What is it?
Most people use the terms Bikram Yoga and Hot Yoga interchangeably, and although at first glance they may seem the same, they are in fact extremely different. Hot Yoga refers to any form of yoga performed whilst in a heated room. Bikram Yoga, which became enormously popular worldwide during the late 80s – early 90s, is a set sequence of poses developed by Bikram Choudhury and is inspired by traditional Hatha Yoga. Bikram tried copyright the set 26 asanas he designed, but was unsuccessful. A lot of Hot Yoga classes are essentially these same 26 poses as Bikram classes, but are taught in a very different way.
Nowadays, less and less people are talking about Bikram and referring to the joys of general Hot Yoga since Bikram has been in the news for sexual harassment and bankruptcy…not the best symbol for a ‘Guru’ really is it? However, we should not forget the legacy which Bikram was able to create. He changed the yoga culture completely into something that was globally popular and absolutely accessible for everyone. Albeit it extremely hot, sweaty and challenging – everyone seemed to be hooked!
Traditional Bikram Yoga is a strict and rigid set 26 poses, which are each practiced twice, as well as a breathing exercise at the beginning and end of the class. All Bikram teachers must be trained directly from Mr. Choudhury himself, and the teachers must use the exact same script. This means that no matter where in the world you are, every single Bikram class is taught exactly the same. Word for word. The traditional Bikram classes are always 90 minutes and are in a room heated to 40 degrees Celsius (105 Fahrenheit) and with 40% humidity.
Unless you have a Hot Yoga studio in your house, this is not going to be a form of Yoga which you can practice at home…but there are now so many Hot Yoga and Bikram studios around. Many Bikram studios will invite you to take part in a 30-day challenge to practice the set sequences every day for 30 days – this is a great way to familiarise yourself with the sequence, studio and builds up a strong community feeling.
It is often said that Bikram classes are good for beginners because the pace is slower, so you won’t get flustered. The only thing beginners have to be prepared for is the heat, and although it sounds daunting, just remember to listen to your body and if you feel faint then sit down and focus on your breath. Stick with it and drink a lot of water before the class. Be prepared, and always remember your yoga towel. Never forget the towel. This is the sweatiest Yoga you will ever come across so you need to consider appropriate clothing– think very thin, non-cotton based material to let your skin breath as much as possible (of course, we have your back with this!).
Although it is not commonly practiced, there is an Advanced Bikram Series which consists of 84 poses that usually are completed within 90-120 minutes. This series is not well-known because there are only 2 people officially authorised to teach it; Bikram Choudhury and Emmy Cleaves. But of course, some studios and advanced practitioners will practice their own version of this advanced series.
Why we love it!
Yoga Rebel wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Bikram Yoga! Our owner and MD saw that there was a need for cool, stylish and good quality clothing and accessories that can be worn in Bikram classes! The strict regiment of a Bikram class means that you are solely focused on each pose you are doing, you are there to practice Yoga, and there is no room to think of anything else.
Inspiring Bikram Yoga Teachers?
Michelle Pernetta – she trained with Bikram in LA at his teacher training in 1990. In 1994, Michelle was the first to bring Bikram to the UK. She opened up the first Bikram studio in 1999 and is one of Bikram’s most senior teachers. She now is the owner of Fierce Grace in London, which was developed in 2014, and she has moved away from the Bikram name since then.
Check out our favourite picks for Bikram Yoga here:
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