Heated yoga classes have become all the rage in the Western world. You can find a hot yoga studio or hot yoga practice in most towns and cities. Another rage in the western world is the obsession with weight loss, dieting, and/or having an exercise regimen.
Today, we’ll look at if, and how, Bikram and hot yoga can help with weight loss.
That said, instead of focusing on the number on your scale, the size of your yoga pants, or how fast you’re burning calories, shift your focus to muscle control, stress reduction, lowering blood pressure, and overall cardiovascular functioning, you’ll be feeling more confident than ever.
By focusing on your internal health and other lifestyle factors, your body will lose the weight it needs and it will be at a healthy and natural rate.
- 1 What Is Yoga?
- 2 Is Hot Yoga better than Regular Yoga for losing weight?
- 3 Bikram vs. Hot Yoga
- 4 Positive Benefits of Bikram Yoga and Hot Yoga
- 5 Things to Watch Out For
- 6 Can You Lose Weight with Hot Yoga?
- 7 Change the Way you Think about Weight Loss
- 8 Connecting Mind, Body, and Spirit for Better Overall Health
What Is Yoga?
This is a complicated and long answer, but for the purposes of this article, yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice that aims to teach control of the mind and body.
Most of the western world refers to the physical practice or the asanas or poses when referring to a yoga class.
What is Hot Yoga?
Hot yoga refers to any yoga class being practiced in an artificially heated room. Hot Yoga is typically an hour long with some being longer. It is similar to a power yoga class just taught in a hot room.
What is Bikram Hot Yoga?
Traditional Bikram Hot Yoga class always practices the same poses in the same order. The classes are always 90 minutes long.
Is Hot Yoga better than Regular Yoga for losing weight?
That is a matter of opinion and body type. Many people who practice hot yoga swear by it. Others suffer from heat exhaustion, dizziness, dehydration, and muscle cramping.
Yoga performed in a hot room will cause you to sweat more which could potentially help burn more body fat and it could continue to burn fat after class.
If you prefer a hot yoga session, it’s imperative to eat more calories, drink more water and really be in tune with how your body feels while practicing in a heated environment.
This style of yoga will burn calories even after class so eat several small light meals before practice and drink plenty of water. If you’re feeling actual hunger pangs throughout the day, you’re not eating enough to safely practice.
Regular yoga is easily accessible for anyone and everyone at any fitness level, and while hot yoga takes a certain type of person, it’s worth trying, but don’t be disappointed if it’s not for you because any style of yoga will offer a wealth of health benefits that we will get more into the further you read.
Any style of yoga, exercise routine, or physical fitness may result in weight loss, fat loss, and calories burned.
However, it’s more important to focus on your overall health – mental and physical. Body goals are great to have but you don’t want to get lost in them.
Bikram vs. Hot Yoga
What is the difference between Bikram Yoga and Hot Yoga? Good Question! While both styles are practiced in a heated room, they are fundamentally different.
Bikram Hot Yoga
The now-disgraced Bikram Choudhury founded Bikram Yoga. A traditional Bikram yoga class consists of a 90-minute routine using the same 26 challenging yoga poses, performed in a room heated anywhere from 105 degrees Fahrenheit to 120 degrees. The practice also includes 2 different breathing practices. In the beginning of class you start with a standing deep breathing exercise and at the end of class, you practice Kapalbhati breathing.
While Choudhury is shrouded in allegations of physical assault, Bikram yoga classes still seem to be going strong. The challenging postures are always taught in the same sequence and the practice focuses on breathing, holding the posture, and deep relaxation.
Hot Yoga is an off-shoot of Bikram. It is still practiced in a hot room, however, it is not as hot.
Another main difference is that you typically practice more of a vinyasa style or power yoga. This hot yoga workout typically hits all major muscle groups during one class and is more of a cardio workout. You move from one pose to another in a fluid motion while holding other poses for 3-5 breaths.
These classes tend to be more creative and use music and a breathing technique known as ujjayi breath.
You’ll experience a variety of flows and poses, making each class different and unique.
Similar to Bikram, there are hot yoga gurus who have allegations of inappropriate behavior, most notably Baron Baptiste who started Baptiste Yoga. This was a style of yoga that incorporated heat and power yoga.
Both styles make use of traditional yoga poses but in a different order and for different amounts of hold time.
Positive Benefits of Bikram Yoga and Hot Yoga
Though Bikram hot yoga and hot yoga differ in many ways, they both offer incredible benefits. What are the benefits you might ask? Benefits include:
- Improve your body’s detoxification process
- Improves posture
- Improves breathing
- Helps with stress relief
- Builds muscle mass
- Heat makes muscles more malleable, which can reduce the risk of injury
- Helps you stretch deeper
- Improves flexibility at a faster rate
- Improves skin appearance
- Natural and healthy energy boosters
- Improves confidence
- Burns major calories (keep a healthy calorie intake)
- Teaches different breathing exercises
- Reduces scary health risks
- Improves focus
- Lengthens muscles
- Strengthens muscles
- Tones Muscles
- Improves metabolism
- Teaches patience
Once you get into a regular yoga routine (it may take a few weeks) you will start to detoxify your body, and you’ll probably notice fewer cravings for alcohol, junk foods, fatty foods, and sugary foods, which in turn will help improve your chances of losing weight in a healthy way.
Keep in mind, you don’t have to deprive yourself of these foods or any of your favorite foods. If you do get the occasional craving, indulge just a little bit so that you don’t binge later.
Things to Watch Out For
If you have hypertension, hypotension, congestive heart failure, or impaired coronary circulation or are pregnant, you’ll want to stay away from Bikram or Hot Yoga.
- Over-using muscles
- Not eating enough
- Loss of minerals and electrolytes
- Clicky classes or studios that make you feel inferior or unwelcome
- Heat exhaustion
- Asthma attacks
Can You Lose Weight with Hot Yoga?
Yes, a majority of people will lose weight when practicing hot or Bikram yoga. However, it’s not the same for everyone. Some people may lose a lot of weight while others just lose a little.
It’s important to remember that every person’s metabolism and genetics are different and this will make a difference in how much weight loss you may experience.
Change the Way you Think about Weight Loss
Body image is really hard for everyone, and it’s only getting harder with photoshopped bodies flooding our social media feeds. If you are truly looking to lose weight for health reasons, it’s imperative to set realistic body goals.
Yoga is a great way to incorporate mind, body, and soul into a better health journey. You don’t have to have a strict vegetarian diet or cut out any food groups to have a healthy body weight.
If your doctor is advising you to lose weight for specific health reasons, you may want to start with a standard yoga class, then try a hot yoga class, and then move on to a Bikram hot yoga workout and see what your body responds best to.
Take it in steps and find something you truly like doing so that it doesn’t feel like a chore – because no one wants to do those. Don’t worry about how many calories you are burning or how much fat loss is happening. Instead, intentionally focus on how your body is feeling. Are you moving with more ease? Do you have fewer aches and pains? Is your energy and mood improving?
If/when you can answer yes to those questions then you probably have a healthy amount of body fat, good blood pressure, and may have had some weight loss along the way.
Connecting Mind, Body, and Spirit for Better Overall Health
There is no easy way to talk about weight loss. It’s controversial for some, triggering for others, and an obsession for most people.
Talking about better health, in general, is becoming a more easily talked about subject, albeit slowly. Incorporating a yoga practice into your weekly schedule will improve your quality of life in more ways than just weight loss.
Heated classes are not for everyone, but they are useful in becoming more limber, breathing deeper, improving blood pressure, and connecting to your deeper self, mentally, physically, and spiritually.
It is useful to take a bunch of different classes by a bunch of different teachers so you can find the right fit for you.