What is the difference between Bikram Yoga and Hot Yoga?

Bikram Yoga on the River 2016 Detroit Michigan Half Moon Pose

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 benefits and worldwide popularity inspired many to try to imitate it.

So….since the early 2010s, many other “hot yoga” and heated fitness trends have proliferated, especially in North America.  However, it is not the heat that makes this yoga work.  The sequence, principles, and practice methods create the transformative benefits of the “90-minute miracle”.

Bikram Yoga remains the original and time-tested therapeutic heated hatha yoga.  It is associated with scientifically proven health benefits and is truly accessible to all ages and bodies.

Traditional, Therapeutic Yoga Methods

It will not take long for you to experience the difference between the Bikram Yoga method at BYCA and the various types of hot yoga.  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 lineageHot Yoga
Repeated Beginner Sequence (26 postures and 2 breathing exercises) for first several yearsVarious sequences depending on the teacher
Comprehensive treatment of every muscle group, joint, and major system in the bodyVarying sequences may or may not cover each muscle and system
Method accessible to ages 70+, men/womenOften mostly accessible to flexible young women
No inversions for beginners; no downward dog; no getting up and down from standing to floorDepending on teacher, downward dog and inversions may be present
Stillness during and after every postureMovement and stillness depends on teacher; stillness becoming less common
Specific Tourniquet Effect in every posture for specific health benefitsTourniquet effect might take place in some postures
Emphasizes SPINE strength, mobility, and circulationCommonly 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 breathingOften emphasis on “interesting” or new postures, fitness trends such as barre, pole, etc.
Consistent since 1972; Ghosh lineage dates to 1930sVarying histories and many new trends
Goal: therapeutic benefits and concentrationGoal: various
Detailed instruction of form throughout, moment by momentVarying amounts of instruction
No soundtrackMusic is likely
Emphasis on moving together with the wordsCommon emphasis on doing “whatever feels right”
Interventional research on the specific sequence and method demonstrates tangible benefits to several internal systemsVariety makes research difficult, and claims cannot be translated to other versions
Emphasis on self-realization and awareness

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