What’s the difference between Bikram and hot yoga? Well, Bikram yoga is hot yoga, but hot yoga is not necessarily Bikram yoga. As clear as muddy water, right?. Bikram yoga is the original hot yoga and among the best known. Even though some people may use “hot” and “Bikram” interchangeably, the truth is that all Bikram yoga is hot, but not all hot yoga is Bikram.
While these two styles of yoga seem very similar, there are a few differences that set them apart.
Hot yoga often tends to be a flowing vinyasa style of practice in which the teacher instructs students in a series of linked poses. During class, the room is usually maintained at a temperature of 95 to 105 F.
As you can imagine, a vigorous yoga session at high temperatures makes the body very warm and induces profuse sweating. The intent is that the heat loosens your muscles and the sweat helps cleanse your body.
Bikram yoga is just one style of hot yoga. Other popular hot yoga options include the Canadian import Moksha yoga (known as Modo yoga in the United States) and CorePower yoga, a rapidly expanding chain.
Many locally-owned and independent yoga studios offer their own style of heated classes as well.
Hot yoga will need preparation and gear that can handle the heat:
1. You will be sweating a lot on your yoga mat during a hot yoga class. Yogitoes Skidless mat towels (or other similar products) are popular hot yoga accessories. These towels are placed over your mat to absorb sweat and improve traction. Many studios provide mats and towels for free or for a small fee. If you are concerned about germs ask the studio how they clean their mats or simply bring your own.
2. The sweating you do in hot yoga also means you’ll want to choose the right yoga wear. Generally, women and men find that tight-fitting tops and capris or long pants are best to prevent slipping during poses.
3. The actual temperature in a hot yoga class will vary by style and studio.
Some can be as hot as 108 F, which makes the 75 F rooms seem almost chilly.
4. The “sweating out the toxins” catchphrase is popular among hot yoga students. The truth is that sweating is not really part of the detoxification system of our bodies, though it can make you feel better in the end.
5. Make sure to drink plenty of water before and after class so you don’t get dehydrated. You can also take small sips of water during class but drinking too much during your practice may cause bloating and may impair your ability to feel comfortable in each asana. It is not advisable to eat within two hours before you take a class.
6. Hot yoga is not advised for pregnant women since it can raise the core body temperature.
Bikram Choudhury is a hot yoga innovator and founder of the Bikram yoga system. His method is the original style to be set in a hot room. It is a unique, set series of 26 postures, including two pranayama exercises, each of which is performed twice in a single 90-minute class.
Some hot yoga classes may follow a Bikram format, but others may not. Classes that specifically indicate that they are Bikram classes will generally follow the proprietary 26-pose format. But a non-Bikram hot yoga class can be any series of yoga poses in a heated room.
Choudhury was born in Calcutta, India, in 1946. He was a yoga champion in his youth, as was his wife Rajashree. In 1974, Choudhury founded the Yoga College of India in Beverly Hills, California, to teach his method. It soon became one of the most popular styles of yoga asana practiced in the West.
As Bikram’s yoga classes began to draw members of the Hollywood elite, he embarked on an increasingly ostentatious lifestyle. He became known for his fleet of sports cars and for wearing expensive jewelry.
The successful yoga guru would, however, become embroiled in lawsuits and sexual assault allegations.
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