Examining the Impacts of Regular Bikram Yoga Practice on Health, Stress and Anxiety

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EXAMINING THE IMPACTS OF REGULAR BIKRAM YOGA PRACTICE

ON HEALTH, STRESS AND ANXIETY

By

DiAnne Garza

Email: dianne.garza@gmail.com

Final Version

Submitted to Dr. Luz Romay

in partial fulfillment of the requirements for class
Organizational Research and Assessment, ORGD 6330
December 7, 2011
Executive Summary

Bikram yoga was developed thirty years ago by Bikram Choudhury, a renowned Hatha Yoga Master. It is a specific yoga practice that is carried out in 105˚ F at 40% humidity for 90 minutes.  Some studies and practitioners have suggested that Bikram yoga practice has positive impacts on physical health as well as decreasing stress and anxiety.  There were certain inclusion criteria for participation in this study. Age was not an exclusion and participants ranged in age from 18 to over 60 years of age. This study sought to interview active students of Bikram yoga who have been practicing consistently for at least the last eight weeks, at a minimum of three times per week.  Students meeting the requirements at the Bikram yoga studios in San Antonio were invited to complete the survey instrument from November 16 through November 26, 2011.  Seventy-five students responded to the survey.  The results indicated that there are significant positive results from regularly practicing Bikram yoga.  Since Bikram yoga encourages students to hold poses in a “hot” room it increases heart rate and acts as a cardiovascular exercise without the high impact normally associated with cardio exercises.  The results of the survey instrument yielded over 50% of respondents reporting an answer of “somewhat better” for all of the questions, indicating that most respondents see a benefit in their practice. Additionally, stress and anxiety decreased with over 80% of respondents reporting somewhat to much less anxious and stressed. Improvements to physical fitness were observed with over 90% reporting improved physical fitness and improvement to flexibility and balance. There was a decrease in weight with 51% reporting a weight loss and 49% reporting that they ate somewhat less. Therefore, Bikram yoga should be considered by the medical community as the first option for improving physical fitness including overall strength, balance, flexibility and decreasing weight.

Introduction to the study

Background of the Problem

The main topic of this research was to determine the effect, if any, of Bikram Yoga on perceived stress and its impact on physical fitness. Bikram Choudhury developed this yoga thirty years. Choudhury was born in Calcutta and he began studying yoga at the age of four. By the time he was 14 he had won the National India Yoga Contest and there he remained undefeated for the next three years (Choudhury, 2007). Choudhury went on to weight lifting and eventually set a world record for weight lifting in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. As he continued his weight lifting practice he experienced a serious knee injury and was told by doctors he would never walk again. This led Choudhury back to his original yoga teacher to once again pursue yoga. Through regular practice he became completely healed and established what is now known as Bikram yoga. Although an exact number of Bikram yoga studio locations could not be identified, studios can be found in Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, Nicaragua, Chile, Spain, Ireland, Norway, Finland, Italy, Austria, France, and Germany as well as all over the United States including Texas with three studios in San Antonio (“Studio Map View”, 2011). The main purpose of this study was to assess the post perceived stress levels of Bikram yoga students who have been regularly attending for at least eight weeks and at least three times per week. The study also intended to asses the impacts of practice on physical fitness level and general health of these students after regular practice. The topic of this research was to...
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