Hot Yoga or Hot Mess? Is Bikram Yoga the Right Choice for You?

By Kara Reynolds | Jan 19, 2016

Yoga has become extremely popular over the past few years, and it is hard not to notice the benefits people seem to get from it. Hot yoga has also been on the rise, but what exactly is hot yoga? Understanding the difference between hot yoga and Bikram yoga can help you discover if either of them are the right choice for you.

Hot Yoga vs. Bikram Yoga

The main differences between hot yoga and Bikram yoga are:

  • Temperature: Bikram yoga studios must be heated to 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity. Hot yoga temperatures can vary between studios but are usually kept between 80-100 degrees.
  • Duration: Bikram yoga is always 90 minutes, while hot yoga varies in duration.
  • Postures: Bikram yoga always uses the same 26 postures and two pranayama (breathing) exercises, which are performed in the same order each class. Hot yoga allows for a variation in postures and styles.
  • Environment: Bikram yoga is done in a carpeted room with bright lighting and mirrors on the front wall. Hot yoga is sometimes done in a dimly lit room with candles and can be on any surface.
  • Behavior: During Bikram yoga, there is no music, clapping or hand-on adjustments. In hot yoga, there is often music and a round of applause at the end of the class.

Overall, Bikram yoga is much more structured while hot yoga allows for variation. People who study Bikram yoga are able to become familiar with the structure of the class, which allows for a more focused experience, while hot yoga may provide a lighter practice. You can use a locator tool to find a Bikram yoga studio near you.

Benefits of Bikram

Bikram yoga provides many benefits for those who want to make it a part of their lifestyle, such as:

  • Detox: Since you sweat a lot during Bikram yoga, your body sweats out a lot of toxins from your glands and muscles. The sweating also helps you go deeper into poses and hold them for longer.
  • Focus: As stated above, the structure of Bikram yoga allows you to learn the order of the postures so you can focus solely on carrying out the routine. This focus and determination will carry into your daily life. Yoga also provides mental benefits that come from regular practice.
  • Weight Loss: You can burn up to 1,000 calories per class while doing Bikram yoga. However, it is much more common to burn anywhere from 300-700. The extra heat also boosts your metabolism, which will help with weight loss.
  • Prevents Injury: If you practice yoga regularly, old injuries will heal faster and new injuries will be prevented as your joints and muscles are loosened and opened from the heat.
  • Cardiovascular: Working in a hot room elevates your heart rate, so it is a great cardiovascular workout. It also helps breathing and strength.

Dangers of Bikram

Bikram yoga does sometimes result in dangers, such as:

  • Dehydration: If you are prone to dehydration or any condition triggered by heat, Bikram yoga may not be for you. Check with your doctor before beginning a hot yoga class, and be sure to stay hydrated before, during and after the class.
  • Overstretching: Though the heat makes it easier to stretch and hold these poses, it is often easy for beginners to overstretch and cause muscle or joint injuries. Don’t overdo it during your first few classes until you learn what your body can handle.
  • Infection: The hot and humid environment makes it easy for germs to spread. Avoid infection or sickness by not sharing towels, water bottles or mats, and spray down your area before and after use.

Bikram yoga can be a worthwhile and beneficial experience if done correctly. If you decide to try Bikram yoga, be sure to talk to your doctor first, stay hydrated and start slow. And most of all, enjoy yourself! Both Bikram and hot yoga can be extremely satisfying.


  1. Nicole on January 21, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    I’ve seen a Bikram Yoga studio near my gym. I’ve always been curious, but I’m not one who enjoys a hot room. I think it’s great for some, but I don’t think it’s something I would enjoy. Have you ever tried it? I always thought hot yoga and bikram were the same. Thanks for the info! 🙂

  2. Kara on January 21, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    I thought it was the same for a long time, too, Nicole! I tried Bikram once. It was great and also horrible all at the same time – haha! I had to rest in child’s pose after about the 60-minute mark for a few and slug some water because I felt a little woozy, but I managed to stay in the room the whole time!

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