What is Bikram Yoga?
Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class, also known as the 26 & 2, is a prescribed practice for supporting the healing process, self-realization, physical fitness, mental health, and more.
Bikram Yoga is The Original Hot Yoga. We are the only Original Hot Yoga Association accredited yoga studio in mid-Michigan!
This yoga method is practiced and taught by lineage-trained teachers at independently owned yoga schools around the globe. The system we specialize in was developed in Calcutta, India, in the 1950s and 1960s by Bishnu Ghosh, brother of Paramahansa Yogananda/Mukunda Ghosh. It was then refined from the early 1970s-1990s by Ghosh’s student Bikram Choudhury, Rajashree Choudhury, Emmy Cleaves, and others.
The yoga system was developed in a yoga therapy clinic in order to treat chronic diseases, pains, and disorders, and to maximize physical and mental fitness. It was also created to be accessible to those with no yoga background. We uphold the beginner’s class tradition in its undiluted potency, and we offer other levels of practice within the tradition.
What is the difference between Bikram Yoga and Hot Yoga?
Bikram Yoga is the Original Hot Yoga!
From the early 1970s until approximately 2010, Bikram Yoga – also known as the 26 & 2 – was equivalent to “hot yoga”. Its unparallelled, life-changing benefits and worldwide popularity inspired many to try to imitate it.
Since the early 2010s, many other “hot yoga” and heated fitness trends have proliferated, especially in North America. However, the heat is not the only ingredient that makes this yoga work. The sequence, principles, and practice methods create healing transformation anywhere from 70F to 105F. Practicing in a heated room reduces stiffness and inflammation, and it accelerates and intensifies benefits to the vascular and integumentary systems. However, many people practice Bikram Yoga with us from home via livestream and continue to reap a long list of health benefits.
Traditional, Therapeutic Yoga Methods
It will not take long for you to experience the difference between the Bikram Original Hot Yoga method at Yoga Is Medicine and the various types of hot yoga and fitness. This is a rough comparison – as “hot yoga” can be one of many dozens of things – but we hope it will give you some idea of the differences.
|Bikram Yoga and Ghosh lineage
|Repeated Beginner Sequence (26 postures and 2 breathing exercises) for first several years
|Various sequences depending on the teacher
|Comprehensive treatment of every muscle group, joint, and major system in the body
|Varying sequences may or may not cover each muscle and system
|Method accessible to ages 70+, men/women
|Often mostly accessible to flexible young women
|No inversions for beginners; no downward dog; no getting up and down from standing to floor
|Depending on teacher, downward dog and inversions may be present
|Stillness during and after every posture
|Movement and stillness depends on teacher; stillness becoming less common
|Specific Tourniquet Effect in every posture for specific health benefits
|Tourniquet effect might take place in some postures
|Emphasizes SPINE strength, mobility, and circulation
|Commonly emphasizes hip mobility and arm/shoulders; less focus on spine
|Possible to do while injured or partially immobilized, even with cast, broken bones, etc.
|Often requires ability to walk, stand, or put weight on wrists and shoulders
|Emphasis on mental aspects and mastery of basics and breathing
|Often emphasis on “interesting” or new postures, fitness trends such as barre, pole, etc.
|Consistent since 1972; Ghosh lineage dates to 1930s
|Varying histories and many new trends
|Goal: therapeutic benefits and concentration
|Detailed instruction of form throughout, moment by moment
|Varying amounts of instruction
|Music is likely
|Emphasis on moving together with the words
|Common emphasis on doing “whatever feels right”
|Interventional research on the specific sequence and method demonstrates tangible benefits to several internal systems
|Variety makes research difficult, and claims cannot be translated to other versions
|Emphasis on self-realization and awareness
Our Bikram Yoga classes follow the traditional “26+2” yoga system, which refers to the prescribed 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises of Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class. The repetition of the same postures for the first several years of practice provides a comprehensive therapeutic system for beginners of all ages.
Bikram Yoga Postures
Why these particular postures?
The brilliance of the order and design of this class has not yet been surpassed in over 45 years!
They can all be attempted by those without prior yoga experience
They are relatively safe for beginners (no headstands, no shoulder destabilization, more backward bending than forward bending – safer for those with chronic back pain and core weakness)
They bring very specific medical benefits when attempted even at only 10% depth
Simplicity of “modification”: nearly all postures are modified with changes in depth, not form
History of Bikram Yoga
The traditional yoga method and system we specialize in was developed in Calcutta, India, between the 1930s and 1960s by Bishnu Ghosh, younger brother of Paramahansa Yogananda (born Mukunda L. Ghosh). Bishnu Ghosh had a handful of “star students”; Buddha Bose, Gouri Shankar Mukerji, and Bikram Choudhury were three of the most well-known.
Bikram was initially sent to Japan in the early 1970s to teach Ghosh lineage yoga; shortly thereafter he ended up in the United States. From the early 1970s-1990s, the Ghosh lineage beginning sequence and teaching methods were refined by Bikram Choudhury, Rajashree Choudhury, Emmy Cleaves, and others.
Bikram Yoga Teacher Training
Bikram’s initial requirements for teachers was that they practiced for at least 10 years. Eventually a central teacher training was created in Los Angeles. Bikram’s official teacher trainings trained approximately 10,000 teachers from the early 1990s through the present.
Other trainings of varying quality have popped up recently. We only endorse and hire teachers who have completed Original Hot Yoga Association-approved teacher trainings, or 500+ hour trainings run by senior, experienced, highly-developed teachers in the lineage.
Global Network of Independent Schools
Authentic, traditional Original Hot Yoga / Bikram Yoga schools – whether called “Bikram Yoga” or not – will be owned by an experienced, Bikram lineage-trained teacher. These school owners usually maintain regular contact with mentors and masters in the lineage. Studios offering other types of hot yoga may have a traceable lineage, although most do not.
It is unknown how many yoga schools around the world are owned and led by teachers trained in the Ghosh-Bikram lineage, but some counts have placed it at around 600 at its peak.
Contrary to popular myth and journalistic error, there is not a “global empire” of schools owned by Bikram Choudhury or anyone else.