What is hot yoga, or Bikram yoga?

Bikram Yoga was developed by Bikram Choudhury in early 1980s and is very different than many of the other yoga traditions as it has a few specific requirements to be considered and labeled Bikram Yoga. It is often also referred to as Hot Yoga mainly because the guidelines call for a room heated to approximately 105 degrees and a humidity level of 30 to 40 percent. Bikram is a very powerful and challenging physical practice which follows a specific sequence of 26 postures (asanas) each time and incorporates at least two breathing techniques (pranayama). This particular tradition has become slightly controversial due to Choudhury's involvement in competition in yoga. Generally, in the yoga community there is an emphasis of a non-ego and non-competitive practice while Choudhury has claimed that competition resides in everything we do.

Debra Fulghum Bruce PhD
Healthcare Specialist

Bikram yoga uses a precise system of postures to warm and stretch the body. When you attend a Bikram yoga class, you will practice the same 26 postures in each class. You might find the room to be extremely warm, to help heat the muscles for deeper stretching. People often sweat profusely with Bikram yoga.

Hot yoga and Bikram are separated by one thing: copyright issues. Choudhury Bikram has copywritten his particular style of yoga. Bikram yoga actually consists of 27 postures, done sequentially in a room heated to 105 degrees. No worries about loads of bacteria here though, both hot and Bikram yoga studios are equipped with fresh air flow vents so the air does not become stagnant.

Hot yoga can be done in a specialized room and has taken a new turn over the last several years. Hot yoga can include several varieties of yoga traditions done in a room heated up to 105 degrees. Many hot yoga studios have branched out and now offer hot Pilates, hot belly dancing, and even hot core classes.

The benefits of both hot yoga and Bikram yoga are similar, though Bikram claims to have the magic set of postures (27) done in the most effective order. Bikram is great for those who crave order in their workouts and like to know what's coming next.

Both hot yoga and Bikram provide wonderful detoxifying effects for the body, not only due to the heat, but also the twisting postures that are found throughout each practice. Call your local studio and obtain a free session or week to assess your tolerance for the heat before committing to this particular practice.

You may have heard of hot yoga and Bikram yoga. There are many forms of hot yoga. Bikram yoga, founded by Bikram Choudhury, is a form of hot yoga performed in a series of 26 hatha yoga postures practiced in a hot (105 degrees Fahrenheit or greater) environment. There are other styles of yoga that are also practiced in hot rooms of varying temperatures above 80 degrees. Some people enjoy hot yoga because in heated environments their muscles soften and become suppler.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.