If you're looking for a challenging and rewarding yoga practice, look no further than Bikram yoga.

More commonly known as Bikram's 'beginning yoga class,' 'original hot yoga,' and '26&2' for the accessible twenty-six postures and two breathing exercises used.

Hot yoga is an excellent activity to improve your overall health, strength, flexibility, and endurance.

How to Get Started with Hot Yoga Safely and Effectively

Find a studio near you

Many studios have an introductory special for new members. You can typically try a few classes out for a minimal cost.

Bring water, a yoga mat, a beach towel, or a yoga towel for your first class.

The towel should be large enough to cover your yoga mat. Most studios have these items for sale and mats and towels to rent.

Wear clothing that is dry wicking and comfortable

Be prepared to sweat. Hot yoga studios have heated rooms, typically around 90-105F, with 40% humidity to increase your blood circulation and mobility. It's recommended to purchase yoga-specific or athletic clothing beforehand for class.

Book online if your studio offers it and arrive early to class.

Many studios have a guided tour and information to help you feel comfortable for your first class. Arriving last minute may take away from your experience.

Call your studio to find out if there's an app or online portal they have to allow members to book classes.

Avoid a heavy meal or drinking lots of water before class

Avoid eating a heavy meal or drinking too much water in the hour before class. Additionally, if you've started a new medication or are getting ready to, consult with your doctor to determine if it's safe to take before exercising in a heated room.

During class keep an open mind. Be prepared to try new things.

This is your yoga practice, so make it what you want it to be. The teacher is there to guide you, but ultimately you should feel free to modify any posture or take a break as you need.

Listen to your body

Feel free to back off a pose if needed. Always move in a way that works for your body. Teachers will provide cueing and pose options, but keep in mind each person is different and no single cue can encompass an entire class.

Hot Yoga Class Flow

Classes will start with a warm-up breathing exercise combined with light movement to prepare your body for the yoga postures. When you're in the yoga poses, focus on calming your breath and keeping a relaxed face.

Try to inhale through your nose and exhale through your nose with a relaxed breath. If you start to feel dizzy or lightheaded, back out of the pose or rest until you feel better.

It's important to hydrate well before and after your practice.

How to Prepare for Your First Hot Yoga Class + Tips

Start by doing some research on the type of hot yoga class you want to take. There are many different styles, so it's essential to find one that's right for you. Once you've found a few classes that look promising, reach out to the studio and ask any questions you have.

Some different styles of heated classes are:

  • Heated Power Vinyasa - linking breath and flow movement
  • Fusion - a mix of Bikram and Vinyasa yoga
  • Yoga Sculpt - combines Vinyasa with light weights
  • Buti yoga - A blend of tribal dance and primal movements, plyometrics, and Vinyasa yoga
  • Hot Pilates - which is sometimes called Core + Cardio.

When the temperature and humidity are higher there will likely be less movement and the class will be relatively quiet. More vigorous classes, like hot pilates, will have a lower temperature and likely have music added.

Bikram yoga is a slow-paced class with a higher temperature.

Most importantly:

  • Decide if you want to move your body faster-paced or start slow.
  • Call ahead or visit a local studio website.
  • Hydrate and listen to your body.

What is Bikram Hot Yoga?

Also known as "Bikram's beginning yoga class", "original hot yoga" and "26&2" because Bikram yoga was the first style of yoga to use heat and humidity to aid in warming up muscles and cardiovascular benefits while practicing accessible 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises.

Bikram yoga is a sequence of Hatha yoga postures that was created by Bikram Choudhury in the early 1970s. The postures Bikram Choudhury uses comes from a classic 84 postures.

This type of yoga is typically practiced slowly in a room that has been heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40.56 degrees Celsius) with a humidity level of 40%. The heat and humidity add a cardiovascular benefit and help to loosen the muscles, making it easier for the practitioner to achieve deep stretches and prevent injuries.

Does Hot Yoga Help You Lose Weight?

Practicing yoga in a hot and humid room increases calorie expenditure. During a hot yoga class you might burn anywhere from 300-500 calories per class. 

To lose weight you must burn more calories than you consume. This can come from either eating less or exercising more. Assuming your diet is in check, hot yoga can help you lose weight. 

How Many Calories Does Hot Yoga Burn?

Hot yoga burns anywhere from 250-600 calories a session.

Caloric burn depends on

  • Intensity of the hot yoga class being performed. The more intense a hot yoga class is the more calories that will be burned by an individual.
  • Body Weight. People who weigh more will burn more calories.
  • Body composition. Muscle requires more energy than fat to sustain.

Can You Do Hot Yoga While Pregnant?

If you've never practiced any hot yoga, get a doctor's approval and wait until the end of your first trimester to start. Always consult with your physician, but most women can practice hot yoga when they are pregnant.

If you have a regular practice and a doctor's approval, keep it up. A regular Bikram hot yoga practice can make your pregnancy, labor, and post-partum easier than you expect. 

Learning how to breathe when you are in an uncomfortable position in the yoga studio can be an invaluable tool in the labor room. There is a Pregnancy series of postures that are done during a Bikram hot yoga class.

During the series, postures are altered or omitted for pregnant women. In the pregnancy practice, there is no impact on mother and child, and lower back pain often decreases while core strength increases.

At most studios, there is no separate scheduled pregnancy class but many teachers are trained to provide the pregnancy series and alternate poses for you during the Bikram beginning yoga class.

What is the Bikram yoga sequence?

Standing Postures

Pranayama Deep Breathing. Pranayama (Breathing exercise)

Mountain. Standing neutral position. Tadasana (Posture is not listed or counted in Bikram's official dialogue. It is expected and sometimes cued for practitioners to stand in neutral in between the standing poses for a moment of stillness)

Half Moon. Backbend. with Hands to Feet Pose (Postures are counted as one). Ardha-Chandrasana, Anuvittasana (Sanskrit for backbend is not listed in Bikram's official dialogue) with Padahastasana

Awkward Pose 1.2.3 (Postures are counted as one). Utkatasana

Eagle Pose. Garurasana

Standing Head to Knee Pose. Dandayamana-Janushirasana

Standing Bow Pose. Dandayamana-Dhanurasana

Balancing Stick Pose. Tuladandasana

Standing Separate leg Stretching Pose. Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Paschimotthanasana

Triangle Pose. Trikonasana

Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose. Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Janushirasana

Tree Pose. Tadasana

Toe Stand Pose. Padangustasana

Floor postures

Dead Body Pose (Face up and practiced between several floor postures. Posture has dialogue cuing). Savasana

Wind Removing Pose 1.2 (One leg, both legs. Postures are counted as one). Pavanamuktasana

Sit-up (Sit up is used as a transition, is counted as one, and has dialogue cuing).

Cobra. Bhujangasana

Dead body pose. (Facing down, switching directions of head and practiced between several floor postures. Posture is not counted as one and has no dialogue but is used in every Bikram class). Savasana.

Locust Pose 1.2 (one leg, both legs. Postures counted as one). Salabhasana

Dead Body Pose (Facing down.). Savasana

Full Locust Pose. Poorna-Salabhasana

Dead Body Pose (Facing down). Savasana

Bow Pose. Dhanurasana

Dead Body Pose (Facing down). Savasana

Fixed Firm Pose. Supta-Vajrasana

Dead Body Pose (Facing up). Savasana


Half Tortoise Pose. Ardha-Kurmasana

Dead Body Pose (Facing up). Savasana


Camel Pose. Ustrasana

Dead Body Pose (Facing up). Savasana


Rabbit Pose. Sasangasana

Dead Body Pose (Facing up). Savasana


Head to Knee with Stretching Pose. (Postures counted as one). Janushirasana with Paschimotthanasana

Dead Body Pose (Facing up). Savasana


Spine Twisting Pose. Ardha-Matsyendrasana

Dead Body Pose (Facing up). Savasana


Blowing in Firm. Kapalbhati in Vajrasana (Breathing exercise)

Final Dead Body Pose (Facing up). Savasana

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