It may not look like India, but hot yoga sure can feel like it. Inspired by the temperature of yoga’s birthplace, hot yoga is no longer just resigned to Bikram. In fact, there are many different styles of hot yoga being taught today. Read on for the newest versions worth trying.
Artificially heating the body from the outside in is controversial in many yogic circles, especially by purists who believe that it should be the body itself that produces internal heat. However, hot yoga devotees say the euphoria is addictive.
Germaphobes will be horrified, but the benefits can be transformative. Ranging anywhere from 27-40 degrees, the blood is oxygenated, stimulating circulation, raising metabolism and burning calories. Warming muscles and encouraging flexibility, the heat acts like one big steam room, penetrating the skin to heal all sorts of ailments. It’s the ultimate detox.
Here are the latest slippery and sweaty variations….
Power Flow, Vinyasa Flow, Slow Flow. They all sit under this umbrella and incorporate a series of vinyasa’s in rooms set anywhere between 27-38 degrees (most discerning teachers will switch it off when things start to get unbearable). Slower classes focus on static postures, longer holds and alignment while faster-paced classes are more dynamic, concentrating on cardio endurance and movement. For even heat, some studios will even use infrared heating panels. Incorporating fluid movement with breath is a given, but the added heat takes stamina to a whole new level.
The mother of hot yoga, studios are kept at 40 degrees with 40% humidity for the entire 90 minutes. There are no surprises, with the series of 26 choreographed poses carefully scripted with no deviations. Criticised for its potential to induce dizziness, vomiting and nausea, die-hards embrace the controlled focus and are encouraged to be at one with their sweat.
While it is based on the original Primary Hot Series of Bikram’s postures, this relatively new practice is far less rigid. Including greater meditative awareness and pranayama breathing sequences it encourages adaptation and self-evolution as the need arises. Choudhury has sued (and lost) the founders who are former senior Bikram teachers. Temperatures and class length vary.
Created by Jimmy Barkan (Bikram’s most senior teacher for over 30 years), the method includes Bikram’s set postures…and then some. Incorporating more techniques and greater variety, Barkan comprises a 5 day cycle. The first 45 minutes of each class is the same with a variety of endings. Set between 30-35 degrees, it’s a complete body workout.