During the early 1970s, Bikram was teaching yoga in Japan where saunas are very popular. This inspired yoga teacher to begin experimenting with heated yoga rooms. When Bikram came to the United States, he brought this "hot" yoga style with him. However, when he first started, his rooms were only heated to 82 degrees. As the popularity of his classes increased, so did the temperatures to the current 104 degrees.
There are issues with this style of yoga and one who has addressed them is Dr. John Douillard, an Ayurvedic specialist. Among the issues he cites are these:
- For thousands of years, yoga was practiced at sunrise and sunset—when it was cooler, so not to overheat—and as a way to connect and sync with the natural circadian rhythms.
- During swedana, a sweat-steam therapy, cooled balls of clay were fastened to the head and over the heart to ensure the head and central nervous system was kept cool. There is careful effort to always keep the head outside of the steam cabinet. A hot head can trigger a medical emergency.
- Hot yoga teachers experience difficulties ranging from chronic fatigue, brain fog and inability to handle stress, anxiety, depression and chronic joints issues, to after-class symptoms of exhaustion, dizziness, fatigue, disturbed menses, headaches, and nausea.