There are 26 poses, or asana, in Bikram yoga designed to stretch and relax every part of the body. The workout is intensified by the yoga studio being heated to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat is intended to aid in flexibility and help the body sweat out impurities during class. Bikram yoga poses can also be done at home to keep your body strong and flexible.
The half moon pose (ardha chandrasana) works all of the muscles in the body’s core, including the obliques and the deltoids and enables the entire spine to have more flexibility. This pose also increases health in the kidneys and the liver and firm up the midsection. Stand with your feet together and raise your arms straight up over your head. Then bend your torso right at a 45-degree angle.
Standing Head to Knee
Standing head to knee (dandayamana janushirasana) works the muscles and increases flexibility in the back, arms and legs, including the biceps, triceps and hamstrings. It squeezes the internal organs, flushing them out and helping to expel toxins. This includes the reproductive organs for women. Begin by standing with your feet together. Bring your left leg straight up and hold your toes with your left hand, keeping your head down so it meets your knee.
Wind-removing pose (pavanamuktasana) massages various parts of the colon and compresses the digestive system; removing blockages, aiding in bowel movements and excess gas buildup. It also works the arms, thighs, hips and the abdomen. Begin by lying on your back. Bring on leg up to meet your chest. Hug this leg with both arms and breathe deeply. This is one of the easier and more common poses in yoga that is good for beginners.
Bow pose (dhanurasana) is another well-known yoga pose, but it is on the difficult side. While lying on your stomach, bring your legs as far back as you can, bending your knees. Stretch your arms back and hold your feet. Your chest and thighs should be off the ground. This pose though hard to obtain, has an array of health benefits from circulation and respiration to digestion. It allows the lungs to expand and for your breaths to be fuller while working all of the muscles of the back.
Blowing in Firm
Blowing in firm pose (kapalbhati in vajrasana) is the last pose done during a Bikram yoga class and focuses on breathing, mainly forcing air out of the lungs to bring in more oxygen than a normal breath. This allows the blood to carry more oxygen around the body and improve circulation as well as respiration. Blowing in firm pose strengthens the lungs and the core muscles. Kneel by sitting on your ankles and sit up straight. Rest the palms of your hands on your thighs. Exhale all of the air out of your lungs and immediately inhale deeply.
Poppy Carpenter graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. In addition to teaching journalism to junior high students, she also covers health and fitness for "PUSH Monthly" and Angie's List.