THIS is the problem with Bikram Yoga

LOL.  ApPARently! There is someone out there subtly trying to undermine Bikram Yoga most likely in the hopes of building their own empire on any ruins they create! Yeah, I know. Old. Isn’t it! LOL.

For a personal ‘amuse’, I thought I would randomly pick an ‘undermining’ article and finally just  Yeah, I know, surely I have better things to do than address another ‘non-story’ about Bikram Yoga, but like I said… it was a little amuse… for a moment {ok, I am really supposed to be sanding cement floor of our lounge to prep for new resin flooring… procrastinating again…}.  You see these negating articles are written I think in the hopes of dissuading random any.body. from actually attempting to just try out Bikram Yoga (create fear) or in the hopes of turning a few that have tried it just a few times but found it hard work into ‘active positive haters’ of Bikram method (create loathing); it works on this level in the positive hater because it feeds an ego that doesn’t accept this method simply wasn’t suited to their dosha and they seek another ‘reason’ to explain away why it was hard for them (because they don’t know about doshas) because they feel there must be something wrong with the method and the article provides somewhere to point a finger as it appears to support a vagueness at the back of their minds about ‘why’ and  actually draw that vagueness out to become a rigid negative idea but actually really it created the idea.

Myths abound about what we do and, Lord, I’ve heard some rubbish, you know, I’ve shared it on FB before, it can provide a little giggle sometimes… With sincere apologies to all the beautiful Yogi instructors/practitioners of the world that we know who ARE just out there doing their best own thang! We are so grateful to know many from different disciplines who come take occasional class with us just to connect or those from the wider Yoga community that contact us even if they havn’t met us to say nice things about our blogs/online presence. I am sorry because you might be disappointed that I even bothered with this one. This message is to the people who don’t understand, ‘get’ or work at what we do… please – wouldja just DO your thang and we’ll just BE our thang 🙂

… Anyway the one that cropped up p1 google for a current anti-Bikram Yoga rant was ‘Hot Yoga Is A Lie’… BINGO! I thought… sounds perfect…. The whole article link is at the very end of this blog for your ease.

It is a CLASSIC non-story regurgitating old myths (they are pretty much all the same these articles) and I know you might think it a misuse of my time/energy trawling through it. If I am to follow the guidance of my master teachers and guru a Yoga teacher does not stop to try to ‘prove’ what they are teaching nor should we try to argue it! Our teaching should be authoritative as we ourselves experience what was taught to us by our teachers. Those who are ready for it will intuitively recognize the truth and on the flip side no arguments or discussions can bring truth to those who are not yet ready or evolved enough to receive it.  Nonetheless 🙂 I’ve entered a temporary ‘arguing’ state (today I am bad Yogi) and hereafter break the article down into paragraphs of bold headings with ‘ME’ comments underneath (within my comments you will see some ‘live’ text which means if you click on that area it will bring you into another of my blogs that expands on how we address such matters at our studio). If you feel like it read on…

“Hot.Yoga. Is. A. Lie.  Article By Tracey.Duncan.(‘TD’) Jan 31 2018

TD: You’re sweating out water and salt, not toxins”

ME: Yeah! Doh! Do you think you are telling Bikram Yogis something they don’t know already? Every responsible Bikram teacher/studio invests due energy in educating students about sweat composition to undo this die hard myth that came from GOD KNOWS where but also WENT away! until TD and her like trawls it up and regurgitates it like an anti-mantra.

TD: “While the trend surged years ago, hot yoga is still fucking everywhere.

ME: Bless you Yogi Tracey, your language is appalling! But that aside, could it be it is everywhere BECAUSE PEOPLE LIKE IT? Because it works? Supply meeting demand? Because what you are saying sounds a bit like a case of the little green eyed monster to me.

TD: “On a recent visit to SoCal, I was hard pressed to find a yoga class under 100 degrees (and under $30, but that’s another matter).”

ME: Yup! you sure won’t find a Bikram class under 100 degrees because, lets face it, THAT’S BIKRAM YOGA folks! Heat is the Deal. The price? Oh!Come!On! Tracey! Cities are expensive places, commercial property prices skyrocket, Bikram Yoga studio overheads are MASSIVE (in comparison to cold Yoga studios).  On a local search I did once few years ago I found the cost of Bikram Yoga at YM to be at one point the cheapest Yoga you could get ANYWHERE in Jersey given it is 90 mins and the overheads to boot! (some charging more for a 45 minute cold session at that point in time).  This doesn’t bother me; people charge what they feel they are worth and what they need in order to make a living, but why single out Bikram for charging scales. The climate we are operating in has changed dramatically in the last couple of years and the factories turning out Yoga teachers in a couple of weeks has meant that there are hobby Yoga teachers occupying every available space, indoor and outdoor all competing madly for Yogasana students and busy undercutting established instructors/schools to attract students; hey if you have no overheads if your class is on the beach/park then you can charge low price or be free but Tracey, as you say yourself “that’s another matter”.  At YM we will not undervalue our training, our efforts or what we offer or our Yoga. We believe we offer good value for money, even if we are not relatively the cheapest anymore? (I don’t know? Maybe we still are? I havn’t researched this one for a long time, but doesn’t matter, I think I’ve made my point).

TD: “As a yoga teacher for more than a decade, I was curious: What’s up with this persistent trend and why is it trumping other forms of yoga?” :

ME: 10 years! That’s a long time to put in on a spiritual path, only to end up lambasting and trying to undermine someone else’s path. Whats the matter? The Yoga dream not working out as you had hoped? because “hot yoga is still fucking everywhere.”?  And your goal perhaps was to eradicate it to make way for your chosen style? Oh dear? Is this your decade wasted then? I am sure you will get there in the end if you “persist”.  “persistent trend” I think TD is implying it is a fad/fashion? mmmmm can you call something that has been around nearly 50 years a trend!! WOW That is some “trend” ! She says she is ‘curious’ but if you read on she doesn’t really reveal her answer to “whats up with this persistent trend” or explain “why is it trumping other forms of yoga?” she’s asking the questions but doesn’t give answer.  TD (whilst trying to sound well meaning and nonchalant (see later)) simply ‘hates’ BY. She doesn’t go on to highlight the multitude of good points about this method in any detail. WHY doesn’t she write a blog singing the praises of whatever Yoga style it is she is teaching?  I write blogs to be informative and helpful to YM practitioners to help them deepen their understanding and practice, to shed light on what we do, to demystify AND ‘demythify’ (whoop! just made up another new word, yay) AND I try eliminate the weasel words that surround Yoga practices; I write to celebrate our path and create dialogue with our small local community and occasionally I write one (like this) to remedy the damage others do/try to do (unintentionally or otherwise) towards our method (an offence/defence blog if you like). I do not write blogs about other styles that are not my area of expertise because my knowledge of them is only superficial.

TD: “why is it trumping other forms of yoga?” :

ME: I stress these are Tracey’s words. Not mine! I didn’t know it was but… LOL ~ WHY indeed… Sadly TD doesn’t go on from here to explain all the good reasons this might be if it is true; she only goes on to be derogatory; but I would say this is simply because TD doesn’t like the fact that she feels it is “trumping other forms of yoga”.

TD: “Hot yoga is widely touted as being “detoxifying,” only “detoxifying” is a pretty meaningless word in this context. “A lot of people say that it’s good for eliminating toxins from your body, which is not true,” says Daria Long Gillespie, clinical assistant professor at the University of Tennessee and senior vice president of clinical strategy at ShareCare, an online health profile database. “We metabolize toxins in our body via the liver and via the kidneys and via the intestines, not via what we sweat out.” The truth is that the body removes toxins all on its own and what comes out in your sweat is water and salt.” :

ME: Not this old nugget again! Good lord, cannae ye come up with something new girl! WHO are the “A lot of people say”? I wonder.  The few naughty rogues somewhere out there that tout Bikram Yoga as good for sweating out toxins are probably misinformed students (not teachers) well ACTUALLY… there is one obscure study that says this might not be so off piste {have a read here link } but I digress… essentially of course any big emphasis on sweat being the big detoxifier for your body is not accurate but at YM (open 7 years) we have ALWAYS clarified to students that they are not lying in a pool of toxins and explained what people are likely  to be sweating out

TD: “The intense sweatiness of hot yoga is another issue. It can work against the body’s natural efforts to control temperature. Your body is usually pretty smart about making sure that you don’t get too hot or too cold. But hot yoga works against you. “Normally your body [regulates heat] by sweating and as cool air hits you the body cools, but because the room is very hot you don’t really get the opportunity to off that heat,” says Noah Greenspan, a cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapist in New York City. “Basically, you sweat to cool the body, but because the room is so hot, the body doesn’t cool.” :

ME: Personally, being a risk averse person I wouldn’t want to teach this stuff to others if I thought there was any significant risk involved here that couldn’t be managed with simple common sense approach/techniques (one might say that kind of risk is above my pay grade 🙂 ). Well her sentence sounds like it makes some kind of sense (depending on the eyes reading)? Right? But put it in context! The Bikram instructor/studio wants their students to come back and so are busy, as a priority, educating new students about hydration, thermoregulation, sweat, the cooling down processes (that are always present, accessible and employed), how to take care of themselves to avoid any risk.  At YM particularly, no admission for new people who are not properly hydrated and putting first timers in cooler spot… Believe me folks over the years people who have turned up not adequately hydrated (revealed through our due questioning at reception on first class) do not take kindly to being told they cannot participate; we have lost some custom because of our policy; the few egos that clearly thought ‘the audacity’ of us who would not admit them to class because they were not hydrated enough!  Sadly ‘the affronted’ never came back when hydrated to give it a proper try. Happily! Some got what we are saying and did! We will continue to stand by our policies that help preserve individual’s class experience and keep them safe.

There are four ways to cool a body down, we use 2 of them in our Bikram environment and all these have been explained in our static information on our website from the day we opened and reiterated in blogs. So the informed student is confident their body is regulating itself and the uninformed student (well, all things being equal, it happens whether they know about it or not).  All this is actually, ‘nothing new information’ for OUR Yoga students, but perhaps a revelation and very serious to the ‘never tried Bikram before’ potential Yogi student.  This is just bog standard/run of the mill/ pre/post class care /static website information that abounds and is freely available in the Bikram Yoga environment and online community that any student can acquire (through right searches) and that any decent Bikram Yoga instructor will be dispensing to their students…

TD: “And so you sweat more. And more and more. And then you potentially end up dehydrated. Loren Fishman, assistant clinical professor at New York Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University, tells me that 50 percent of participants in hot yoga classes were found to be dehydrated. Dehydration may seem like no big deal, but the truth is that it can be very dangerous.  Let’s not overdramatize the situation, but think about it: If you’re practicing hot yoga five or six times per week and are becoming chronically dehydrated, there are real potential risks. :

ME: Not to “overdramatize the situation” 😉 or anything but you are talking to grown ups here? Students AND instructors!! Dehydration IS a very big deal and Bikram Yogis take it VERY seriously.  Much of the population (non Bikram Yogis) are walking around dehydrated and they didn’t even know it! In all likelihood, because, let us face it, there is nothing like a Bikram Yoga class to help you hone your ‘hydration skills’, the Bikram Yogi will be the most hydrated person in any random room/walking down the street because proper hydration is a very big deal and Bikram Yogis are educated on that front by their instructor.  This is very good scaremongering ‘tho! So well done on that front Tracey. Those who do – KNOW; Those who don’t – become afraid and may never try a class that might be life transforming in many positive ways (but I guess that was your plan Tracey to discourage people).

Happy Hydrating   Banging on about Water. Again.   Preamble to very long hydration post.  THIS is a REALLY Long Water/Hydration Post!

TD: “Fishman says stroke could occur, and goes on to list the potential hazards of chronic dehydration: “Pulmonary Embulli, all kinds of coagulopothies, where your blood coagulates and it’s not supposed to.” :

ME: The readers who skim read this article (and most people skim read this type of stuff) do not have time/energy to fully consider the meaning of the words and so take it at the face value of the ‘key words’ that leap out in this sentence.  It is not a well written sentence and it might perhaps have been constructed this way deliberately.  Those who do not read it properly absorb the ‘key words’ and reconstruct in their heads a new sentence: ‘hot yoga CAUSES’… and decide not to even try it out on this misread/misinterpretation basis…

TD: “Potential hazard of chronic dehydration”… “stroke could occur” :

ME: well us Bikram Yogis simply don’t allow ourselves to get into any dehydration state.   The bit about stroke is written prior to bit about ‘potential hazards’ so presumably saying this is a separate consideration to dehydration? But just in case it is meant to be linking it to dehydration: dehydration is not listed as a primary factor in causes of stroke (although good hydration might improve stroke outcome).  I don’t doubt that many stroke sufferers could be dehydrated at the time of stroke (and I am sure this doesn’t help the situation) because I understand that a large part of population is walking around dehydrated and they don’t even know it.  IF this bit about stroke is NOT referring to dehydration but Yogasana practice? well there are 2 postures (off the top of my head) that can increase the potential risk of stroke (if done incorrectly) in all the thousands of Asanas out there AND WE DON’T DO EITHER OF THEM IN BIKRAM.

Nonetheless this is such an important scare mongering/warning! I draw the line at trying to persuade people out of any belief where their personal health is concerned and so I would say to those worried about this sentence but considering taking up practice, to do their own research with reputable sources and draw their own conclusion.

TD: “My own experiences practicing hot yoga have not been this dramatic, but they have been pretty lame. I went to a lot of Bikram classes in the early aughts. I moved from Miami to NYC in the middle of winter and even though I felt dubious about Bikram, I really wanted to get warm. It did warm me up, but I also found that, even though I am a body aware person, I would find myself taking things too far in Bikram classes and feeling shitty for a few days afterwards.”:

ME: Dear Tracey, I have to be frank here: you need to grow up and take responsibility for your own “taking things a bit too far in Bikram classes”; was the ego getting you into trouble again? But you say your own experiences… “pretty lame”… (yawn…Oh lord, I’m so bored now, but I must…go…on… 🙂 )  I am sad that you spent your precious prana having a “lame” time in class, what a waste.  You went from your classes being “lame” to your “taking things a bit too far”; dreadful extreme experiences for a Yogi.  I have never ever heard anyone say the word “lame” about ANY type of Yoga class that they actively participated in.  You say you are a body aware person yet a fundamental of Yogasana practice is that you don’t let your ego write cheques your body can’t cash and still you took things a bit too far.  Actually, I am not sure what to say to this ‘lame’ attempt to hang the author’s shortcomings on the Bikram method.

TD: “It turns out that the shitty feeling I got was probably just due to the dehydration. Gillespie tells me that she had experienced similar effects. “I’ve done hot yoga myself,” she says, “and I came out and felt dehydrated and fluid imbalanced—I lacked electrolytes—for about two to three days.” She recommends hydrating both before and after class, not just with water, but with a fluid that contains electrolytes like Gatorade or Smartwater. The question, then, is really how much time do you want to take to prepare for or recover from your yoga practice? I practice six days a week and, personally, I just don’t want to have to think about it that hard.” :

ME: My! Poor old Gillespie! Why didn’t she just put the electrolytes back in straight way instead of torturing herself for 2/3 days? (I could expand on this one for pages but I think I have already covered all this particular stuff in other blogs, feel free to read.)  Like all sorts of other activities one has to modify approach or take extra care of oneself to maintain; Bikram Beginning Yoga starts you on the path educating yourself about this stuff. Methinks, ‘the question, then, is really how much time and effort do you really want to take’ in order to attain the profound benefits that a Bikram Yoga practice can yield to your mind, body and spirit? Are you looking for the quick fix/magic formula or have you realized yet there is no such thing as a free lunch and preparing and thinking will be required?  Her advice about electrolytes is not anything that you won’t hear your local friendly Bikram instructor tell you.  If you are on top of this stuff then you won’t have to think about it and you won’t have to “recover” from your Yoga practice like Tracey did. You are responsible, sensible Bikram Yogi with oodles of common sense, tons of information at your disposal on your Bikram Yoga school’s website and so grown up that you are you can research, prepare and take care of yourself.

What are Electrolytes and Why are they so important?   Salt

TD: “None of the doctors were particularly concerned about injury in hot yoga for healthy people who are in good shape. Greenspan, who is himself an avid hot yoga practitioner,  :

ME: 🙂 thanks for giving me a break here, phew… I was getting tired…

TD: “…was more concerned about people who have high risk factors, such as cardiovascular disease or respiratory issues, and people who don’t pay attention to the physiological signals the body sends when we are taking things too far. “Pain,” he says, “is not something that we like, but pain serves a purpose. Pain is a warning signal.” :

ME: Whaty whaty what what!!!! Surely this is the same concern of ALL Yoga instructors, ALL Disciplines, ALL PTs worldwide; why is it getting dropped at the door of the Bikram community? She must think people very stupid indeed.  I mean SERIOUSLY!!!! 🙂 Obviously high risk factors cannot attend without referral or sign off from their gp and regarding pain? a fundamental issue that is constantly covered in class and on our blogs (how to avoid or how to respond to pain/how to take care of yourself; isn’t this just part of Yoga teaching).

TD: “A potential hazard of hot yoga is that the heat may reduce our ability to sense the pain signals our bodies are sending. “The things that make hot yoga so great are the things that make it a little more risky,” Greenspan says. “Because it’s hot, your muscles are naturally going to be a little bit looser, they’re going to have the ability to stretch a little bit more than they might if it wasn’t so hot and you might not have the same level of pain or discomfort than you would have if the room were a normal temperature.”  :

ME: If you bring your common sense to each class you are going to be fine folks; when you have really developed your body mind connection you are on top of this. If you bring an injury to class you honor your body’s cold limit and duly advise your instructor prior to class commencing (i.e. communicate and not plough on regardless) and you will be advised how to modify, protect yourself from deepening/aggravating any issues and still have a good and beneficial class. Surely this is the same going on in all Yoga classes around the world? hot AND cold?  Why should TD think that taking care of students and teaching students to take care of themselves is the preserve of non-Bikram teachers? Yegods!

How to be a Yoga Student  Raja Yoga Ethics Part 1 Yoga Ethics II – Yamas  Yoga Ethics III – Niyamas

TD: “Greenspan also pointed out that people who regularly practice hot yoga are more at risk for getting sick rather than getting hurt—and all the doctors I spoke with agreed. He went on to describe how the high heat and close quarters of many classes can create the perfect environment for illnesses to spread. “I was in line for a class,” he says, “and a man in line told me that he had a bad cold and was hoping the class would clear out his chest. I left, because I don’t want whatever’s clearing out of his chest coming into mine.”  :

ME:  Being wiped out and needing rest aside, shock/horror!, people often bring their colds to class (please do not bring your flu! (if it is flu you’d be bed bound and not in a Yoga studio).  I think most people work with the ‘above or below the neck check’ generally in life, don’t they? i.e. symptoms above neck (coughing, sneezing, sore throat, nasal congestion) some choose to go to work or go to class (or even stay home). Symptoms below the neck (vomiting, chest congestion, aches, fever) don’t go anywhere !   In this regard it is the Yoga instructor who is probably the most vulnerable person when other people bring their illness to class.  Many people are coming to Yoga class for some kind of Yoga therapy. I have had some of the best classes when I have been under the weather myself; nothing like an illness to make you back off a notch in your practice and perhaps discover something new about your sets up/approach.  Ill and Well Yogis observe proper hygiene protocols and well Yogis (working immune systems) will be fine.

TD: “In other words, hot yoga classes can also be kind of gross. The combination of heat and sweat can make for the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.”  :

ME: So I have been spending the last 7 years each/every day in a breeding ground for bacteria. Mmm…. You have just insulted maybe hundreds of thousands of practicing Bikram Yogis (prob millions, I don’t know). This is where Bikram Yoga lovers choose to hang out/spend their time; we don’t think it gross, not even ‘kind of gross’.  You have in this sentence perhaps chosen the right words to turn a few people off giving Bikram a tryout.  Aside from the occasional rogue student (that I expect you find in EVERY yoga environment, but they especially need their Yoga practice!) Bikram yoga students are considerate, hygienic, everyday kind of people, working hard and ‘sweating off’ their troubles (;) ) applying their Yamas and Niyamas and keeping their Yoga space in studio neat and clean; possibly the most physically and mentally hygienic peeps you could meet! The BEST. Not gross. No more bacteria at our studio than you would find ANYwhere folks. One of our priorities is to maintain pristine, hygienic environment for our lovely practitioners. This is another of our duties to our students we take seriously.

Studio Hygiene   Issues with Tissues  Mat Care

 TD: “And a regular perspiration-heavy practice can be dangerous if you have other risk factors or if you don’t listen to your body’s signals.”  :

ME: Presuming to give advice (that isn’t really the ultimate intention of this article ‘tho is it) to Bikram Yogis where this information/advice is already provided by the student’s Bikram instructor OR is it attempt to put people off trying something that might be hugely beneficial FOR their risk factors?

LISTEN. Us YM Bikram Yoga instructors think about this stuff constantly, it is at the forefront of our minds, OUR STUDENTS WELLBEING.  We have heightened awareness of the variables that might make a person more susceptible on any given day of Yoga practice, even ‘tho they may not be aware themselves.  We are watching out for signs and constantly risk managing.  Sadly all around the world people do things that compromise their health every day regardless of whether they practice Bikram Yoga or not and we are here to facilitate those who want to ‘counter’ the compromises or indeed eliminate them.  People with ‘risk factors’ often take up Bikram Yoga after they have had a trauma/chronic condition to help manage/diminish the issue or illness and amplify their recovery and wellness.  They are often referred by friends or health professionals. {BTW! common Sense alert here!!! {and this is all over our blogs/website}, WE ARE NOT DOCTORS, we do not market ourselves as offering cures or make ludicrous claims about what we do, we do not overlap any medical profession. Our Yoga therapist qualifications are from accredited schools and we don’t really use those qualifications to their max in Bikram Yoga school; In Bikram class we are ‘instructors’ of the Bikram method first and foremost. And whilst occasionally someone rocks up that expects more (diagnosis etc) we always put them right on that front.  Full stop.}

TD: Hot yoga may not be inherently any more dangerous than other kinds of yoga or other kinds of physical activity—it just may not be any better, either, Fishman says. “Yoga is done in the steamy jungles of Ceylon, but it’s also done in the snowy Himalayas. Yoga is done in all kinds of climates. You can’t come to the conclusion that hot yoga is anything more than a gimmick.”  :

ME: This made me smile. Bless TD. The whole article was building this grand finale.  Frankly, WE are not here to ‘trick’ people (which is what a gimmick is, something that fools people, in this instance, into ‘buying’).  What fools are we that we advise people who give this practice a try that if it doesn’t suit their present needs they must shop around because the choice of Yogasana styles are so BROAD that they will surely find a practice that suits them personally. What fools are we that we will commit to be here to serve those who find this practice is just what they were looking for. (Oh but how clever we are to trick people into working so hard for what? 😉 ) He/She says “Yoga is done in the steamy jungles of Ceylon…Himalayas… Yoga is done in all kinds of climates” YES. AND WE happen to HAVE CHOSEN the one you mention? that could be done in the steamy jungles of Ceylon?… your saying that’s OK? Tracey/Fishman? Right? Or are you saying that? Or not? Or what? What exactly ARE you saying??  wait, WHAT? Ceylon? I thought it was called Sri Lanka now?

Om Om Om “The World is Nothing but a big Gimmick” Jimi Hendrix  / “Don’t Change a Thing – That’s one of the best Gimmicks a band could come up with.” Garth Brooks  / “To Keep a Band together you need a gimmick – the gimmick I use is to pay them money” Duke Ellington  /  “Crumbs, I’ve just devoted 20 years of my life to this hot yoga ‘Ceylon stylie’ gimmick!!! And no plans to change it for the next 20!!”

Trisha from YM, Sept 2018

TD complete article:

choosing a Yoga instructor



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