When I began Hot Yoga the teacher asked me had I tried Hot Yoga before and my reply was “Ye I tried Bikram a few times”. I was quickly and quietly corrected on my statement like a bold child before getting a lesson on the wide array of differences between the two practices. I spent a month practicing Bikram Yoga before I dropped out and I have been practicing core yoga and Hot Yoga now for about 6 weeks, the more I practice yoga the clearer the error within my statement. The differences between the two practices are very clear once you start taking part but to an outsider who is unfamiliar it is easy to see where the confusion can arise. Yes both practices are in a studio and Yes you are being taught postures by a teacher in heat but that is where the similarities end. From my experience I have noted my 5 key differences within the practices which make it easy to distinguish if you are in a Bikram Yoga class or a Hot Yoga class. The 5 key differences are Studio, Duration, Behaviour, Posture and Style. Within this blog post I will be looking into the key differences within the two practices and offer an insight in my experience.
- Studio – The first difference between the two practices is instantly visible once you walk into the studios; Bikram Studios in my experience are usually wall to wall mirrors. I found these mirrors distracting as when I focused on holding a pose I would then catch a glimpse of myself struggling and lose balance and then end up on the floor. In Hot Yoga none of the studios have mirrors. One day I was curious and asked what the reason behind having no mirrors was, the teacher told me that following the yoga tradition many yoga studios believe mirrors are a distraction as they dull awareness of your inside body and raise awareness of your outer body. This is counter-productive to yoga practice and contradicts many yoga philosophies.
- Behaviour – Once you start the classes there is another key difference between the two practices which is your expected behaviour and involvement within the practice. In Bikram Yoga you are expected to be disciplined, speaking is discouraged and interaction is frowned upon. This was very difficult for me as I love having a laugh so the idea of entering a room for 90 minutes and not being able to speak or laugh with a fellow person struggling was a near impossible task. This is very different in Hot Yoga as the classes are a lot more lenient students ask questions, up beat music can be played and when the time is right you can have a laugh.
- Duration – The third difference I encountered was the length of class time. Bikram Yoga is strictly 90 minutes in length which I found very tough to get through. In comparison Hot Yoga Classes at YogaHub are 60 minutes long which I find tough but bearable. In the heated environment an hour is a perfect amount of time to sweat out toxins and improve flexibility without dying of dehydration. I suppose it is really up to personal preference and ability but for me 90 minutes was too long. I find the 60 minute class is the perfect amount of time, any longer I would have to sacrifice other aspects of my day and there is not a chance I am missing the new Love/ Hate.
- Postures – Another key difference between the two practices is the range of knowledge you learn within the classes. In Bikram Yoga classes you are always doing the same 26 postures practiced in the same sequence as the class is scripted with every teacher teaching the same script. In my opinion this gets very monotonous as you are just waiting for the next posture and it makes the time really drag. In Hot Yoga classes no one class is the same as postures are always different with each teacher bringing their own style. I find as a student relatively new to yoga that Hot Yoga is better to attend as you learn a lot more postures which keeps your body constantly challenged in different ways thus giving you a more balanced practice.
- Style – The final difference between the two practices is the style of study within the practices. Bikram Yoga is one school of Yoga which is taught very strictly with no room for interpretation in style. At times during class I felt like i was a body in attendence rather than a valued person within the class. Hot yoga teachers on the other hand come from many schools of Yoga and are usually influenced by more than one style. Ashtanga, Iyengar, Vinyasa Flow, Forrest Yoga, Baptiste Yoga, Krama Yoga, Anusara Yoga are just a small fraction of yoga styles which I have encountered while at Hot Yoga classes in YogaHub (I’m sure I have missed a few due to ignorance).
As a student of both practices I did enjoy both but I would not return to Bikram Yoga due to a number of key factors; the immense heat within the studio, the length of time spent within the class, the lack of humour and fun within the practice, the lack of variation within the postures and the one style orientated practice. Above all these factors I would not fancy having a sweaty skinny sumo wrestler in speedos tensing on my back like the poor woman above. Hot Yoga on the other hand I am eager to continue and hopeful to excel. Anyone interested in trying Hot Yoga I would definitely recommend trying the classes in YogaHub studios. In YogaHub you have hour long classes, fun upbeat people and friendly and knowledgeable teachers, it really is the perfect place to fall in love with yoga.