Yoga has become an increasingly popular form of exercise and relaxation in recent years, offering numerous physical and mental benefits. Within the realm of yoga, there are various styles and practices to choose from. Two commonly heard terms are “hot yoga” and “Bikram yoga.” While these two styles share some similarities, they also possess distinct characteristics that set them apart. In this article, we will delve into the differences between hot yoga and Bikram yoga, shedding light on their unique features and helping you make an informed choice about which practice suits your needs.
Understanding Hot Yoga
Hot yoga refers to a general style of yoga practice performed in a heated room. The heat is often maintained at temperatures ranging from 95 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit (35-40 degrees Celsius) with increased humidity. This elevated temperature is believed to enhance flexibility, promote detoxification through sweating, and potentially increase calorie burn during the practice.
Hot yoga classes can follow different sequences and incorporate various traditional yoga poses, such as Sun Salutations, standing postures, backbends, twists, inversions, and relaxation poses. The specific sequencing and style may vary depending on the teacher or yoga studio, as there is no standardized sequence for hot yoga like there is for Bikram yoga.
One popular variation of hot yoga is called “Vinyasa flow” or “power yoga,” which involves dynamic movements and continuous flow. This style focuses on building strength, endurance, and balance while incorporating breath control. Another well-known form of hot yoga is “Hot Hatha,” which emphasizes holding postures for longer durations to improve strength, flexibility, and mental focus.
Exploring Bikram Yoga
Bikram yoga, on the other hand, is a specific style of hot yoga created by Bikram Choudhury in the early 1970s. It follows a fixed sequence of 26 postures and two breathing exercises, which are performed in a room heated to approximately 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) with a humidity level of around 40%.
Bikram yoga classes are typically 90 minutes long and consist of the same sequence of poses in every session. The structure and repetition aim to provide a deeply ingrained practice that leads to improved strength, balance, flexibility, and concentration over time.
One notable aspect of Bikram yoga is its focus on consistency and adherence to the established sequence. Teachers are certified by Bikram Choudhury and must follow specific guidelines and cues during the class. The heated environment combined with the consistent repetition of the sequence is said to facilitate deeper stretching, detoxification, and mental discipline.
Key Differences between Hot Yoga and Bikram Yoga
While both hot yoga and Bikram yoga involve practicing in a heated room, there are several significant differences that set them apart:
Hot yoga encompasses a wide range of styles and sequences, allowing for more diversity and customization. In contrast, Bikram yoga strictly follows the same sequence of 26 poses and two breathing exercises in every class.
Certification and Standardization:
Bikram yoga teachers must complete specific training and receive certification from Bikram Choudhury himself. This certification ensures that Bikram yoga classes adhere to the standardized sequence and cues. In hot yoga, there is no such requirement, and instructors have more flexibility in designing their classes.
Duration and Room Conditions:
Traditionally, Bikram yoga classes last for 90 minutes, while hot yoga classes may vary in duration. Additionally, Bikram yoga studios maintain a humidity level of around 40%, whereas hot yoga studios may have varied humidity levels depending on the style and preference.
Founder and Controversy:
Bikram yoga was created by Bikram Choudhury, who has been involved in controversial legal issues. This controversy has led to some studios and practitioners distancing themselves from the Bikram name. Hot yoga, being a broader term, does not carry the same controversy or association with a specific individual.
Similarities and Benefits
Despite their differences, both hot yoga and Bikram yoga offer similar benefits associated with practicing yoga in a heated environment:
The combination of heat and humidity helps warm up muscles and connective tissues, making them more pliable and enhancing flexibility.
Sweating profusely during hot yoga and Bikram yoga classes can aid in the elimination of toxins through the skin.
The elevated heart rate and increased demand on the cardiovascular system in a heated room can provide a cardiovascular workout alongside the physical postures.
Stress Relief and Mental Focus:
The challenging conditions of practicing in a heated room can help cultivate mental resilience, focus, and relaxation, promoting stress relief and mindfulness.
Hot yoga and Bikram yoga, while both practiced in a heated environment, have distinct differences that set them apart. Hot yoga encompasses a variety of styles and sequences with more flexibility for customization, whereas Bikram yoga strictly follows a fixed sequence of 26 postures and two breathing exercises.
Ultimately, the choice between hot yoga and Bikram yoga depends on personal preference, goals, and comfort level. It is recommended to try different classes and styles to find the one that resonates with you and aligns with your specific needs and objectives. Whether you choose hot yoga or Bikram yoga, both practices can contribute to overall physical well-being and inner balance.