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Differences Between Power Yoga & Bikram Yoga

by
author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
Differences Between Power Yoga & Bikram Yoga
Bring a towel to yoga, whether you're practicing power or Bikram. Photo Credit shironosov/iStock/Getty Images

While Power and Bikram yoga have similarities — mostly, lots of sweat — they are two separate schools of practice. Power yoga isn't an official discipline, but it's based on Ashtanga yoga. Bikram, on the other hand, is a specific discipline created in the 1970s by Bikram Choudhury. Learning the differences between the two types of yoga can help you figure out which one is best for you.

Read More: Which Type of Yoga is Right for You?

All About Power Yoga

You're likely to see Power Yoga on a gym schedule, but you might not necessarily know what it means. Like the title says, this type of yoga is all about power — it's a vigorous, fast-paced class that will leave you sweating. It's based on Ashtanga yoga, which follows a specific set of poses and links movement to breath.

Power yoga, however, doesn't necessarily follow a specific set of poses. Rather, it gives the instructor the flexibility to order the asanas however they like, so no two classes are the same. The class or session can also be any length you or the instructor would like, whether it's 15 minutes or two hours.

Unlike some other styles of yoga, power yoga isn't typically performed in a heated room. That means that you can do it anywhere, whether at a gym or with a video in your own home. Just make sure to have a non-slippery surface, such as a yoga mat, and a towel handy.

Bikram yoga uses traditional hatha yoga poses.
Bikram yoga uses traditional hatha yoga poses. Photo Credit max-kegfire/iStock/Getty Images

Bikram Yoga Explained

Bikram yoga, on the other hand, is done in a heated room, and it must be heated to a very specific temperature: 105 degrees F, according to the discipline's creator, and approximately 40 percent humidity. While Bikram can sometimes be referred to as "hot" yoga, that term technically describes any yoga session done in a heated room.

Additionally, unlike power yoga, Bikram requires the same 26 poses to be completed in cycles during a 90-minute session. The poses are culled from traditional hatha yoga asanas and were chosen by Choudhury to move fresh, oxygenated blood to every fiber of your being. Bikram yoga sessions, however, do not include inverted poses like a power yoga class might.

Read More: Types of Hot Yoga

Choosing the Right Class

There's no rule that says you have to do choose one class or the other. If you have equal access to instructors that can lead you safely through these two different, yet both difficult, types of yoga, then you can incorporate both of them into a regular workout routine.

If you have any health issues, though, talk to your health care provider before you take on any arduous exercise. This is particularly true for Bikram yoga, as the high heat and humidity can be dangerous if you don't drink enough water, as shown by a 2012 study in the British Medical Journal Case Reports.

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