Bikram yoga is a structured class of 26 postures. It is performed in a studio that is kept at 105 degrees Fahrenheit for the session's 90-minute duration. Bikram Choudhury, the developer of this style of yoga, believes that your muscles, ligaments and tendons will benefit from being warmed up and stretched in a certain order.
Each Bikram class begins and ends with a breathing technique. You start the class by performing Standing Deep Breathing and end your Bikram class by kneeling on your mat for Blowing in Firm pose, also known as Kapalabhati or Skull-Shining Breath in other yoga traditions.
Standing and Balancing Poses
After Standing Deep Breathing, the next 12 postures are a mixture of standing and balancing poses with one anomaly; Hands to Feet pose which is performed seated on the mat. In order, these poses are: Half-Moon pose, Hands to Feet, Awkward pose, Eagle pose, Standing Head to Knee, Standing Bow pose, Balancing Stick, Standing Separate Leg Stretching pose, Triangle pose, Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee pose, Tree pose, and Toe Stand. By starting with Half-Moon and Hands to Feet, you’re performing all-over stretches that prepare your body for the poses that follow. Each of these poses is derived from Hatha yoga and some have been tweaked by Bikram, either in name or structure, to enhance his vision of a yoga system that will "maintain optimum health and maximum function."
The 14th pose, called Savasana, or in Bikram-ese, Dead Body, allows your body to absorb the benefits derived from the invigorating standing and balancing poses. It also gives you the little break you need to gather the strength to carry on for the series of postures yet to be performed on the floor; either while seated or lying down. Relaxing is an integral part of the yoga process, usually done at the end of a class, but a welcome respite wherever it is imposed.
After Savasana, you’ll remain on your back as you perform the first of the 11 floor poses; Wind-Removing pose. From there you’ll flip over onto your stomach for Cobra, Locust, Full Locust and Bow poses. Following these back bends, you’ll maneuver yourself onto your knees for Fixed Firm pose, Half Tortoise pose, Camel pose and Rabbit pose. You’ll finish off your Bikram routine with Head to Knee pose and Stretching pose and Spine-Twisting pose.
Linda Kaban is a certified yoga teacher and professional life coach who specializes in helping people achieve their fitness goals. With a bachelor's degree in the humanities, Kaban has been writing since 1998 and has been published in YOGALife magazine along with other healthy living publications.