Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bikram Yoga

Yesterday I had my first experience with taking a Bikram Yoga class. I found it to be a very interesting experience as I certainly was able to reach new ranges of motion not seen since the time I was a toddler most likely. For those not familiar, this is the form of yoga that is done in a heated environment to increase the therapeutic effect.
If you are going to consider this much physical activity in a heated environment please make sure to hydrate properly and be cleared by a medical professional of any cardiac issues as this can put a strain on your body.
I think, as with most classes that involve your body, your experience will be dependent on a few key things:
1) how prepared your body is for the work involved in the class
2) how the instructor presents the material and helps modify for those not yet ready for the full activity
3) how well the participant knows their own body and is able to steer clear of dangerous activities

3a is the one I have a problem with

In yesterdays class I did object to at least one motion which the instructor tried to convince me was a way to heal my knee. The pose known as utkatasana involved keeping the knees together while the feet were about 6 inches apart and getting into a squat. This invariably places you into an internal rotation/adduction of the femurs. Along with my history of an ACL reconstruction two years ago (which I did inform the instructor about), and my knowledge of the orthopaedic literature claiming this to be a fairly dangerous motion for the cartilage of any knee, I decided to skip that motion. It did not seem worth the risk of further damage to my knee.

that is a highly loaded knee - but she looks so happy...

Overall, I feel like I got a good workout and very good stretch of most of my body head to toe. I did modify a few other positions as I felt necessary. I did get into a good discussion following the class with a gentleman who was overweight and told me about a history of herniated/bulging discs in his back. He stated the first few times he did the class his symptoms seemed to get worse but as of that class he was starting to feel a little better. He also mentioned trying a little bit of physical therapy at some point that did a little to help.

My advice to him as it is to all humans is the following: It is important to try different physical challenges throughout our lives in order to foster improvements in fitness. If there is any issue with the body there are likely a variety of ways to improve the symptoms but very few ways usually to correct the underlying pathology and cause. Before embarking on any new challenge to the body it is important to consult with an expert in the musculoskeletal system. Who fits under the term expert in musculoskeletal health? I would say it comes down to licensed physical therapists and orthopaedic medical doctors. As a consumer to make sure you have a top individual in either of these two fields one way to differentiate the level of knowledge that individual has it to check for board certification in the area, in this case orthopaedics. While board certification is far from the only or best way to differentiate the quality of care you will receive, for most consumers prior to meeting the actual clinician it is probably one of the best ways.

So will I partake in more yoga classes? Most likely. They have given me a one week membership based on my attendance yesterday which I would like to utilize at least one or two times. I also plan to try some of the other disciplines of yoga. So far I have tried vinyasa, bikram and next up will be kundalini which a high school friend of mine teaches.

Go find your next new physical challenge!


pulke said...

The method you should try iyengar yoga. The only method who really knows about body function

BoDPT said...

I will look into it. What makes it different than the other forms, as most seem to claim a firm understanding of body function?

BikramYoga said...

Bikram yoga has given me new life I found your blog to be greatly interesting,This is very nice blog I am waiting for your next blog post, Yoga is usually taught as a way to achieve physical and mental fitness .