Learning the Bikram Yoga Asanas

Bikram yoga, which is also known as hot yoga, represents a system of yoga developed by Bikram Choudhury. Each Bikram yoga session takes about 90 minutes and consists of 26 postures, which are referred to as asanas, which include 2 breathing exercises. It is best to practice Bikram yoga in a room that has a 40 Celsius degrees temperature and 40 percent humidity.

Bikram Yoga Asanas

Before getting started with the Bikram yoga asanas, you need to learn about the breathing techniques. At the beginning of the session you will perform what is known as Pranayama breathing, or standing deep breathing. It is believed that Bikram yoga exercises can stimulate and improve the condition of each joint, muscle and organ of the body through a mechanism that is based on 2 phases: extension and compression. Each of the 26 Bikram yoga asanas is based on one of these 2 dynamics.

There are 2 categories of Bikram yoga asanas, which are differentiated through the position of your body. The exercises fall in the following categories:

  • Standing series
  • Floor series

Standing Series

Bikram yoga asanas need to be performed in a certain order, so you will start with the ones from the standing series and will finish with the floor series. The asanas found in the first category are listed below, along with the English translation of their Sanskrit name:

  • Ardha Chandrasana with Pada-Hastasana (half-moon posture with hands to feet posture)
  • Utkatasana (awkward posture)
  • Garudasana (eagle posture)
  • Dandayamana – JanuShirasana (standing head to knee posture)
  • Dandayamana – Dhanurasana   (standing bow pulling posture)
  • Tuladandasana (balancing stick posture)
  • Dandayamana – Bibhaktapada – Paschimottanasana (standing separate leg stretching posture)
  • Trikonasana (triangle posture)
  • Dandayamana – Bibhaktapada – Janushirasana (standing separate leg head to knee posture)
  • Tadasana (tree posture)
  • Padangustasana (toe stand posture)
  • Savasana (dead body posture)
  • Pavanamuktasana (wind removing posture)

Floor Series

After these, you have to perform the asanas from the floor series, which are called:

  • Bhujangasana (cobra posture)
  • Salabhasana (locust posture)
  • Poorna – Salabhasana (full locust posture)
  • Dhanurasana (bow posture)
  • Supta – Vajrasana (fixed firm posture)
  • Ardha – Kurmasana (half tortoise posture)
  • Ustrasana (camel posture)
  • Sasangasana (rabbit posture)
  • Janushirasan (head to knee posture)
  • Paschimottanasana (stretching posture)
  • Ardha – Matsyendrasana (spine twisting posture)

At the end of the session, another breathing exercise is performed. This one is known as Kapalbhati breathing or blowing in firm. As you can see, the Sanskrit asana names are not very suggestive, but the English translations reveal that the exercises are named after the position of the body or after animals, objects and elements of nature.

Benefits of Bikram Yoga

Extension and compression, the 2 phases of the Bikram yoga asanas, influence the volume of blood that is pumped by the heart to the muscles and organs. The influx of fresh blood is believed to help with:

  • Infection prevention and treatment
  • Bacteria
  • General detoxification of the body

Blood circulation does not represent the only aspect that can be improved by Bikram yoga. The breathing exercises included in this system of yoga are able to increase the volume of oxygen that is inhaled. As a result, more oxygen will be converted and eventually assimilated by the muscles and the organs.


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