Bikram vs Hot Yoga, Get Your Heated Yogas Straight

Bikram, Hot Yoga.  Tomayto, Tomahto.  Or so I thought….
One of my fitness goals for this year is to do more yoga.  The health benefits range from improved flexibility (which lifting will decrease) to stress relief.  It gives you a time and place to center yourself and clear your mind.  Basically, I ran out of excuses as to why I didn’t have this in my weekly routine and decided it was time (that and I had some cute yoga gear I wanted to utilize :))
I have tried many different types of yoga classes over the years, from ones that were super relaxing and meditative, to those that are focused on power and strength.  I have also tried several different hot yoga classes at various studios.  So, I didn’t think anything of it when I was scrolling on Groupon and came across a deal for Bikram Hot Yoga.  Being that I was already experienced in hot yoga, I figured I would have no problem completing a class. I decided to get a friend to go with me who had gone to the studio before.  “You know that its super intense, right?”, he said.  “Yeah, I’ve done hot yoga before I am fine”,delusional me said.  So, when the day came, I put on a pair of yoga PANTS (rookie mistake-never wear pants to a Bikram class, they will be drenched), and off I went.  They were super strict about requiring you to bring a towel.  I thought they were being dramatic, but I complied.  Then the class began… Long story short-I quickly learned that “Hot Yoga” and “Bikram” are NOT the same thing.  I had never felt like I was going to throw up or possibly die in a yoga class before, until then.  It was BRUTAL!  The poses were not that challenging, but my heart had never beat so fast doing yoga.  And the sweat…girl, I had a freakin’ pond surrounding me.  It was gross.  My hair and clothes, soaked.  But how I felt afterwards-AMAZING!  It was the best I have felt after a yoga class.
What makes Bikram and Hot Yoga so different?
Bikram Yoga: The practice of 26 postures, repeated through class, in a room kept at around 105 degrees, and 40% humidity (its HUMID in there!).  The class is the same every time, there are no variations of the flow of the postures.  They are 90 minutes long, as the standard.  There is also no music played.  Instead the instructor gives instructions in a rhythmic way, almost replacing the need for music.  The instructor is very hands off, with no adjustments made to the students during class.  It also has to be performed on a carpeted floor, under bright lights and with mirrors on the front wall.
Hot Yoga: Yoga done in a room between 95-100 degrees.  The class itself is up to the instructor, so there are many different class variations practiced in a heated room.  The classes can also be any length of time.  Music is allowed to be played and is at the discretion of the instructor.  Also, the teacher is free to give in class adjustments and usually interacts with the students.  
So which one is better? 
Well it depends on what you are looking for.  
Bikram yoga is more of an intense detox due to the higher heat and humidity.  I have yet to go to a hot yoga class that was not Bikram, and sweat like i do in the higher heat.  While the poses may not be that difficult or strenuous in Bikram, the mental game is strong.  It is truly a test of willpower to stay in the room the whole class.  Since the class is the same each time, you are able to gauge your progress a lot better than in a class that constantly changes.  This also helps you stick it through for the whole class, since you know exactly what the class entails. In all honesty, I get bored easily, so the fact that the class doesn’t ever change kind of turns me off.  However, no other yoga class has made me question if I could get through it and made me feel so good after I was done.  So, this may not be something I want to do every week, but I definitely want to keep it in my fitness regimen to some extent.  
Hot Yoga is more for those that want variety, and more of a typical yoga atmosphere.  The instructor is allowed to add different personal touches throughout class, which include different music, essential oils, even quick mini massages.  You can basically get a different experience each time you go.  Also, hot yoga tends to be more of an active, challenging yoga, as far as the movements go.  However, with that said, it still tends to be less intense overall because the temperature isn’t usually as hot.  This type of yoga is more up my alley for my weekly yoga practice.  I like variety, and don’t like knowing exactly what I am in for, so this has me coming back week after week.  Although I may not feel as good physically after a Hot Yoga class, I feel better mentally.  I usually feel more balanced, centered and relaxed than I do leaving Bikram.  
In my opinion, both classes are compliments to each other, more than they are competitors of each other.  I don’t think one is better than the other.  I think they both hold certain benefits, and one should go to the class that better aligns with their goals that particular day.  Sometimes you want to zone out and be by yourself and just sweat (Bikram), others you may want to interact with others and get yourself grounded (Hot Yoga).  Luckily, we live in a time where we have options 🙂
A few tips, no matter which one you are feeling:
-Bring a towel-I don’t care how much you don’t sweat doing physical activity-they use magic heat, and you will have a puddle around you.  
-Bring water!  (Also make sure to drink a lot during the day before class)
-Wear the least amount of clothes that you feel comfortable in.  I have worn pants to a class, and felt like I jumped in a pool (or peed my pants).
-Don’t eat a large meal right before-but make sure you eat something!
-Check out my blog post Here to find out the make-up I wore that made it through the Bikram test (which means it can staythrough anything!)
-Don’t worry about what others think of you, or if you aren’t at their level.  Everyone there was once a beginner   Most of the time they are too busy concentrating on their own practice, and they don’t even notice you.  Unless I see you walk out of class, I have no idea we are in the same yoga class because Iam so zoned out.  I recommend you become just as zoned out.  
-Don’t take anything from the day in to the class with you.  Any stress or tasks that you have todo, leave it at the door.  You may have something important you have to get done, but went to yoga instead.  You will be surprised how many good ideas can pop into your head when you shut off your brain, as opposed to constantly thinking of the task at hand the whole class. 
If you have any experiences witheither of these practices, I would love to hear about them!  Either leave them down in the comments or shoot me a message.  Until next time…

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