In the last few decades, yoga has taken on a life of its own in the western world. There is a huge range of styles to choose from, including gentle yoga, power yoga, yoga with goats, and yoga with wine.
You might know that some forms of yoga are practiced in a very warm studio — both hot yoga and Bikram Yoga are examples. But are these the same thing? It’s a common question, and we’re here to answer it for you.
In short, no. They are not the same thing. They do share some qualities (specifically the warm, sweaty room part), but the classes can be really quite different.
This style of yoga was founded by Bikram Choudhury, a yogi from India. He has been in the news in the last few years, and not for positive reasons. He did contribute to the yoga cannon by introducing Bikram Yoga into the world, which is a very regimented and strict practice. Here are some of the main tenents of this style:
- Studios must be heated to 40 degrees Celsius with 40% humidity
- Teachers must be trained at registered Bikram studios and complete a very specific teacher training program
- Each class follows the same 26 asanas and breathing practices, in the same order every time
- Studios are meant to have carpeted floors, floor-to-ceiling mirrors and bright lights
- There is to be no music, clapping, talking, or hands-on instructor adjustments
As you can see, it’s quite something. It’s good to remember that Bikram Yoga is a registered trademark, so the founder also gets a cut of the proceeds from the studios.
Hot yoga, on the other hand, is a little more flexible (pun intended!). This practice was developed over time and classes really vary from studio to studio. A hot yoga studio/class might have:
- A warm studio with a temperature 26 degrees Celsius or above, with no set humidity
- A range of styles and sequences, depending on what the teacher is feeling or the students are asking for
- Elements of yin, vinyasa, or power yoga
- Music, candlelight, chanting, singing or mantra
Basically, hot yoga is yoga in a hot room, where Bikram Yoga is a practice unto itself.
Are There Extra Benefits to Practicing at High Temperatures?
There definitely can be! A warmer room will increase the intensity of your lungs, heart and other organs so that they work harder and get stronger. A yogi will also likely sweat a lot more and there are a ton of great detoxifying benefits that come along with that. But hot yoga is not for everyone — it’s very important to listen to your body on this one.
What’s important is that you find the right studio and classes that work for you and that help you meet your personal goals — whether they are fitness, spiritual, community building, or whatever!
Perhaps you are considering becoming a yoga teacher yourself and are looking to explore different styles. Maybe yoga teacher training with a specialty in hot yoga is right for you. You won’t know until you try.
There is a range of possibilities, even during this time when many classes and yoga teacher training have gone online. And it’s good to remember that this will pass, too. But in the meantime, showing up on your mat is great no matter what.