the Physical?

bikram yoga toe stand pose asana original hot yoga sedona arizona cathedral rock

by Ann Chrapkiewicz

Question: Is Bikram Yoga too focused on the Physical?  Is it a dominantly physical practice?

Answer: Well….some people do say, “Yes.”

I have heard it over and over.  Things like: “They are so focused on their bodies.”   Or: “those mirrors – they are so vain.”  “Competitive”.  Or: “You can’t possibly go within when you have all of that heat and sweat and light.”

My response to these answers is that 1) they are coming from the outside looking in, making a judgment without experience.  Or 2) they are coming from people with insufficient experience and/or misguided teaching.

My Answer to the Original Question Is: Absolutely Not.

I 100% disagree that Bikram Yoga is only – or dominantly, PHYSICAL.  Yes, it is one of the most physical things I have ever done.  That is true.  But that is only one small slice of what we are working with in class.  A tiny slice.

Bikram himself would say – over and over, until we could repeat it back to him – that this yoga practice is only 1% Physical. And 99% Mental.

Regardless of perceived “skill” or ability in a posture, it is the mind and concentration that we work on first.  And where the benefits are often most apparent.

bikram yoga original hot yoga standing head to knee pose sedona arizona cathedral rock

And that has been borne out in me and my students over almost the past 20 years.

What I have realizeed over these years is:

What people say about this practice simply reflects the level that they are working with at that time.

And that is perfectly fine, but it does not reflect the truth, intention, possibilities, or full reality of the yoga practice.

Deep & sustained physical effort does NOT limit a yoga practice to the physical plane.

Over almost 20 years I have heard from thousands of humans – and experienced myself – that Bikram Yoga is SO MUCH MORE!

This “more” is in the realms of self-realization, growth, healing, and change on the mental, emotional, interpersonal, & cultural levels, and beyond.

Yes, the human being has physical aspects.  Of course it does!

And in this yoga practice, we explore every body part, realize every body part, test every system….

When you tell me your hip joint hurts, I will ask you 20 questions in response!

We will often start with the body part conversation, as that is the most accessible, and that which we have the best shared language for.

But that really is just the beginning.

Your attention and concentration powers will just sprout from there.
They have the potential to encompass every aspect of your life.
They need not remain on the physical body.

This is up to you.
It is in YOUR hands.
You are the one who will ultimately limit – or unlimit – your growth!

bikram yoga original hot yoga half tortoise pose sedona arizona cathedral rock

p.s. if you ever get stuck on the physical and would benefit from conversation on how to expand and unlimit your practice….guess what?!?  I am here for that!  Come to class, set up a private lesson, or send me a message!