A friend posted an article about how yoga can actually hurt you on facebook the other day and, while I couldn't read the whole thing (there's some pretty graphic details regarding injuries, which I just can't deal with) it made me reflect on how lucky I feel to have had the experiences I've had with bikram yoga.
I've tried other yogas in the past, both hot and not, and none have ever worked as well for me as bikram does. The biggest culprit for me is downward dog and the accompanying asanas, like the sun salutation, etc. My wrists were just not made to hold up my entire body weight, and they begin to hurt almost immediately. Almost every other yoga style I've tried has some variation on down dog, and therefore I'd go for a few weeks and then just give up.
I'm not going to tell you that bikram is right for everyone. But I don't want people to walk away from that article thinking that yoga is bad for you either. It, like many other forms of exercise, can be great, if practiced under knowledgeable instructors, and with a clear knowledge of your own abilities. I was very fortunate to be taught early in my bikram yoga practice by instructors who explained how important the dialogue is, as well as how important it is to know your own body. If you listen closely enough to the dialogue you will hear the teacher telling you just how to work on the yoga to the best of your own abilities. One of the most repeated phrases in the dialogue is lock the knee. (If you are still unsure as to what "lock the knee" means, click on the link there for a great article that explains how and why it's so important.) If you haven't locked the knee, you're not doing most postures at all. If you can't lock your knee, your body is telling you something... please listen before you do it harm! Don't just kick out in standing head to knee if your knee won't stay locked (something I've noticed people do all the time). I don't kick out very often and I've been practicing for almost 4 years. (I tore my left quad about 2 years ago and that leg just isn't that steady, still.)
Anyway, you don't have to listen to my diatribe, I'm not an instructor. But I promise, it's all there in the dialogue!