Hot yoga and Bikram yoga

What are the differences between hot yoga and bikram yoga? Theses are similar concepts, and we will try to describe the features of both in this article.

Hot yoga includes any yoga types practiced in an artificially heated room, meaning that this is a general term for all practices conducted in these particular conditions.

Bikram yoga is a 90-minute practice of a sequence of well-defined asanas, accompanied by breathing exercises. This is an authoring technique with its own characteristics. This direction, as an independent yoga style, was founded and popularized in the West by the Indian Bikram Choudhury.

Two fundamental differences between bikram and hot yoga

You will clearly see the differences between the hot and bikram yoga when you will  try to practice both

Asanas and breathing

  • Bikram Yoga lesson includes a specific sequence of 26 strictly defined postures with two types of breathing exercises. Moreover, asanas are performed at a fast pace (from 10 to 60 seconds for each pose). So, students perform the same sequence from lesson to lesson.
  • In the general classes of hot yoga, the teacher can use any asanas of hatha yoga, vinyasa yoga, and so on. That is, there are no restrictions, and there is a variety of practices.

Duration of practice

  •  Bikram Yoga lasts strictly 90 minutes.
  • General hot yoga classes can last from 45 minutes. Given that each person reacts differently to heat, then you can easily choose the duration of the class in accordance with your physical abilities.

In conditions of hot and humid air, 60 minutes is the ideal duration of practice in order to achieve the effect of warming up the muscles and ligaments, as well as launching the mechanism of cleansing the body of toxins. In this case, the body will not be dehydrated.

Who should practice hot yoga?

  • Lovers of an intensive workout and those who likes to put greater physical demand on their muscles.
  • Those who wish to strengthen the tone of not only muscles, but also the skin.

Useful advice: after practicing hot yoga, take a contrast shower, ending it with cold water. After a shower, do self-massage with anti-cellulite creams; it will be pretty efficient (of course, no one canceled a diet with a restriction of sweet and salty).

  • Those who want to stretch their muscles and ligaments more than usual – a hot environment will help to do it.

Benefits and precautions

From the point of view of physiology, the practice of yoga in a hot room allows you simultaneously:

  • to get rid of toxins – with the increased perspiration during a workout, substances unnecessary to the body will go out through the skin faster. It is recommended to drink water in small amounts during the practice to avoid dehydration.
  • to improve the state of skin – you sweat, drink more water, so more often go to the toilet, thereby, increasing the body metabolism, so, as a result, toxins are going out faster. This effect is enhanced by specially selected exercises, which seem to “squeeze” harmful substances from the body.
  • to stretch muscles – in hot and humid air they warm up faster and become more flexible. It makes entering and holding asanas more comfortable, and reduces the risk of injury.
  • despite the fact that hot yoga allows you to stretch muscles deeper, nevertheless, the tendons and ligaments may not be prepared for such intense stretching. Plus, the heat weakens the muscles, so in some cases you can observe the opposite effect – muscles, ligaments, or tendons overload, or even trauma.
  • intensive practice in a hot room can lower the body temperature, which can lead to dehydration, and in extreme cases, even to thermal shock.

Symptoms of heat stroke include weakness, dizziness, and nausea. If you feel these symptoms, immediately lie in Shavasana (take a horizontal position) and stay like this for several minutes, breathe evenly. If you do not feel better, leave the room, and if necessary, seek medical help.

Hot yoga contraindications

Bikram yoga, like all hot yoga in general, has its contraindications and also requires compliance with certain safety rules.

Absolute contraindications are:

  • serious heart and brain diseases. Even if you had it in the past, the coordination with the physician and therapist is required;
  • pregnancy.

It is highly recommended to obtain the permission of a physician for:

  • beginners in old age, especially if there was no previous experience in practicing yoga;
  • people with complete lack of physical fitness;
  • people suffering from high/low blood pressure and varicose veins.

During the practice of any form of hot yoga there is always an individual risk of dehydration, dizziness, nausea, lowering blood pressure and even loss of consciousness.

Hot yoga and weight loss: truth or myth?

If you mostly lead a sedentary lifestyle and just started to practice hot yoga (or any other yoga), then, of course, you will begin to lose a little extra weight. But is it the merit of hot yoga?

A couple of years ago, American scientists conducted an experiment aimed to find it out. One experimental group consisted of physically healthy young people who led a sedentary lifestyle and had no previous experience in practicing yoga. Another group consisted of experienced yogis, whose practice included hot yoga.

After eight weeks of practice, it was realized that the participants from the first group noted a slight increase of muscles’ strength, a significant improvement in balance, a slight loss of body weight.

Measurements of medical and physiological parameters of the second group showed that despite the significant increase of a heart rate, the metabolic rate, as well as the number of calories burned, approximately corresponds to those of a person who just walks quickly.

This experiment suggests that, despite the seemingly intense physical activity during hot yoga, the body does not burn enough calories to lose weight.

The most efficient rule for losing weight remains a healthy food, and a balance of calories received and burned.

If you decide to attend a class

  1. Make sure to choose the right clothes for this practice: light cloth that absorbs sweat (short shorts + tank top).
  2. Take two towels: to wipe the sweat and to place on the mat (prevent slipping on the wet mat).
  3. Take at least 500 ml of still drinking water.
  4. Do not eat 1.5-2 hours before practice (but also don’t attend it on an empty stomach you will get dizzy!).
  5. After class, eat some food if you feel you need it. If you feel dizzy and other symptoms of overheating, drink water with the electrolytes.
  6. Choose evening time for hot yoga – after practice, the body will need a long time to recover.
  7. Find out in advance if there is a hair dryer in the yoga center – the hair will definitely be wet, and going out even in the warm season with wet hair and a hot body might cause a cold.