Bikram Yoga


Bikram Yoga Classes: What to Expect

Bikram: A Class Apart

If you've ever taken a yoga class before, then some—if not all—of the poses that are used during a Bikram class are probably familiar to you. Likewise, Bikram Yoga's empasis on synchronizing breathing with physical movement is common among various types of yoga. What makes Bikram Yoga different, however, is the specific combination of 26 poses, the never-altered order that they're practiced in, and of course, the heat.

Please Do Inhale: The Breath in Bikram Yoga

Every form of Hatha Yoga emphasizes the importance of the breath. Traditionally, breath is seen as the source of life, both physically and spiritually, and proper breathing is therefore essential. There are many different forms and aspects of yogic breathing, but all forms of Hatha Yoga emphasize the importance of good inhalation and exhalation, synchronizing breath with movement, and Bikram Yoga is no different.

Bikram Yoga employs two forms of breathing. One is referred to as “80-20” breathing and the other is Exhalation breathing. In 80-20 breathing, you take in a full breath, assume your next posture (or assana) and then release about 20 percent of your breath, retaining 80 percent of the breath for a set amount of time to oxygenate your muscles and help you maintain the pose. Exhalation breathing involves entirely releasing the breath as you go into a posture. If you choose to take a class on Bikram Yoga, you'll learn more about both these styles of breathing.

The Poses

A Bikram session always consists of the same 26 poses done in the same order, every class. As we've said before, the poses are not unique to Bikram Yoga, but the sequence is. A proper Bikram class always lasts about 90 minutes.

Each yoga pose has a Sanskrit name and a name in English. The names are typically colorful and descriptive, often representing an animal that the pose suggests: Cobra Pose, Camel Pose, Rabbit Pose, etc. How deep you go into each pose, and how long you hold it will depend on how advanced you are in your yoga practice. Every pose has its variations which can make it simpler for beginners or more challenging for advanced yoga practitioners. To view all 26 bikram poses, be sure to visit our Bikram Yoga Poses bonus feature.

Half Moon Pose
This is the second pose in the sequence of 26 poses

Note: Yoga should never hurt beyond the feeling of stretching a muscle. If a pose doesn't feel right or if it starts to hurt, then ease up.

Read on to learn about the benefits and risks of Bikram Yoga.

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