What Is Hot Yoga?
Everyone's talking about hot yoga today, but what are the differences between hot yoga, Bikram yoga, and heated Hatha yoga or Vinyasa flow?
Hot Yoga is a general term for any yoga practice under hot and humid conditions. The studio is usually heated between 80 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat and humidity helps to builds strength, increases range of flexibility and causes yogis to sweat excessively, purging toxins from the body.
Bikram Yoga is a certain brand of yoga: the practice of Bikram Yoga is a sequence of 26 static and difficult postures stretched out over 90 minutes in a 105 degree studio. The poses and classes never change. Bikram instructors must be specially trained and certified, and their teaching dialogue is constant throughout every Bikram class. While Bikram yoga is hot yoga, not all hot yoga is Bikram yoga.
Bikram Yoga was derived from the gentle Hatha yoga style: traditional poses that focus on breathing and sustained postures. Hatha yoga is a little bit slower paced and easier than Vinyasa yoga: a fast-paced series of movements that flow from pose to pose and are linked together with the breath. Vinyasa provides a little more of a cardiovascular workout, and should be attempted by more advanced yogis who are already familiar with yoga. Both Hatha and Vinyasa styles can be incorporated into a heated class. For safety purposes, heated Vinyasa classes tend to be heated a little lower (80 to 90 degrees) than heated Hatha classes (up to 105 degrees). The heat and humidity cause you to sweat and lose a lot of water weight. The average woman burns between 600 and 700 calories in a 90 minute heated Vinyasa flow class. Much more energy is expended in a heated Vinyasa class versus a slower paced Hatha class, for example, in which the average calorie expenditure is around 240 calories in 90 minutes.
Hot yoga is intense, and you might find your first class challenging. But there are certain steps you can take to make your practice as comfortable as possible. Make sure to drink water before your class – to prevent dehydration and enhance endurance – and after class to rehydrate. It is suggested not to eat at least three hours prior to your practice. Proper yoga apparel and accessories will ensure comfort throughout your practice.
Minimal and tight clothing is highly recommended, and due to excessive heat and humidity, skimpy clothing is necessary. Baggy clothes will get soaked and slow you down; too much clothing will cling to your skin and make you feel too hot and uncomfortable. Men should wear lightweight sweat-repellant shorts and are fortunate to not have to wear a top. Women often choose to wear a supportive sports bra and tight shorts.
Other accessories and props are suggested, and YOGAaccessories.com has you covered! Like with any yoga practice, the mat you choose is the most important accessory choice you will have to make. When practicing hot yoga, select a durable, thick, super grippy mat such as the Dragonfly Performance Pro Mat. Don’t forget a couple towels, too -- a super-absorbent skidless yoga mat towel to place over your mat should help keep things dry, and for excess body sweat, a hand towel should suffice. All long hair should be kept tied back and away from the face. If you have long bangs, a thick headband can keep those pesky pieces out of your face. Your hands may get overly sweaty and slick, and will slip and slide on a cheaper mat – grab some yoga gloves to solve this problem. Have fun, keep breathing, and as always, om on!