Hot yoga vs. bikram yoga: what’s the difference?

As yoga becomes more and more popular, we’ve seen many yoga classes available. It’s everywhere, whether you live in a small town or a big city. We love how people around the world joining the practice of yoga and starting to feel its benefits. Among these types of yoga, you’ll find Hot Yoga and Bikram Yoga. Both offer benefits to your health, but some people sometimes have mixed opinions about which one is the best. To help you decide which class to sign up, here’s our take on Hot Yoga vs. Bikram Yoga!

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Hot yoga vs. bikram yoga

Practicing both Hot Yoga and Bikram Yoga required heated rooms. That’s why sometimes they’re considered the same. And only after you practice both, you’ll see the difference between Hot Yoga and Bikram Yoga.

Hot Yoga

Hot Yoga refers to any yoga classes that perform a series of Vinyasa style in a heated room. So, in a way, Bikram yoga is hot yoga, but hot yoga is not Bikram yoga. Some Hot Yoga classes may use the Bikram method, but others may not.

Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga is one of the few styles of Hatha Yoga. And it’s known as the original and the best hot yoga. Bikram Choudhury, a hot yoga innovator from India, invented Bikram yoga. It’s a type of hot yoga method with 26 patented poses of Bikram Yoga. Now, his unique method becomes popular in the west.


Difference between Hot Yoga and Bikram Yoga

Even though they share the same method, there are some differences in their practices. Here are some key differences between the two practices:


When you walk into a Bikram Yoga class, you’ll see tall mirrors in a bright lit nuance. And Bikram Yoga also practiced on the carpeted-floor. The mirrors are there for the instructors to see the whole class from different angles. This helps them correct any posture.

Contrary to Bikram Yoga, Hot Yoga may perform with candlelight or dim light on any surfaces. You can also use any mat, including your cork yoga mat. There are no walls in the class. Some instructors believe the mirrors may distract students. In Hot Yoga, they need to learn to be aware of their own body, not through the help of mirrors.


Bikram Yoga practices a strict of 26 Hatha postures with two sequences of breathing exercises. You’ll practice the same 26 posture in the same order for each class, which may be monotonous for some. In Hot Yoga, the instructors teach different yoga poses. Each instructor, studio, and class may perform different styles of postures. No strict sequences or orders, so you can learn more postures.


Both Hot Yoga and Bikram Yoga are practiced in a heated room, although the environment is different. In Bikram Yoga, the heated room must be arranged in a fixed temperature, 105° F (40.5° C). Besides, music, clapping, and hands-on instruction are not allowed. All Bikram instructors must guide the students in a pattern during the session. And the students are expected to be disciplined.

On the other hand, Hot Yoga offers a more relaxed situation. It’s practiced in a range of temperatures, from 80° to 105° Fahrenheit (26.7° - 40.5°C). And Hot Yoga class allows music, clapping, and hands-on instruction. Instructors and students are allowed to have interaction during the class.


You’ll encounter a different length of time for both practices. Bikram Yoga is practiced in strictly 90 minutes with two sequences of breathing exercises. For some people, it can be unbearable, especially in a hot environment. Hot Yoga class is only 60 minutes long, which is more tolerable especially for beginners. On that note, we suggest you take a look at all 30 different types of yoga before you start.


As both practices teach different types, the instructors also have different training. Bikram Yoga instructors are trained with strict 26 postures. And they must be trained under the founder, Bikram Choudhury himself. Only affiliated studios are allowed to teach Bikram Yoga. Hot Yoga instructors learn any different styles of yoga, from Ashtanga, Vinyasa, to Iyengar.


What are the benefits?

Even though they are different, they offer similar benefits. There have been dozens of studies on the benefits of both. Most of these studies find that maintaining regular yoga practice can both prevent disease and help to recover from it. If you do it regularly, both practices provide such as:

Improve flexibility

Heated room is good to warm up your muscles and avoid injury. And it helps you do the poses easier and more effective. When you start, you may not be able to touch your toes or do a backbend. But gradually, your body is loosening, stretching further, and you’ll be able to do more poses.

Reduce stress

One of the mental benefits of both exercises is to manage stress. Stress causes effects on the body, such as headaches, sleeping problems, or neck pain. Concentration, movement, and breathing exercises bring calm and relaxation.

Burn calories

Practicing in a heated room will open your pores and allow toxins to flow out. After regular practice, it also helps in burning calories and aid weight loss. So, if you’re still wondering, “Does yoga help you lose weight?” the answer is yes!

Build Strength

With regular practices, yoga poses build tone muscles and bone density. It also strengthens your back, arms, and leg.

Boost lung capacity

Practicing different poses in a heated room, it can give your lungs, heart, and muscle more challenging workout. As you need to breathe deeper, your lungs expand more. And it allows more oxygen into your body.


Tips and precautions

Whichever you choose, there are some things you need to keep in mind to help you handle the heat:

  • As you’ll be sweating so much, we recommend bringing a towel. If your yoga mat doesn’t work well with sweat, place the towel on it. The studio usually provides some, but it’s always better to bring your own.
  • To keep your focus during the exercises, you’ll need to stay hydrated. Bring your bottle water and drink regularly before, during (if possible), and after class.
  • To prevent slipping during poses and to help absorb sweat, you can wear a breathable tight-fitting top with shorts or capris.
  • You should not eat two hours before class to avoid an uncomfortable stomach during poses. But to help you recover faster, you may need to eat before or after. Read more details here: What to eat before and after yoga?
  • Both exercises are not advised for pregnant women.
  • Check with your doctor if you have any health issues before you take the class.


So, which one is the best?

Bikram Yoga offers you strict 26 poses. This means you won’t be learning any more types of postures. This yoga class is quieter and more serious. You’re not allowed to interact with other students and instructors. Plus, there’s no music during the class. So, if you prefer a more relaxed class, you can choose Hot Yoga. You can learn various postures from different instructors. And the class is more enjoyable! You can talk, laugh, and ask your instructor to play some music during the class.

Both practices provide physical and mental benefits. If you’re doing it regularly, it will improve your balance, reduce your stress, remove your back or neck pain, and increase your muscles flexibility. But, there’s something you must consider seriously. There’s a risk of injury if you don’t follow the instructions. And for some, the heated room makes it hard to focus. You should stop if you feel lightheaded, dizzy, or sick in any way. And if you have any health issues, such as heart disease, heat intolerance, or low blood pressure, you’d better check with your doctor first.

So, Hot Yoga vs. Bikram Yoga? Whichever you choose, please remember to stay hydrated. Enjoy the class!

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