What Is Bikram Yoga?

Bikram yoga is a version of Hatha yoga that consists of 26 poses practiced in a specific order.

During a Bikram yoga class, you’ll practice a sequence of postures in a heated room to loosen your muscles and give you a good workout.

In this article, we will learn about the benefits of Bikram yoga, what it is, and when and how to practice it. We’ll also be sharing a few of our favorite poses and online classes for you to try right away!

Bikram Yoga Definition

Bikram yoga is the original hot yoga and was created by Bikram Choudhury and based on the teachings of Indian yogi and bodybuilder B.C. Ghosh.

Although each 90-minute class consists of the same 26 postures and two pranayama practices (controlled breathing), a Bikram yoga class is anything but boring. The sequence consists of several challenging poses to strengthen your body and mind.

The wonderful thing about practicing the same poses repeatedly is that you’ll be able to see your progress between classes.

Benefits of Bikram Yoga

As with any yoga practice, there are some general and some more specific benefits to practicing Bikram yoga. Here are just a few of the benefits that you may experience from practicing Bikram yoga.

Increased strength

Bikram yoga has been found to increase lower body strength through consistent practice.

Greater range of motion

Because Bikram yoga is practiced in a heated room, your muscles will be looser than normal – allowing you to stretch deeper than what you would usually consider being your maximum. Over time, this can increase mobility in your joints and muscles.

Weight loss

Through 90 minutes of consistent and sweaty movement, you’ll burn calories, increase your heart rate, and, in time, lose weight if you’re also eating well.

Improved mental wellbeing

Spending time on your mat focusing on self-care instead of worrying about the stresses of day-to-day life is a great way to improve your overall mood. Exercise, in general, is also wonderful for mental wellbeing!

Ability to monitor progress

Bikram yoga is ideal if you enjoy seeing how much progress you’ve made. While other styles of yoga vary in their sequence, the fact that Bikram yoga is a set sequence means that you’ll be able to see where you’ve gained strength and flexibility between classes.

Clearer skin

While Bikram yoga improves circulation, increases blood flow, and makes you sweat, you might notice that your skin looks brighter and clearer after class!

Related: Hot Yoga vs. Regular Yoga: Which Is Better for You?

When to Practice Bikram Yoga

Although Bikram yoga might be more suited to intermediate and advanced yogis, nothing stops you from practicing as a beginner! Although you might find the classes challenging, that could be what you’re looking for. As a beginner, you’ll also see greater improvement more quickly when practicing Bikram yoga regularly.

Bikram Yoga Poses

Bikram yoga poses include:

Eagle pose

Start by standing at the front of your mat with your feet slightly apart. Reach both arms out in front of you and cross your right arm over your left. Bend at the elbows to raise your hands and bring the backs of your palms together – you can also wrap your hands around each other so that your palms are touching. Keep a 90-degree bend in the elbows – your forearms should be parallel to your body and your upper arms parallel to the ground.

Bring your weight into your right foot, then cross your left knee over your right knee. Wrapping your left leg around your right – you might like to bring your left foot behind your right calf to rest on the outside of your right leg. Only go as far as is comfortable!

Bend into your right knee and move your glutes back as though you’re trying to sit in a chair.

To exit the pose, slowly unwind your legs, followed by your arms, and come to standing.

Bow pose

Lay on your tummy with your toes untucked and your arms resting at your sides. Bend your knees to bring your feet towards your glutes and reach with your hands to grab onto the outside edges of your feet. Kick your hands into your feet to move deeper into the backbend and gaze forward. If this pose feels uncomfortable for your hips, try adding a folded blanket underneath them.

Exit the pose by releasing down to the ground and moving into child’s pose for a few breaths.

Camel pose

Start in a kneeling position on your mat with your hips lifted. Tuck your toes. Inhale to reach both arms overhead. On an exhale, reach back with your right hand to hold onto your right heel. When ready, do the same with your left hand so that it comes to rest on your left heel. Focus on staying open through the chest and pushing your hips forward. You can keep your chin tucked or bring your head back.

Exit the pose by first bringing both hands to rest at the top of your glutes – as though you’re putting them in your “back pockets”. Then lift your torso before bringing your head back to the center.

Triangle pose

Start by standing at the front of your mat. Take a big step back with your right foot – about one meter – then turn your right toes to 90 degrees so that they’re pointing away from you. Turn your torso to face the right and reach your arms away from you on either side, gazing over your left fingers. From here, hinge at your hips to bring your left fingertips to your left calf, a block, or the ground, as you reach your right arm towards the sky. Gaze towards your right fingers (or down to the ground if you have any pain in your neck).

You can also practice this pose by adding a 0-degree bend into your front knee.

Exit the pose by bringing both hands down to frame your front foot, then stepping into forward fold.

How to Practice Bikram Yoga

You can start practicing Bikram yoga by picking a couple of the exercises described above or one of the follow-along videos below. But as a beginner, it can be tough to get started in your Bikram yoga practice alone, as poses can be quite challenging.

Start Bikram Yoga at Home

Check out these follow-along videos if you can’t make it to a yoga studio or want to try Bikram yoga out at home.

Bikram Yoga Workout – 60 Minute Hot Yoga with Maggie Grove

Hot Yoga Quickie (Bikram Yoga)

Bikram Yoga Class 30 Minutes – All 26 Bikram Yoga Postures

Bikram Yoga FAQs

Is Bikram Yoga Actually Good for You?

Bikram yoga is great for increasing strength, mobility, and the mind-body connection. If you are injured or recovering, check with your doctor or yoga teacher before starting Bikram yoga classes.

What Is the Difference Between Vinyasa Yoga and Bikram Yoga?

The main differences between vinyasa yoga and Bikram yoga are duration, sequence, and temperature. Vinyasa yoga is practiced at room temperature (unless you’re attending a hot vinyasa yoga class!) and has a variable sequence that can be practiced for any length of time.

Bikram yoga, on the other hand, is practiced in a heated room and follows a set sequence of 26 postures and 2 pranayama practices for a total of 90 minutes every time.

Can a Beginner Do Bikram Yoga?

Although some of the poses that make up a Bikram yoga class can be challenging, they can be adapted to suit all bodies and levels of experience. While it’s true that you might feel more comfortable attending a Bikram yoga class once you’re more familiar with the core yoga poses, there’s nothing to stop you from attending a Bikram yoga class as a beginner!

Important: Check with your doctor before trying Bikram yoga for the first time if you have any injury, illness, or pain. Bikram yoga is not suitable during pregnancy.

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