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Bikram Yoga Explained

What to Expect in a Bikram Class

Like most modern yoga styles practiced today, Bikram stems from Hatha yoga -- an umbrella term that simply means the physical practice of doing poses, or asanas. Unlike other Hatha derivatives (like Vinyasa), however, every Bikram class follows the same sequence of 26 postures, designed to help oxygen flow to every part of the body and to stretch muscles and ligaments in a systematic way.

"It can be very addictive, because you're doing the same thing every time and you can get very good at the postures; you always know what to expect," says Sophie Herbert, a yoga instructor based in Brooklyn, New York. "People who get into it tend to do it every day for a week or two weeks at a time, so you can see the improvement day by day." In fact, Bikram's Yoga College of India recommends that newcomers start a practice by taking class every day for two months straight.


It is also recommended that you don't eat for two to three hours before a Bikram yoga class and that you drink plenty of water (and cut back on caffeinated beverages and processed foods) for several days beforehand. You will sweat -- a lot -- so you should wear clothes that help you stay cool and move freely (no baggy t-shirts), and bring a towel to lie on top of your yoga mat.

In each 90-minute Bikram class, wherever you are in the world, your instructor will lead you through the following series of poses.

Sanskrit Name: English Translation

Pranayama: Standing Deep Breathing

Ardha-Chandrasana: Half Moon Pose

Utkatasana: Awkward Pose

Garurasana: Eagle Pose

Dandayamana-Janushirasana: Standing Head to Knee

Dandayamana-Dhanurasana: Standing Bow Pose

Tuladandasana: Balancing Stick

Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Paschimotthanasana: Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose

Trikanasana: Triangle Pose

Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Janushirasana: Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose

Tadasana: Tree Pose

Padangustasana: Toe Stand

Savasana: Dead Body Pose

Pavanamuktasana: Wind-Removing Pose

Pada-Hasthasana: Sit Up

Bhujangasana: Cobra Pose

Salabhasana: Locust Pose

Poorna-Salabhasana: Full Locust Pose

Dhanurasana: Bow Pose

Supta-Vajrasana: Fixed Firm Pose

Ardha-Kurmasana: Half Tortoise Pose

Ustrasana: Camel Pose

Sasangasana: Rabbit Pose

Janushirasana and Paschimotthanasana: Head to Knee Pose and Stretching Pose

Ardha-Matsyendrasana: Spine-Twisting Pose

Kapalbhati in Vajrasana: Blowing in Firm Pose

[Source: Bikram Yoga]