Bikram vs. Hot Yoga
What's the difference? What are the benefits? And how can you achieve them at home?
Whether you’re a lifetime yogi or just starting to explore the discipline, you undoubtedly have some questions. What qualifies as Bikram yoga? What constitutes hot yoga? What’s the difference, and what are the benefits over something like standard Hatha yoga? So let’s break it down.
What is Bikram Yoga?
The short answer is that Bikram is a specific subset of what is generally referred to as “hot yoga.” Patented by Bikram Choudhury in the 1970s, it involves repeating the same 26 poses, derived from classic hatha poses. Rooms are typically heated to a blistering 105 degrees Fahrenheit (41ºC) with intense humidity—about 40 percent. According to theBikram yoga website, the entire practice is designed to systematically move fresh, oxygenated blood to 100 percent of your body, to each organ and fiber. In 2013, Bikram fell out of vogue as allegations surfaced of the founder’s illicit behaviors (which he has refuted). Nevertheless, the Bikram practice remains a popular form of detoxifying and rejuvenating yoga.
What are the benefits of hot yoga?
Throughout a typical yoga flow, we’re constantly occluding blood from our muscles and joints as we hold a pose, then reintroducing a flood of oxygen-rich blood as we release and transition to the next. This tourniquet effect, along with measured breathing, is key to the benefits of yoga. When we add the element of heat, we dial up the intensity and the reward. And it doesn’t have to be that 105-degree “torture chamber” that Bikram prides itself on, it’s simply a matter of achieving the effects of the heat. Aaron Thomas, a cofounder of the Original Hot Yoga Academy, describes it this way: “The real benefits of hot yoga come from a heated internal body temperature. Studies have shown that the body receives a heat-induced fascial relaxation at these elevated temperatures. This reduces stiffness and allows for more extensibility of collagen. You become more flexible and feel less pain, a lovely one-two punch.” As our circulatory and lymphatic systems shift into high-gear, we’re flushing lactic acid, inflammation and toxins out of our muscles and joints, and sending oxygen-rich blood in. So, in addition to the mental and emotional benefits you may experience—mindfulness, elevated mood, a less reactionary disposition—there are a myriad of proven physical gains such as improved flexibility, higher caloric burn, increased bone density, improved cardiovascular health, reduced blood glucose and many more.
How can I get the benefits of hot yoga at home?
Attending a hot yoga class isn’t as easy as it once was. Your favorite studio is likely requiring reservations to limit class sizes and/or lowering the temperature in their hot yoga rooms to counteract the stifling effect of the masks you’re required to wear—or worse, they’ve closed completely. But you can get all the benefits of a hot yoga flow from the comfort of your own home. Unlike other hot yoga pants and tops—which are made to let heat out—our proprietary HeatReflect™ fabric is engineered with nitrogen gas and a thin layer of titanium sheeting to redirect your body heat back to your muscles and joints. The result is a deep and intense heat that lets you get warm and stay warm, maximizing the effects of your workout. All while you continue to breathe cool, fresh, ambient air. Our handmade fabric has a unique cell memory that molds to your body shape without stretching out over time. It fits like a second skin and it’s impressively elastic, letting you move comfortably and confidently through every transition of your flow.
Keep an eye out for our upcoming blog post on how to enjoy the benefits of hot yoga, anytime and anywhere. In the meantime, suit up in our proprietary heat-generating gear and check out some of these helpful insights from YOGA POSE and POPSUGAR to create your own hot yoga session at home.