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History of Hot Yoga

Bikram Yoga is often called ‘Traditional Hot Yoga’ or ‘26+2 Series.’ When Hot Yoga Chelsea in NYC opened its doors in Manhattan over a decade ago, there weren’t many other options for Bikram Hot Yoga classes. Since then, it feels like almost 100 different studios have opened here in New York City. Here’s a quick history on how the most popular form of yoga was founded and how it has been transformed over the years.

The history of hot yoga began in the 1920s in India when Bishnu Charan Ghosh opened his Yoga College in Kolkata. Ghosh’s Yoga College was space where students with various body ailments would go for physical therapy. Students would be prescribed postures to resolve their health concerns and were encouraged to make their yoga stretch practice into a daily routine. Ghosh trained many students throughout his lifetime, including Bikram Choudhury. Bikram Yoga was later created by Bikram Choudhury. Taking the fundamentals he’d learned from Ghosh, Bikram created a series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. Bikram truly believed that his practice could help prevent injuries and heal the body of almost every issue.

You’d be surprised to learn that the “hot” part came later. Bikram ventured to Japan to spread his practice, where the temperature was much cooler than India. He realized that heat was a necessary component of the practice to push deeper within the postures. He would set up heaters in the room and soon the incredible benefits of practicing in a heated room were discovered. He took this practice to Los Angeles in the 1970s and started teaching in high-end spas and then later he opened his own studio with the support of celebrity clients. It wasn’t long before “Hot Yoga” and “Bikram Yoga” became one in the same.

Many studios across the country tried to steal his series or tried to teach their own proprietary sequence in a heated room. But the beauty of the ‘Original Hot Yoga’ remained something unique. Many claim that what is special is that it was designed for the absolute beginner but can also challenge the advanced yogi. Also, true to Ghosh, it was created with the intention to heal the body.

With the truth of his history now laid out, during the past decade the Yoga community has worked hard to separate ‘Bikram’ from ‘Hot’ Yoga. His mistreatment of his students and misdeeds are well known and his status as a yoga guru is far from the truth. Hot Yoga Chelsea NYC is privately owned and operated with no connection to Bikram Choudhury. Though we bear no association nor have any relationship with him or his businesses, we believe in the power of the practice. Our authentic traditional Hot Yoga classes follow the original Bikram-inspired 26+2 series. We offer classes daily in our studio located in the heart of NYC. View our upcoming class schedule and join us on the mat at our next Hot Yoga Class.

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