Bikram and hot yoga are genres of hatha yoga, a type of yoga that emphasizes breath work and yoga postures. Bikram is a type of hot yoga and is sometimes considered synonymous with the term. However, hot yoga is not necessarily Bikram. The differences are primarily evident in both the sequence of the postures and the specific postures included in the session.
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Hot yoga and Bikram yoga refer to yoga practiced in a room heated from 80 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Bikram yoga consists of a fixed sequence of 26 postures, including 13 standing and 13 sitting postures. Bikram yoga was founded and copyrighted by Bikram Choudhury. The term "hot yoga" generically applies to any sequence of yoga poses practiced in a hot room and may or may not refer specifically to Bikram.
The Bikram website claims that practicing yoga in a hot room improves blood circulation, helps your body release toxins and enhances flexibility. "Yoga Journal" recommends that you acclimate yourself gradually to performing Bikram or hot yoga. Sit out of the activity your first session and take breaks to sit still during your next few sessions. Start out holding the poses for shorter periods than more advanced practitioners in the class. Take the time to adjust to the environment before attempting an entire class.
Practicing Bikram or hot yoga comes with the potential risk of dehydration due to excessive sweating. Dehydration increases the potential for heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Individuals with diabetes, heart disease or respiratory disease, and those who are pregnant or overweight, may be at elevated risk for heat-related problems. Consult your doctor before participating in hot yoga if you have a history of heart problems or a condition that puts you at increased risk.
Drink water before, during and after practicing yoga in a hot room to ensure that you stay hydrated. Don't overdress for class; bare skin gives you an outlet for sweat and helps prevent overheating. Watch for signs of dehydration, including blurred vision, dizziness, nausea, headache and dementia. If you experience signs of dehydration, find a cooler area, lie down, cool your skin with a damp cloth and sip cold water. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist.