Bikram yoga is one of the most popular forms of hot yoga in the world. Devised by Indian-American yoga guru Bikram Choudhury, this form of yoga became popular in the 1970s for its uniquely hot environment that is designed to replicate the climate of India.
While Bikram yoga technically no longer belongs to Choudhury, his teachings of the practice consisting of 26 poses continues to this day in yoga studios across the Western world.
This form of yoga is great for improving lower body strength, promoting joint motion in upper and lower body, and makes for an excellent weight loss tool thanks to the heat.
If you’re new to the world of yoga and want to learn more about Bikram yoga, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the 26 best forms of Bikram yoga to try for yourself.
What Is Bikram Yoga?
Firstly, let’s take a look at what Bikram yoga actually is. Bikram yoga is a type of hot yoga practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius), a heat designed to replicate the temperature in India.
The heat is also designed to help those practicing to be more flexible and go deeper into poses while sweating out toxins.
Bikram yoga consists of 26 yoga poses and 2 breathing exercises. The poses can be held from 6 to 60 seconds and are often performed more than once in a session.
Due to the controversies surrounding Bikram Choudhury, some studios are reluctant to call themselves Bikram yoga studios. So, some Bikram yoga sessions differ slightly from Choudhury’s original teachings.
Regardless, these classes are everywhere in the Western world, and are super easy to find.
26 Bikram Yoga Poses
The 26 Bikram yoga poses are designed to blend into one another, with each position helping to move the body in a safe and strengthening way. Its fluidity is what makes this a popular yoga type for those with injuries.
Here are the 26 Bikram yoga poses.
1. Standing Position And Pranayama Breathing
Bikram yoga sessions start with a deep breathing exercise called Pranayama, an ancient breathing technique designed to strengthen the connection between the mind and body. This is to help you become concentrated on the session ahead.
2. Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)
The Half Moon Pose, also known as the Standing Side Stretch, is the next position. This helps to stretch the spine and abdominal muscles, while subsequently stimulating the digestive organs.
3. Awkward Pose (Utkatasana)
Also known as the Chair Pose in other forms of yoga, the Awkward Pose consists of three parts. This series of poses opens the hips, activates the core muscles, and strengthens the muscles in the feet and ankles.
4. Eagle Pose (Garurasana)
The next position in the sequence is the Eagle Pose, which is designed to test your balance. This is a somewhat complicated position to master, and requires complete concentration – which is why the breathing exercise at the start of the session is so important.
The Eagle Pose is also the only pose that targets all major points of the body.
5. Standing Head-To-Knee Pose (Dandayamana Janusirsana)
The Standing Head-To-Knee pose takes four stages to complete, and it must be done slowly to achieve the best results. This is one of the poses that takes the longest in Bikram yoga. It works to challenge balance, strengthen the core, legs, and arms, and boosts concentration.
6. Standing Bow-Pulling Pose (Dandayamana-Dhanurasana)
One of the most well-known yoga poses is the Standing Bow-Pulling pose. This pose works to improve flexibility, strength, and stamina, while increasing patience and concentration. This pose also encourages blood flow around the body.
7. Balancing Stick Pose (Tuladandasana)
The Balancing Stick Pose, as the name suggests, is a pose all about balance. It also challenges core strength and mental determination, and works to increase circulation to the brain and heart.
This is the shortest posture held in Bikram yoga, but it’s intense – especially with the heat of the room.
8. Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose (Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Paschimotthanasana)
The first wide-legged series in Bikram yoga is the Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose. This pose is designed to lower the heart rate after having increased it in the previous pose.
There is also a change in blood flow when the spine is stretched and the head is lower than the heart.
9. Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
The Triangle Pose is ideal for opening up the hips, shoulders, and chest, while stretching the spine. This position requires a lot of core strength to twist the spine without resting a hand on the floor.
10. Standing Separate Leg Head To Knee Pose (Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Janushirasana)
This pose is a nice break from balancing, and instead stretches the legs and opens the shoulders. It’s an intense stretch, but a nice relief from the previous poses. This pose also helps to increase metabolism by massaging the internal organs.
11. Tree Pose (Tadasana)
A smooth transition back to balancing is with the Tree Pose. This pose is designed to improve the flexibility in the hips, ankles, and knees. It is also good for improving posture.
12. Toe Stand (Padangustasana)
The final pose in the standing series is the Toe Stand, which is good for strengthening the feet. It is also great for expanding the range of motion in the knees, hips, and ankles, and requires a lot of focus.
13. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
The first pose in the seated series is the Corpse Pose. Everyone’s favorite yoga position, this pose is incredibly relaxing and provides a nice bridge between the two series.
14. Wind Removing Pose (Pavanamuktasana)
A good transition into the seated series is the Wind Removing Pose. This pose helps to relieve lower back pain or tension, while engaging the core and hip flexibility.
15. Sit Up (Pada-Hasthasana)
The Sit Up Pose is great for stretching the legs, while also re-energizing the body for the next poses to come. It is also a chance to refresh the mind and regain concentration.
16. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Another favorite, the Cobra Pose helps to stretch the spine and abdominal muscles, while simultaneously strengthening the core and opening the shoulders. This is great for relieving back pain.
17. Locust Pose (Salabhasana)
The Locust Pose might look easy, but it’s a surprisingly difficult pose. This pose engages every part of the body and works to tone the legs, hips, and buttocks.
18. Full Locust Pose (Poorna Salabhasana)
This pose is essentially the same as the previous pose, but instead targets the upper and mid-body as well as the lower body. Breath control is vital for this one!
19. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
Another back-bending pose is the Bow Pose, which is designed to stretch the spine while opening the chest and shoulders. This is good for improving mobility in the spine.
20. Fixed Firm Pose (Supta Vajrasana)
The Fixed Firm Pose is a nice release from the Bow Pose, which works to stretch the lower back, hips, leg muscles, ankles, and knee joints. This pose is all about patience and listening to your body.
21. Half Tortoise Pose (Ardha Kurmasana)
This pose is good for stretching the spine in a different position, and is one of the most relaxing positions in the series. It helps to release tension in the neck, shoulders, and back.
22. Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
The final backward bend is the Camel Pose, which works to evenly stretch the entire spine. Be careful to breathe and go slow to prevent dizziness.
23. Rabbit Pose (Sasangasana)
Next, we do the complete opposite by stretching the spine in a forward bending compression. This also helps to massage the internal organs and improve digestion.
24. Head-To-Knee With Stretching Pose (Janushirasana Met Paschimotthanasana)
This is a classic stretching pose that works to deeply stretch the legs, spine, and hips. Make sure to listen to your body and not push yourself, as flexibility is required for the deepest stretch.
25. Spine Twisting Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
The Spine Twisting Pose works to realign the spine by performing it on both sides. This helps to relieve tension in the back and neck muscles.
26. Blowing In Firm (Kapalbhati In Vajrasana)
The final step in the Bikram yoga sequence is another breathing exercise. This is a last cleansing breath designed to flush out any lingering toxins. It also helps to oxygenate the body, leaving you feeling energized and refreshed after a hot session.
The session will also end with a Dead Body Pose, which is essential for cooling down the body and allowing yourself to process the session. This typically lasts two minutes and helps to reconnect your body and mind.
So, there you have it! Bikram yoga is a fairly straightforward yoga style that is suitable for beginners and advanced yogis, but the addition of the hot room adds an extra layer of intensity.
It’s sticky and sweaty and great for weight loss, but also helps the body to melt into the different positions, allowing you to sweat out toxins and leave the session feeling flexible and re-energized.
Hopefully, this guide has taught you everything to know about the forms of Bikram yoga, and why you should check out a Bikram yoga session in your local area.