Hot yoga vs. Bikram yoga

By Dr. Josh Palgi

It is said in the bible “Be still and know that I am God.” In these few words lies the key to the science of yoga.

Yoga is an ancient Indian body of knowledge. The word yoga came from the Sanskrit word “yuj” which means “to unite or integrate”. Yoga then is about the union of a person’s own consciousness and the universal consciousness. Ancient yogis believed that in order for man to be in harmony with himself and his environment, he has to integrate the body, the mind and the spirit.

It’s harmonizing the body with the mind and breath through the means of various breathing techniques, yoga postures (asanas) and meditation.

Yoga is about creating balance in the body through developing both strength and flexibility. This is done through the performance of poses or postures, each of which has specific physical benefits.

The poses can be done quickly in succession, creating heat in the body through movement (vinyasa style yoga) or more slowly to increase stamina and perfect the alignment of the pose. The poses are a constant but approach to them varies depending on the yoga traditions in which the teacher has trained.

There are various paths of yoga that lead toward this good, each one a specialized branch of the comprehensive system and they are hatha yoga, Karma yoga, Mantra yoga, Bhakti yoga, Jnana Yoga and Raja yoga.

As yoga becomes increasingly diffuse and diverse, a simple common definition is all but impossible.

The different styles of yoga are vast and varied, such as Bikram Yoga and Hot yoga not to be confused mention two.

Like with “regular” yoga, hot yoga comes in all kinds of different styles. Bikram yoga is considered the original incarnation of the form.

Bikram Choudhury is an internationally renowned yoga teacher from India.  He took his system to the U.S. in the 1971 at the invitation of the American Medical Association.

Bikram yoga is a combination of Hatha Yoga and other yoga techniques. Any Bikram yoga class lasts 9 minutes and provides you with a set of breathing exercises and 26 unique poses in a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius (95 for degrees Fahrenheit) and 40% humidity.

Bikram yoga will teach you how to love your body and treat it with pride. It will improve your balance, flexibility, strength and mental health.

It will invigorate and detoxify your body through the release of toxins in your sweat and clear your mind and heal your spirit.

Hot Yoga is inspired by Bikram Choudhury, the original hot yoga gura. The yoga consists of a sequence of postures scientifically designed to work into the next posture so by the end of the sequence the whole body is worked out. The heat allows the body to detoxify and cleanse through sweating in addition to making the body more pliable.

Hot yoga brings its own external heat source up a room to around 100 degrees. However, you produce your own internal heat when you exercise (moderate exercise). Hot yoga uses static holds (and some flow) which lengthening specific parts of the body depending on what pose you are in and isometrically contracting the muscles that are keeping you stable.

Check the list that makes a class hot or Bikram Yoga:

  • Bikram yoga consists of the same 26 poses and two breathing exercises performed in the same order every class for exactly 90 minutes.
  • Hot yoga can be comprised of many different poses that vary by class and studio.
  • Bikram yoga studios, what Choudhury calls “torture chambers,” must be heated to 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity.
  • Hot yoga rooms can vary in humidity and are generally heated to anywhere from 80 -100 degrees.
  • The floor of Bikram yoga studios must be carpeted with mirrors on the front wall and bright lighting.
  • Hot yoga may be performed with dim lights, by candlelight, and on any surface.
  • Bikram yoga instructors must be trained by Bikram Choudhury himself and their studios must be affiliated in order to be considered true Bikram yoga.
  • There can be no music, clapping, or hands-on instructor adjustments in Bikram yoga.
  • Hot yoga often has music playing during the class and is followed by a round of applause.
  • Students are not permitted to talk during Bikram yoga.
  • Hot yoga students are allowed to interact with each other and with the instructor.

All Bikram yoga is hot but not all hot yoga is Bikram.

If you are interested in becoming involved in yoga as a way to strengthen both your mind and body, you owe it to yourself to discover more about this unique exercise method.

No matter the type of yoga you indulge in, you will be doing great things for your body and soul.


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