In this article, we will describe in detail all 26 Bikram yoga poses, which should hopefully be a very helpful resource if you consider yourself a beginner to Bikram yoga.
The Definition of Bikram Yoga
Bikram Yoga is a type of Hatha yoga founded by Indian yoga teacher, Bikram Choudhury. Classes take place in a heated room, usually between 95 °F to 108°F, to help loosen up the muscles while practicing.
When taught, poses are only explained verbally, rather than through demonstration, and bikram-certified teachers are given a set script to follow when teaching, so students become familiar with the cues for the poses. During these classes, you can expect to tone your muscles, increase flexibility and lose weight through a 90 minute practice, which consists of 26 poses and two breath techniques done in a fixed sequence.
Some of the poses are considered to be very difficult, and may take practitioners weeks, months or years to fully master the more challenging poses, so Bikram recommends practicing everyday to see progress and to keep your flexibility in tact. As you read further, you will learn that there are other rules to follow doing bikram yoga, as well as what you need to practice properly.
What You Need For Your Practice
Aside from bringing your yoga mat, it is important to wear minimal clothing, due to the hot nature of the class. This is fully accepted and even expected, considering how uncomfortable it would be to wear the normal amount of clothing worn in a non-heated yoga class.
Bringing water is fine, but it is advised to drink a decent amount of water before class, and only taking sips during class to prevent sloshing in the stomach or muscle cramps.
Lastly, be sure to bring a focused mindset. While this isn’t a tangible object, being focused is especially important in bikram yoga, since there are many poses the require strength and balance.
Following the Rules of Class
If you’re brand new to yoga, you may be unaware of yoga etiquette. However, if you’re only new to bikram yoga, some of these rules may be review for you:
- Be quiet during class
During all yoga classes, it is expected that students save conversation for before or after class. Talking to another student during class, or even asking the teacher a question is considered disrespectful.
- Do not create distractions
Be sure not to gulp water, fidget, or make quick movements during stillness in class. This can distract the other students, and it will also take you out of your meditative state.
- Do not eat or drink within 2 hours of class
Eating or drinking a large amount too close to class time can disrupt your practice, making it harder to move into a pose comfortably. Be sure not to eat during class, and to only take small sips during class.
- Breathe through your nose, not your mouth
It has been found that nasal breathing is much healthier than mouth breathing. The nose has four stages of filtration, making sure germs do not get through to your body’s systems. Also, mouth breathers are known to have restricted oxygen levels to the brain and body tissues.
To learn more about nasal breathing versus mouth breathing, view here. Ultimately, optimal breathing is vital for good health, as well as maximizing your ability to perform the yoga poses.
- Do not wipe sweat from your face
Not wiping the sweat from your body and face provides two main benefits. Physically, it allows your body to cool down, which is important when you are dealing with an extremely hot temperature. In fact, if you wipe the sweat, it will signal the body to create even more sweat, so you might as well leave it alone.
Mentally, wiping sweat can break your concentration during your class and even put you off balance in more challenging poses. Learning to not be distracted by the sweat will also teach you to not be distracted in other situations off the mat.
Bikram Yoga Asana Practice
Now that you have learned the history, necessities, and rules of bikram yoga, we will dive into the breath techniques and bikram yoga postures. I will describe each pose in detail, that you know exactly how to perform the pose.
A. The Two Pranayama Exercises
There are two pranayama exercises taught during a bikram yoga class. In the beginning of class, standing deep breathing pose is practiced. Right before Savasana, blowing in firm is practiced. Use these breathing techniques for relaxation, as well as oxygenating the body for further flexibility. Here is a description of each breathing exercise.
- Standing Deep Breathing Pose
Come into a standing position, with your feet together. Raise your arms up high by your ears, stretching your spine, and then bend your arms with the fingers of your hands meeting under your chin.
While holding this pose, inhale and exhale slowly to help expand your lungs to their full capacity. This will help you breathe well through the other poses.
During the exhale, tilt your head back, and the bring it back to alignment during the inhale.
Be sure to maintain a tall, straight posture while doing this pose.
- Blowing in Firm
Come into a kneeling position, with your hands on your knees, elbows locked, and spine perfectly straight.
Suck in your stomach on the inhale, and push your stomach out on the exhale. Only the stomach should be moving; not your torso or your shoulders.
During the exhale, you should also suck in your cheeks, like you’re blowing out a candle.
During the first set, the breath is slow. During the second set, the breath quickens.
Note: Don’t forget to do this pranayama after the 26th posture!
B. The 26 Bikram Yoga Postures
There are 26 active poses practiced in a fixed order during each bikram yoga class. Here is a description of each asana, or pose in the specific order created by Bikram Choudhury.
- Half-Moon Pose
Start off in a standing pose, making sure you have equal weight in your feet. Bring the arms up by the ears and interlace your fingers overhead, releasing your pointer fingers and letting them point straight up.
Make your that your arms are flexed, elbows are locked, and core is sucked in.
Next, straighten your spine and slowly bend at the hips to the right, keeping your arms strong, and fingers laced. Hold and breathe here through your nose. Switch sides.
- Hands-to-Feet Pose
From a standing position, lift your arms high, straightening and stretching your spine.
After that, slowly fold your torso forward and be your hands behind your calves with your elbows bent. Try to bring your elbows close together after a couple breaths.
Next, focus on trying to bring your hands down even lower on the legs, and maybe eventually down to the floor under your heels, while bringing your head closer to the front of your legs.
Once you’ve reached your limit. Stay there and breathe through your nostrils.
- Awkward Pose
Start in a standing position, shoulders relaxed, with your feet spaced so that there is about 6 inches space between the knees.
Strongly extend your arms out in front of you, so that they are flexed with palms facing down and fingers together and lengthened.
Slowly bend your knees, as if you are sitting back into a chair and go as low as comfortably possible without lifting your heels.
Come back up to standing with your arms still out in front of you, and then lift your heels, so that you are on your toes and again, slowly bend your knees and go even lower this time, saying on your tiptoes.
Lastly, come back up to standing one more time, lifting your heels only one inch this time, repeating what you’ve done previously, only this time, try to bring your bum as low as you can, focusing on reaching as low as the heels.
Breathe through the nose, and then come back up to standing when completed.
- Eagle Pose
Start off in a standing position. Bring your arms out in front of you, bend at the elbows and keep the arms parallel and shoulder height.
Bring the left elbow over the right elbow, and twist the hands, so that the palms are touching. Make sure that if this lowers your elbows, that you left them again to be shoulder height.
Once you have interlaced your arms, bend your knees, so that you come into a half-squat. From here, wrap your left leg over your right leg with the intent of bringing the left foot behind the right calf.
Hold the pose for as long as you can, and then switch sides with the right arm on top and right leg crossing over the left leg.
- Standing Head-to-Knee Pose
Start off standing tall, feet shoulder width apart and weight balanced on each side of your body.
Next, shift that weight into your right leg, grounding your foot into the floor. Stay here while interlacing your fingers and placing them at the base of your belly.
After that, lift the left foot with the knee bent. Fold your torso over, so that you can hook the foot in the interlaced fingers, like it’s sitting on a stool.
Once you’ve hooked the foot, unfold your torso as much as you can, so that you can focus on straightening both legs.
Straighten the legs and then fold your torso again, so that your head is about parallel to your knee. The aim is to get your head as close to the knee as you can. Stay here as long as you can and then switch sides.
- Standing Bow-Pulling Pose
In a standing position, bend your left leg back, so that the heel goes towards the bum.
Hold on to the right leg with your right arm and then slide your hand down to the ankle on the side of the big toe.
Next, extend your left arm vertically, fingers together and straight up. Then, Kick your right leg back, so that your right arm is straight behind you. Stay here for 10 seconds.
From here, start to slowly bend your your torso forward, keeping your left arm straight and you stabilizing your back leg.
Make sure that the knee is facing downward, rather than kicking out to the side and that your left knee is slightly bent.
From here, focus on trying to bring the back leg up higher.
When you feel you’ve reached your tipping point, stay there, breathe through the pose and then switch sides.
- Balancing Stick Pose
From a standing position, bring the arms up, so that they’re both by your ears. Interlace the fingers over head with pointer fingers facing up, and your thumbs crossed.
Next, bring your right foot back about 5 inches.
From here, swing your torso and arms forward, still having your fingers interlaced, while bringing up your right leg, so that your hands and feet are aligned.
Have your head between your upper arms, looking down at the ground, and focus on keeping your core strong, while lengthening your arms and right leg.
Be sure to also make sure that your left leg is straight and activated, to keep your balance.
Hold here for about 10 seconds and then slowly release. Catch your breath and do the other side.
- Standing Separate-Leg Stretching Pose
From a standing position, bring your legs out, so that they created a “V” shape, with 4 to 5 feet of space between the legs. Feet should be facing straight ahead and knees should be locked
Raise your arms straight up by your ears, with your hands vertical as well. Palms should be facing inward at each other.
From here, lower the arms, so that they are horizontal and shoulder height, like you’re creating the arms of a “T”.
While keeping knees locked, arch your lower back a little, and you’ll feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Next, slowly fold your torso forward towards the middle of your legs, making sure your head, eco, and spine are in one straight line.
Once the torso is as low as it can go, use the hands to grab your heels under the feet. If you can’t place the hands under the feet, bring the tips of the fingers to the back on the heel. Stay here for about a minute if you can.
- Triangle Pose
Start off with a tall, standing position. Raise your arms next to your ears while keeping palms together.
Bring your right leg back about 5 feet and then turn out the foot 90 degrees. From here, bring your arms down on each side of your body, so that they are straight and shoulder height.
Bend your front knee 90 degrees and then tilt your torso forward, on the inside of the left leg. Your head should be facing forward with your arms vertical, left arm facing the floor, and right arm facing the sky.
Turn your head, so that it is looking up at the right arm. Focus on pulling your arms in opposite directions. Breathe and stay here until you’re ready to do the other side.
- Standing Separate-Leg Head-to-Knee Pose
Come into a standing position and lift your arms by your ears, pointing to the sky. Bring your palms together over head, and cross only your thumbs.
Space out your legs, so that there is 4 to 5 feet between them. Next, pivot your feet 90 degrees to the right, so that your right foot is in front of the left.
Next, suck in your stomach, and slowly bend your torso forward while keeping your legs straighten, and knee locked or slightly bent.
Continue to bend your torso, with your elbows still locked, and thumbs crossed. Arms should now be pointing downward, with the aim of touching the floor with your fingertips and the forehead resting on the knee.
Stay and breathe into this pose, and then switch sides.
- Tree Pose
From a standing position, put your weight into the left foot, evenly between the big toe, pinky toe, and the heel.
Next, bring your right foot off the ground, and use your left hand to cross the right ankle to the left hip. Keep the left hand on he right ankle to hold it in place.
After that, wrap the right arm behind you and have it hold right above the left elbow.
Suck in the stomach, relax the shoulders, and flex your legs to keep them engaged.
Breathe and hold here as long as you like, then relax the right foot and switch sides.
- Toe Stand Pose
Start off in a standing position. Put the weight of your body in the left foot, and then lift your right foot off the floor.
Use your left hand to grab the right ankle, and cross the right foot to the the left hip, as if you’re coming into tree pose.
Next, while keeping your right foot on the left hip, release your foot from your left hand, and start to bend forward from the torso, bending your left knee, so that you can reach the floor out in front of you.
Once your hands are on the floor, scoot the forward 2 inches, and then lift your left foot, so that you’re balancing on your toes.
Start to bring your bum down to your left heel, so that your left leg is completely bent.
Start to walk your hands back 2 inches, and then try to lift one hand to your heart in a half prayer pose. If you can balance, try to bring your other hand to your heart.
Breathe and stay here, as long as you can balance comfortably.
Come out of the pose, reversing the way you came into the pose, and switch sides.
- Corpse Pose
Lie on your back, legs and heels together, and allow the feet to fall out to the sides. Relax your arms at the sides of your body, with palms facing upward.
Keep your eyes open and have them gaze at the ceiling or sky above you. Shoulders should relax, so roll them back, and down. Also, be sure to relax your fingertips, your toes, and the jaw of your mouth.
Be sure to slow your breath, making sure the inhales fully expand your belly, and then let the stomach deflate.
If the mind start to wander, recognize it without judgement, and be sure to come back to focusing on the breath.
- Wind-Removing Pose
Come onto your back, with your legs together and flat on the floor.
Next, bring your right knee into your chest and interlace your fingers 2 inches below the knee, to help keep it in place. Move the knee just slightly towards your right shoulder, and hug it in even more.
Make sure that your left leg, torso, and shoulders are still flat on the floor. Tuck the chin into the chest, or at least gaze your eyes down the chest without lifting your body.If the left leg does lift, flex the foot and then relax it.
Hold the pose for 10 seconds and then switch to the left side.
After doing both sides, bring both knees into the chest, and wrap your arms around the knees. Make sure that you hold opposite elbows with opposite hands to create strong stability.
Turn your gaze to the diamond shape created between the arms and legs. Again, make sure that the body is still flat on the floor.
Breathe here and hold for 20 seconds.
- Bikram Yoga Sit-Up Pose
Lay on your back, as you did in corpse pose. Next, flex the toes, so they’re face upward. Bring both arms over head, letting all the fingers except your thumbs fan out, and then cross the thumbs.
Take an inhale as you sit up, and then when you’ve sat up, dive forward on an exhale, reaching for your toes. Grab the big toes with your pointer and middle finger, bending the elbows, and letting your forehead come toward your knees.
- Cobra Pose
Start off by lying on your stomach, with your legs together, tops of the feet downward.
Next, place the palms of your hands on each side of your chest, so that your elbows are bent, and your hands are right under your shoulders. Keep shoulders in close to the chest.
Begin to use the strength of you spine and thighs to push your torso up, creating a curve in the back. Arms should still be bent.
Tilt your head up slightly and breathe here for 20 seconds.
- Locust Pose
Lie on your belly, with your head facing forward and tilted downward. Protect your chin by placing it on a towel.
Next, lift your hips, and put your arms under your body. Palms of hands should be flat on the ground, fingers spread wide and facing the knees.
Straighten the legs, point the toes, and make sure the knees are locked. Then, lift both legs up from the floor, breathing through the nose. You want to lift the legs and the hips up entirely from the belly button and use all of your abdominal and leg strength.
Hold the pose for 10 seconds, and then slowly lower both legs with control.
- Full Locust Pose
Starting on all fours, come on to your belly, let your arms lay by your side and bring your legs together.
Look straight ahead, and then bring your torso up and your arms behind your shoulders and hands facing inward towards your body.
Lift your legs, keeping the together while lifted, so that your are balancing on your stomach and abdomen.
Try to lift your torso and legs even higher for about 10 seconds before letting your body slowly be brought down to the ground.
- Floor Bow Pose
Come onto your belly with your legs hip width apart behind you and arms by your side.
Next, bend your legs with your calves and feet facing upward with 6 inches of space between the legs.
Lift your torso, and reach your arms back to grab the outer part of the feet, two inches below the toes.
Make sure that the legs don’t splay outward, and that hips are balanced.
Once you’re in proper alignment, push your feet into your hands and lift both the upper body and thighs away from the floor.
To go deeper into the pose, push the hips and pelvis into the floor and the and lift the legs up higher and bend the legs inward so that the calves are at a tilt.
Try to hold this pose for 20 seconds. When ready to release, leg go of the legs, and let the arms and legs fall slowly to the ground.
- Fixed Firm Pose
Come into a kneeling position on the floor. From here, move the feet and calves outwards from under the thighs, so that they’re barely visible. From here, make sure that your knees are planted on the floor.
Next, place the palms of your hands on your feet, and slowly lower your torso down on the floor, bending your arms until your arms and head are flat on the floor. There will be space between the floor and your back, which is normal.
After that, bring your arms up by your ears, lengthening your spine, and then place hands on opposite elbows, so that the arms are crossed and resting behind your head. Tilt your chin into your chest and gaze downward. In this position, try to lift your belly even higher, while keeping your knees grounded.
Breathe and stay here until ready to come out of the posture, or about 20 seconds. Come out of the posture the opposite way you got into it.
- Half Tortoise Pose
Start off in a kneeling position, with feet together under your bum. Raise your arms up vertically by the ears, keeping your neck relaxed and lined up with the torso. Next, bring the palms of the hands together over the head, and cross the thumbs.
From here, activate the core, ensuring that there is no lower back curve or slouching. Start to fold your torso forward, keeping your arms straight, until your forehead touches the floor. In this position, try to lengthen the spine by pushing your bum closer to your feet. Breathe and stay here for 20 seconds.
Come out of the pose by bringing the arms back up to vertical, keeping the arms and hands together. Once your torso is vertical to your hips, relax the arms.
- Camel Pose
Start off in a kneeling position with the tops of the feet relaxed on the mat. Bring your bum and torso up, so that they are vertical to the knees.
Next, place your hands on the middle of your lower back. Start to stretch your spine vertically, and then bend your back and head backwards.
Once you have bent your back half way, bring your hands to the heels of your feet. Arms should be straight from your shoulders to your heels.
Make sure that when you hold on to your heels, your torso doesn’t bend backwards. Thighs should be straight up and down from the knees, and there should be 6 inches of space between the legs.
Stay here and breathe for 20 seconds before coming out of the pose the opposite way you came into the pose.
- Rabbit Pose
Come into a kneeling position. Make sure that you are sitting up tall, and bring your hands to the toes of your feet. Grip your toes, and ensure that your arms are completely straight.
Tilt your chin into your chest, and then fold your body forward, so that your head falls just in front of the knees. Arms should be hugging the thighs and fingers should still be grasping the toes.
Next, lift your hips and bum off from your feet until your thighs are almost aligned with your knees. Make sure that your arms are still taut and fingers are still gripped on the toes.
Push your hands on the back of the heels to help stack your hips exactly over the knees.
Hold the pose and breathe for 20 seconds, and then push your bum back towards your heels, and relax out of the pose.
- Head-to-Knee Pose
Start out sitting on your bum and letting your legs extend in front of you.
Next, bring the left leg into the groin, and let the right leg scoot out a few inches, like you’re creating half of a “V”. Push the left foot into the right thigh, and flex the right foot.
After that, raise your arms up by your ears, rotate your torso towards the right leg, and then fold forward, bending from the hips rather than the upper back.
Grip the right foot with straight arms, your fingers interlocked around the middle part of the foot’s sole.
Tuck your chin towards your chest, look at your stomach, and then bring your head towards your calf, bending your elbows to allow yourself to fold even more.
Breathe and hold for 10 seconds
Next, look at #25 for stretching pose, and then switch sides. (Head-to-Knee pose and Stretching Pose are linked together)
- Stretching Pose
From head-to-knee Pose, bring both legs out in front of you, right next to each other.
In one flowing movement, lie on your back, with arms over head, and then quickly sit up with an inhale. Create a loud exhale as you fold forward and hold on to the toes with your arms.
Bringing your torso up and grabbing the big toes with your fingers, scoot back moving your hips sides to side a few inches, and then focus on pushing your toes back with your fingers.
Bend your elbows down, and fold forward again, this time looking straight ahead and keeping the back flat.
Hold the pose for 20 seconds, and then do head-to-knee pose on the other side.
- Spine Twisting Pose
In a seated position, bend the left leg on the floor until the left heel reaches the side of the right gluteus.
Straighten the right leg in front of you, so that it is over the left ankle. Bend the right knee, so that the foot is planted on the ground.
Lengthen the spine, and then use your hands to bring the right, bent leg over the left thigh.
Bring the left arm over the right leg, and place the left elbow on the outside of the right knee, usi the elbow to push the knee and create resistance. Left forearm and hand is straight up, fingers spread wide.
After a couple breaths, bring the left hand to the left calf.
Bring the right arm behind you on the floor, or wrap it towards the left side of your back. Twist your head and torso towards the right side, looking behind you.
Breathe and hold for 20 seconds, and then switch sides.
YOU ALSO MIGHT ENJOY:
- How to Become Spiritually Enlightened Through Meditation
- How to Be Less Stressed at Work: 7 Important Tips
- What is Meditation and Why It’s Important for Your Longterm Well-Being
- How to Practice Mindfulness for OCD
- How to Practice Mindfulness at Work
- 8 Meditation Exercises for Anxiety to Help Relax Your Mind
- How to Practice Meditation at Work
- How to Practice Meditation at Home for Beginners
- How to Let Go of Work Stress at Home: 5 Important Tips