The Bikram yoga style was developed by Bikram Choudhury, who derived a specific set of 26 poses from traditional Hatha yoga. These 26 poses are always done in the same order to enhance the physical benefits of going from one pose to the other. What Bikram yoga is most famous for, however, is the fact that the 90-minute yoga class is done in a room where the temperature ranges between 95 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The reported benefits of Bikram yoga include weight loss, flushing of toxins from the body, increased stamina, strength and flexibility and overall health. According to Bikram yogis, this ordered, 26-pose system massages every part of the body, right down to the internal organs and bones.
Getting into Bikram Yoga
Bikram yoga is a very intense workout and should only be practiced under a certified Bikram yoga instructor, especially as the heat can be difficult. You will need a sticky yoga mat and at least three absorbent towels as there will be copious sweating. Yogis should avoid eating for 3 hours before class, but they should definitely stay hydrated and bring a large water bottle along to class.
During a Bikram yoga class, you will start with the following standing poses (always in the same order):
- Standing deep breathing (“Pranayama”)
- Half-Moon (“Ardha-Chandrasana”)
- Awkward Pose (“Utkatasana”)
- Eagle (“Garurasana”)
- Standing Head-to-Knee (“Dandayamana-Janushirasana”)
- Standing Bow (“Dandayamana-Dhanurasana”)
- Balancing Stick (“Tuladandasana”)
- Standing Separate Leg Stretch (“Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Paschimotthanasana”)
- Triangle (“Trikanasana”)
- Standing Separate Leg Head-to-Knee (“Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Janushirasana”)
- Tree (“Tadasana”)
- Toe Stand (“Padangustasana”)
At this point, you transition into the following floor exercises:
- Corpse pose (“Savasana”)
- Wind-removing pose (“Pavanamuktasana”)
- Sit-up pose (“Pada-Hasthasana”)
- Cobra pose (“Bhujangasana”)
- Locust (“Salabhasana”)
- Full Locust (“Poorna-Salabhasana”)
- Bow pose (“Dhanurasana”)
- Fixed-firm pose (”Supta-Vajrasana”)
- Half-tortoise (“Ardha-Kurmasana”)
- Camel (“Ustrasana”)
- Head-to-knee stretching (“Janushirasana and Paschimotthanasana”)
- Spine Twisting (“Ardha-Matsyendrasana”)
- Blowing in Firm pose (“Kapalbhati in Vajrasana”)
The class usually ends with everyone resting in corpse pose for a few minutes until they are ready to leave the heated room.
Considerations for Bikram Yoga
If you are in reasonably good shape and are interested in trying this hot yoga, talk with your doctor first about any possible risks. Always be sure to practice with a certified instructor and follow all safety precautions and stay well hydrated as dehydration is one of the risks with the intense sweating. To keep your core temperature down, wear only a sports bra and shorts.