Yoga students have the opportunity to explore many forms of this ancient Indian practice. Both Bikram yoga and Vinyasa yoga are challenging and best suited for more experienced yoga followers, as they are designed to push students to their physical limits. There are specific differences between Bikram and Vinyasa, and understanding the unique attributes of each of these yoga disciplines will help you decide which form is best for your fitness needs.
Be prepared to sweat. Bikram yoga is the most well-known form of hot yoga. Yoga guru Bikram Choudhury created this unique form of yoga, centered around 26 poses and two breathing exercises performed in a room heated to 105 degrees F. This routine is performed twice within a 90-minute session. This comprehensive routine is supposed to be an all-encompassing workout for your body, strengthening and toning muscles and making your body more limber. Some Bikram yoga disciples experience an emotional and physical cleansing from these sessions. Choudhury claims his form of yoga relieves chronic pain and other health conditions, though these claims have not been medically verified.
Vinyasa yoga focuses on a series of continuous movements, combined with breathing techniques, which is why it is referred to as flow yoga. Vinyasa is a fast-paced, dynamic form of yoga, ideal for those seeking a cardio workout. Vinyasa tones muscles and increases flexibility. Expect to perform at least a dozen poses in rapid succession during a Vinyasa yoga session. Controlled breathing is just as important as body movement in Vinyasa. Inhalation of breath begins expansive actions, while exhalation of breath signals contractive actions. Vinyasa instructors encourage students to carry over the principles of Vinyasa to their daily lives to foster a personal transformation.
To prepare for a sweltering Bikram yoga session, wear clothing that is breathable and made of moisture-wicking material to repel sweat. Keep your hair off of your face with a bandana or headband. Look for a yoga mat that will offer you extra traction, as it will get slippery with sweat. With Vinyasa yoga, wear clothing that will allow for easy movement. Your limbs should not be constricted by loose sleeves or pant legs as you move quickly through a series of yoga poses. Many of the Vinyasa movements are performed while standing, so use a mat that will offer you good support and stability.
Bikram yoga is physically intense and does come with serious health risks like heat stroke. Feelings of dizziness, nausea and dehydration are experienced by some students during Bikram sessions. If you have any doubts, talk to your doctor before trying a session of this extreme form of yoga. Vinyasa yoga is designed to be cardio-intensive, focusing on continuous movements with no breaks to rest. The main health risks of Vinyasa yoga are overheating and injuries to the neck, lower back and knees.