Bikram Yoga vs Vinyasa: Which one is Better & Safer? - Sweatbox

A thorough comparison between Bikram yoga and hot yoga class

There are plenty of types of yoga out there. How can you determine which one is best for you?

So many yoga classes have been developed over the years. All kinds of people, young and old, are participating in them to improve their health and their overall quality of life. Yoga is a type of meditative workout in which we not only strengthen our bodies but also our minds and spirits. It’s a very inclusive type of exercise that caters to different kinds of individuals, targeting their varying needs.

If you’re trying out yoga for the first time and are still navigating your way through the different styles, this blog post might be a good read for you. Here, we’ll be talking about two of the most popular types of yoga: Vinyasa yoga and Bikram yoga.

What is Bikram yoga?

The word “Bikram” came from its very founder, also a renowned yoga teacher, Bikram Choudhury. He decided to create a set sequence of poses for yoga beginners back in the ’70s. Since then, many other yogis and yoga followers have been practicing Bikram yoga worldwide. Hot yoga classes like this are believed to imitate the temperature of the country of yoga’s origin, India.

Bikram yoga is often interchanged with hot yoga. However, the two are different. Bikram yoga is a system of hot yoga classes that involves the execution of a series of 26 postures in a room that’s heated up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit for a total of 90 minutes. The movement from one posture to another combined with proper breathing techniques and the smoking temperature will surely get your body sweating and your heart racing. This makes Bikram yoga a more challenging class compared to a regular one.

According to the official website of Bikram yoga, this yoga class focuses on helping us sweat out toxins, strengthen muscles, and improve circulation throughout the body.

What are the benefits of Bikram yoga?

Bikram yoga practice provides various health benefits that can significantly help improve our lifestyle. Check them out below:

Detoxifies your body

There’s a lot of sweating going on in Bikram yoga classes. In turn, that helps our bodies detoxify. By detoxifying, we are getting rid of unwanted toxins and chemicals in our bodies. As you execute the series of yoga movements in a heated room, just imagine how much sweat you will be getting out. This will surely help you cleanse out all of the toxic substances in your body.

Increases flexibility

Although every type of yoga class is affiliated with improved flexibility, it is an even bigger deal in classes like Bikram because the hot temperature that engulfs our bodies allow us to become more flexible. Doing every pose helps develop our flexibility because of how we get into those poses. The more we practice, the better we become at it.

A form of strength training

Bikram yoga has that type of intensity that makes it good training for our physical strength. The sequence of movements done at a slightly faster pace challenges our strength, endurance, and stamina. Our muscles are also highly engaged, which is why they end up being strengthened and toned as well.

Improves the respiratory system

The practice of proper inhaling and exhaling as we go from one pose to another in the sequence expands our lung capacity. Having enough oxygen in the body helps it become stronger, especially in a class like this. The more oxygen our muscle gets, the more they can work harder for a long period of time. Deep breathing may seem like a simple task, but it does more wondrous things for the body than you’d think.

Aids in weight loss

If you want to shed some pounds, Bikram might be an ideal exercise for you. With all the sweating and moving about in the practices, there is no question how this yoga class can help with burning calories. Bikram yoga is actually second to Vinyasa when it comes to the yoga class that burns the most calories.

Promotes a healthy heart

Bikram is also a great cardiovascular workout. The intensity of the sequence of poses, including the transitions and the high temperature, will surely get your heart rate up. If your heart is strong, it will require less effort to pump out blood into your body, reducing the risk of issues like high blood pressure.

Develops focus and concentration

Focus and concentration are key factors in finishing the sequence of poses. The main goal in Bikram is how you transition from one movement to another fluidly. This will help improve your ability to focus and concentrate, which are also much-needed skills in other aspects of your life such as your job and other day-to-day activities.

Things Bikram yoga beginners should remember

If you are a newbie student entering Bikram yoga classes, there are important things that you have to keep in mind such as:

Arrive early

This is like a golden rule among beginner students. It would be best to arrive in the yoga studio 30 minutes early so you have lots of time to sign up, get changed, and choose a good spot where you can spread your mat and wait for the instructor. This will also give your body a chance to adjust to the temperature of the room.

Talk to the Bikram yoga instructor

Before the start of the class, it’s important to introduce yourself to the assigned teacher first. Tell them if you have any present medical conditions or injuries that you’re working yourself through so that they may guide you through the poses accordingly or make some adjustments for you.

Wear something appropriate

When it comes to working out, we want to wear clothes that make us comfortable enough to move around. In yoga classes, there’s a lot of stretching and bending, so it would be best to wear something that won’t put you in an awkward position or would make it more difficult for you to execute the poses better. Also, considering that this is a hot class, try to wearing something light and breathable.

Drink water

This might probably be one of the most important things to remember. It’s recommended for you to keep yourself hydrated before going to class because you will be sweating a lot. 8 to 9 cups of water is the recommended amount to drink throughout the day. If you can’t reach those numbers, don’t try to make up for it by drinking so much water right after a Bikram yoga class. This might cause an upset stomach or vomiting. Instead, pump yourself with water before the class so you can avoid being dehydrated.

When is Bikram yoga bad for you?

Bikram yoga is a healthy and safe practice, but still, there are certain precautionary measures you should take to avoid anything unwanted from happening.

For instance, some medical experts express their concern over the relation between Bikram yoga and heat intolerance. According to a 2015 study, students who participated in a Bikram yoga class that lasted for 90 minutes experienced a body temperature rise that reached 103 degrees. This had narrowly missed the 104-degree threshold that doctors already consider dangerous.

It is believed that people who aren’t used to classes like Bikram yoga might not be able to carry on. Individuals who are deemed unfit for Bikram yoga are recommended to stick with regular yoga or its less intense types (maybe hatha yoga, ashtanga yoga, or restorative yoga) or engage in hot yoga classes that offer low heat.

Heated yoga classes that have reduced high temperatures have been proven safe. However, participants are advised to lie down or leave if they ever feel light-headed, nauseous, or confused during the class.

Pregnant women and people suffering from diabetes or any form of cardiovascular disease are also prohibited from joining a Bikram yoga class or hot yoga in general. Meanwhile, individuals with preexisting medical conditions should consult with their primary doctors first before starting their hot yoga experience, just to make sure that they aren’t at a higher risk for complications.

Bikram yoga: the 26 asanas

In the practice of Bikram yoga, there are 26 yoga asanas poses being done. These poses are meant to strengthen and tone our bodies, as well as increase their flexibility and ability to detoxify. Most of these 26 postures are being done twice and are typically held from 6 to 60 seconds, depending on the kind of pose.

Here are only some of the most notable poses under the Bikram flow of the asanas:

Standing deep breathing (Pranayama)


This is the pose that starts the sequence in Bikram. You do this by standing straight with your hands clasped together, knuckles gently pressed against the bottom of your chin. You take the time to use your optimal lung capacity by inhaling and exhaling deeply. This is being done to provide oxygen to the body, increase your body’s circulation, and improve your focus.

Triangle pose (Trikonasana)


This pose is meant to strengthen and revitalize the body and mind. The main target of this posture is the hips, legs, and core. Interestingly, the version of the triangle is different in Bikram compared to how it’s normally done in the other different styles of yoga. Here, it’s being executed like the extended side angle position.

Tree pose (Tadasana)


The tree pose teaches the importance of balancing. It also helps develop your posture while also strengthening the joints of your hips, knees, and ankles.

Balancing stick (Tuladandasana)


Just like the tree, this one is also very heavy on balancing skills., However, it may appear to be a little more challenging due to the position it’s putting your body in. To perform this posture the right way, you have to maintain proper balance and rely on focused determination and a strengthened core. This pose helps increase circulation to the heart and the brain.

Cobra (Bhujangasana)


This is one of the postures that will do wonders for your body. You do this by lying with your stomach flat on the floor and then you slowly lift your upper back by engaging your core and relying on the support of your arms. This is a really good stretch to lengthen your spine and preventing lower back pain.

Bikram yoga: Pranayama

Other than the 26 poses under yoga asanas, Bikram yoga also involves pranayama. The pranayama is a type of breathing exercise. Since Bikram is about the movement from one posture to another, the support of deep breathing techniques is badly needed.

Pranayama is the importance of knowing how to control one’s breath, which creates the very bridge between the mind and the body. By learning how to do this breathing technique, you will be able to establish an equilibrium between your mental and physical being. This will also help expand your lungs to their full capacity, increases detoxification, and promotes mental relaxation. Apparently, this type of deep breathing has also been shown to help treat sleep disorders, anxiety, irritability, and other psychological issues.


What is Vinyasa flow yoga?

Vinyasa flow yoga is a type of yoga that is characterized by connecting postures together so that you can move from one to another with the use of breath. Like Bikram yoga and hot yoga, Vinyasa is often confused with power yoga. However, they are not the same. Power yoga is a class under Vinyasa flow.

The interesting about Vinyasa yoga is that it also features a variety of postures in each class but no two classes are ever alike. The yoga instructor is the one who calls the shots. They formulate the flow to their liking (and also depending on what they think is best for their students). This can differ in every class, depending on the decision of the instructor.

The very nature of Vinyasa revolves around the idea of developing a more balanced body and the prevention of repetitive motion injuries that are often a result of doing the same things every day. That’s why every Vinyasa yoga session is unique.

The practice of Vinyasa is believed to have begun with T Krishnamacharya, who has left the biggest impact on how yoga is generally practiced today.

The term Vinyasa was coined from the Sanskrit word, “nyasa”, meaning “to place”, while “vi” is Sanskrit for “in a special way”. This emphasizes the concept that we are not supposed to throw our bodies around but instead bringing consciousness to every movement in every moment.

What makes Vinyasa flow yoga so popular?

Although Vinyasa is indeed not understood by everyone, it’s still a style of yoga many consider to be popular. Below are the reasons why:

  • The ability to connect one posture to another with the use of breath
  • The importance of transitions and the mere fact that transitions are considered to be postures themselves
  • Vinyasa is one with movement. Even while staying still, the beat of your heart and inhale and exhale of your lungs represent Vinyasa.
  • The use of Ujjayi breath, that involves inhaling and exhaling in a rhythmic matter using the nasal passages.
  • It’s viewed as a complete type of yoga class because it goes through all of the asana families in a single session.
  • The session ends with how it begins. For instance, if you start with tadasana, you will be executing a lot of other different positions but still, end it with tadasana.
  • Vinyasa highlights the importance of harmony and balance as well as grace and fluidity. It’s all about focusing on how we are moving and what exactly it is that moves us.


What are the benefits of Vinyasa yoga?

Vinyasa classes also provide a lot of health benefits that can help improve our quality of life. Listed below are the positive effects of practicing Vinyasa flow sequences:

Builds muscle strength

Vinyasa yoga is a complete type of workout that is great for building muscle strength. Doing the different postures will work your deep muscles and engage your core to help you become more balanced. It’s definitely an ideal physical activity to increase your endurance and stamina as well.

Exercises the cardio

Just like Bikram, Vinyasa yoga is also an aid in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. The set sequence of postures done at a continuous pace combined with breathing techniques will certainly get that heart rate up. The stronger your heart becomes, the less effort it requires to pump out blood for the body. This can help lower the risk of certain health conditions like high blood pressure.

Improves flexibility

Yoga tests your body to the limit, and this includes increasing its flexibility. The more you practice the postures, the better you will become at doing them. Naturally, your physique will adjust itself and begin to expand its limitations, and sooner or later you will be able to reach places you never thought you could.

Improves sleep quality

How can such an intense and energetic physical exercise help with one that is restful? Yes, Vinyasa yoga has a role in improving the quality of sleep. When our muscles feel tensed (especially when we’re stressed), it tends to be more difficult for us to get the deep rest that we deserve. Practicing Vinyasa will help release all of that tension by moving through the various motions and movements. Not to mention, the breathing exercises.

Helps with weight loss

Again, just like the other mentioned yoga style in this article, Vinyasa yoga has a role in the losing of weight. Apparently, there are plenty of calories burned doing vinyasa yoga, thanks to its fast-paced nature. You will be sweating so much that it will help you detoxify and get rid of the unwanted substances in your system. Vinyasa is actually the type of yoga that can burn the most calories. Click here to find out more.

What is the Vinyasa flow yoga sequence?

As mentioned before, there are no repetitive sequences in Vinyasa. They can differ, depending on what part of the body the yoga teacher wants to focus on that day. But just to give you a better idea and understanding, here are some of the most notable Vinyasa flow sequences and what they are for:

Vinyasa flow for shoulders


This sequence is focused on working out the shoulders by strengthening them and improving their flexibility. By having strong, sturdy shoulders, students can take their yoga practice to the next level by executing more challenging postures like headstands and handstands.

Vinyasa flow: standing poses to sitting poses


This sequence demands a deeper awareness of the body and breath for the transitions to take place smoothly. Teachers might encourage students to regularly practice sun salutation and its variations to improve their body-breath coordination.

Vinyasa flow for stomach and spleen


This sequence of postures is meant to help promote good digestive health. With a stronger stomach and a healthier gut, issues like indigestion, heartburn, vomiting, diarrhea, and so much more can be avoided or relieved.

How to avoid an injury while practicing Vinyasa?

People such as athletes, sports enthusiasts, and those who just love to exercise and stay physically active are no strangers to injuries. Sometimes, accidents just happen. But the important thing is you know how to be careful so you can reduce the risk of getting hurt. Some injuries might be so severe that they can render you too vulnerable to join another physical activity again.

In Vinyasa, there are 4 simple ways you can avoid getting injured:

Don’t push your body over the limit

How can you know if you’re body’s had enough? It’s simple. When you start breathing through your opened mouth, that’s a clear-cut sign. Breathing in yoga should be done through the nose. So, if you ever find yourself literally gasping for air or worse—shaking uncontrollably, then you’ve probably hit your threshold. Other indications may be the feeling of numbness or sharp pain in your body. When that happens, stop immediately and take a break. Seek the help of the instructor if necessary.

Know your personal alignment

The alignment of each person is different. Your correct alignment might be wrong for someone else. This is one of the things that make yoga such a personal workout. Some people might have restrictions in the joints or muscles which is why they have to make certain adjustments in the movements. You have to know your proper alignment so that you won’t injure any part of your body surprisingly.

Choose the right classes for you

Stop going to yoga classes that are way too challenging or intense for you, especially if you’re just a beginner. Yoga isn’t a competition. It’s actually a learn-it-at-your-own-pace type of workout so take your time in becoming better at it. Don’t force yourself to participate in classes that might be too difficult for you to handle, you just might end up hurting yourself.

Find a good yoga teacher

How can you tell if a yoga teacher is the right one? If it’s someone who really teaches and guides, not just someone who leads. Some teachers are concerned about students but don’t really know how to guide them to the right positioning. It’s important to take classes led by a teacher that knows exactly what they’re doing and how they should teach the students to do it.


Bikram yoga vs. Vinyasa yoga: which one is better for you?

Both heated yoga and Vinyasa flow are incredible styles of yoga. They both provide nearly the same benefits (like weight loss) that elevate the quality of life. However, they also have their differences.

First, Bikram is a heated yoga. If you are a fan of the humidity and the idea of sweating like crazy, then this is a much more suitable class for you. Next, it’s also systemized wherein you practice the same sequence over and over. This is a great workout if you are used to committing to something until you learn it and eventually master it.

On the other hand, Vinyasa is not a heated yoga class. However, the string of movements will get your heart rate up and your body highly engaged. It’s like jogging. Vinyasa is perfect for those who want to try something new every day. The sequences can be different in each class, depending on what the teacher wants to focus on. This is a great class for those who want to learn the different aspects of something, all at the same time.

The bottom line is, whether you’re into Bikram or Vinyasa yoga, the important thing is that you understand how these practices are great additions to our lifestyle. It’s up to you which one fits your puzzle the most.

If you’re on a fitness journey, why not schedule a heated yoga class or non-heated one with us? Here at Sweatbox, we offer various yoga sessions that you can enjoy and learn from.


About the Author​

Lynette is fully dedicated to the support and empowerment of the growing community of committed yoga students and teachers. As one of the Lead Instructors for Yoga Teacher Training, she is here to share tips on how to grow your profile as a yoga teacher or build a yoga business either physically or digitally.