Bikram Yoga vs. Ashtanga Yoga vs. Hatha Yoga

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Difference between Bikram Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga and Hatha Yoga

There are quite a few different forms of yoga being practiced today, and while all of them rely on basically similar movements and poses, there are key differences determined by emphasis on certain movements. Some of the more popular forms of yoga taught today are Bikram or Hot Yoga, Ashtanga or Power Yoga, and Hatha Yoga. Choosing which particular form you will go for is largely dependent on your needs and preferences.


The main differences between each form lie in the movements, practically how they are executed, and which parts of the body perform most of the movement. Bikram for example is characterized by long flowing movements that are intended to loosen tight muscles. In addition, the form has no less than 26 poses.

Ashtanga on the other hands is a much more intense and almost rigorous form of yoga, in which the movements are a lot faster than you would normally expect for yoga.

Hatha for its part is characterized slow-paced and gentle movements that make it ideally suited for those who are new to the yoga discipline.


Bikram is often referred to as "Hot Yoga", and it is easy to see why. The high temperatures-typically in the 95º to 100º range-result in a definitely hot house atmosphere that can be quite invigorating. The profuse sweating that results is intended to loosen tight muscles.

Ashtanga is performed in slightly cooler temperatures, since it is a faster paced form. Given the comparatively intense workout, you will have it stay pretty cool on order to prevent heat exhaustion.

Among the three forms, Hatha is a lot less stringent with regard to temperature requirements, and it can basically be performed in any suitable space.

Difficulty Level

Bikram is fairly easy for beginners to get into, and the graceful flowing movements are easy enough to follow even on your first time out. If you are looking for an easy introduction into yoga, this form is well worth considering. Of course there are those 26 poses you have to go through, but you should be able to manage after a few sessions.

Ashtanga is a bit more challenging as you may have guessed from the "Power Yoga" appellation. The fast-paced and intense nature of the form makes it more suitable to experienced practitioners,

Hatha is even easier on beginners than Bikram, and the slow gentle movements are simple enough for anyone to follow.

Similarities and Differences


  • Ideally suited for cleansing applications
  • Performed and taught in much higher temperatures
  • Extensive range of different poses
  • More suitable for experienced yoga practitioners


  • An intense form of yoga
  • Relatively fast paced
  • Recommended primarily for advanced yoga practitioners


  • A more relaxed form of yoga
  • Slower pace
  • Ideally suited to beginners
Which yoga style do you prefer?
  • Bikram Yoga
  • Ashtanga Yoga
  • Hatha Yoga

Discuss It: comments 3

  • Guest
  • Judie wrote on May 2010

If I recall correctly, Hatha Yoga is basically a beginner's method. Meaning it is the style of yoga that was one of the first introduced to the West and it is the one that uses *props* to help folks get into the Asanas (poses). You know, things like "bricks", chairs and ropes....

So yeah, switching from a Bikram method class to a Hatha method shouldn't be a problem. :) In fact, it might be a little bit boring to you, maybe a little too easy.

But, as it has been said, even one good yoga class a week beats none....and if you can afford to do both (in terms of time and money) why not? Maybe that is part of the problem, is that your subconscious is telling you "yoga=grind" when it doesn't have to.

Bikram and Ashtanga are both forms of Hatha yoga. Bikram is not an easy yoga for beginners. Ashtanga is not usually practiced in a cool environment most studies have the heat around 85. This is a weird article.

  • Guest
  • Andi Zuki wrote on May 2015

If Bikram seems easy you are doing it wrong. A Bikram classroom usually starts around 102 degrees and can go above 110. It is Very hot!

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