Embracing Discipline in Bikram Yoga

Embracing Discipline in Bikram Yoga

Navigating the Challenges of Bikram Yoga for a Fulfilling Practice and Life - By Lesley Fitzpatrick

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Bikram Yoga is a dynamic and transformative practice that has gained popularity worldwide for its unique combination of challenging postures and the therapeutic benefits it offers its students.

Central to this practice is the unwavering discipline required to endure the intense heat and the focused determination to ignore external distractions within the room. However, the discipline and ‘strict’ teaching and demands of the practice are often scoffed at, with the reasons behind this being entirely overlooked and misunderstood.

The significance of discipline in Bikram Yoga and learning to coexist with distractions is essential for a fulfilling practice.

Discipline lies at the core of any successful yoga practice, and Bikram Yoga is no exception. The original hot yoga consists of a sequence of 26 postures and two breathing exercises practiced in a room heated to around 40 degrees with a humidity level of 40%.

This intense environment demands mental fortitude, patience, and the willingness to confront physical and mental limitations.

Physical Endurance:  The heated room amplifies the physical demands and mental fortitude of the practice, and aids students in developing strength and balance, it is this discipline that allows for safer and greater flexibility and increases commitment to pushing through discomfort, enabling students to achieve postures that might initially seem impossible, subsequently flooding the body with the unrivalled benefits this practice offers.

Mental Focus: Maintaining mental focus amidst the heat and physical exertion is a significant aspect of Bikram Yoga. The discipline enables students to quiet the mind, find their breath, and be present in each posture.

This degree of mental focus extends beyond the mat, promoting a sense of mindfulness in everyday life, we often say in class ‘you learn to live with the wrinkles on your towel, so you can learn to live with the wrinkles off the towel.’

Consistency: Discipline is the cornerstone of consistent practice. Regular attendance and dedication to Bikram Yoga helps build muscle memory, allowing you to progress in your practice and experience its full range of benefits consistently. By committing to this practice and continually showing up for oneself, even when it’s difficult is testament to the mental strength this practice builds in all of its students.

In a Bikram Yoga class, distractions are aplenty; the sound of someone's heavy breathing, the scent of a fellow student’s sweat, or the fleeting thoughts that dance through your mind -  ‘I need to add this to the shopping list,’ ‘Did I book the dogwalker for tomorrow?’


Learning to acknowledge and then dismiss these distractions is vital for a deeper practice - embrace the distractions, for this is the exact point you will be able to tap into the mindfulness side of the practice and will find yourself unphased by everything around you, dedicating your focus on yourself and your practice for 90 glorious minutes!

There are countless benefits of the discipline fostered and encouraged in a Bikram Yoga class;

  • Cultivates Resilience: Ignoring distractions in the room fosters resilience not just on the mat, but in daily life as too, in addition to creating a healthy, balanced body.
  • Builds Inner Strength: Embracing distractions allows you to tap into a wellspring of inner strength. It teaches you to be less reactive and more responsive, fostering a sense of calmness and stability that can be applied to any facet of life.
  • Enhances Mind-Body Connection: The ability to dismiss distractions cultivates a profound mind-body connection. It allows you to delve deeper into each posture, understanding the nuances of your body's movements and the impact of your breath.

It’s not easy to navigate distractions and remain focused on yourself during such an intense and dynamic class, but there are some ways in which you can do this:

Focus on Your Breath: Use your breath as an anchor. When distractions arise, return your attention to your breath, letting it guide you through each posture.

Maintain a steady gaze: Fix your gaze on a specific point of your body in the mirror. This helps stabilize your balance and keeps your mind centred and focused.

Practice Non-Judgement: Instead of judging distractions as negative, view them as opportunities for growth. They are part of your journey and a chance to enhance your practice.

Bikram Yoga, with its demanding postures and heated environment, is a practice that requires discipline and mental fortitude. Embracing the distractions within the room is an integral aspect of this discipline, teaching us to navigate external stimuli with grace and focus.

Cultivating this ability, not only enhances the practice on the mat but also carries the lessons of mindfulness, resilience, and inner strength into everyday lives.

So, the next time you step onto the mat, remember, it's not about eliminating the distractions, but about learning to live with them for a more harmonious practice, and a more focused approach to stress and challenge outside of the studio.


Lesley Fitzpatrick

Bikram Yoga teacher in Sussex.