Normally considered a form of relaxation, competitive yoga may seem like a contradiction in terms, but not it seems for those taking part the recent tenth annual UK National Yoga Asana Championships held in London.
In Bikram yoga, named after its creator, Bikram Choudhury, the temperature is raised to an energy sapping 40˚C, the idea being that a hot and humid environment improves joint relaxation and detoxifies the body through sweating.
For the competition, each entrant was allowed three minutes in which to strike seven postures, of which five were mandatory and two were chosen by the individual.
Although competitive yoga may not be for everyone and the chances of it becoming an Olympic sport are pretty remote, but hot yoga, in its various, non-competitive forms, is certainly gaining a strong following in health clubs, spas and sports halls throughout the world.
American presidents Nixon, Reagan and Clinton and celebrities such as Madonna, David Beckham, George Clooney, Jennifer Anniston and Lady Gaga have all practiced the Bikram hot yoga system, which consists of a series of 26 Hatha yoga postures and 2 breathing exercises.
It is claimed that regular practice students can gain muscle strength, improve flexibility and weight loss, and that it can also help develop concentration, patience, determination and self-control to help promote mental clarity and reduce stress.
One thing it certainly produces is sweat by the bucketful and anyone attending for their first session would be well advised to take along plenty of water and a large absorbent towel.