Bikram Yoga Poses and Their Benefits

Avatar for DW Pardasani By in Bikram yoga, wellbeing, yoga on 24/09/2018
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If you are thinking about taking yoga classes, you might want to consider Bikram Yoga. It is an offshoot of the traditional hatha style of yoga, which means it involves set  poses (asanas) performed slowly and held for varying amounts of time. Breathing exercises (pranayama) are also integral to hatha styles of yoga with the ultimate aim to balance the body and mind. Wherever you are in the world, a Bikram Yoga class will follow the same systematic approach, which aims to move oxygenated blood around your body. Ultimately, this is thought to help achieve not only toned muscles, but optimum health and wellbeing. If you’re somebody who thrives on variety and change, the repetitive nature of Bikram Yoga classes might not be for you. However, if you are looking for structure and routine in an already hectic life, Bikram may be ideal for you.

Like many yoga styles, Bikram Yoga is a low impact practice, which makes it suitable for people who aren’t able to undertake high impact exercises. However, as Bikram classes take place in studios heated to 40°C with humidity at 40% for around 90 minutes, it is important to assess whether you are comfortable taking part in these sessions. If you are, remember to come to class hydrated!

26 Bikram Yoga poses explained

Each of the following 26 Bikram asanas have health, fitness and wellbeing benefits. According to a recent Australian study, Bikram Yoga can be beneficial for stressed adults with a relatively sedentary life. The study found that 16 weeks of undertaking 3 to 5 Bikram Yoga classes per week significantly improved perceived stress, general self-efficacy and health related quality of life.

Below is a brief overview of each element of Bikram Yoga and some perceived benefits:

1. Pranayama (Standing Deep Breathing)

Each class begins with a deep breathing exercise in the standing position. This helps improve circulation and focus. The deep inhaling and exhaling may also help with respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis

2. Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose) with Pada Hastasana (Hands to Feet Pose)

Focuses on strengthening your core – deltoid, latisimus dorsi, trapezius and oblique muscles. These poses also help improve spinal flexibility and tone your waist, glutes and thighs

3. Utkatasana (Awkward Pose)

Strengthens your hips, thighs and calves, helping tone and shape your legs. It also helps improve circulation and is believed help people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, slipped discs in the lower spine and lower back pain

4. Garudasana (Eagle Pose)

Bikram Yoga

Promotes joint stability and overall balance. By crossing your arms and legs it helps narrow the flow of blood creating a similar pressure to what we experience during a massage

5. Dandayamana Janushirasana (Standing Head to Knee Pose)

Stretches and improves the flexibility of your hamstrings while engaging all of your body’s main muscle groups. The bend of your hips towards your knees helps promote wellness in your digestive system and reproductive organs

6. Dandayamana Dhanurasana (Standing Bow Drawing Pose)

Opens up your diaphragm, shoulders and joints, while stimulating the cardiovascular system. This pose helps increase circulation to your heart and lungs, as well as improving your abdominal strength

7. Tuladandasana (Balancing Stick Pose)

Bikram Yoga

Improves balance and concentration while simultaneously toning your core, legs, arms and back. This pose is great for weight loss, but can be challenging to hold

8. Dandayamana Bibhaktapada Paschimotthanasana (Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose)

Stretches and strengthens the sciatic nerves and leg tendons. This may help prevent sciatica. Additionally, this pose improves abdominal organ function, muscle tone and flexibility

9. Trikinasana (Triangle pose)

Helps open your chest and shoulders so that you can properly strengthen your back, neck, core, legs, feet and ankles. It’s also thought to be therapeutic for stress, anxiety, infertility, flat feet and neck pain. This pose may also alleviate back pain during pregnancy

10. Dandayamana Bibhaktapada Janushirasana (Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose)

Stimulates blood flow to your abdomen and throat. The focus on your thyroid and other glands helps boost your immune system and control your moods. It also improves your flexibility, especially in your hamstrings, calves and spine

11. Tadasana (Tree Pose)

Bikram Yoga

Stretches your abdomen gently and helps provide balance between the mind and body. The Tree Pose also alleviates pain caused by flat feet and aids with indigestion. It also provides strength to your vertebrae and heart

12. Padangustasana (Toe Stand Pose)

Strengthens the nerves in your legs, lungs and heart. It also opens up your hips and promotes balance between the mind and body like the Tree Pose. It’s believed that the Toe Stand Pose is great in providing pain relief to people suffering from arthritis in the leg and hips

13. Savasana (Dead Body Pose)

Allows your body to achieve complete relaxation and brings calm and clarity to your mind. This pose lowers your heart rate and reduces your blood pressure. Furthermore, the still nature of the pose allows for your circulatory system to thrive and deliver oxygen, nutrients and white blood-cells effectively

14. Pavanamuktasana (Wind Removing Pose)

Aids indigestion, constipation and other gastrointestinal problems. It also strengthens your back muscles and helps alleviates back pain

15. Pada Hashtasana (Sit Up)

Tones your abs and glutes by focusing on your core stomach muscles. The core focus helps improve posture and balance. It can also help control digestive issues

16. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Bikram Yoga

Stretches the muscles in your shoulders, chest and abs, while minimising any stiffness in your lower back. It also tones your glutes and it a mood booster as it may help relieve stress and fatigue

17. Salabhasana (Locust Pose)

Promotes calmness and helps improve focus. It opens the chest and lengthens the spine, which helps achieve good posture. It also relieves symptoms associated with constipation and indigestion and helps promote a healthy digestive system

18. Poorna Salabhasana (Full Locust Pose)

Improves posture by stretching the shoulders, chest, tummy and thighs. It strengthen and tones your glutes, arms, legs and back. The Full Locust Pose is also believed to reduce stress

19. Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

Bikram Yoga

Aids with digestion and improves circulation. It’s a great pose for your back as it helps strengthen your back muscles and improve back flexibility and posture

20. Supta Vajrasana (Fixed Firm Pose)

Strengthens your core and tones your thighs. The Fixed Firm Pose also improves blood flow to your kidneys, liver, pancreas and bowel. As such, it assists in the improved functioning of your immune and digestive systems

21. Ardha Kurmasana (Half Tortoise Pose)

Increases lung capacity by stretching the lower part of your lungs. It also relaxes the body with the resulting sense of calm often helping insomniacs. The Half Tortoise Pose is also thought to help prevent constipation and ensure the digestive system is in good health

22. Ustrasana (Camel Pose)

Bikram Yoga

Opens your chest and shoulders, which results ir better circulation and digestion. This pose also increases spinal flexibility and assists with the releases of tension from your neck, back and shoulders. This can provide stress relief and reduce anxiety levels

23. Sasangasana (Rabbit Pose)

Lengthens your spine, while stretching your back, arms and shoulders. It aims to boost your immune system and balance your body’s hormone levels

24. Janushirasana & Paschimotthanasana (Head to Knee Pose & Stretching Pose)

Improves flexibility, particularly of the ankle joint. It also helps balance your blood sugar levels. There is also improved blood flow to your liver, spleen, bowel and pancreas

25. Ardha Matsyendrasana (Spine Twisting Pose)

Bikram Yoga

Stimulates your liver, kidneys and digestive system. The Spine Twisting Pose also increases spine, shoulder and hip flexibility

26. Kapalbhati in Vajrasana (Blowing in Firm Pose)

As with the first asana, Standing Deep Breath, the final asana in Bikram focuses on breath. With this pose, you draw as much clean air and life energy (prana) as you can into your lungs, so that the toxic energy and carbon dioxide can be forcefully expelled when you exhale. This purification process improves circulation, strengthens your stomach muscles and stimulates your digestive system. It can also sooth the mind and help you relax and find your breath.

Share this article using the social media links to help friends and family understand just how much of a positive impact Bikram Yoga can have on their health, fitness and wellbeing.

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An experienced writer and media and communications professional, DW is the chief content officer at Avaana. She loves dogs and basketball. As a classically trained dancer, DW credits her wellbeing to alternative therapies.

Avatar for DW Pardasani

An experienced writer and media and communications professional, DW is the chief content officer at Avaana. She loves dogs and basketball. As a classically trained dancer, DW credits her wellbeing to alternative therapies.

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