...hot yoga: moksha vs bikram, the debate

Hot yoga gives me my mojo. Without hot yoga, I'm lost, lazy and blue.

bikram yoga tri cities, jasperphoto.com

Notice I specifically said 'hot yoga'. To me, non-heated classes are boring and strictly for beginners. And notice I didn't say Bikram yoga. Bikram is the exercise-love-of-my-life but when my membership at the Bikram studio expired in November, I didn't renew. I grew tired of the teachers, the cancelled classes, how there seemed to be fewer and fewer students each month, and the studio in general.
moksha yoga vancouver

Luckily, a brand new spa-like Moksha yoga studio opened nearby and I've resumed my practice.  Moksha was my introduction to hot yoga years ago, so I've done enough classes in both disciplines to make a somewhat educated comparison.

Here's how they measure up, in my opinion:

The heat, the rooms, the studios
  • The heat in the Bikram room hits you as soon as you enter. It's 110 degrees--like a sauna, or hotter if you're lucky. On the other hand, I've called Moksha the 'warm' yoga. The room is cool compared to Bikram, about 104 degrees.
  • I hated the practice room in my old Bikram studio, particularly the horrible fluorescent lighting and the spongy carpeted flooring. I believe Bikram himself requires all studios to be this way. The new Moksha studio room is dimly lit, with one long large mirrored wall, and a very clean tile floor. 
  • The Bikram studio seemed neglected, reception was roomy, but I didn't dare use the showers.  Did I say the Moksha studio was spa-like? There are 3 full shower stalls with glass doors. Privacy in a change room, what a concept! And extra points for the foyer with lots of individual cubbies for our boots and a faux leather bench for for seating.
Advantage? Tie. Moksha - 1 pt each for the room and the studio, Bikram - 1 pt for the heat, but that's the most important part, so I'll double that score.

The classes.  Bikram classes are ALWAYS 90 minutes. Moksha classes are either 90 or 60 minutes; and they'd probably have a 30 minute class if people suggested. And then, why bother? Advantage? Bikram.

The dialogue
  • Bikram teachers go to 10 week long teacher training to learn an exact word-for-word 'script'. Dialogue is memorized and the 26 poses are described by the teacher, whomever it may be, exactly the way Bikram wants it to be said. I love that no matter who is teaching, whether I like or understand the teacher, and whether that teacher whispers or shouts, that I am going to do pranayama, arna chandrasana, padahastasana, and so on, in that exact order and twice. It's oddly comforting even in a bootcamp like setting.
  • Moksha teachers and their dialogue vary widely. This drives me absolutely crazy. You never know how the teacher will start the class and how long before you even start sweating. One teacher was a very slow talker, very gentle, and 10 minutes into a 90 minute class we were still using our right arm as a pillow in some sort of savasana.  We didn't have time to do camel, rabbit or reclining hero. However, another teacher was fantastic. There was a quick flow to his class and we even did the challenging poses twice (runner's lunge, prayer twist). If only he taught every class.
 Advantage? Bikram, 1 pt.

The poses
  • There is very little ab work in Bikram. We do sit ups through out the floor series, but it's to get to another pose. Moksha classes spend a lot of time on ab work, which I dread. Especially because each teacher has their own style, so I'm not even sure this is taught at Moksha training. They seem to be Pilates-based, so I doubt it's even yoga.
  • I've now learned to love Moksha's standard series of vinyasa 'downward dog' flows. Bikram has no vinyasa flows.

Advantage? Moksha, 2 pts. I can't tell you how much I detest ab work, but you know how they say 'you need what you hate'? Have you seen my abs? Exactly. And the arm work couldn't hurt.

Hot yoga for weight loss? A 60 to 100 day Bikram challenge is a guaranteed way to lose weight, even for my increasingly rebellious metabolism.

I'm not sure if I will achieve results with a Moksha challenge, but I will certainly try!

So ... that was a very long introduction just to declare that I am beginning an intense 30 (to 60, to 100) day Moksha yoga challenge with a specific goal. I will chronicle every boring and painful detail of my progress (including my yoga outfits, my diet, and my feelings....zzzz) here.

Advantage? Mine. Namaste.

Update: Read the final verdict in my Bikram vs Moksha debate, here.

Bikram Yoga: The Guru Behind Hot Yoga Shows the Way to Radiant Health and Personal Fulfillment 


  1. Bikram yoga has given me new life I found your blog to be greatly interesting,This is very nice blog I am waiting for your next blog post, Yoga is usually taught as a way to achieve physical and mental fitness .

    1. Thank you for your kind words. As you can see, although I practise Bikram daily, I blog about many random, silly topics. I will post another yoga-related topic soon.

  2. Grate post.I really like this post!!I've read a few similar posts recently but I don't think I've ever read one that so perfectly expresses my own opinions on the matter.

  3. Great post. I tried Bikram once a few years ago and never went back. I started Moksha and I love it.
    I'm thinking of trying the 30 day challenge and see how my body will become.


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