Bikram works in a similar way to Ashtanga Vinyasa (or power yoga) in that it relies on heat to make the body sweat profusely, but where Vinyasa sessions move at a fast pace, Bikram goes one step further.
Bikram studios are kept between 95 and 100 degrees which is intended to loosen up muscles quickly allowing the body to relax and flow more freely. The intense heat generated by the workout combined with the room temperature also makes the body sweat heavily with the aim of releasing toxins.
It is often described as being like athletics in a sauna and can be a difficult style to get used to. It is always advised that students drink plenty of water both before and after sessions to help maintain healthy levels of hydration. It is also recommended that no food is eaten 2 hours prior to the class.
Something of a myth has begun to circle around Bikram with people stating that the profuse sweating helps cleanse the body of toxins. This is not strictly true as the body does not release many toxins this way. These claims however are not being made by the Yoga community itself.
Toxin cleansing is performed primarily by the liver which breaks everything down before filtering through the kidneys and intestines where it is passed out of the body through urine and faeces. Bikram assists the body in this process by moving blood and oxygen through the system freely and also helps the body eject unwanted matter more quickly.
The only toxins removed by sweat are things such as alcohol or food excesses from the previous day and even then they are only trace elements. A healthy diet is always advisable when trying weight loss and combined with Bikram is a powerful way to reshape the body and make it look and feel very healthy.
Like all yoga styles Bikram, if practised regularly, will increase lung capacity, strengthen muscles and as previously mentioned it can help with weight loss and toning.
Bikram is not a style for the faint-hearted but its intense regime is one which has many rewards.
Read on to find out why celebrities love yoga.
Images: Ron Sombilon on Flikr, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bikram_Choudhury.jpg