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 was equivalent to “hot yoga”.  Its unparallelled benefits and worldwide popularity inspired many to try to imitate it.  It is also referred to as “26 & 2” or “The Original Hot Yoga”.

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, attention to detail and subtlety, and concentration 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.

We are the only yoga studio in mid-Michigan and one of only four studios in Michigan that is a member of The Original Hot Yoga Association.

Traditional, Therapeutic Yoga Methods

It will not take long for you to experience the difference between the Bikram Yoga method at Yoga Is Medicine 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

What Our Students Are Saying

The Original Hot Yoga Assocition & Our Global Network of Independent Schools

Authentic, traditional Original Hot Yoga schools – will be owned by an experienced, Bikram lineage-trained teacher or a training approved by the Original Hot Yoga Association.  These school owners maintain regular contact with mentors and masters in the lineage and are committed to preserving the methods of our yoga lineage.

Studios offering other types of hot yoga may have a traceable lineage, although there are very few that do.

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 was never a “global empire” of schools owned by Bikram Choudhury or anyone else.  Since COVID-19, more than half of the schools in the United States have closed.  However, our community and school director have gone above and beyond to keep this tradition alive and thriving for the present and next generation!  Come try it out, and you’ll see why.

The Original Hot Yoga Association is a grassroots, non-profit network of yoga schools that are owned by Certified Bikram Yoga Teachers, as well as teachers trained in the lineage.  Its purpose is unite our healing community, and to retain and strengthen our Original Hot Yoga system and teacher training standards.