Last updated on September 26th, 2023.
If you’re like a lot of yogis, you really enjoy practicing gentle yoga such as Hatha, or slow intense yoga such as Yin. You love the calm music, low lighting and gentle direction from your teacher.
But, sometimes you want a yoga style that is faster and more intense. Something that will really make you sweat. A yoga class where you can really challenge yourself.
And hot yoga can be just what you need to push your body to the edge.
People who are interested in wellness point to hot yoga as a great way to cleanse your body of impurities by sweating through a class. They also believe you can better regulate your metabolism and strengthen your immune system from intense hot yoga practice.
And experts say that you can even improve your balance, have clearer skin, and feel less anxiety from practicing hot yoga.
People who practice hot yoga rave about it. So let’s talk about why.
What is the difference between hot yoga and regular yoga?
There are significant differences between hot and regular yoga. Hot yoga is much more vigorous than regular yoga. That’s not saying that there aren’t vigorous regular yoga classes, but hot yoga is rarely gentle; it is generally athletic and intense. Regular yoga, conversely, is quite often peaceful and slow.
So, read on as we give you an introduction to hot yoga. And then, we’ll list the 5 key differences between hot and regular yoga.
Later, we’ll talk about how hot yoga is good for your overall fitness. And then, we’ll talk about the benefits of practicing hot yoga in order to lose weight.
If you are looking for an intense, full body workout, hot yoga may be just your style. Keep on reading to learn more about this exciting and dynamic style of yoga.
What does hot yoga mean?
Regular yoga practitioners may be wondering what exactly hot yoga is. You may have heard of a hot yoga style called Bikram Yoga, but there are actually many types of hot yoga classes.
But, even though hot yoga classes vary, generally, as the name suggests, they are practiced in a yoga studio that has been heated up sometimes over 100 degF.
And the purpose of practicing yoga at such a high heat is that it will make you more flexible and will cause you to lose weight quicker. You’ll find that you become fitter, stronger and even calmer and happier from practicing hot yoga.
What to look out for
Things to watch out for when practicing hot yoga including overheating and becoming faint. If you’re planning to check out a hot yoga class for the first time, please make sure you are well hydrated. Experts suggest that you start hydrating days before your hot yoga class, just in case.
Hot yoga also is pretty hard on your heart, so if you have any cardio issues, you should avoid such an intense practice.
And, if you’re pregnant, hot yoga is not a good choice. Pregnant women should stick to gentler types of yoga to keep themselves and their babies safe.
(Check out these prenatal yoga courses online to find out the best yoga courses to take during pregnancy!)
But, even if you’re not pregnant, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before you take your first hot yoga classes. Make sure your heart and your body are healthy and can take a hot and intense workout.
Once you get a clean bill of health, then go for it!
If you’ve never tried Bikram yoga, be warned that the studio will be heated to about 105 degF. And there’ll be a great deal of humidity – around 40%.
Bikram classes are a whopping 90 minutes long. And they’re pretty intense. You’ll be guided to forcefully contract all of your major muscle groups for extended periods. This will allow your heart rate to rise and your muscles to be exercised.
And Bikram yoga is pretty intense. People don’t go to Bikram yoga to make friends. They go there for a tough workout.
If you go for the first time, you’ll notice that it’s not a gentle serene type of yoga. The lights will be bright and there won’t be any soothing music.
Bikram yoga has a huge following of enthusiasts. You’ll get a great workout, and you’ll lose weight quicker if that’s something you are working at.
If you’re interested in practicing hot yoga, it may be a good idea to look around and try different classes. You may like a more typical hot yoga class or perhaps Bikram is right for you. But you won’t know until you check them out!
What is the benefit of hot yoga?
Moving and stretching in a hot, humid environment will allow you to reach farther, bend deeper and become more flexible.
Plus, you’ll not just be stretching. Hot yoga is also a cardio exercise, so you can lose weight and tone your body.
Since you’ll be working all the major muscle groups, you’ll begin notice what your muscles can do. You’ll find that you’re checking into your body more often and learning your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t forget to take care of your skin after hot yoga.
5 Key Differences Between Hot and Regular Yoga
If all you’ve ever practiced are regular Hatha and Yin yoga styles, you will be in for a big surprise when practicing hot yoga for the first time. We’re going to go through five key differences between hot and regular yoga below. We’ll compare the two types of yoga so you can see if hot yoga is right for you.
If you have practiced a hot yoga like Bikram as well as regular yoga, you’ll know that Bikram classes are serious. Students are encouraged to be quite and not interact with each other. There is no music, unlike other hot yoga and regular yoga classes.
Regular yoga classes are looser. You may be encouraged to ask questions of the teacher if you need it. And many times, students become fast friends due to interacting with each other before, during and after class. Regular yoga classes can be much more social and less athletic compared to Bikram.
There are some distinct differences between hot and regular yoga practice studios that you’ll see as soon as you arrive.
Bikram and other hot yoga studios will be, well, hot. Very hot. Bikram studios do tend to be more humid than other hot yoga studios, however. The intense climate of a Bikram yoga studio is supposed to mimic the climate of Indian, where yoga was originally created. Be warned that you can become light-headed in a hot yoga studio. So make sure you are well hydrated.
(Need new yoga gear to help adjust to the new climate of hot yoga? Here are some of the best yoga pants, mats, tops, and blocks on Amazon.)
Regular yoga studios are pleasantly warm, but not overly hot. If you’re doing a vigorous practice such as Ashtanga, you may become hot and sweaty. But, with a slower practice like Yin, you may very well be cold and may be dressed in a sweatshirt to practice.
When comparing the differences between hot and regular yoga, you’ll notice that Bikram hot yoga is practiced in a well-lit studio. It’s safe to say that a Bikram studio is not the most calming environment, but you aren’t there for calm. You’re there for the exercise.
Regular yoga studios will have mood lighting. They may have dim overhead lights or may even be lit by candlelight. The soft light of a regular yoga studio can help calm you and your fellow students.
4.) Teacher training
Bikram yoga teachers are taught their craft by Bikram Choudhury himself. Choudhury created his hot, intense brand of yoga in the 1970s and Bikram studios do not deviate from Choudhury’s teaching.
Teachers at regular yoga studios come from all over and are trained at one of the countless number of yoga teacher training schools in the U.S. and beyond. Regular yoga teachers will have focused on different aspects of yoga in their studies and may structure their own classes on the varying elements that make up yoga, such as meditation and breathing vs. poses and classical texts.
So, with a Bikram class, you’ll know that the teachings will be the same at every Bikram studio. That won’t be the case with regular yoga.
5.) Asanas (poses)
Bikram yoga only has 26 postures that are taught in the same sequence every time.
Interestingly, a more traditional yoga style, Ashtanga, also uses a set list of postures.
But, for the most part, regular yoga classes feature a large variety of different postures. The sequence of poses will vary from class to class and studio to studio.
Why is Hot Yoga good for you?
There are plenty of reasons to practice hot yoga. Besides becoming more flexible, you will also burn tons of calories and increase your bone density. The intense yoga practice will also improve your cardiovascular health. It’s even been found that the deep breaths you take in hot yoga will cause more oxygen to enter your blood stream. This means more oxygen will be sent to your organs, making them healthier.
Since hot yoga is so intense, you may find yourself concentrating harder and becoming more mindful of your practice. Mindfulness is great for decreasing stress and inviting calmness into your life.
Can you lose weight with hot yoga?
Good news! You can most certainly lose weight practicing hot yoga. Hot yoga is an intense workout, and increases your cardio activity, causing you to burn a lot of calories. But it’s not just the intense workout that will cause your heart to work harder and burn more calories. Practicing in hot studio itself will increase your heart rate, again causing you to burn tons of calories and lose weight quicker!
It’s a good idea, however, to talk to your doctor before practicing hot yoga, especially if you are planning to work towards losing weight. You don’t want to over do it. It’s easy to become overheated and dizzy in a hot yoga class. So make sure you keep yourself safe.
As we said above, hot yoga isn’t for everyone, especially if you have heart issues or are pregnant. But, with your doctor’s OK, there should be no barriers to practicing a hot yoga like Bikram or other varieties.
And, along with getting a doctor’s OK, reading the article above will give you all the ins and outs of why people love hot yoga.
As some people have never experienced a hot yoga class, we gave an overview of the practice. We also talked in-depth about Bikram yoga, a specific style of hot yoga.
Next, we compared and contrasted hot yoga with regular yoga, giving you 5 differences between hot and regular yoga.
We also talked about how hot yoga can affect your overall health and well-being.
But some hot yoga practitioners aren’t just concerned with maintaining or improving their health. They may be actively trying to lose weight. So, we explained above how hot yoga can help you drop those pounds.
There are many great things about hot yoga. It’s intense and has a dedicated following of yogis who believe the practice is positive and rewarding. You’ll be working yourself so hard that you may find that you learn more about your body such as how far you can push yourself and where your limits lie.
You may feel better inside and out, which could improve your self-esteem and even increase your happiness.
Ultimately, you’ll have to discover for yourself if this unique practice is right for you. So, if you decide to embark on a hot yoga journey, remember to stay safe and enjoy yourself!
(When you are ready for your next yoga challenge, try to learn acro yoga at home!)