Do you sweat a lot when you exercise? Me too. I sweat so much it pours out of my head like water from a tap.
That’s why I often wear a bandana when I teach. It’s not an image thing so not because I think bandana’s look cool. Just that wearing one soaks up the moisture and stops me spraying the front row participants.
Sweating like a river is almost guaranteed in Bikram Yoga and Hot Yoga – two styles I am often asked about. I studied a little about Bikram when I trained but I have only tried it once. Until recently neither styles were available in Edinburgh anyway.
So what are they and what is the difference? Well they are quite similar but they are not the same
Bikram Yoga was founded by Bikram Choudhury, a yogi who has caused controversy by trying to copyright his style of yoga. This has annoyed traditionalists because they argue you can’t copyright poses that are thousands of years old. In fairness to Bikram, the aim was to copy protect his “sequence” of poses rather than the poses themselves.
(Is this fair? Well you cannot copyright the individual words; “Mash”, “For”, “Smash”, and “Get”. But one maker of instant mash potato copyrighted the marketing strap line, “For Mash Get Smash”. Is that the same sort of thing?)
Bikram teachers have to be certified to teach the 26 pose sequence in a special room heated to 105 degrees F with a humidity factor of 40%. This is key because it means that any Bikram Yoga class you go to anywhere in the world will always be exactly the same taught by Bikram graduates. It’s consistent and you know what to expect.
Hot Yoga is similar with a studio heated to between 94F and 105F. It’s different because the teachers will vary the selection of poses from class to class. It could vary between a gentle sequence and a harder, more energetic one.
Both styles promise the following:
“Improved sleep, reduced stress, glowing skin, lubricated joints, better blood pressure, weight improvements, improved mental clarity, better lung capacity, enhanced physical performance, toned and stretched muscles, better flexibility and chronic pain relief.”
In other words all the usual great yoga benefits with the added advantage of lots of sweating.
Before I tried Bikram I wondered how they stop the room turning into a lake with people sliding all around, or slipping into the splits unexpectedly. You need to be armed with a sticky mat, a yoga towel to cover the mat to soak up your juice, and a hand towel to mop down your “glowing” skin. I personally also needed an industrial strength bandana to boost absorption. Even the best yoga towel can become a swamp after 90 minutes of Bikram.
Now that both styles have come to Edinburgh I’ll certainly give them another try. My one experience was invigorating and very damp, though I felt faint at one point so drink gallons before class.
Which is better? I guess that comes down to whether you want variety or consistency. Which is hotter? Hot Yoga rooms might be slightly cooler but what’s a few degrees F when streams of sweat are oozing out of every pore of your body?
Over to you: Have you tried either of these classes? What was your overall experience? Have you a preference? Bikram Yoga versus Hot Yoga? Is the hot room an attraction or not? Please tell me your stories and share your experiences below.