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How to Become a Bikram Yoga Instructor in the UK (2020)

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If you want to know how to become a Bikram yoga instructor in the UK, then you’re in the right place.

Below, we’ve discussed the ins and outs of Bikram yoga teacher training so that you can get started with your exciting new career.

We’ve also included a comparison of Bikram training with other ways of qualifying as a yoga instructor so that you can decide which route is best for you.

But before we get started, if you’re interested in working in the world of health and fitness, why not make an enquiry about our REPs accredited advanced sports nutrition course?

Alternatively, you can download our free course prospectus here.

Contents: 

  • What Is Bikram Yoga?
  • How Popular Is Bikram Yoga?
  • Getting Qualified
  • Bikram Yoga Teacher Training VS Other Yoga Qualifications
  • How Long Does It Take To Become a Bikram Yoga instructor?
  • Bikram Yoga Certification Cost
  • The Skills & Traits You Need
  • Bikram Yoga Teacher Insurance
  • Tips for Finding a Job

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What Is Bikram Yoga?

Before we explain how to become a Bikram yoga instructor, we thought it would be best to start by clearing up exactly what Bikram is, and how it’s different to hot yoga.

Bikram yoga first came about in 1973, after it was invented by Bikram Choudhury, an American Yogi who was born in India. 

Bikram yoga is a specific type of hot yoga that consists of 26 set poses and 2 breathing exercises - which is why it’s also known as ‘26 & 2’ yoga.

During a Bikram yoga class, these specific poses and breathing exercises are performed in the same order for every single class, and every class is always exactly 90 minutes long.

Whereas a generic hot yoga class is taught in temperatures varying anywhere between 27°C and 38°C, a Bikram class should always be taught in a room heated to exactly 40°C with 40% humidity. 

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A 2013 study by Tracy & Hart some of the benefits of Bikram training. The studio had some interesting results:

“Yoga subjects exhibited increased deadlift strength, substantially increased lower back/hamstring flexibility, increased shoulder flexibility, and modestly decreased body fat compared with the control group.” 

As well as the benefits for body strength, balance flexibility, and improving range of motion, Hewett, Cheema, Pumpa & Smith (2015) highlighted some further health benefits of Bikram practice.

“Bikram yoga may, in some populations, improve glucose tolerance, bone mineral density, blood lipid profile, arterial stiffness, mindfulness, and perceived stress.”

You can find their full research study here.

Some other specifics for official Bikram classes include carpeted floors in the studio, as well as the need for plenty of bright light in the room. 

One detail that a lot of people aren’t too keen on, is that there can be no music played during the class.

One thing that definitely concerns you as the yoga instructor, is that there should be no hands-on adjustments, as all demonstrations and corrections should be vocalised rather than physically demonstrated.

For that reason, effective communications are just one of the important yoga instructor skills that you’ll need to succeed in this role.

These specifics mean that regardless of where in the world you take part in a Bikram yoga class, you’ll have exactly the same experience.

But how likely is it that you’ll find yourself at an official Bikram yoga studio?

Before we go on to talk about  the Bikram yoga teacher training cost and what the course involves, let’s discuss the popularity of Bikram yoga!

 

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How Popular Is Bikram Yoga?

The first thing to question before you sign up for Bikram yoga teacher training in the UK is, how popular is Bikram yoga?

There’s no doubt that back in the mid-2000s, Bikram yoga was a huge trend and it really took over the yoga market.

But nowadays, you’d be surprised by how much that fad has died down, and how few official Bikram yoga studios actually exist in the UK.

In fact, we did some digging online and according to mpora, the only official Bikram Yoga studio in the UK is in Bristol.

However, we struggled to find any further information about ‘Bikram Yoga Bristol’, so seeing as the mpora blog was posted back in 2016, it might be the case that even the Bristol studio doesn’t exist anymore.

We did some further digging and found this statement from Cityzen in Bristol, which could explain why we couldn’t find Bikram Yoga Bristol:

“Due to recent publicity you may see many studios attempting to distance themselves from Bikram by offering versions of the Bikram practice or indeed offering the same 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises but just calling it something different.”

“At Cityzen we believe that we should be clear and honest about what we are providing, having a laser focus on the yoga practice itself and the benefits that it brings, we could call it something else but it’s still Bikram yoga.”

There is still a pretty popular studio called ‘Bikram Yoga London’ (BYL) but whether this studio is officially affiliated with Bikram himself, or whether they have taken the second approach outlined in the above statement, isn’t that clear.

They do have a number of experienced instructors who have completed official Bikram instructor training, and they offer teacher training courses themselves - which we’ll talk more about very soon.

But what does this mean for anybody who wants to know how to become a certified bikram yoga instructor in the UK?

Even if this studio in London is an official Bikram studio, a google search shows you that there are tons more independent or standard yoga studios than there are ‘Bikram’ studios.

In the London Bridge area alone, 19 results show up on google maps, of which there are only 2 which offer ‘Bikram’ classes. 

In other areas of the country, for example Manchester City Centre, Google maps pulled up 20 results for the term ‘yoga studio’, but not one ‘Bikram Yoga studio’. 

This raises the question - is Bikram yoga really that popular anymore? 

The lack of Bikram studios in cities as big as London and Manchester indicates that the answer to that question is no.

With that in mind, is becoming a Bikram yoga instructor really the best idea for a successful career in the world of Yoga?

Considering there are way more regular yoga studios and even unbranded hot yoga studios, choosing a Bikram yoga instructor course could really narrow down your opportunities when it comes to finding a job.

And if you want to become a freelancer, finding a studio with all the facilities needed to teach Bikram in could be a real barrier to giving your students an authentic Bikram experience. 

Still stuck on the idea of Bikram yoga teacher training? We get that some people are really passionate about the 26 & 2 method of Yoga in particular, so we’ve gone through exactly what the Bikram courses involve just below.

But, if you’re here because you actually want to work as a yoga instructor, and maybe even start your own yoga business, then it’s worth sticking around for our comparison of Bikram and regular yoga teacher training.

Plus, some other tips for starting a successful career as a Yogi!

How To Become A Bikram Yoga Instructor: Getting Qualified

It’s probably no surprise to you that in order to become a certified Bikram yoga teacher, the first step that you need to take is to complete some kind of course or qualification.

Unsure on exactly what qualifications you need? Allow us to explain!

Because Bikram yoga is a specific type of yoga, having a specific Bikram qualification can really help when it comes to finding a job.

But at the same time, getting this specific qualification could create some barriers to employment if you’re open to working at a non-Bikram studio or if you don’t want to teach hot yoga exclusively - definitely something worth thinking about!

At one time, Yogi’s were travelling to the world practicing yoga, even going as far as India to train with Bikram himself.

But in 2020, we could only find one course in the UK that was advertised as a ‘Bikram yoga instructor course’, and that’s with BYL.

According to their website, the course is typically 200 hours long and carried out over a period of 9 weeks.

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One brilliant thing about these courses is that they are often held over the weekend so that you can work your studies around an existing job, family life, and any other commitments that you might be juggling at the moment.

In terms of the course content, Bikram training is designed to teach you how to deepen your own yoga practice whilst expanding your knowledge of the postures and breathing exercises to the point where you can teach them for yourself.

You’ll be taught exactly how to perform each pose properly, as well as how to assist a student if they aren’t getting a particular posture quite right.

Like any good yoga course, Bikram instructor training also covers the philosophy behind yoga and goes into detail about the role of biomechanics.

Here are just a few of the modules included in a Bikram instructor training with BYL:

  • Pranayama
  • The History of Yoga
  • Anatomy & Biomechanics
  • Meditation
  • Yoga Philosophy
  • Sanskrit
  • Ethics

One benefit of choosing a Bikram yoga instructor course is that this training goes into a lot of detail about hot yoga specifically.

So if you go down this route, the tutors will talk a lot about the effects of hot yoga on the body, and they will discuss some potential scenarios as well as exactly how to deal with them.

But, as we mentioned earlier, studying a Bikram yoga instructor course rather than a broader yoga teacher training course could narrow down your job opportunities.

If you’re struggling to decide on which kind of course you should choose, here are a couple of things that you need to think about.

Bikram Yoga Teacher Training VS Other Yoga Qualifications

Now that we’ve covered what Bikram courses involve, we thought we’d talk about the other yoga qualifications out there, their benefits, and why they might be a better route to your dream job.

The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of your time and money on a Bikram instructor course, only to find that you’ve actually limited your opportunities for employment by choosing such a niche course.

Although we highlighted that academic research has revealed some pretty significant benefits of Bikram yoga, there are plenty of pros of yoga and hot yoga practice in general.

Benefits including improved balance, flexibility, and strength, are by no means limited exclusively to Bikram!

Want to know more? Check out our updated list of yoga pros and cons!

Moving into a niche further on in your career can be a great career move, especially when it comes to starting your own business or even starting a fitness blog alongside your career.

However, if you don’t have any experience teaching yoga, you might want to start with a general yoga instructor course to make it as easy as possible to land your first job in the industry. 

Even the BYL careers page explains that they’re open to applications from Yogi’s who are “experienced, or newly qualified in Bikram yoga, Vinyasa, Jivamukti, or similar”, which suggests that having a Bikram qualification isn’t absolutely necessary to get your dream job.

For that reason, we’d definitely say it’s worth considering completing a standard yoga instructor course as this will keep your career options open without ruling out your opportunity to focus on Bikram!

How To Become A Certified Bikram Yoga Instructor: Accreditation & Regulation

Regardless of whether you choose a Bikram course or you go for a broader yoga course, if you want to actually teach yoga, you’ll need a qualification that is both regulated by Ofqual, and accredited by a reputable company, such as REPs, CIMSPA, or Yoga Alliance.

This means that cheap or even free yoga courses that you can find online won’t cut it when it comes to starting a new career.

But what do we mean by regulation and accreditation? Allow us to explain! 

A regulated course is one that is approved by Ofqual, the Government-run body that is responsible for setting the frameworks for all vocational courses in England.

Ofqual outlines certain criteria for awarding bodies to adhere to, that includes criteria for all vocational, assessments, examinations, and course work.

There are various different awarding bodies out there, but in the health and fitness industry, Focus Awards, Active IQ, YMCA Awards, and NCFE, are some of the most popular.

So, you’ll want at least one of these logos on the bottom of your course certificate:

Course regulation ensures that the Level 3 course you do with one course provider provides the same standard of knowledge and training that another student might get with a different course provider.

This makes it easy for employers, insurance providers, investors, and even your students, to understand what level of training you have.

A lot of employers and pretty much every insurance provider will be hesitant to work with or provide a policy to a yoga instructor without a Level 3 certificate in teaching Yoga, so finding a regulated course is really important!

But what about accreditation? 

If you want to find a reputable course provider, one tip is to look out for course accreditation.

Unlike regulation, course accreditation isn’t an essential criteria for employers or yoga teacher insurance, but it’s still pretty important!

Any good company will seek out accreditation from an external body, as we mentioned a little earlier, this is usually REPs, CIMSPA, or Yoga Alliance.

If a course is accredited by one of these awarding bodies, it's a really good indication of quality.

Having a REPs or CIMSPA logo on the bottom of your course certificate shows that you’ve completed a qualification that meets industry agreed standards, plus it means that you’ll be eligible for REPs and CIMSPA membership once you’ve completed the course. 

What Do Regular Yoga Courses Cover?

Whereas Bikram yoga teacher training does cover some of the core principles and history of Yoga, if you choose this course, the number of poses and breathing exercises you will be able to teach is really limited.

Bikram courses only cover how to properly perform, teach, and correct the 26 poses of Bikram yoga, and the 2 breathing exercises involved in Bikram. 

Plus, because a Bikram class is taught without music and always follows the same structure, you won’t learn how to build your own routines or switch up your classes - something that can be really important in keeping your students coming back to you!

On the other hand, there are plenty of yoga instructor courses out there that cover important modules, such as Anatomy and Physiology, the study of Meditation, and the history of Pilates and Yoga, but also some other modules!

Non-Bikram courses include class structure training, they teach tons of asanas and yoga poses, and cover effective techniques for teaching students of all ages and abilities.

Course Prerequisites

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When it comes to course prerequisites, the requirements for Bikram instructor training and other yoga qualifications are pretty similar.

You will need to be at least 16 years old to enroll onto any course, but there really is no need to worry if you feel that you aren’t the best Yogi or that you aren’t smart enough for the course.  

Most providers won’t have any academic requirements, but they do prefer for students to have around 2 years experience of practicing yoga themselves.

That doesn’t mean that you have to have each of the 26 poses perfected, but it will help your application if you can show that you’re passionate about yoga, and that you’re serious about starting this career.

How Long Does It Take To Become a Bikram Yoga Instructor?

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We did some research into the length of various yoga qualifications and found that just like the BYL teacher training course, most yoga qualifications can be completed in around 200 hours.

There are some options that can take a little longer, for example, if you wanted to study a Level 4 course and become a master yoga teacher!

Whereas employers will only really ask that you have a Level 3 (or equivalent) yoga qualification, studying a Level 4 course can give you that extra edge when applying for jobs.

Or it could allow you to position yourself as an expert in the industry when marketing your very own yoga business!

One factor that can really affect how long it takes you to qualify in this role, is the method of study you choose.

If you’ve done some research into the various kinds of courses and qualifications out there, you might have seen that there are three main ways of studying: full-time, online, and blended learning.

Typically, full-time courses run like a driving ‘crash course’ and involve 2-4 weeks of intense studying in a classroom environment. 

On the other end of the spectrum, there are some courses that are 100% online, which means that you can take as long as you like to get through the content. 

This is a much more flexible way of learning, but because you won’t be taught by a tutor face-to-face, you will need to be self-motivated if you want to get qualified quickly.

One option that really has the best of both worlds, is a blended learning course, which combines the use of an online learning platform, and attendance at practical workshops on the weekends.

This kind of course won’t get you qualified quite as fast as the full-time option, but it has all of the benefits of online learning, as well as the help of having face-to-face time with experienced tutors.

As well as the amount of time your yoga teacher training takes, the study method you choose can also have a pretty significant effect on the cost of your studies.

Bikram Yoga Teacher Training Cost

Speaking of the costs of your studies, you’re probably wondering ‘how much does Bikram yoga teacher training cost?’ and how does that compare to other courses?

According to BYL, a space on their teacher training programme will cost £3250, with a £750 deposit. 

On the other hand, the average cost of regulated yoga instructor courses is around £1500, meaning that you could make a significant saving by opting for a regular course!

Want to know more about the Bikram yoga certification cost? You can find all of the answers to 'How much does yoga teacher training cost?’ here, including a full breakdown of what you’re paying for and how to find an affordable course!

So, Which Route Is Best?

All things considered, the content of both standard and Bikram yoga instructor courses are pretty similar. 

They both take around 200 hours to complete, but with non-Bikram courses, you have the benefit of choosing to speed up the process with a full-time course, or to take your time, thanks to the online course options.

Both ways of getting qualified cover the core topics needed to understand yoga, like anatomy and physiology, the history of yoga, and meditation practices.

The main difference in terms of content is that whilst Bikram training goes into detail about the 26 & 2 technique, other yoga courses cover multiple styles of yoga and cover various teaching techniques. 

Which is why we would argue that even if you still want to know how to become a Bikram yoga instructor, choosing a non-Bikram course is the best way to become an employable yoga teacher.  

Being able to create your own routines and classes, and understanding how to incorporate music with your exercise classes, are both brilliant ways of making your training unique.

Plus, according to a price comparison between the Bikram yoga certification cost and the research we carried out when writing our ‘How much is yoga teacher training’ blog post (linked above!), Bikram courses are overly expensive.

So not only are there benefits for your career, choosing a yoga course with a provider like ourselves won’t hurt your bank account quite as much!

How To Become A Certified Bikram Yoga Instructor: Skills & Traits

Having the right qualifications is one thing, but there are also some key skills and traits that will help you to really become successful as a Bikram yoga instructor.

Want to know if you have what it takes to be the best Bikram teacher out there? Here are some of the skills and traits that you need!

#1 Passionate About Yoga

Seeing as you’re here searching ‘how to become a Bikram yoga instructor’ we can only assume that you’re a passionate yogi, looking for a way to make a career out of your love for yoga!

This is a brilliant trait for a yoga instructor, as this job isn’t always easy, and requires a lot of time spent in a yoga studio.

But as the old age saying goes, ‘if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life’.

If you’re happy to spend a lot of time in the studio surrounded by your students, this will allow you to work hard, and get what you want out of this career, without feeling like you’re really working at all!

#2 Self-Confidence

When it comes to standing up in front of a group of students and leading a class, confidence is key.

This job requires you to spend a lot of time with other people, not just talking to new people, but also acting as a source of inspiration and motivation for your students.

The only way to show your students to think that you’re an expert instructor and to ensure that they feel comfortable in your class, is to show that you’re confident in what you are doing.

If confidence isn’t your strong point, don’t sweat it! This is just a skill that you need to work on.

There are plenty of tips and tricks out there to help you to improve your confidence, we love this resource from Entrepreneur: www.entrepreneur.com 

#3 Communication Skills

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Want to know how to become a good Bikram yoga instructor? You’ll need to have good communication skills!

If you’re going to teach the official Bikram way, all instructions and corrections will need to be communicated verbally - which is a skill in itself!

Understanding how to properly communicate with people rather than just talking at them is one thing that can really make or break a yoga instructor.

Once you acknowledge that different people respond better to different ways of communicating, you’ll truly be able to create good relationships with your students.

Remember that while some people need their instructor to be strict with them in order to feel motivated, others prefer a calmer approach and can actually be demotivated by someone who is assertive.

Want to know more about what skills will help you to be successful as a yoga teacher? Find out exactly what makes a good yoga teacher now!

Bikram Yoga Teacher Insurance

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One other thing that is pretty much essential if you want to work as a Bikram yoga instructor, is insurance.

You might have assumed that you’ll need insurance if you’re thinking of starting your own business, but you might be surprised to know that a lot of employers will require that you have your own insurance, too. 

You might think that the chances of someone making a claim against you are fairly slim, but in the event that an accident does happen, say someone gets injured in your class, the last thing you want is to be caught in that situation without insurance!

Going to court can be an expensive ordeal, even if the claims against you are found to be false! Insurance gives you financial security and covers the costs associated with going to court and paying compensation. 

So, exactly what kind of insurance do you need? 

The number one policy yoga instructors need is public liability insurance.

This will cover you for any claims from third parties, for example an injured student, or a studio owner who claims that you have damaged their equipment.

But it doesn’t end there, there are a couple of other insurance policies that are pretty important for Bikram yoga instructors!

Check out the OriGym guide to Yoga teacher insurance for everything you need to know.

Bikram Yoga Instructor Training: Finding a Job!

By now, you might have decided against specific Bikram teacher training, as there are plenty of other brilliant yoga courses out there that can really keep your options open.

If you’ve gotten this far, we can only assume that you’re serious about finding a job as some kind of yoga instructor.

So before we go, we thought we’d talk a little bit about what you can do once you’ve got your qualifications in the bag.

As you’re a certified yoga instructor, you’ll have plenty of options.  

You can work freelance, visiting people’s homes or holding classes in various studios, you could look for a permanent job with an employer, or you could go ahead and open up a studio yourself.

If you’re keener on the idea of finding permanent work, there are plenty of places to look for jobs, for example:

  • Local studios
  • Gyms
  • Leisure centres
  • Yoga retreats

Websites like leisureJobs, Glassdoor,  indeed, and reed.co.uk are all brilliant places to look for work as they always have plenty of job openings advertised. 

If there is a particular studio that you would love to work at, say the only studio local to you that offers Bikram class, there is no harm in approaching them yourself, asking if they have any job openings, and talking about what you can offer as an employee.

Plus, there are some really exciting opportunities on www.yogatraveljobs.com 

If you’d rather take your career into your own hands, completing a fitness CPD is a brilliant way to learn about how to run a yoga business.

This course covers everything from marketing to how to make important decisions, like becoming a sole trader or a limited company, or ensuring that your business complies with the rules of GDPR!

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Before You Go!

Hopefully by now you know exactly how to become a Bikram yoga instructor!

If you're interested in pursuing a career in the health and fitness industry, enquire about our Level 4 advanced nutrition for sport qualification.

Or, click here to download our course prospectus for FREE.

References 

  1. Hewett, Z. L., Cheema, B. S., Pumpa, K. L., & Smith, C. A. (2015). The Effects of Bikram Yoga on Health: Critical Review and Clinical Trial Recommendations. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2015, 1-13. doi:10.1155/2015/428427
  2. Tracy, B. L., & Hart, C. E. (2013). Bikram Yoga Training and Physical Fitness in Healthy Young Adults. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 27(3), 822-830. doi:10.1519/jsc.0b013e31825c340f

 

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Written by Abbie Watkins

Fitness Content Executive, OriGym

Join Abbie on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Holding an MA Marketing Communications and Branding as well as a BSc Psychology from the University of Liverpool, Abbie’s experience encompasses the retail, hospitality and fitness industries. Since joining OriGym, she has become a qualified Personal Trainer and gone on to complete a specialist qualification in advanced Sports Nutrition. Abbie’s main focuses cover staying up to speed with YouTube fitness influencers, identifying successful and innovative content formats. She has contributed to various publications, including the Daily Express. Beyond OriGym, she describes herself as a ‘work-hard, play-hard’ type going on scenic runs and upbeat exercise classes, and often found on the front row of a Saturday morning spin class. 

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