A lot has been said about the 26 poses of Bikram Yoga and from the reports found all over the Internet. Bikram Yoga is not a special branch of yoga. Rather it is a set of twenty-six specific postures or asanas which need to be performed in a certain sequence in an environment that is pre-heated to 100-Fahrenheit degrees.
The whole exercise takes about 90 minutes and it has to be done every day – in return Bikram yoga claims it would keep you as healthy as it comes. The Bikram Yoga is special in the fact that it is copyrighted to Bikram Choudhury, a person who has been giving yoga classes since he was 20 years old.
Bikram wrote a book on the way he thought that yoga could be used for maximum benefit – “Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class” for which he obtained copyright in 1979. Ever since, he had demanded that anyone who taught his style of yoga should apply for a license from him – as Bikram Yoga had become copyrighted style of yoga. In 2002 a court in USA granted him this right and ever since Bikram Yoga has been a style or method of yoga that intellectually belonged to Bikram.
What Are The 26 Poses Of Bikram Yoga
There are plenty of ways in which you could learn about Bikram Yoga postures. You could use the book, the video cassette or DVD and self tutor yourself with the help of the material you buy. However, the best is to learn it in a Bikram Yoga (licensed) center as you would be guided carefully into mastering the whole set of 26 postures.
Bikram claims that he had chosen these 26 postures in such a manner that the person who practices them would be able to exercise each and every muscle, tendon, organ and even bone and skin once he/ she completes the whole set. The postures should always be performed in the sequence given; it is important that the sequence be maintained as this too has been chosen to optimize the impact it has on the body as well as gradually increase the capacity of the body to perform.
The sequence of the 26 postures of Bikram Yoga is as follows:
- 1.) Pranayama Series (Standing Deep Breathing Pose)
- 2.) Ardha-Chandrasana and Pada-Hastasana (Half Moon Pose and hands to Feet)
- 3.) Utkatasana (Awkward Pose)
- 4.) Garurasana (Eagle Pose)
- 5.) Dandayamana-Janushirasana (Standing Head to Knee Pose)
- 6.) Dandayamana-Dhanurasana (Standing Bow Pulling Pose)
- 7.) Tuladandasana (Balancing Stick Pose)
- 8.) Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Paschimotthanasana (Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose)
- 9.) Trikanasana (Triangle Pose)
- 10.) Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Janushirasana (Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose )
- 11.) Tadasana (Tree Pose)
- 12.) Padangustasana (Toe Stand Pose)
- 13.) Savasana (Dead Body Pose)
- 14.) Pavanamuktasana (Wind Removing Pose)
- 15.) Sit-up
- 16.) Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
- 17.) Salabhasana (Locust Pose)
- 18.) Poorna-Salabhasana (Full Locust Pose)
- 19.) Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
- 20.) Supta-Vajrasana (Fixed Firm Pose)
- 21.) Ardha-Kurmasana (Half Tortoise Pose)
- 22.) Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
- 23.) Sasangasana (Rabbit Pose)
- 24.) Janushirasana with Paschimotthanasana (Head to Knee Pose)
- 25.) Ardha-Matsyendrasana (Spine Twisting Pose)
- 26.) Khapalbhati (Blowing in Firm Pose)
From the above, the 1st to 12th pose are done standing and are known collectively as ‘Standing Poses’. The other poses are done lying on the floor or by sitting up. Let us look at some of the important poses in more detail:
1. Standing Deep Breathing Poses
This is the Standing Deep Breathing posture which helps warm up the body before the whole set of yoga postures are practiced.
2. Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose) with Pada-Hastasana (Hands to Feet pose)
This is also known as the “Half Moon Pose” – a Hands To Feet Posture that flows the warming up session. In Sanskrit ‘Ardha’ stands for ‘Half’ and ‘Chandra’ stands for ‘the Moon’.
3. Utkatasana Bikram Yoga Pose
This is the third posture and it is also known as the “Awkward Posture” because when performed, it kind of looks like you are half sitting and half standing up – and it looks and feels awkward.
4. Garurasana – Eagle Pose of Bikram Yoga
The fourth Bikram yoga posture is called the “Eagle Pose” and it imitates the way an eagle stands on earth.
5. Dandayamana – JanuShirasana
The fifth Bikram yoga pose involves a Standing Head To Knee Pose, which is a little difficult to do without professional help (initially) as it requires a lot of flexibility
6. Dandayamana – Dhanurasana
This is a very challenging posture, also known as the Standing Bow Pulling Pose – the sixth of the string of 26 total postures of Bikram yoga.
7. Tuladandasana – Balancing Stick Pose
The seventh of the Bikram yoga postures is the Balancing Stick Posture which is named so because it looks like you are a stick for balancing.
8. Dandayamana – Bibhaktapada – Paschimottanasana
The eight one is known as the Standing Separate Leg Stretching Posture and it involves deep stretching on each of your legs.
9. Trikanasana – Triangle Pose
The ninth posture involves your body taking the shape of a triangle and hence it is called the Triangle Posture.
10. Dandayamana – Bibhaktapada – Janushirasana
The tenth Bikram yoga is also known as the “Standing Head To Knee Pose” as it involves stretching and bending each knee.
11. Tadasana – Tree Pose
In the eleventh posture you would take the shape of a tree and hence, this is called as the Tree Pose.
12. Padangustasana – Toe Stand Pose
The twelfth asana or posture is known as the Toe Stand Pose – a complicated posture for beginners, but quite easy to accomplish on practice.
13. Savasana or Dead Body Pose of Bikram Yoga
Sav means a dead body and hence this Bikram yoga asana is known as the dead body pose. In this posture (the thirteenth) your whole body relaxes in complete peace with your being.
14. Pavanamuktasana – Wind Removing Pose
‘Pavan’ means ‘wind’ and ‘mukt’ means ‘free’. As this bikram yogasana helps you remove flatulation from within the body it is known as the ‘wind removing pose’.
15. Sit up Yoga Pose
This posture is may be the simplest of all – after the dead-body-posture. It involves sitting up.
16. Bhujangasana – Cobra Pose
In this yoga posture, the sixteenth one, you imitate the way a cobra snake stands before it attacks – hence it is known as the Cobra Posture. The word ‘Bhujang’ stands for cobra/snake in Sanskrit. Images below show half and full cobra poses.
17. Salabhasana – Locust Pose
This posture is also known as the “Locust Posture” because it imitates the way a locust stands. The word ‘Salab’ stands for ‘Locust’ in Sanskrit.
18. Poorna – Salabhasana
The eighteenth posture of Bikram yoga is “Poorna Salabhasana” also known as the “Full Locust Pose”. “Poorna” in Sanskrit stands for ‘Complete’.
19. Dhanurasana – Bow Pose
The 14th asana is “Dhanurasana” or the “Bow Pose”. Dhanush mean Bow and hence this asana is called the Bow Pose.
20. Supta Vajrasana – Fixed Firm Pose
The twentieth pose of bikram yoga, the “Fixed Firm Pose” is easy to accomplish and repares the body for the next in the series, i.e. the half-tortoise-pose.
21. Ardha Kurmasana – Half Tortoise Pose
This is the twenty-first posture and it imitates the way a tortoise looks; hence it is called the Half Tortoise Pose.
22. Ustrasana – Camel Pose
The next posture is the “Camel Pose” where your body is shaped to look like a camel.
23. Sasangasana – Rabbit Pose
In sanskrit, sasang means the rabbit and hence this pose is known as the “rabbit pose”.
24. Janushirasana with Paschimottanasan – Head to Knee Pose
The twenty-fourth posture is the “Janushirasana with Paschimottana” also known as the “Head To Knee Pose”
25. Ardha Matsyendrasana – Spine Twisting Pose
The Spine Twisting Posture is the twenty-fifth of the whole set of Bikram Yoga. This is one of the many difficult postures of the series
26. Khapalbhati – Blowing in Firm Pose
The last of the Bikram yoga set is the Blowing In Firm posture, which is also a relaxing posture.
So these are the 26 different poses of Bikram Yoga also known as hot yoga.
All these postures have to be done twice before going to the next posture and the whole set should take about 90 minutes from end to end.
In order to become a certified instructor a person would need to successfully complete a specially designed training course which is spanned over a period of two months. The successful candidate would then be awarded a certification by which he/she would be recognized as a certified Bikram Yoga teacher.
You will find that Bikram yoga is also called the ‘hot yoga’ – owing to the fact that it is practiced in a pre-heated room. The reason for this aspect of Bikram Yoga is that heat helps the body’s flexibility and at the same time eliminates toxins faster – hence all the 26 postures of Bikram yoga are usually practiced in a pre-heated room which has mirrored walls to help the person see the way they perform and hence practice their postures to perfection.
Bikram claims that if the Bikram Yoga series is practiced in the right way, the person would never suffer from any ailment during his/her life. Yoga has the power of regulating all body functions as well as voluntary and involuntary reflexes. The particular sequence that Bikram has worked ensures that the body is maintained in top form no matter what age the regime is practiced.
Images by Elissa. Visit her Etsy store at From My Hands to Yours