Differences Between Power Yoga & Bikram Yoga
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.
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.
Bring a towel to yoga, whether you're practicing power or Bikram.
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.
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.
- Yoga Journal: Power Yoga Sequence Basics
- Live Science: What is Bikram Yoga?
- Chan J, Natekar A, Koren G. Hot yoga and pregnancy: fitness and hyperthermia. Can Fam Physician. 2014;60(1):41–42.
- Hewett ZL, Cheema BS, Pumpa KL, Smith CA. The Effects of Bikram Yoga on Health: Critical Review and Clinical Trial Recommendations. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:428427. doi:10.1155/2015/428427
- Sears ME, Kerr KJ, Bray RI. Arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in sweat: a systematic review. J Environ Public Health. 2012;2012:184745. doi:10.1155/2012/184745
Kelsey Casselbury is a freelance writer and editor based in central Maryland. Her clients have included Livestrong, School Nutrition magazine, What's Up? Media, American Academy of Clinical Chemistry, SmartBrief and more. She has a formal education in personal training/nutrition and a bachelor's degree in journalism from The Pennsylvania State University.