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Ashtanga Yoga vs. Bikram Yoga

Posted Apr 25 2011 3:00am

Happy Monday everyone!

First things first: I had been meaning to ask that anyone who’s send me a question or personal email in the last week or so please resend/ask me again (if I hadn’t replied)! I feel so lame as I always try and respond to everyone but lately with most comments/emails I receive that need a reply I make a mental note of this, and, of course, forget. Life has been just a little too crazy and I plan to get back on top of things, but sifting through all comments & emails to figure out where I need to reply would be even crazier ;). (Tip: if you send me an email you can just go to your outbox/send mail box and resend, no need to re-write it!). Again very sorry and thanks for your patience.

Now, let’s talk Yoga! Yesterday I took my first Ashtanga class in forever. Once the teacher noticed we were only with 6 persons, all of whom are familiair with Ashtanga, she decided to teach the advanced class with a bunch of ‘omfgyouvegottabekiddingme?!‘ poses thrown in. It was very cool to see all these poses but honestly, I felt like a n00b allover again and I felt a little insecure. Nevertheless it felt really nice to practice Ashantaga again, it’s so different from Bikram! I really had to work hard at keeping up with the pace as it is so much faster than Bikram. The poses are also a lot more difficult and then, of course, there is the ujay breathing. I love/hate ujay. Ujay is hardly something you can explain over the interwebz, but it’s a way of deep breathing that makes a lot of sound/noise, it sounds like snoring actually. It helps you to be present in your practice and not let your mind wander. It is also, however, quite intense to try and keep your ujay under control and loud while doing very fast pose sequences, where it is important to breathe either in or out with certain movements. (The first time I went to Ashantga I thought what… is this for real? haha). I notice now that every time I have quite a hard time to breathe ujay in the beginning of the class, and my ujay becomes more natural and more loud when the class endures.

Example of an ‘omfgyouvegottabekiddingme?!’ pose

Yesterdays class confirmed for me that I could not possibly pick a favorite between Bikram and Ashtanga. They are both called yoga, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end.

I love that Bikram is in a heated room and the whole sequence is the same, every time. I love that Ashtanga has a gazillion downward facing dogs (adho mukha svanasana) and cobra poses (bhujangasana) and is slightly different every time. I love that Bikram makes you sweat like a pig and that there’s a lot of balance poses. I love that my Ashtanga teacher uses the proper Sanskrit names for all the asanas (poses) and that the poses are more structurely challenging. I love that with Bikram you have a mirror to see yourself in the pose. I love that Ashtanga yoga doesn’t use mirrors so you can focus on how you feel, instead of how you look. I love that with Bikram the teacher gives you a very detailed instruction of how and where to place what part of your body. I love that with Ashtanga, the teacher simply gives the name of the pose and shows the poses herself. I also love that she isn’t afraid of coming over to you and really push you into a certain pose, or grab your limb and place it in the exact right position. I love the detox breathing exercise with Bikram (but hate the first breathing exercise…). I am starting to like ujay with Ashtanga ;).

With Bikram, I love the gu ru ra sana (eagle pose), danday amana dhan u ra sana (standing bow pulling pose) and supta vaj rasana (fixed firm pose). With Ashtanga I love the bridge pose (setu bandha sarvangasana), cobra pose (bhujangasana) and prasarita padottasana (wide-legged forward bend).

Bikram sequence

Eagle pose

Standing bow pulling pose

fixed firm pose

I love that after Bikram I feel totally spent, yet energized. I love that after Ashtanga I feel totally relaxed and mellow. After Bikram, I am pretty anxious to get off my mat and gogogo because of the energy. After Ashtanga we lay in corpse pose (savanasana) and I have a hard time peeling myself off my mat because I feel like I am in deep trance.

Ashtanga sequence (primary series)

Bridge pose

Cobra pose

wide-legged forward bend

After all this Yoga talk I realize I never gave a proper update on my very first Bikram class!  I wrote a guest post on my first Bikram experience which I will link you to tomorrow! Also, a friend of mine who studies Yoga is going to write a guest post for you all, which will be a very special one. Psyched!

Have you ever tried Yoga? Which style do you prefer & why?



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