Bull and Bow

Everything you ever wanted to know about Bikram Yoga (but were too afraid to ask).

  1. What is Hot Yoga?

  2. Is all heated yoga hot yoga?

  3. What are the benefits of Hot Yoga or Bikram Yoga?

  4. How should I prepare for a Hot Yoga class?

  5. What should I bring to class?

  6. How much will I sweat?

  7. What are the Hot Yoga postures?

  8. Where can I train as a hot yoga teacher? 

1. What is Bikram Yoga?

Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga is a sequence of 26 yoga postures and 2 breathing exercises practiced in a room heated to 40°c and 40% humidity. Also known as 26&2 and sometimes called hot yoga, this sequence was broadly popularised by Bikram and Rajashree Choudhury. 

bikram yoga posture

Ghosh Lineage

Historically this sequence was developed by Bishnu Ghosh, a bodybuilder and founder of  the College of Physical Education Calcutta. Ghosh was a key player in the modernisation of traditional yoga asanas into the more familiar yoga practices that western yoga has evolved to. Ghosh was the younger brother of Paramahansa Yogananda (Mukanda Lal Ghosh) author of 'Autobiography of a Yogi' one of the bestselling yoga books of all time translated into more than fifty languages.

2. Is all heated yoga Bikram Yoga?

No, not all yoga practiced in a heated room is Bikram Yoga.

back bend in half moon pose in bikram or hot yoga

Hot Yoga 

Hot yoga is typically the popularised 26&2 postures practiced over 90 minutes in a room heated to 40°c and 40% humidity. Some studios offer shorter variations of this class as an 'express' option. The rooms are usually well lit with mirrors lining the front of the room. Hot yoga teachers do not adjust students during classes. While some studios are Bikram Yoga branded (note these are independent studios not owned by Choudhury) they don't have to be in order to offer this class. 

Heated Yoga

teacher adjusting yoga student

Comparably, heated yoga encompasses many forms of yoga practiced in a heated or warmed room. The postures, temperature and sequences vary from class to class and teachers may do hands on adjustments.

3. What are the benefits of hot yoga?

increased flexibilitystrength gained by bikram yogaincreased balance with hot yogabeginner at hot yogahot yoga is beneficial for chronic pain

Health related hot yoga benefits.

clinical benefits of Bikram Yoga or Hot yoga

Clinical trials have been done to assess the efficacy of both Bikram or Hot Yoga in many areas of health and wellbeing. Significant improvements in several conditions have been measured including Binge Eating Disorder, chronic pain, several areas of mental well being including anxiety and heart rate variability. 

Hot Yoga has been associated with improved vascular health, reductions in insulin resistance, reductions in state anxiety, decreased depression symptoms associated with PTSD and may be beneficial for skeletal health and bone density.

4. How to prepare for your Bikram Yoga class.

checklist for your hot yoga class
  1. Arrive well hydrated (but don't just chug a huge bottle of water ten minutes before you arrive for class).
  2. Wear comfortable but fitted clothing. Once you start to sweat loose clothing can become heavy and cling to you which isn't very comfortable. 
  3. Eat something light and nutritious a few hours before class such as a piece of fruit. No big meals.
  4. Pack a bag with clean clothes, a towel and water for after class. 
  5. Arrive early, this will give you time to ask questions, meet the teacher, find a comfortable space toward the back of the room and relax and get settled before the class begins. 
  6. Tell your teacher about any injuries physical limitations you might have before class. Be gentle with yourself and don't push too far. 
  7. Remember you can take breaks, sit or lie down at any time. Nothing in the class is compulsory and your teachers and fellow yogis have all been there. Everyone has had a first class. 
    the spotlight effect can make us feel vulnerable in our first yoga class
  8. Remember the spotlight effect. This cognitive bias is something we all experience and can make us feel as though everyone is noticing much more than they actually are. This can be particularly intense when we are trying something new. 
  9. Come back soon. Don't leave it too long between classes. 

5. What should I take to my Bikram Yoga class?

Water Bottle

A re-usable bottle that maintains the water temperature is environmentally friendly is preferable to plastic. Frank Green has a range of colours and sizes at the upper end of the price range while K-Mart offer a great budget option.

Yoga Mat.

Most studios will hire yoga mats although in the current Covid-19 world this may be not available. The mat you want will depend on your preference. They come in a variety of thicknesses and prices. This Lululemon mat is 3mm or you could experiment with a thicker style like this 6mm mat from Big W.

Hot Yoga Towel

the archer bikram yoga towel

While a bath or beach towel will do the job, a yoga towel has the advantage of fitting over your mat properly in order to minimise slipping. A good quality absorbent non-slip towel like The Archer will help you align your practice and holds over a litre of sweat!

Designed and patented by a hot yoga teacher and offering free shipping worldwide. The Archer will support your practice whether you are a beginner or a long time practitioner. 

6. How much do you sweat in hot yoga? 

how much do you sweat in a hot yoga class

The short answer is - it depends. It will depend on your body and your acclimation to a heated environment. How hydrated you are will also play a part. Remember, sweat or perspiration isn't bad, it is your body doing exactly what it is meant to do when you are hot. It is the original evaporative cooling system and brings your temperature down by evaporating on the surface of your skin. 

Try not to wipe off any sweat, your body will just work harder to produce more and it can distract you from the stillness and mindfulness of your practice. Try to ignore the need to wipe and develop mental strength as well as strengthening your body. 

7. What are the Bikram Yoga Postures?

hot yoga poses from the bikram yoga sequence

There are 26 postures and two breathing exercises in a typical 90 minute Hot Yoga class. The class begins with a breathing exercise, followed by warm up postures and standing series. There is a two minute savasana as we transition to the floor sequence. There is a final breathing exercise and then a two minute savasana at the end of the class. 

Hot Yoga Pose Chart

Feel free to share this free PDF of our Hot Yoga Pose Chart on your own site. We've taken a quirky approach to each of the 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. 

When will I be able to do the postures?

From the very first class! If you mean when will I be able to do the posture like the other people in the class, or like the people in pictures on Instagram then that's a different question and a different answer. Doing the posture to your full ability today, finding a moment of stillness and breath in the posture - is doing the posture. 

8. Free Ebook on Hot Yoga Alignment 

Your Alignment in Hot Yoga free ebook pdf of the bikram yoga postures

This ebook Your Alignment in Hot Yoga offers hints and tips on how to improvement your alignment in your hot yoga class and ways to develop your practice. You can access a free PDF of this ebook here

Written by an accredited hot yoga teacher this book is packed with practical advice including images on each of the 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. 

9. Hot Yoga Teacher Training

original hot yoga association logo

With the diversification of hot yoga from the initial Bikram Yoga stronghold has evolved an association. The Original Hot Yoga Association (OHYA) supports Bikram Certified Teachers as well as a number of other accredited providers of hot yoga teacher training and certification, many of which are run by former Bikram senior teachers. OHYA no longer recommends attending Bikram Choudhury's teacher training. 

Some of the schools (but not all) that offer Hot Yoga Teacher Training include: Evolation run by Mark Drost and Zefea Samson, E84 Teacher Training with Esak Garcia, Raja Academy by Craig Villani and the Barkan Method by Jimmy Barkan. (Note: Membership of OHYA is voluntary and their teacher training list is not an exhaustive list.)