Often students ask: What’s the difference between Iyengar and Bikram yoga? What’s the difference between Iyengar yoga and Ashtanga? As part of our Blog Series we’ve put together a no-nonsense article comparing Iyengar, Bikram, and Ashtanga yoga.
Tried another form of yoga before? Tell us how you think Iyengar is different by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘What Is Iyengar?’ in the subject.
Iyengar: B.K.S Iyengar found the meaning of the sutras by practical search and regular practice. Iyengar Yoga has shown and taught how all the eight aspects of astanga yoga are integrated and teaches that all people regardless of age or ability should be able to practice yoga.
Bikram: This relatively new style of yoga was invented by Bikram Choudhury in the late 20th century. Bikram yoga is all about generating heat and releasing toxins through excessive perspiration.
Ashtanga: Iyengar and ashtanga yoga come from the same lineage. BKS Iyengar and the late Pattabhi Jois, who developed Ashtanga, were both taught by Tirumalai Krishnamacharya.
Ashtanga is channeling or controlling the fluctuations of the citta – the sum total of our: thoughts, desires, senses, emotions, personality, intellect, perception, memory, understanding, recognition and cognition.
Iyengar: Iyengar yoga is interested in helping students achieve, maintain health and wellbeing. Iyengar does this through emphasising precision and alignment in all poses, using props to assist all people to be able to access yoga, and through sequencing – meaning there is importance placed on when and how poses are done. Iyengar does not subscribe to fads or quick-fixes and instead works from the premise that consistent and sustained practice helps to address health issues and also prevent them. Iyengar yoga practitioners often align their practice with the season as a way to keep in tune with nature.
Bikram: It is a combination of Hatha yoga and other yoga techniques and offers a set of breathing exercises and 26 poses. The temperature is usually around 40C degrees with 40% humidity. The aim of the poses in Bikram yoga is to stretch and strengthen the muscles and also compress and rinse the organs of the body.
Ashtanga: Ashtanga is a highly energetic, very vigorous form of yoga. Ashtanga yoga is based on the idea that the sweat generated by Ashtanga practice removes the toxins brought out by the boiling blood. Ashtanga teaches that thinner (boiled) blood circulates more freely and claims its better able to remove pain, impurities and disease.
Duration of Teacher Training Course
Iyengar: 2-5 years
Bikram: 9 weeks
Ashtanga: 1-3 years
Iyengar: In Iyengar the range of different poses and specific sequences are used for different purposes, with the teacher monitoring students and also making adjustments. Iyengar also makes use of props to ensure all bodies at all stages of life can access yoga. Different students also work at different paces under the guidance of the teacher depending on need and there is the option to practice more independently in LED classes.
Bikram: Bikram is often called Hot Yoga as the yoga is practiced in an artificially heated room. The class is fast-paced and aimed at getting the heart working at a particular pace and keeping it there.
Ashtanga: In Ashtanga each pose is held for five breaths and students practice salutes to the sun in between poses to keep up the pace. There is limited teacher feedback and the option to practice more independently in Mysore classes.
Just to clarify we teach in the Iyengar method at the centre.