There are several distinct yoga styles, and each one has different benefits to the yogi who is practicing it. Hot yoga has recently become popular, especially with the outcome of the Bikram copyright lawsuit. Hot yoga has some extra benefits compared to regular yoga, which is considered as the other different yoga styles. So, what are the differences between hot and regular yoga?
While regular yoga consists of the other different yoga styles, you can practice any type of yoga in a heated room for it to be considered “hot yoga.” The addition of heat to the yoga space has many benefits, including increased flexibility and improved respiration.
Knowing the different yoga styles and ways to practice them is vital to any yogi to get the most out of every session and learn contraindications to see if they should practice hot yoga or a different yoga style.
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Table of Contents
What is Hot Yoga?
Hot yoga is any series of poses done in a heated room. Some instructors have a set temperature, such as 100ºF, while other instructors will heat the room as low as 80ºF. Hot yoga uses any sequence that regular yoga uses.
If you have a preexisting condition, take caution and consult with a physician before engaging in this yoga style.
Different styles of yoga used in hot yoga can provide various benefits. Bikram yoga is not only good for your vascular health but also promotes flexibility, according to research.
Also, the physical practice of Bikram is excellent for you, supported by another research.
Another study focused on using Bikram yoga showed that doing a Hatha-style hot yoga class is the equivalent of going on a 90-minute walk. However, if doing a Vinyasa flow hot yoga class, it would be closer to a run.
Many people who practice hot yoga or Bikram yoga wear minimal clothing for optimal comfort during classes.
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What is “Regular” Yoga?
Regular yoga is any type of yoga without the increased temperature and humidity in the room. It is best to practice in form-fitting clothes to keep you warm and adequately wake up your muscles to prevent injury. Loose clothing can pose a risk in Vinyasa classes for getting stuck on your clothes while jumping and moving through asanas.
Regular practice of yoga has also tremendous health and mental benefits. Yoga offers mental and physical health benefits for people of all ages, including easing arthritis symptoms, heart health, back pain relief, and improving strength, balance, and flexibility, according to a review of 11 recent studies from Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Styles of Yoga
When practicing hot yoga, you can use many different styles to get your hot yoga practice in. If you are taking a class at a studio, confirm with the instructor the yoga style that will be done during a hot yoga session.
Here are some of the other popular types of “regular” yoga:
Hatha yoga is excellent for those who want to improve their posture and flexibility. It is a perfect way to introduce yourself to yoga and familiarize yourself with the asanas.
Many beginners are encouraged to take a Hatha class to help them build patience and discipline as well.
Vinyasa yoga is an alluring form of yoga once you have learned basic yoga poses. Asanas aren’t held as long as they are in a Hatha class; instead, you are moving through the asanas quickly, increasing your heart rate, agility, and balance.
Vinyasa classes use music to promote the class’s flow and energy and focus on breathing in between movements.
Iyengar yoga and modifications are excellent for those who have slight injuries or are working on getting into a new, challenging asana. You can use Iyengar adaptations in Hatha classes to help improve your posture in each asana.
Iyengar yoga aims to achieve each asana with perfect posture, regardless of how you have to get there.
Ashtanga yoga is similar to Vinyasa yoga, where your goal is to connect your breath to your movements.
Ashtanga yoga follows strict sequences that don’t change from class to class, and many yogis enjoy classes’ predictability.
Restorative yoga is an outstanding way to relax at the end of the day or after a strenuous workout or yoga session.
Restorative yoga uses props like Iyengar yoga to help achieve asanas and increase comfort.
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Benefits of Practicing Hot Yoga
Hot yoga and regular yoga both have a multitude of benefits for those who are practicing each style. Some of the benefits of practicing hot yoga are:
- Increased muscle flexibility
- Decreased risk of muscle injury
- Cleansing toxins from your system through sweating
- Improved mood
- Decreased fat levels
When practicing hot yoga, make sure to bring a yoga towel to wipe your sweat to prevent slipping on your mat if you aren’t wearing yoga gloves or shoes.
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Benefits of Practicing Regular Yoga
Many people want to feel the benefits of hot yoga without sweating. You can achieve most of the benefits without leaving the yoga studio soaked. One study was done to see if there was a difference in heart health for those who practiced hot and regular yoga, and they found no difference.
Some other benefits of practicing yoga in general are:
- Improved strength
- Improved flexibility and balance
- Mental clarity
- Lowered stress levels
- Lower blood pressure
Contraindications for Practicing Hot and Regular Yoga
Yoga is meant to be practiced by everyone. In recent years, B.K.S. Iyengar had started to use props and create modifications of asanas to make yoga accessible to anyone who wanted to practice.
Even with these modifications, certain illnesses and injuries will prevent you from practicing individual styles of yoga or asanas.
You shouldn’t practice hot yoga if you:
- Have a kidney disorder that prevents you from staying adequately hydrated.
- Have low blood pressure.
- Are pregnant
You shouldn’t practice yoga in general if you:
- Have a muscle or bone injury.
- Are sick, such as with a cold or the flu?
Here is an excellent list of asanas to avoid during pregnancy, menstruation, or if you have any other injuries.
Always consult your doctor and yoga instructor before practicing yoga if you have any medical conditions.
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The Differences Between Hot and Bikram Yoga
Over recent years, Bikram yoga has gained a lot of negative press from the creator, Bikram Chaudhary. He also attempted to claim rights to the sequence of 26 poses, and the case was eventually upheld.
Many Bikram yogis have changed to practicing hot yoga over recent years, and there are some significant differences between the two.
The table below shows the differences between Hot and Bikram Yoga:
|Bikram Yoga||Hot Yoga|
|Temperature and humidity||105ºF with 40% humidity||Any temperature hotter than 80ºF, but no hotter than 100ºF|
|Yoga Poses||A consistent set of 26 asanas||Varying asanas depending on the class|
|Flow of Poses||Hatha style||It can be a Hatha or Vinyasa style|
|Time||90-minutes||It can be any amount of time, usually 60-90 minutes|
|Music||No music is allowed||Different kinds of music are permitted depending on the instructor and studio.|
|Room space||Floors must be carpeted, with bright lighting and mirrors placed on the front wall.||Can be done in any style studio with any type of lighting, with or without mirrors|
|Instructors||Bikram instructors must be trained by Bikram Chaudhary||Yoga instructors must complete a course with training and certification through an organization.|
|Corrections||Bikram instructors don’t interact with students, and the classes are self-correcting.||Interaction between instructors and students is encouraged, and instructors often take a hands-on approach to corrections.|
Overall, many people like practicing both hot and Bikram yoga for personal reasons. With Bikram yoga, people tend to find a sense of security with knowing the sequence. Others prefer hot yoga for the variation in flow and asana, as well as temperature flexibility.
You should practice Bikram yoga instead of hot yoga if you like discovering the answers to problems yourself, and hot yoga if you enjoy the encouragement and help from others.
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Overall, the main difference between hot yoga and “regular” yoga is the room temperature. Hot yoga is done in a heated room and can follow the same sequences of asanas that traditional yoga styles such as Hatha and Vinyasa do.
It is entirely up to you if you want to practice yoga with a little extra heat.