How Long to Hold Bikram Yoga Poses

The 26 Bikram yoga poses are held for varying lengths of time.
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Bikram yoga, founded by Bikram Choudhury, refers to a series of 26 poses performed in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The Bikram sequence employs the use of Kapalabhati, or “firm breath,” in sync with poses that are performed twice and usually held from six seconds to 60 seconds. The total workout lasts about 90 minutes. Bikram yoga practice begins with a series of standing poses, moves into backbends and forward bends, and ends with twists.

Standing Posture Series

The first 13 poses in Bikram yoga are performed in an upright position on a sticky mat. You open your practice with Pranayama, or Breath of Life, inhaling for 60 seconds and exhaling for 60 seconds in a 10-breath cycle. As you move into Half Moon pose, you hold for a count of 45 to 60 seconds, adding a 10-second standing backbend. By now you should feel your inner calorie blaster kicking in as your practice picks up pace.

Forward-Folding Bends

Continuing without pause, you’ll move into Padahastasana, or Hands to Feet, in the first forward bend of the Bikram sequence. You hold the position for 30 seconds as you move deliberately into a 10-second-per-part Awkward pose that works all of the major muscle groups in three parts. From here you’ll perform Eagle pose for 10 to 20 seconds, followed by a much-deserved water break. Drink slowly and don’t overhydrate to avoid cramping.

Building Flexibility and Balance

After a brief break, you move into the last eight standing exercises that make up the first half of the Bikram yoga sequence, beginning with Standing Head to Knee and ending with Tree pose and Toe Stand. Each pose is held from 10 seconds (Balancing Stick) to 60 seconds (Standing Head to Knee pose and Standing Bow). Holding a pose 30 to 60 seconds helps build concentration, determination and patience while it builds your abdominal and thigh muscles.

Savasana, or Corpse Pose

The two-minute Corpse pose following the standing and forward-bend sequence is used to rest and restore before moving into mat work. Savasana brings circulation into balance, helps build focus, and eases anxiety and irritability. Some Bikram yoga studios encourage students to perform Savasana between each of the floor poses, while other instructors teach moving quickly through the rest of the poses without it.

Twisting and Stretching Poses

The twisting poses segment of a Bikram yoga workout moves quickly between postures to build heat and flexibility within the body. The first three of these poses, Cobra, Half Locust and Full Locust, last 10 seconds each, followed by the 20-second Floor Bow into the 40-second Fixed Firm. Bikram poses vary in duration based on their anatomical focus and purpose. Once you complete the first half of the sequence, you're going to repeat each pose for a 90-minute total workout.

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