The 5 Best Bikram Yoga Postures for Weight Loss
If you’re looking for a style of yoga for weight loss, Bikram yoga is the way to go. Combine practicing yoga in a heated room while pushing yourself through active postures, and you will detox the body of excess salt, water, and toxins, while also burning fat, which results in weight loss.
While many bikram yoga enthusiasts claim to burn 1000 calories per class, it’s more likely you’ll burn between 450 to 700 calories for a 90 minutes based on your weight, which is still a considerable and realistic amount of calories that can be compared to the calories of a healthy meal.
This is twice or more calories than a Hatha yoga class, where only 150 to 250 calories are burned. However, due to the heated environment of bikram yoga, and the challenging poses, you can expect your heart rate to rise as well as your metabolism, leading to more calories burned.
If you are interested in learning the Bikram yoga poses that are best for losing weight, here is a list of the five best poses to practice.
5 Bikram Yoga Poses For Weight Loss
Let’s begin with the awkward pose.
In a standing posture, make sure that your legs and feet are perfectly parallel to each other, and that the toes are facing straight ahead.
Next, squat down as low as possible without lifting your heels, ensuring that your legs and knees continue to touch.
While lifting onto your toes, put both arms out in front of you to keep your balance. You want to focus on pressing into your big and second toe in order to help keep your balance.
After a couple breaths, try to lower even more into the squat, and come up even more onto the toes. At this point in the pose, you may sense shaking, burning, and discomfort which is a good thing because it means that you are building muscle and burning calories.
Come back onto your heels and rest for a moment.
Next, come back onto your toes with your knees together, but don’t come onto your toes as high as last time. This time, focus on stacking your torso over your hips, and straightening the spine. Breathe here and embrace the sensation.
Afterwards, slowly come out of the pose, keeping the spine straight, while coming into standing.
The muscles worked in awkward pose include the deltoids of the shoulders, the abdominal and erector spinae muscles, the quads, and the calves, making this a challenging pose for the lower half of the body. Due to the strengthening of the erector spinae muscles, this pose is also helpful for those with back problems. In addition, this pose helps people that struggle with frequent coldness of the feet, due to balancing on the toes in this pose. Balancing on the toes also creates a challenge for balance and takes a lot of core activation to keep from falling out of the pose.
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.
If you are a beginner to this pose, your leg that is off the floor may not straighten which is okay. Keep the knee bent, stay here and breathe. Otherwise, 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 Head to Knee pose affects all the layers of the body. Mentally, this pose requires a lot of concentration in order for the practitioner to keep their balance. It is very easy to tilt over to one side if you don’t straighten the lifted leg carefully and slowly. In addition, you will feel the muscles along your legs, such as the hamstrings and the calves, stretching and increasing in flexibility. Other muscles are strengthened, such as your shoulder muscles, the biceps and triceps of the arms, the abdominal muscles, as well as the upper and lateral back muscles. Organs are also nourished from this pose. Due to bending over at the waist, digestion is improved as food is pushed through the tract and reproductive organs receive extra blood and oxygen during this fold.
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. Note: Feeling out of breath and tired after this pose is normal.
When practicing Balancing Stick Pose, you’ll increase your coordination and ability to balance, as well as focus on your body internally. Internal focus on the body is useful for recognizes needs and desires your body has, which can often be a skill lost in everyday society. Also, if you actively lengthen the spine, you’ll improve your body posture, which will allow you to breathe easier from the lungs and stomach, decrease body pain, and slow down aging. Balancing Stick Pose is also known to slightly decrease the chance of heart problems.
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 using the 80/20 breath technique (described below)
What is the 80/20 Breath Technique?
The most appropriate time to use 80/20 breathing is during poses that require the bending of the back. In order to do 80/20 breathing, you must take an inhale, breathing into your lungs 100%. From here, come into the pose, and continuously exhale 20% and inhale 20% until you finish the pose, in which you can release the full breath.
If you do not use 80/20 breathing during these intense backbending poses, you will quickly feel exhausted and will not be able to hold the pose for very long. 80/20 breathing helps you experience the pose in a more comfortable and effective way. To learn three other bikram style breath techniques, view here.
Located under the rib cage, the function of the spleen is improved during this back-bending pose due to the oxygen and blood sent to the chest. In addition, the liver’s function is also accelerated. You can also expect to lose abdominal fat, and increase spinae flexibility, as well as increase the strength of the deltoids and trapezius of the shoulders. Other muscles firmed up are the thighs, hips, abdomen, and upper arms.
Floor Bow Pose
Here are some instructions to achieve the 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 using 80/20 breathing.
When ready to release, leg go of the legs, and le the arms and legs fall slowly to the ground.
Floor bow pose stimulates digestion, and similar to locust pose, improves the function of internal organs. In addition to the spleen and liver, floor bow pose also helps the kidneys and both the small and large intense, due to the massaging of the abdomen in this pose. Another benefit is the increased intake of oxygen, which is a result of lifting and opening the chest, allowing better movement of the lungs. Furthermore, muscles of the back, shoulders, and neck are stretched, as well as the psoas and hip flexors, while abdominal muscles, hips, thighs and upper arms are strengthened.
How to Practice These Poses
Rather than jumping into these poses, I strongly advise that you either attend a Bikram Yoga class, do the 26 bikram yoga poses in order on your own, or that you warm up before attempting these five that I’ve gone over today. Most of these poses take a lot of flexibility and strength, so it’s possible to injure yourself when you try to attempt these poses before practicing breath techniques and easier poses first. Practicing these poses in a hot room will also loosen up tense muscles, and allow you to go deeper into the pose. If you aren’t practicing the poses in a heated room, be sure to do at least 6 sun salutations to create some warmth in your body. Sun salutations are a series of poses that flow together, and are also helpful for weight loss if you practice them regularly, and do enough repetitions to break a sweat and get your heart rate pumping.
As long as you are in good health, it is important to practice these poses at least every other day to improve your skill performing them, lose weight, as well as experience the individual benefits of each pose. You will not experience strong results practicing once or twice a week. In order to experience all the benefits, bikram yoga must be integrated into your lifestyle.
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