What are the differences and similarities between Ashtanga and Bikram Yoga?

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Both Ashtanga and Bikram follow a set sequence of postures that have been designed scientifically to heal old injuries, enhance well-being in the body and mind, and achieve the perfect balance within the body.

Bikram yoga and Ashtanga Yoga, although they are two different disciplines of yoga that have very different teaching methods, complement each other well.

History and Tradition

Bikram Choudhury created the Bikram sequence in the early 1970s. It consists of 26 poses and two Pranayama breath exercises. It is a form of moving meditation that focuses on pushing oneself beyond mental and physical limitations.

Ashtanga, which is a six-series method with a long history and lineage, was popularized by Sir Pattabhi Jois. Ashtanga uses Ujjayi breathing as well as drishti, or focal points (as its main tools), and is considered to be a spiritual practice.

Practice Conditions

Bikram yoga classes are taught in a studio that is heated to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat from the outside helps to detoxify your body by sweating.

Ashtanga Yoga builds a ‘fire’ inside the body through flowing vinyasas that are synchronized to the breath. This helps to cleanse the body by heating and thinning the blood.

Teaching Style

Bikram Yoga is characterized by a consistent dialogue that guides students around the globe. Verbal cues are used to correct posture and align the body.

Ashtanga is a form of yoga where, after becoming familiar with the sequence and feeling comfortable, Ashtanga practitioners use their breath to guide themselves through the class in a quiet room. Each posture is held for five breaths. Teachers will assist students in going deeper into the postures by making physical adjustments.


Bikram yoga is a sequence of 26 postures and two breathing exercises. Standing series builds lower body strength and teaches balance. The floor series focuses on stretching the spine and backbends.

The sequence is a great way to improve your organ function by using compression postures.

Ashtanga Asanas are designed to lengthen the hamstrings and open the hips. Vinyasas link the postures together, building strength in the arms and core.

You will perform forward bends and inversions at the end to improve circulation and reverse blood flow.

Both styles share many similarities and are aimed at the same goal. Ashtanga will help you improve your flexibility and build strength. Bikram, on the other hand, will cultivate discipline and focus, bring peace to your mind, and connect you with your true self.

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