Bikram Yoga is a series of 26 postures conducted over 90 minutes, beginning with a breathing exercise to warm up, progressing through 24 asanas (postures) and finishing with a toxin-eliminating breathing posture. This series of postures was scientifically designed to systematically work through the entire body.
Classes are held in a heated room. The warm room:
- Allows for greater flexibility,
- Minimises muscle strain,
- Reduces the chance of injury,
- Promotes greater cleansing of the body, and
- Helps build stamina and endurance.
A note about names: Different forms of yoga have slightly different names for postures. The names used here are from the ancient lineage, as set by Bikram’s teacher, Bishnu Ghosh.
- Pranayama Breathing
- Ardha Chandrasana – Half Moon Pose
- Utkatasana – Awkward Pose
- Garurasana – Eagle Pose
- Dandayamana Janushirasana – Standing Head to Knee
- Dandayamana Dhanurasana – Standing Bow Pulling Pose
- Tuladandasana – Balancing Stick pose
- Dandayamana Bibhaktapada Paschimotthanasa Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose
- Trikonasana – Triangle Pose
- Dandayamana Bibhaktapada Janushirasana – Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose
- Tadasana – Tree Pose
- Padangustasana – Toe Stand
- Savasana – Corpse Pose
- Pavana Muktasana – Wind Removing Pose
- Bhujangasana – Cobra Pose
- Salabhasana – Locust Pose
- Poorna Salabhasana – Full Locust Pose
- Dhanurasana – Bow Pose
- Supta Vajrasna – Fixed Firm Pose
- Ardha Kurmasana – Half-Tortoise Pose
- Ustrasana – Camel Pose
- Sasangasana – Rabbit Pose
- Janushiransa with Paschimotthanasana – Head to Knee with Stretchig Pose
- Ardha Matsyendrasana – Spine Twisting Pose
- Kapalbhati Breathing – Breath of Fire
Bikram Choudhury is an internationally renowned Yoga teacher from India, who has taught over three million students. He took his system to the United States in 1971, at the invitation of the American Medical Association. Born in Calcutta, Bikram began studying Yoga at the age of four with his teacher Bishnu Ghosh, brother of Paramahansa Yogananda (author of “Autobiography of a Yogi”, and founder of the Self Realization Fellowship). Bikram practiced Yoga four to six hours a day with six thousand other students at Ghosh’s College of Physical Education in Calcutta. At the age of thirteen, he won the National India Yoga contest and remained undefeated for three years. At the request of his teacher, he withdrew from competition and gave Yoga demonstrations instead. This earned him the title of “Yoga-Raj”. He is the youngest ever to earn such a title. As a young man Bikram was a top cyclist, marathon runner and international weight lifter, competing in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. At the age of 20, Bikram severely injured his knee in a weightlifting accident and was told by doctors he would never walk again. Not accepting this, Bikram went back to Bishnu Ghosh’s school, for he knew that if anyone could help to heal his knee, it would be his teacher. Bishnu Ghosh put him through a slow and careful therapy program that totally rehabilitated his knee within 6 months. Ghosh was a celebrated physical culturist, and the first to scientifically document Yoga’s ability to cure chronic physical ailments and heal the body. Bikram was asked by Ghosh to start several Yoga schools in India. Bikram came into his own, and the schools were so successful that, at Bishnu’s request, Bikram travelled to Japan and opened two more. Under the guidance of his teacher, Bikram worked for three years with doctors and scientists at Tokyo University Hospital and developed his unique Hatha yoga program. He has since brought his curative methods of Yoga therapy around the world. All Bikram Yoga teachers are required to complete an intensive 500-hour certification process in Los Angeles, and be approved, before they are allowed to conduct classes. For more information, see Bikram’s official website at the www.bikramyoga.com
The benefits are many:
- Muscles, fascia and connective tissue become more elastic, allowing for greater flexibility with less chance of injury ,
- Sweating is promoted, which assists the detoxification process.
- Blood becomes thinner, clearing the circulatory system
- Endurance is boosted through consistent practice
- Your body burns fat more effectively: fat may be redistributed and burned as energy during the class. It is common to lose centimetres in a very short time.
- The heat produces a fluid-like stretch, allowing for greater range of movement in joints, muscles, ligaments and other supporting structures of the body
- Capillaries dilate in the heat; more effectively oxygenating the tissues, muscles, glands and organs and helping in the removal of waste products
- Your peripheral circulation improves
- Your metabolism speeds up the breakdown of glucose and fatty acids
- Willpower, self-control, concentration and determination are strengthened in this challenging environment
- Your heart-rate becomes elevated, and the cardiovascular system gets a thorough workout – heart and lungs.
- Teaches you to breathe fully and correctly
- Helps reduce symptoms of chronic illnesses and injuries
- Helps promote better sleep – you may even need less sleep
- Promotes a deep sense of well-being and a peaceful mind
- Helps in weight-loss and toning
- Improves posture and body awareness
- Improves flexibility of your spine in its range of motion in all directions, allowing improvement in the functioning of your central nervous system. Better nervous system communication means a better functioning body and mind
- Improves the healing and regenerative powers of your body
- Maintains (and regains) youthful appearance and skin tone
- Works all systems of the body: cardiovascular, nervous, lymphatic, endocrine, immune, digestive, reproductive, muscular and skeletal
- Helps to reduce stress
- Helps improve heart and lung capacity
- Lubricates the joints
- Helps to eliminate back pain by strengthening the spine;
- Builds mental strength by holding your mind in a focused, meditative state.
- Gives the body a cardiovascular workout without negative impacting forces.