Sleeping in Savasana

My yoga journey

Bikram vs Ashtanga

on January 14, 2016

I’m finding it quite interesting the contrast between my bikram classes and ashtanga practice. I’m still very new at doing Bikram (with class number three yesterday) and feel that I have a long way to go with Ashtanga. I thought I’d write a summary of both the classes and what I feel are the main differences.

Bikram

  1. Bikram is one class for everyone. Beginners, more advanced people, teachers. Everyone does the same class and sequence and those less experienced may choose to sit out poses, only do one set of them or even just spend most of the class seated or lying on the mat. It’s about aiming to do what you can and working towards doing the whole class.
  2. Bikram is hot! I pretty much think I’d sweat even just being in the room without doing anything.
  3. Bikram is done in front of mirrors. Yes you face the mirror and use it to look at your alignment and how much your stomach sticks out in your shorts.
  4. Bikram claims to cover every muscle in your body. I find that I feel worked afterwards but not particularly hard in any one area.
  5. Bikram you can’t really be practiced outside the studio. Well you could try to heat one room that hot and work your way through the sequence yourself but I don’t think it’d work so well and it’s a lot of poses to remember in the right order and with the correct length of rest etc.

Ashtanga

  1. Ashtanga is one sequence for everyone and you add poses one at a time as you develop your practice. You only attempt the next pose once you have mastered the previous one. It means that you can get ‘stuck’ on a pose for a while. Also that in a mysore studio each person will be practicing different poses and starting at different times.
  2. Ashtanga is generally done in a normal temprature studio.
  3. Ashtanga studios don’t generally have mirrors in and you aren’t expected to do all the poses looking at yourself in the mirror.
  4. Ashtanga can be quite upper body intensive. You do lots of vinyasa and hold downward dog quite a lot. As other activities that I do are also upper body intensive I find that it can be a bit much doing classes three times a week along with handstand training.
  5. Ashtanga, particularly the primary series can be practiced anywhere that you can put your yoga mat down. Because you build up one pose at a time you only go as far as you remember the sequence.

There probably are more differences that I haven’t thought of but those are the five main areas that come to mind from my limited experience.

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