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What’s with the Bikram-Ashtanga battle lines?

September 26, 2011

Back in August, we posted a piece titled: “Ashtanga vs. Bikram: There’s no contest, Ashtanga wins.”

You can check it out here if you missed it. To date, it is still one of the most viewed of our posts.

David Swenson, from his webpage

My question is: Why? Why is it that Bikram and Ashtanga seem always to be set at odds with each other? (The earlier piece here was prompted by an elephant journal post that, true to about 62% of items at ej, was intended to rile readers up as much as possible.)

I ask, because a little blurb popped up online with much the same dichotomy: “Yoga Help — Ashtanga or Bikram?” The person asks, as you can surmise, which to try.

In my mind, this is a strange duality because, other than maybe both making you sweat, there doesn’t seem to be that much in common. (Yes, I guess there is the set sequence; but both are so different.) If someone wanted to know whether to try Ashtanga or a flow or power class, I’d get it. All have vinyasa. But there’s none of that in Bikram. Honestly, I think Bikram has much more in common with Iyengar than with Ashtanga.

So, is it just the sweat factor? And has it gotten to the point where it’s rooted in people’s minds so they think of it almost naturally?

Posted by Steve

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 27, 2011 9:30 am

    It is an interesting debate, I have friends that swear by Bikram and I just go “well, enjoy!” I agree with what you say in the previous article, different set of gunas, or different personalities, then different styles of yoga…

    I personally almost threw up because of the high temperature after trying it once, so I knew right then that it was not for me, my body would not let me sign up for another class, and I also did not like the authoritative tone of the teacher. Could’ve been just my case, I find Ashtanga to be very gentle when done properly.

  2. Jacki Martin permalink
    April 8, 2012 11:50 pm

    This popped up when I googled ashtanga v bikram… I had an ashanga practice some years ago. Decided to try yoga again and had office mates who were enjoying hot yoga. Strenuous, set series — sounded ashtanga-like with the added benefit of losing some water flab and a detox (I know that is scientifically iffy and shallow, but). But after the first couple classes I discovered broken capillaries on my face. BUMMER. Googled that and found that it’s a thing that has happened to others. I’ve been babying my skin since my ill-spent youth, and two classes later broken capillaries. See what being shallow got me? Back to ashtanga.

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