The 26 Postures of Bikram Yoga
Bikram Yoga is practiced in a heated room. Typically a 90 minute class consists of the same 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. Each posture has two sets. You can read more about this yoga, the heritage or lineage of the yoga, the benefits of the practice and more in this in-depth article.
Standing Deep Breathing
Each class begins with pranayama. A slow inhalation and exhalation filling the lungs to their maximum and then exhaling them to completely empty.
Use the muscles in your throat as you inhale via your nose and exhale through your mouth. Bring your arms up to the ceiling as you inhale and then forward in front of your chest as you exhale relaxing your head back.
Read more on standing deep breathing here.
Half Moon Pose
Half Moon Pose is a lateral or sideways flexion of the spine. This posture is different to the typical Half Moon Pose that is practiced in other lineages of yoga.
Contract your core to maintain alignment of the two hips. Move slowly into the posture, take your time to keep the alignment and reduce the need for corrections once you are in the posture.
Read more about the Bikram Yoga Half Moon Pose here.
Hands to Feet Pose
The final component of the spinal warm up series. Hands to feet pose is a forward fold and a deep stretch of the hamstrings
Concentrate on maintaining the connection between your upper body and your legs. Let your head hang heavy like a bowling ball and use your biceps to pull on your heels. Read more on how to do Hands to Feet Pose here.
There are three parts to Awkward Pose aimed at warming up the leg muscles. Be sure to keep fifteen centimetres between your feet, hip distance apart and maintain this placement throughout the posture.
Keep your core contracted. In part two and three keeping your hips forward can help the spine straighten.
Read more on how to improve your Awkward Pose here.
Standing Head to Knee Pose
Standing head to knee pose needs a really solid foundation. Lock your knee, squeeze your gluteals and thighs and pull your abdominal muscles in as tightly as you can.
Your concentration gets as much of a workout in this posture as your body. Stay focussed on the steps and move at your own pace.
Keep your hips pushed forward to minimise hyperextension of the knee. Read more here.
Standing Bow Pulling Pose
Balancing Stick Pose
Balancing stick is the final of the one legged balancing postures.
Pull your belly in and stretch your arms and legs away from each other. More on Balancing Stick Pose here.
Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose
Dandayamana Bibhaktapada Paschimottanasana
As triangle is a hip opening posture, keep your glutes squeezed and core in tight. Work to develop strength in the bent leg, coming down until the thigh is parallel to to the floor.
Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose
Dandayamana Bibhaktapada Janushirasana
This compression pose also is a stretch. Contract your core and round your spine up toward the ceiling 'like an angry cat' to feel the stretch.
Your two hips should face the same direction, pull your core in tight. Maintain the chin tucked in to the chest the whole time. Read more about Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose here.
In order to externally rotate your hips squeeze your glutes and keep your belly pulled in tight. Hold the foot if it slips at all.
The heel of the foot should be as close to the midline of your body as possible.
Dead Body Pose
A two minute savasana after the standing series gives your body and mind time to prepare for the floor postures.
Wind Removing Pose
Wind removing pose massages the digestive system, alternatively the ascending then descending colon and finally the transverse colon.
This posture can help with wind, bloating and pressure in the abdomen.
Spine strengthening series starts with Cobra. Using your lower back strength, Cobra Pose helps relieve back pain and develop back strength. Cobra can relieve menstrual problems, increase flexibility and can strengthen the immune system.
Locus Pose moves the focus to the upper back strength. The position of the arms in Locust Pose can help alleviate tennis elbow. Shifting your weight forward onto the shoulders can help get your both legs up off the floor. Don't give up!
Full Locust Pose
Take a deep full breath as you lift off 'like a 747 taking off' and maintaining that feeling of fullness in your lungs will help you feel light and lifted.
Continues to strengthen and improve the flexibility of the spine.
Bow pose is the final posture in the spine strengthening series and brings them all together using the full spine.
Keep your knees directly behind your hips and use your gluteals to kick back and up. Look up to the ceiling and relax your shoulders.
Fixed Firm Pose
Half Tortoise Pose
Half Tortoise pose can help relax the neck and shoulder muscles, stretch your back and expand your rib cage. Stretch forward, little fingers on the floor and keep your hips on your heels as much as you can.
Camel Pose is the deepest back bend of the class and you have spent 75 minutes getting your body ready for this posture.
Camel improves strength and flexibility of the spine. Develops courage and trust and can be an emotional posture for many.
After the deepest back bend, Rabbit Pose is the deepest forward bend. Deep flexion of the spine. Compressing the front of the body and rounding the spine.
Keep the grip throughout the posture.
Head to Knee with Stretching Pose
Janushirasana with Paschimottanasana
On the home stretch, head to knee with stretching can feel great. It gives a deep stretch to the hamstrings and can help alleviate sciatic pain.
In Janushirasana (sanskrit for 'head to knee') one side is often more flexible than the other, this is typical for most people. This is a great chance to practice the head to knee component of Standing Head to Knee without the worry that you might fall over!
Paschimotthanasana (stretching pose) is an intense stretch of the back of the legs (hamstrings) and the back of the body. Keep your back straight and work on getting your knees straight before you start to pull your head toward your feet.
Spine Twisting Pose