Yoga in a hot room that’s changed people’s lives?! Well, here’s Bikram yoga for you! From 26 postures to the right temperature, get set to know everything about Bikram yoga!
Hey there! Yoga is the purest form of mental and physical wellness. We are doing a series on different types of yoga. Personally, I’m super duper excited! It’s fun to know about each one of them in depth. I have been a yoga student since my college days. It has healed me spiritually and has helped me understand my body better.
So, let’s start off with Bikram yoga. It got a bad name last year due to the Bikram yoga founder’s scandal. He was convicted of rape allegations. And he’s in India now and is conducting classes here. His story is so Bollywood! But yoga is all about spreading love and creating awareness about the physical and spiritual well being. That’s why many of Bikram’s initial students still swear by it and have since made it a big part of their lives. So, let’s ignore the person concerned here and concentrate on the positivity Bikram yoga brings.
What is Bikram Yoga?
Bikram yoga has been named after its infamous founder, Bikram Choudhury. As per Wikipedia, this form became popular in the early 1970s. Basically, Bikram yoga is derived from the traditional hatha yoga techniques consisting of 26 Bikram poses and two breathing techniques known as 80-20 breathing and exhalation breathing.
It is also a form of hot yoga. Ideally, Bikram yoga beginners need to learn from a certified instructor. However, personally, I feel since the postures are derived from hatha yoga, it shouldn’t be difficult for a yoga student/ yogi to follow, as long as they are doing the poses right, and in the right temperature.
Benefits of Bikram Yoga
According to Bikram yoga website, this is the effect it has on your body, “By the tourniquet effect: stretching, balancing (using gravity), and creating pressure all at the same time. The blood supply in arteries and veins is being cut off, creating pressure.” So, here are a few health benefits of Bikram yoga:
- Stretching of the muscles leads to better blood circulation.
- The flexibility of the body due to the 26 Bikram postures that concentrate on each body part and muscles.
- Detoxing the body by opening the pores to let the toxins out as it’s practiced in a hot room.
- Increases heartbeat similar to cardio exercises.
- “With regular practice, Bikram yoga harmonizes the nervous and endocrine systems, two systems which figure heavily in emotional well-being,” as stated on the Bikram yoga website.
What is Bikram Yoga Temperature?
Ideally, pure Bikram yoga is practiced in a heated room with a temperature of 35-42°C (95–108°F) and a humidity of 40%.
How Many Calories Does Bikram Yoga Burn?
A minimum of 10 classes is required for the body to adjust to Bikram yoga postures. An estimate of 460 calories is burnt in a 90 minutes yoga session. The heat will also cause the heart rate to rise, leading to a cardiovascular workout that burns fat and calories.
Bikram Yoga vs Hot Yoga: What’s the Difference?
Bikram yoga is a set program that is meant to be done under a certain temperature, with the guidance of certified Bikram yoga instructors or manuals. The postures are to be done in the prescribed order and for a set time. True Bikram yoga class has prescribed to be 90 minutes long only.
Whereas hot yoga can be any general form of yoga that is done in a hot room with a temperature of 28-30°C. The postures selected and the duration of the class may vary depending on the instructor.
Can Bikram Yoga Be Bad Yoga?
Yoga can never be harmful to anyone if you do the postures right and drink lots of water as recommended. But there might be issues of Hyponatremia due to excessive sweating. As per nutritionist, Natasha Lee, “This can be avoided by intaking salt water or salt and potassium tablets before the class,” as stated in the Bikram yoga website. Also, when pregnant or injured, one needs to seek advice from the doctor before doing Bikram yoga.
Bikram Yoga Weight Loss Routine
In any form of exercise, weight loss depends on the diet intake, too. Since Bikram yoga is practiced in a hot room, the body sweats a lot. It works on the cardiovascular system and delivers oxygen efficiently to every part of the body, which is similar to cardio activities. So to achieve weight loss, one needs to maintain a low-carb, low-fat diet suitable for the body. And along with Bikram yoga, try to play a sport or do Zumba or dance once in a while to help burn fat.
Bikram Yoga Poses
There are 26 postures in Bikram yoga. Let’s go through each one of them:
1. Standing Deep Breathing or Pranayama
Deep breathing forms an essential part of yoga. In standing deep breathing, you provide enough oxygen to all the muscles and organs improving blood circulation. It prevents respiratory problems.
2. Half Moon Pose or Ardhacandrasana
This is one of my favorite poses in hatha and Bikram yoga. It improves the flexibility of the spine, promotes better functioning of the kidneys, firms the waistline and buttocks. Try to bend sideways as much as possible. This helps in better flexibility around the waist.
3. Awkward Pose or Utkatasana
This pose helps to fight joint pain, arthritis in the legs, shapes your legs and improves posture. Keep your back and neck straight while holding the pose. Also, keep your arms and thighs parallel to ground.
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4. Eagle Pose or Garudasana
The eagle pose opens up 14 largest joints and strengthens and stretches the ankles and calves. Make sure one foot is placed on the other leg’s calves.
5. Standing Head To Knee Pose or Dandayamana Janusirsasana
This pose helps to strengthen leg muscles, triceps and back muscles. It activates the digestive system by squeezing pancreas. Try to keep your leg parallel to the ground. Another variation of this pose is called janusirsasana (achieved in sitting posture)!
6. Standing Bow Pose or Dandayamana Dhanurasana
This pose firms the upper thighs and upper abdomen. It improves the flexibility of lower spine. And also helps for the blood circulation from one side of the body to other. Your body weight should be on the leg that’s lifted.
7. Balancing Stick Pose or Tuladandasana
In this pose, the blood is rushed towards the heart and cleanses the arteries, veins and reaches the brain. A pro tip to achieve this balancing posture is to master vrikshasana or tree pose and then try.
8. Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose or Dandayamana Vibhaktapada Pascimottanasana
It helps to stretch the tendons in the legs and massages the small and large intestines. It also adds flexibility to pelvis, ankles, hip joints and vertebrae of the spine. As a beginner, you might not be able to reach your heels. So put your hands on the floor in front of you and slowly try to reach towards the foot over a period of time, with practice.
9. Triangle Pose or Trikonasana
It helps the heart and lungs to function better and also reduces lower back pain and improvises internal organs. Make sure your palms touch the toe and tour thigh is parallel to ground.
10. Standing Separate Leg Head To Knee Pose or Dandayamana Vibhaktapada Janusirsasana
This pose helps to define waistline and thighs. The thyroid glands are massaged in this posture. Try to touch your forehead to your knees by bending gradually.
11. Tree Pose or Tadasana
The tree pose helps to improve posture and increases the flexibility of ankles and knees. Keep your back straight while attempting this posture.
12. Toe Stand Pose or Padangusthasana
This pose opens up the knee and hip joints and reduces the risk of hemorrhoids or piles.
13. Dead Body Pose or Savasana
One of the easiest forms in Bikram yoga, dead body pose helps in internal cleansing and a powerful amount of blood flows to the body. Deep breathing is the key to savasana.
14. Wind Removing Pose or Pavanamuktasana
This pose forms an integral part in the shayana stithi (prone poses). It compresses the digestive system, strengthens arm, improves hip flexibility and firms abdomen and thighs. Try to pull your folded leg towards your chest as much as you can. This helps in better digestion.
15. Situp or Padahastasana
Situp pose stretches and increases the flexibility of the spine. It improves the blood circulation in the legs, too. Try to hold a towel or a tee shirt ends in your hand and move forward to touch the heels. And gradually, you can achieve the pose.
16. Cobra Pose or Bhujangasana
This pose is extremely helpful to strengthen your spine and relieves pain from arthritis. It’s also a great exercise to get rid of menstrual cramps. Face the ceiling and stretch your chest as much as possible.
17. Locust Pose or Salabhasana
The upper spine and the pelvic area are strengthened and stretched. To achieve this pose, first, start off with single leg to a count of 10 and gradually progress to both the legs.
18. Full Locust Pose or Purnasalabhasana
The middle spine is ignored in our daily lives. The full locust pose helps to use the mid spine and increases the elasticity of the ribcage. Keep your hands in front while attempting the pose and once comfortable switch the hands to the side.
19. Bow Pose or Dhanurasana
One of my favorite Bikram yoga positions in yogasana is the dhanurasana or the bow pose. In this pose, the lungs expand fully and the oxygen is rushed in. It also strengthens the spine, improves digestion, fights constipation and improves the kidneys, liver and the intestines. Try to look at the ceiling and pull your legs towards your head to achieve the bow pose.
20. Fixed Firm Pose or Suptavajrasana
This is yet another favorite pose of mine. It helps to increase the flexibility of lower spine, knees, hips and ankle joints. It also prevents hernia. This pose literally stretches the abdomen and you can feel it. Arch your lower back and try to touch your head to the ground.
21. Half Tortoise Pose or Ardhakurmasana
Usually we tend to ignore the blood flow to the brain improvement of which is essential to cognitive function and neural health. The tortoise pose delivers an effective amount of blood and enhances the neck and shoulders posture. Try to touch your forehead to the ground.
22. Camel Pose or Ustrasana
Camel pose is when you touch your fingers on the heels by deep back bending. It creates a maximum compression of the spine. It improves the flexibility of neck and spine. It’s a great pose to control constipation.
23. Rabbit Pose or Sasamgasana
The spine is stretched and a maximum amount of oxygen is rushed to the nervous system. It increases the mobility and elasticity of the back and neck muscles. It’s also helpful to control insomnia, depression and diabetes.
24. Head To Knee Pose with Back Stretching Pose or Janusirsasana with Pascimottanasana
This pose increases the blood flow to liver, pancreas, thyroid and intestines. It also improves digestion and controls arthritis. It’s helpful to relieve chronic diarrhea as the blood circulates in the bowels. Try to touch your forehead to the knee.
25. Spine Twisting Pose or Ardha Matsyendrasana
The spine is twisted from top to bottom and relieves back pain and arthritis. Try to touch your hand to the twisted knee.
26. Blowing In Firm Pose or Kapalabhati
A forceful exhalation helps the lungs to expand and strengthens the abdominal organs. You are basically pushing out all the carbon dioxide from your body. It also improves blood circulation.
Bikram Yoga for Beginners
If you’re new at practicing yoga or planning to start, it’s ideal to find certified classes to help you with Bikram yoga sequence. If you have never tried yoga, I suggest to do it with the help of an instructor to avoid yoga injuries. However, if you have prior experience practicing yoga, then you can do it yourself at home, too.
If you can’t find time to go to a 90-minute long Bikram yoga class, here’s a video that’s simple and is done in 60 minutes:
Finding the Right Bikram Yoga Clothes
Wondering what to wear to Bikram yoga? Well, it’s ideal to wear light clothes as you’ll be sweating a lot. So as for any sweat yoga, stick to moisture wicking fabrics that dry quickly. A sports bra or tank top with shorts is ideal. Avoid wearing tee shirts as they stick to your skin and may get irritating. A swimsuit should be fine, too! Men can wear a bathing suit or shorts.
So, this was a complete guide to Bikram yoga. Have you tried it? What’s your favorite of the 26 poses? Share some twisted poses @shilpaahujadotcom on Instagram. We’ll drop a comment!
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