Bikram/Hot Yoga

Bikram/Hot Yoga

First introduced and popularized in the early 1970s by Bikram Choudhury, Bikram yoga is a fast-paced yoga style that utilizes temperature of the exercise area and fast movement through a set of 26 poses to produce an aerobic effect.

In fact, in addition to increases in flexibility, the primary focus of Bikram yoga is as cardiovascular exercise. The temperature of the room in which fast-paced Bikram yoga is practiced is usually kept at 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

The theory behind Bikram yoga is that the increased temperature of the room in which it is practiced simulates the same impact on the body as warming up before physical activity. The warmer temperature rids the body of toxins and increases the effectiveness of stretches.

To further amplify this effect, the 26 positions that make up Bikram yoga are designed to elevate the heart rate and flush the body through two processes called compression and extension.

Types of Movements

There are 26 specific poses that make up Bikram yoga. When in certain positions, blood flow to parts of the body becomes restricted, making the heart beat faster to compensate. When one comes out of the position, circulation is fully restored and the area is washed with highly oxygenated blood. This process is called compression and extension. It is used to rid the body of toxins and waste.

In addition, Bikram yoga incorporates two breathing exercises as a warm-up and cool-down prior to and following the poses. The full list of poses utilized by Bikram yoga are as follows, although the order can be changed:

  • Standing Deep Breathing
  • Half Moon with Hands To Feet
  • Chair
  • Eagle
  • Standing Head To Knee
  • Standing Bow Pulling
  • Balancing Stick
  • Standing Separate Leg Stretching
  • Triangle
  • Standing Separate Leg Head To Knee
  • Mountain
  • Toe Stand
  • Corpse
  • Wind Removing
  • Cobra
  • Locust
  • Full Locust
  • Bow
  • Fixed Firm
  • Half Tortoise
  • Camel
  • Rabbit
  • Head To Knee with Stretching
  • Spine Twisting
  • Blowing In Firm

Mental and Physical Requirements

While Bikram yoga does not use particularly difficult poses, the heat and humidity in the room makes everything more challenging. You must have a certain degree of stamina to hold the poses under those conditions. Even more important, your cardiovascular system must be able to handle the pressures put on it by exercising at 105 degrees. Despite all this, Bikram is appropriate for beginners as long as they do not have any limiting conditions.

Equipment Requirements

  • Non-Slip Yoga Mat (Washable Cover Optional)
  • Comfortable Shoes
  • Breathable Clothes
  • Towel
  • Yoga Straps

Mental and Physical Benefits


  • Improved Self-Image
  • Decreased Anxiety
  • Improved Mood
  • Improved Attention
  • Better Concentration


  • Improved Dexterity
  • Increased Energy
  • Improved Balance
  • Normalized Weight
  • Increased Endurance

Aerobic Effect

Bikram/Hot Yoga

Even without taking the process of compression and extension into account, Bikram yoga is a very aerobic type of yoga. The poses themselves are challenging and vigorous. When combined with the heat, the demand on the body to keep itself cool produce a very dramatic aerobic effect.

Because of the profuse sweating this type of yoga produces, you should get a mat that doesn't become slippery when wet. Many manufacturers make mats with removable, washable covers. These are a very good type of mat for Bikram yoga. Cool, breathable clothing is also important, as is a water bottle. Most people bring a towel to clear sweat from their eyes.

Bikram yoga is excellent at detoxifying and cleansing the body. The sweat and increased blood flow flush toxins and waste. The heat used and vigorous exercise provide a very good aerobic exercise and can be part of an effective weight loss program. Many people come to this type of yoga because of the high intensity workout it delivers. It's best to perform this type of yoga at a fitness center in a controlled group setting. Working out in a hot room at home can be dangerous.