Is Hot Yoga the Same as Bikram?

One of the most asked questions I get from new clients is ‘Is hot yoga the same as Bikram?’. While both styles are done in heated rooms, and this has many benefits (more to come on this!), there are some key differences:

  • Bikram classes are heated to the high 30’s – low 40’s with 40% humidity. In our studio we heat our room to the low 30’s. It’s a dry heat, enough to bring up a good sweat, but most people do not find it uncomfortable.
  • Bikram uses the same 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises in the same sequence every class. Some people prefer a set sequence for various reasons. Hot yoga does not have a set sequence. Many different poses are practiced and the classes can be altered to suit the needs of clients.
  • Bikram yoga classes go for 90 minutes, hot yoga classes generally go for 60.
  • Mirrors must line the front wall (at the very least) for Bikram yoga. I personally think mirrors are great! They help with attaining correct alignment. We have mirrors lining our front wall, but this is not essential in a hot yoga studio.
  • Bikram floors must be carpeted, have bright lighting (dimmed for savasana) and no music is to be played. Most hot yoga studio’s have non-carpeted practice rooms. Teachers also have creative freedom with lighting and music.
  • Bikram instructors are required to recite a set dialogue every class. Hot yoga teachers are not required to do this.
  • There is no hands-on adjustment permitted in Bikram classes.
  • Students in a hot yoga class are permitted to ask questions, interact with the teacher and with other students.

There is no doubt the amazing effects that yoga has on the body, mind and sou, and one cannot say that one style is better than another. But no matter what style of yoga you are into when you practice in a heated room there are some considerations:

  • Drink plenty of water before class and take a bottle into class with you.
  • Try not to eat for a few hours before a heated class. If you really need to just try something light, like a piece of fruit.
  • Wear comfortable clothes that you can move in. Tights, shorts and singlets are good options.
  • Bring a towel to place over your mat to absorb sweat and improve traction.
  • Heated classes are not advisable when pregnant.
  • If you are concerned about any medical issues please discuss them with the studio prior to class or consult your doctor.


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