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This is close to our Hearts - Maximizing Your Bikram Yoga Experience

Updated: Jun 15


Welcome to Hot Yoga Manchester (HYMcr): Maximizing Your Bikram Yoga Experience

At Hot Yoga Manchester (HYMcr), we emphasize the importance of heat in enhancing your yoga practice. Stretching without adequate warmth can be ineffective and potentially harmful. The added heat in our studio ensures a safer, deeper stretch, especially for those who may have tight muscles or limited mobility. Regardless of your flexibility level, the heat helps facilitate a satisfying and effective stretch, making your practice more beneficial.


The Role of Instruction in Your Yoga Journey

Bikram Yoga is straightforward; all the guidance you need is provided through detailed verbal instructions during each class. By closely following these instructions, you can adapt each pose to your body's unique needs. Your progress will depend on your starting point, effort, and frequency of practice. Over time, you'll begin to feel the poses integrating into your body, with visible improvements such as increased flexibility, strength, and balance. More importantly, you'll experience deeper, less visible changes like enhanced confidence and a positive attitude.


Personalized Attention at HYMcr

At HYMcr, we strive to make your experience personal and supportive. We consider our studio an extension of our home and feel privileged to be part of your yoga journey. We make an effort to connect with each student, using your name and offering personalized guidance and encouragement during every class. This personal touch helps create a nurturing and motivating environment for your practice.


Understanding the Poses and Their Benefits

Each Bikram Yoga pose offers specific benefits, and it's the sequence as a whole that maximizes these advantages. Practicing the sequence not only invigorates your body and mind but also helps you access your personal power. While individual poses might stimulate blood flow or the endocrine system, the overall effect of regular practice is a comprehensive renewal and healing of your body.

In Bikram Yoga, you engage every part of your body, working all systems from bones to skin. This holistic approach ensures that everything from sluggish organs to dry tissues receives proper attention and care. Regular practice leads to rejuvenation, realignment, and overall well-being. Your body's natural tendency is to heal and renew, and Bikram Yoga provides the optimal conditions for this process.


How to Approach Your Practice

Patience: Understand that achieving full expression of the poses takes time. Progress is about consistent effort and mindfulness.

Research Environment: Familiarize yourself with the basics of Bikram Yoga, including breathing, hydration, and the use of mirrors. Check out our ‘LOVE YOGA’ section for more details.

Hydrate: Proper hydration is crucial. Ensure you are well-hydrated before class to optimize your performance and safety. For more information, read our blog posts on hydration.

Breathe: Focus on your breath, keeping it calm and steady throughout your practice. Proper breathing enhances prana flow, calms the nervous system, and improves focus.

Look: Use mirrors to check your alignment and posture, helping you make necessary corrections and improvements.

Set Up: Pay attention to your setup for each pose. Proper alignment and preparation can make a significant difference in your practice.

Warm Up: Consider the standing sequence as a warm-up for the floor sequence. Each set of poses is an opportunity to gauge your body's current state and adjust accordingly.

Contraindications: Inform your instructor of any injuries or conditions. This allows for modifications to ensure a safe and effective practice.

Strong Core = Safe Spine: Engage your core to protect your spine, especially in twists and weight-bearing poses.

Risk Management: Follow the instructor’s guidance and avoid deviating from the instructions without prior discussion.

You Are in Charge: While instructors provide direction, you are ultimately responsible for your practice. Listen to your body and make adjustments as needed.

Transform: Yoga is about transformation. Respect your limits and work towards growth and expansion without overextending yourself.


Beginning Your 90-Minute Class

Let’s delve into what you can expect during a typical 90-minute Bikram Yoga class at HYMcr.

 

 


You are never too old or too broken. It is never too late to begin, or to start all over again.

 

Pranayama – Standing Deep Breathing


Pranayama is the foundational posture of Bikram Yoga, designed to center the mind and bring practitioners into the present moment. This initial practice expands the lungs to their full capacity, encourages efficient breathing, and induces a state of calm and relaxation, making it particularly beneficial after a hectic day.

How to Perform Pranayama:

  1. Starting Position:

  • Stand with your feet together, touching if possible.

  • Interlace your fingers and place them beneath your chin.

  • Relax your jaw and shoulders, keeping your eyes open.

  • Maintain a neutral spine throughout.

  1. Inhaling:

  • Open your arms like wings, raising your elbows as high as possible by the end of the inhale.

  • Inhale steadily through your nose for a count of six, feeling the air press against the back of your throat.

  1. Exhaling:

  • Tilt your head back gently, extending your neck.

  • Open your mouth wide and exhale, keeping your knuckles connected to your chin as you gently push it back.

  • Exhale for a count of six.

  1. Repeating:

  • As you inhale again, bring your head and chin back to neutral.

  • Complete 10 breaths in this manner, repeating for two rounds.

Benefits of Pranayama:

  • Strengthening: Enhances the shoulders, deltoids, and diaphragm.

  • Stretching: Opens the intercostal muscles, ribcage, shoulders, and scapula.

  • Stimulation: Activates the respiratory, parasympathetic nervous, and circulatory systems.

  • Tension Release: Eases tension within the respiratory system.

  • Efficiency: Maximizes respiratory efficiency.

  • Breathing Technique: Teaches slower, deeper breathing and utilization of the lungs' full capacity.

  • Preparation: Prepares the body and mind for the yoga practice ahead.


Ardha Chandrasana with Padahastasana – Half Moon with Hands to Feet Pose


Ardha Chandrasana with Padahastasana, or Half Moon with Hands to Feet Pose, is a dynamic combination that invigorates the body and mind, preparing you for the rest of the Bikram Yoga class.

Preparation:

  • Stand with your weight towards your heels.

  • Keep your legs firm and attempt to lock your elbows.

  • Ensure there are no gaps between your arms and head, and between your hands and wrists.

Sideward Bending:

  • Inhale, lift up, and bend/stretch your torso to the right.

  • Keep your lower spine long and control your bend without collapsing into the side you are bending.

  • Keep your chest lifted and your chin in a neutral position.

  • Repeat on the other side.

  • Remember, this is not about depth or a backward bend, which follows next.

Backward Bending:

  • Start from a correct standing position.

  • Lift your torso out of your hips, drop your head back, and look back.

  • Push your hips forward as much as possible.

  • Pull your arms back towards your ears and lean your upper body back.

  • Relax, hold, and breathe.

  • Inhale and come up.

Forward Bending:

  • Fold forward from your hips, keeping your chin away from your chest.

  • Shake out your hips first.

  • Grip your heels from behind and pull continuously with your hand grip while lifting your hips up.

  • Lengthen your spine downward, pressing your torso and face against the lower part of your body to avoid gaps.

  • Gradually straighten and lock out your legs without forcing your hamstrings.

  • Give your hamstrings time to adjust if they are tight.

  • Repeat the entire sequence.


Benefits of Ardha Chandrasana with Padahastasana:

  • Strengthening: Fortifies every muscle in the body's core, particularly in the abdomen and back.

  • Stretching: Extends the spine and shoulders.

  • Stimulation: Activates the kidneys, liver, lymphatic system, and respiratory system.

  • Flexibility: Enhances spine flexibility from the coccyx to the neck.

  • Decompression: Decompresses and realigns the spine.

  • Circulation: Boosts blood flow to the face and brain.

  • Endocrine Support: Stimulates the pituitary gland.

  • Energy Boost: Provides quick energy and vitality for the practice ahead.


Utkatasana – Awkward Pose


Utkatasana, or Awkward Pose, is a powerful posture in Bikram Yoga that focuses on building strength and stability in the legs while improving overall body alignment and concentration.


How to Perform Utkatasana:

  1. Starting Position:

  • Stand with your feet parallel and hip-width apart.

  • Raise your arms parallel to the floor, shoulder-width apart, keeping your elbows, wrists, and fingers straight and locked.

  • Relax your shoulders back and away from your ears while stretching through your fingertips.

  1. First Part:

  • Sit as deeply as you can while leaning your upper body back.

  • Maintain the hip-distance gap between your feet, knees, and hands.

  • Ensure your hips do not sink below your knees.

  1. Second Part:

  • Rise as high on your toes as possible, keeping your abdominal muscles tight.

  • Sit down, ensuring your hips do not go below your knees.

  • Keep your chest facing forward and your spine straight.

  • Avoid sinking.

  1. Third Part:

  • Squeeze the sides of your knees together and move down slowly, maintaining a straight spine.

  • Avoid sinking.

  • Reverse the movement to come up.

  • Repeat all parts.


Benefits of Utkatasana:

  • Strengthening: Builds strength in the triceps, deltoids, abdominal muscles, quadriceps, calves, back, ankles, and feet.

  • Stretching: Stretches the toes, feet, ankles, and shins.

  • Stimulation: Stimulates abdominal organs (liver, spleen, pancreas, intestines), diaphragm, and heart.

  • Circulation: Improves blood circulation in the legs.

  • Alignment: Enhances gait and alignment, potentially preventing problems in the knees, hips, and back.

  • Concentration: Develops mental focus and concentration.


Garurasana – Eagle Pose


Garurasana, or Eagle Pose, is a challenging yet rewarding posture in Bikram Yoga that focuses on balance, flexibility, and concentration. This pose targets major joints and muscles, enhancing overall body coordination and strength.


How to Perform Garurasana:

  1. Starting Position:

  • Sit down to create space for a good leg and arm wrap.

  • Aim to wrap one leg over the other and one arm under the other, minimizing gaps between the wrapped limbs.

  • Even if the full wrap isn't achieved, maintaining proper posture is key.

  • Keep your abdominal muscles tight and continuously lean your upper body back.

  • Ensure your chest and stomach face forward toward the mirror, not down towards the floor.

  1. Arm and Hand Position:

  • Try to bring your palms flat together with your fingers positioned below your nose.

  • Align your body along the sagittal plane and squeeze to create maximum pressure, achieving a tourniquet effect. This also helps maintain balance.

  • Keep the weight towards the heel of your standing foot.

  • Repeat the pose on the other side.


Benefits of Garurasana:

  • Strengthening: Enhances the strength and flexibility of the ankles and calves.

  • Joint Opening: Opens up all major joints in the body.

  • Tension Release: Alleviates tension in the neck and shoulders.

  • Lubrication: Improves joint lubrication.

  • Concentration and Balance: Develops concentration and a sense of balance.

  • Blood Flow: Stimulates blood flow to the reproductive organs and kidneys through the tourniquet effect.

  • Lymphatic System: Activates the lymphatic system, aiding in the movement of lymph throughout the body.


Dandayamana Janushirasana – Standing Leg Head to Knee Pose


Dandayamana Janushirasana, or Standing Leg Head to Knee Pose, is a quintessential Bikram Yoga posture that emphasizes balance, concentration, and flexibility. This pose is a deep forward bend and a test of patience, requiring a mindful approach and methodical practice.


How to Perform Dandayamana Janushirasana:

  1. Starting Position:

  • Focus and prepare yourself mentally, as this is a concentration pose.

  • Break down the posture into four parts for a methodical approach.

  1. Locking the Knee:

  • Properly lock the knee of your standing leg. This lock is integral to maintaining balance and is a key aspect of the Bikram method.

  • Distribute your weight correctly on your foot and connect with your center of gravity.

  1. Engage the Core:

  • Contract your abdominal muscles to support the intense forward bend.

  • Ensure a firm but relaxed grip, allowing you to focus on balance and flexibility.

  1. Extending the Leg:

  • Extend your other leg forward and kick the heel out to maintain balance.

  • Be prepared to fall out a few times, especially when transitioning your forehead to your knee for the full expression of the pose.

  1. Completion:

  • Complete all four parts of the pose to strengthen both your body and mind.

  • Repeat the posture on the other side.


Benefits of Dandayamana Janushirasana:

  • Strengthening: Tones and strengthens the muscles of the abdomen, back, arms, legs, and soft tissues around the knees.

  • Tendon Strength: Enhances the strength of tendons.

  • Stretching: Stretches the back, shoulders, and hamstrings.

  • Organ Stimulation: Stimulates, squeezes, and flushes out abdominal organs, including the gall bladder, pancreas, spleen, uterus, and ovaries.

  • Heart Stimulation: Stimulates the heart.

  • Sciatic Nerve Flexibility: Improves the flexibility of the sciatic nerves.

  • Mental Development: Develops balance, patience, determination, and concentration.

This posture is a comprehensive exercise for both the body and mind, fostering a deep connection between the two.


Dandayamana Dhanurasana – Standing Bow Pulling Pose


Dandayamana Dhanurasana, or Standing Bow Pulling Pose, creates the ultimate tourniquet effect within the Bikram Yoga sequence. This posture combines strength, balance, and flexibility to invigorate the entire body.


How to Perform Dandayamana Dhanurasana:

  1. Starting Position:

  • Establish a firm grip on your ankle and bring your knees together to align your hips from the side.

  • Ensure correct alignment from the beginning and maintain these fundamentals throughout the posture.

  1. Knee Lock and Kicking:

  • Keep the knee of your standing leg locked.

  • Kick your leg back harder to help maintain balance.

  • Point your toes and work your front shoulder under your chin, allowing the kick to pull your shoulder back and out of sight.

  1. Completion:

  • Hold the posture, maintaining balance and alignment, and then repeat on the other side.


Benefits of Dandayamana Dhanurasana:

  • Strengthening: Enhances the strength of the spine, diaphragm, quadriceps, gluteus maximus, ankles, and knees.

  • Stretching: Stretches the trapezius, latissimus dorsi, sartorius, hamstrings, pectorals, diaphragm, ribcage, and spine.

  • Stimulation: Stimulates the circulatory, digestive, reproductive, urinary, cardiovascular, and endocrine systems.

  • Tourniquet Effect: Creates a tourniquet effect on each side of the body.

  • Toning: Tones the triceps, abdominal wall, glutes, hips, and upper thighs.

  • Shoulder Opening: Opens the shoulders.

  • Mental Development: Develops balance, patience, determination, and concentration.


Tuladandasana – Balancing Stick Pose


Tuladandasana, or Balancing Stick Pose, is an exhilarating posture that engages the entire body and stimulates the cardiovascular system. This posture requires precise coordination and balance.


How to Perform Tuladandasana:

  1. Starting Position:

  • Ensure your hips are level at the start.

  • Root your foot firmly into the ground and lock the knee of your standing leg.

  • Lock the knee of your backward-extending leg as well.

  1. Movement:

  • Inhale, lift up, and pivot forward in one piece from the tips of your fingers to the tips of your toes.

  • Maintain locks in your knees and elbows.

  • Ensure the hip of your extended leg does not turn out and your chin remains neutral.

  • Squeeze your head with the sides of your arms, broaden through your chest and ribcage, and stretch continuously.

  1. Completion:

  • Repeat the posture on the other leg.


Benefits of Tuladandasana:

  • Heart Strength: Strengthens the heart muscle.

  • Muscle Strength: Strengthens the ankles, legs, and shoulders.

  • Stretching: Stretches the hips, shoulders, and spine.

  • Stimulation: Stimulates the pancreas, liver, spleen, kidneys, and nervous system.

  • Toning: Tones the abdomen.

  • Artery Cleansing: Helps clean the arteries.

  • Mental Development: Develops balance, posture, and concentration.

These postures are fundamental to the Bikram Yoga practice, each offering unique benefits to enhance your physical and mental well-being.


Dandayamana Biphaktapada Paschimothanasana – Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose


Dandayamana Biphaktapada Paschimothanasana, or Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose, enhances circulation to the brain while promoting flexibility and strength throughout the body.


How to Perform Dandayamana Biphaktapada Paschimothanasana:

  1. Starting Position:

  • Take a wide stance to make the stretch easier, especially if you are new to this pose. Over time, you can gradually bring your feet closer together.

  • Grip is crucial. Hold your feet or ankles firmly to deepen the stretch.

  1. Stretching:

  • Maintain a neutral, straight spine, including your neck.

  • Aim to straighten your legs and lock your knees.

  • Use longer exhales to ease into the stretch further.

  1. Completion:

  • Repeat the posture to fully benefit from its effects.


Benefits of Dandayamana Biphaktapada Paschimothanasana:

  • Strengthening: Fortifies the inner and back of the legs, spine, shoulders, and arms.

  • Stretching: Extends the entire back side of the body, including the sciatic nerves.

  • Stimulation: Stimulates the endocrine system (especially the adrenal glands) and the digestive system.

  • Release and Toning: Releases tension in the lower back and tones the abdominal region.

  • Hamstring Health: Helps restore and maintain hamstring length.

  • Flexibility: Improves flexibility in the hips, pelvis, and spine.

  • Circulation: Enhances blood flow to the face and brain.


Trikanasana – Triangle Pose


Trikanasana, or Triangle Pose, is a powerful and revitalizing posture that engages the entire body, promoting strength, flexibility, and overall vitality.


How to Perform Trikanasana:

  1. Starting Position:

  • Form a wide stance with your feet firmly rooted.

  • The 'triangle' is formed between your upper thigh, inside arm, and torso on the bending leg side.

  1. Alignment:

  • Aim to position your two arms perpendicular to the floor, with your chin to your shoulder (not shoulder to chin).

  • Ensure your bending leg stacks over the foot/ankle, never past the toes.

  • Place your lower fingers between your big toe and second toe.

  • Avoid letting your extended side rib cage or hip stick up. Engage your core to prevent collapsing forward.

  1. Adjustment:

  • If you have stiff hips, add an extra step when coming out of the posture: return to the drop position, pause, then come up, effectively reversing the entry movement.

  1. Completion:

  • Repeat the posture on the other side.


Benefits of Trikanasana:

  • Strengthening: Strengthens the legs, ankles, groin, chest, lungs, shoulders, and abdomen.

  • Stretching: Opens and stretches the chest, shoulders, and hips.

  • Stimulation: Stimulates the cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, renal, and immune systems.

  • Mobility: Improves neck and shoulder mobility.

  • Mental Development: Develops balance, stamina, and concentration.

Trikanasana is a challenging yet deeply rewarding pose, providing a comprehensive workout for the body and a significant boost to your overall energy and vitality.


Dandayamana Biphaktapada Janushirasana – Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose


Dandayamana Biphaktapada Janushirasana, or Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose, is primarily a compression pose that targets the abdominal organs and spine, enhancing overall strength and flexibility.


How to Perform Dandayamana Biphaktapada Janushirasana:

  1. Starting Position:

  • Begin with a wide leg stance.

  • Pivot on your heels to align your hips from the side view.

  1. Stretch and Curl:

  • With straight legs and straight arms, stretch up.

  • Tuck your chin and start to curl your spine over the front leg, aiming to bring your forehead to your knee in one fluid movement.

  • Stretch your arms in front of your foot/toes.

  1. Completion:

  • Reverse the movement to come up.

  • Repeat the posture on the other side.


Benefits of Dandayamana Biphaktapada Janushirasana:

  • Strengthening: Fortifies the shoulders, abdomen, hips, thighs, and calves.

  • Stretching: Stretches the kidneys and all muscles along the back side of the body, including the Achilles tendon.

  • Stimulation: Stimulates the endocrine and digestive systems.

  • Organ Massage: Massages and compresses the abdominal organs, including the pancreas.

  • Thyroid Activation: Massages the thyroid and parathyroid glands.

  • Circulation: Enhances blood flow to the face and brain.

This posture combines compression and stretching to create a powerful effect on both the body and mind, promoting physical strength and mental focus.


Tadasana – Tree Pose


Tadasana, or Tree Pose, is a meditative posture that promotes balance and strength while opening the hips and improving posture.


How to Perform Tadasana:

  1. Root and Balance:

  • Root the foot of your standing leg firmly into the ground and lock the knee.

  • Flex the knee of your lifting leg and pick up the foot, supporting the ankle as you place the foot anywhere on your thigh that feels comfortable and safe for your bent knee. Gradually work the foot toward your hip crease over time.

  1. Alignment:

  • Aim to align your hips and shoulders in one line from both the front and side views.

  • Keep your shoulders back and your hips open.

  • Draw the bent knee back to line up with the standing leg knee from the side.

  1. Elevate and Balance:

  • Place your hands in a prayer position in front of your heart once the foot is secure and you can maintain your balance.

  • Find elevation from the waist up.

  • Repeat on the other side.


Benefits of Tadasana:

  • Strengthening: Strengthens the abdomen and glutes.

  • Stretching: Stretches the knee and opens the hip joints.

  • Posture and Balance: Develops better posture and balance.

  • Flexibility: Improves the flexibility of the ankles, knees, and hips.


Padangustasana – Toe Stand Pose


Padangustasana, or Toe Stand Pose, is a strengthening posture that builds upon the foundation of Tree Pose, emphasizing focus, balance, and flexibility.


How to Perform Padangustasana:

  1. Establish Tree Pose:

  • Begin with a strong Tree Pose.

  • Focus your gaze on a point on the floor in front of you.

  1. Lowering:

  • Beginners should keep the standing leg straight, stretch the arms and hands out, and start to round the lower spine towards the floor.

  • Put your weight into your hands, bend the standing leg, and lower the hips.

  1. Balance and Lift:

  • Grasp the towel with your standing toes, ‘walk’ your hands around to the sides of your hips, using your fingertips to help balance.

  • Lift your chest to create a neutral spine with your head balanced nicely over the spine.

  • Try to balance and slowly lift each hand to bring them into a prayer position.

  1. Completion:

  • Maintain a gap between your heel and bottom.

  • Rise to standing and repeat on the other side.

Benefits of Padangustasana:

  • Strengthening: Strengthens the knees and legs.

  • Joint Flexibility: Opens up the knee, hip, and toe joints.

  • Focus: Develops concentration and focus.

Both Tree Pose and Toe Stand Pose offer unique benefits that contribute to overall physical stability and mental clarity, making them essential components of a comprehensive Bikram Yoga practice.


Savasana – Corpse Pose


Savasana, or Corpse Pose, is a fundamental relaxation posture that emphasizes stillness and allows the body and mind to absorb the benefits of the preceding practice.



How to Perform Savasana:

  1. Starting Position:

  • Lie flat on your back.

  • Bring your heels together and let your toes flop out to the sides.

  1. Alignment:

  • Slightly tuck your chin to lengthen the neck.

  • Slide your shoulder blades down your back.

  • Ensure your breath is free and easy.

  1. Relax and Scan:

  • Quickly scan your body to release any residual tension from the earlier part of the class.

  • Absolute stillness is required here for maximum benefit.

  1. Comfort Adjustments:

  • If you have back problems, open your feet about hip-distance apart, bend your knees upwards so your feet are flat on the floor, and let the knees fall in towards each other to support each other.

  1. Position of Arms:

  • Allow your arms to fall palm-up by your sides, wide enough to allow full expansion of your lungs but within the vicinity of your mat.

  • Keep your eyes open with a soft gaze.


Benefits of Savasana:

  • Oxygen Flow: Facilitates the flow of oxygenated blood to where it is needed most.

  • Heart Rate and Breathing: Allows heart rate and breathing to slow and return to normal.

  • Magnifies Benefits: Enhances the benefits of the preceding postures by allowing the nadis and circulatory system to deliver Prana and fresh oxygenated blood to where it is needed without diversion.

  • Mental Training: Trains the mind to remain focused and not wander.

  • Proper Relaxation: Teaches what true relaxation feels like, providing a foundation for deeper meditation and mindfulness.

Savasana is an essential component of the yoga practice, providing a necessary period of rest and recovery that helps integrate the physical and mental work done during the session.

Pavanamuktasana – Wind Removing Pose


Pavanamuktasana, or Wind Removing Pose, is a beneficial posture aimed at releasing trapped gas from the digestive system and promoting overall digestive health.


How to Perform Pavanamuktasana:

  1. Right Leg:

  • From the supine position in Savasana, bend your right leg up.

  • Interlock your fingers and thumbs and grasp just below the knee.

  • Pull that knee down towards your right shoulder.

  • Keep your left leg extended, with the calf touching the floor.

  • Ensure your head, shoulders, and pelvis (both sides) stay in contact with the floor.

  • Relax your jaw.

  • Repeat with the left leg.

  1. Both Legs:

  • Wrap your arms across the top of your shins, grasping both elbows.

  • Tuck your chin down.

  • Pull your knees to your chest in a big hug, aiming to get your bum to the floor.

  • The goal is to get your entire spine flat on the floor from coccyx to neck, one vertebra at a time.

  • Avoid "hanging out" in this pose; engage fully for maximum benefit.

  • Repeat the sequence for both legs.


Benefits of Pavanamuktasana:

  • Strengthens: Strengthens the arms and grip.

  • Stretches: Stretches and flexes the hip joints.

  • Stimulates: Stimulates the digestive and endocrine systems, including the thyroid and parathyroid glands.

  • Spinal Traction: The supine position and the action within aid in the natural traction of the spine without force.

Pavanamuktasana is an essential posture for promoting digestive health and relieving abdominal tension. Its focused engagement of the digestive system and spine provides significant benefits, contributing to overall physical well-being.


Sit-Up


The Sit-Up in Bikram Yoga is a dynamic movement that invigorates the body and prepares you for the postures that follow. It involves a double jerk and double exhale to maximize its benefits.


How to Perform the Sit-Up:

  1. Preparation:

  • Start from a supine position with your legs together and your toes flexed back.

  • Stretch your arms overhead, keeping them close to your ears, with your fingers extended and thumbs crossed.

  1. Execution:

  • Perform a quick, forceful double jerk to sit up, using the strength of your abdomen.

  • As you sit up, simultaneously double exhale through your mouth to enhance the movement.

  • Reach forward and touch your toes, stretching your spine.

  1. Completion:

  • Ensure you engage your core muscles throughout the movement.

  • Maintain a fluid motion to avoid straining your back or neck.


Benefits of the Sit-Up:

  • Strengthens: Builds strength in the abdomen and diaphragm.

  • Stretches: Provides a stretch to the back side of the body, including the hamstrings and lower back.

  • Invigorates: Refreshes and energizes the body between postures, helping to maintain momentum throughout the class.

  • Preparation: Prepares the body for the major seated forward stretching postures towards the end of the class.

The Sit-Up is an essential transition that keeps the energy flowing and ensures that you are ready for the subsequent poses, adding both strength and flexibility to your practice.


Bhujangasana – Cobra Pose


Bhujangasana, or Cobra Pose, is a powerful spine-strengthening posture that opens the chest and stimulates the abdominal organs.

How to Perform Bhujangasana:


  1. Starting Position:

  • Lie on your belly with your legs extended and the tops of your feet pressed into the floor.

  • Place your palms flat on the floor just below your shoulders, ensuring proper hand placement.

  1. Engage and Lift:

  • Activate your legs, keeping them tight and engaged.

  • Press the tops of your feet into the floor.

  • Inhale deeply, pushing your belly into the floor and lifting your chest.

  • Look up as you lift, practicing 80/20 breathing (inhale 80% through the nose, exhale 20% through the mouth).

  1. Arm Position:

  • Avoid pushing up with your arms. Instead, use the strength of your back to lift your upper body.

  • Beginners may need to use some hand strength initially, but strive to rely more on your back muscles over time.

  1. Hold and Release:

  • Hold the pose for a few breaths, maintaining the lift with your back muscles.

  • Slowly lower back down to the starting position.


Benefits of Bhujangasana:

  • Strengthens: Builds strength in the lumbar spine, arms, shoulders, glutes, abdomen, and thighs.

  • Stretches: Stretches and opens the chest, heart, lungs, shoulders, abdomen, and groin.

  • Stimulates: Stimulates the abdominal organs, enhancing digestion and reproductive health.

  • Renal and Digestive Health: Promotes the health of the renal and digestive systems.

Bhujangasana is a foundational backbend in the Bikram Yoga sequence that not only strengthens the spine but also enhances flexibility and stimulates vital organs, contributing to overall health and well-being.


Salabhasana – Locust Pose


Salabhasana, or Locust Pose, is a dynamic backbend that further strengthens the spine and back muscles while stimulating various internal systems.


How to Perform Salabhasana:

  1. Preparation:

  • Lie on your belly with your chin forward, extending your neck for the first part.

  • Place your arms underneath your body with palms facing down, keeping the arms straight and elbows unbent.

  • Spread your fingers to create a wider base of support.

  • Ensure your pelvis is evenly aligned.

  1. Right Leg Lift:

  • Press your right hand against the mat.

  • Extend your right leg, lock the knee, and lift the leg towards the ceiling.

  • Hold for a few breaths.

  • Repeat with the left leg.

  1. Both Legs Lift:

  • For the final part, rest your chin on the towel.

  • Zip up your legs, locking the knees together.

  • Lift and stretch both legs up and back behind you.

  • Aim to lift the pelvis over time, directing your weight forward towards your upper body for balance.

  • Repeat the entire sequence.


Benefits of Salabhasana:

  • Strengthens: Builds strength in the upper spine, back muscles, glutes, and pelvic floor.

  • Stretches: Stretches the elbow joints and upper back.

  • Stimulates: Stimulates the digestive and reproductive systems, as well as the liver and spleen.

  • Comprehensive Benefits: Combines the benefits of Cobra Pose with additional strengthening and stretching, particularly targeting the upper spine and back.

Salabhasana is an essential posture in the Bikram Yoga sequence, enhancing the strength and flexibility of the back while providing significant stimulation to the digestive and reproductive organs. This pose requires perseverance and focus, leading to profound physical benefits over time.


Poorna Salabhasana – Full Locust Pose


Poorna Salabhasana, or Full Locust Pose, is a powerful backbend that lifts and strengthens the entire back and core while opening the chest and stimulating internal organs.


How to Perform Poorna Salabhasana:

  1. Preparation:

  • Lie on your belly with your arms extended out to the sides, palms down, in line with your shoulders.

  • Ensure your legs are firmly together and engaged.

  1. Take Off:

  • Inhale deeply and lift your arms, chest, and legs simultaneously.

  • Keep your arms wide, hovering over the mat if space is limited.

  • Draw your shoulder blades back and together.

  • Balance on your hip bones, with your fingers level with the top of your head.

  • Lift your gaze upwards; where your eyes go, your body will follow.

  1. Hold and Release:

  • Hold the pose for a few breaths, maintaining the lift and engagement throughout your body.

  • Slowly lower back to the starting position and repeat as necessary.


Benefits of Poorna Salabhasana:

  • Strengthens: Enhances the strength of the middle spine, upper arm muscles, abdominals, glutes, quadriceps, and calves.

  • Stimulates: Stimulates the digestive system, liver, and spleen.

  • Opens: Expands the rib cage, promoting better lung capacity and respiratory function.

  • Firms: Tones the abdominal muscles, upper arms, hips, and thighs.

Poorna Salabhasana is an invigorating posture that builds strength and flexibility in the back and core, while also enhancing respiratory and digestive functions. This pose embodies the essence of soaring, lifting both the body and spirit.


Dhanurasana – Bow Pose


Dhanurasana, or Bow Pose, is a dynamic backbend that deeply engages the spine while stretching the entire front side of the body and stimulating various internal systems.


How to Perform Dhanurasana:

  1. Preparation:

  • Begin in a belly resting position.

  • Bend your knees and reach your arms back to grasp your feet from the outside, keeping your wrists straight.

  • Draw your ankles and knees towards your midline to ensure they do not splay out wider than your hips.

  1. Lift Off:

  • Roll your shoulder blades back and down.

  • Kick your feet into your hands, allowing this action to lift your torso and thighs off the floor.

  • Open your chest and shoulders as you lift.

  • Maintain normal breathing throughout the pose, noticing how it enhances your experience.

  1. Release:

  • Slowly lower back to the starting position.

  • Repeat as necessary.


Benefits of Dhanurasana:

  • Strengthens: Enhances the strength of the spine along its entire length.

  • Stretches: Stretches and opens the throat, shoulders, chest, ribs, hips, and groin area (entire front side of the body).

  • Stimulates: Stimulates the cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, lymphatic, endocrine, and renal systems, as well as the liver.

Dhanurasana is a powerful posture that not only builds spinal strength but also promotes flexibility and openness in the front body. This pose's comprehensive benefits make it a vital part of the Bikram Yoga sequence, contributing to overall vitality and well-being.


Supta Vajrasana – Fixed Firm Pose


Supta Vajrasana, or Fixed Firm Pose, is a deep stretch focusing on the lower body, particularly the knees, ankles, and lower spine. This pose enhances flexibility and stimulates several internal systems.


How to Perform Supta Vajrasana:

  1. Preparation:

  • From a belly resting position, push up onto all fours and walk your knees forward.

  • Sit down on your heels initially, then open your heels and let your bottom sink to the floor between them.

  • Ensure shins, ankles, and toes form a straight line, and heels touch the sides of your hips.

  1. Lowering Down:

  • Place your hands on the soles of your feet with fingers pointing forward.

  • Lower one elbow to the floor, then the other. Let your head hang back without resting on it.

  • Exhale and gently release your shoulders to the floor.

  1. Adjustment:

  • It's more important that your knees stay on the floor than for your shoulders to reach the floor.

  • Open your knees if needed and stay on your elbows until you are confident your knees will stay grounded.

  • If you have maintained the fundamentals, bring your arms up over your head, bend your arms, and grasp your elbows.

  1. Relaxation:

  • Root down through your knees, pelvis, and shoulders.

  • Relax your lower back.

  • To come out, use your core strength to lift, bringing your head up last. Turn around and lie down. Repeat as necessary.


Benefits of Supta Vajrasana:

  • Strengthens and Improves Flexibility: Targets the lower spine, hips, knees, and ankle joints.

  • Stretches: Engages the abdomen, adrenals, thighs, deep hip flexors, knees, and ankles.

  • Stimulates: Activates the lymphatic and endocrine systems (adrenals).

  • Increases Circulation: Enhances blood flow to the lower limbs, knees, and ankles.

Supta Vajrasana is a profound pose that deeply stretches the lower body while promoting flexibility and stimulating important internal systems. It serves as an essential part of the Bikram Yoga sequence, contributing to the overall balance and well-being of the practitioner.


Ardha Kurmasana – Half Tortoise Pose


Ardha Kurmasana, or Half Tortoise Pose, is a deeply restorative pose that emphasizes surrender and relaxation, providing numerous physical and mental benefits.


How to Perform Ardha Kurmasana:

  1. Starting Position:

  • Kneel with your feet and knees together.

  • Inhale and raise your arms sideways, bringing your palms together and crossing your thumbs.

  1. Moving into the Pose:

  • Inhale again, stretching and lifting your arms up.

  • Exhale as you fold forward, keeping your arms and head together and maintaining a flat, long back.

  • Move forward until your forehead and the sides of your hands touch the floor.

  • Try to keep your hips and heels touching. If they separate, don’t worry—just try to get them back together once you are down.

  1. Engagement and Stretch:

  • Keep your arms engaged, stretching from the lower back through to the tips of your fingers.

  • Ensure your back stays flat throughout the movement.

  1. Exiting the Pose:

  • Engage your core and try to draw your hips and heels together again.

  • Come up with a flat back, using your core strength.

  • Repeat as needed.


Benefits of Ardha Kurmasana:

  • Strengthens Core: Engages the core muscles, providing strength and stability.

  • Stretches Key Muscle Groups: Targets the deltoids, scapula, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, hips, and the lower part of the lungs.

  • Stimulates Important Glands: Activates the pituitary gland, pineal gland, and hypothalamus.

  • Releases Tension: Helps to release tension in the neck and shoulders.

  • Improves Circulation: Encourages blood flow to the face and brain, enhancing mental clarity and relaxation.

Ardha Kurmasana is a powerful pose for both physical and mental rejuvenation. It emphasizes a deep stretch while promoting relaxation and stress relief, making it a valuable addition to any yoga practice.


Ustrasana – Camel Pose


Ustrasana, or Camel Pose, is a profound heart-opening posture that provides numerous physical and mental benefits, emphasizing spinal extension and flexibility.


How to Perform Ustrasana:

  1. Starting Position:

  • Begin by kneeling on the floor with your knees hip-distance apart.

  • Place your hands on your lower back/upper pelvis with your fingers pointing downward.

  • Draw your elbows towards each other behind your back.

  1. Moving into the Pose:

  • Push your hips forward while lifting your chest upward.

  • Drop your head backward, going back slightly.

  • Extend your right hand down to grasp your right heel, then your left hand down to grasp your left heel.

  • Give a gentle pull on the heels while continuously squeezing your glutes and lifting your chest.

  1. Maintaining the Pose:

  • Keep your hips pushing forward to prevent collapsing.

  • Maintain the lift in your chest and the engagement of your glutes throughout the duration of the pose.

  • If you tend to collapse, stay in the first position with your hands on your lower back, practicing pushing the hips forward to open them more. With time, you will be able to go back without collapsing.

  1. Exiting the Pose:

  • Reverse out of the pose by supporting yourself with your hands on your lower back, lifting your head last.

  • Repeat as needed.


Benefits of Ustrasana:

  • Strengthens Muscles: Enhances the strength of the muscles along the spine and the backside of the body.

  • Stretches and Opens: Provides a deep stretch to the throat, thyroid, parathyroid, shoulders, chest, abdomen, groin, deep hip flexors, thighs, and ankles.

  • Stimulates Systems: Activates the respiratory, cardiovascular, nervous, and endocrine systems.

  • Maximizes Spinal Extension: The deep extension of the spine stimulates the nervous system and improves overall spinal flexibility.

  • Improves Circulation: Promotes the flow of fresh, oxygenated blood to the kidneys.

  • Relieves Stress: Helps release stress and anxiety from the chest region.

Ustrasana is a powerful posture for opening the heart and chest, improving flexibility and strength in the spine, and providing a profound sense of relaxation and stress relief. It's an essential pose for both physical and emotional well-being in a yoga practice.


Sasangasana – Rabbit Pose


Sasangasana, or Rabbit Pose, is an inward-focused pose that emphasizes the maximum compression of the spine and provides a deep stretch to the back and shoulders.



How to Perform Sasangasana:

  1. Starting Position:

  • Kneel on the middle of your towel, leaving enough towel behind you to wrap over your heels.

  • Grasp your heels over the towel with your thumbs on the outside.

  1. Moving into the Pose:

  • With a firm grip on your heels, start with a straight back or lean back slightly.

  • Drop your chin into your chest and begin curling your torso inward.

  • Bring your forehead as close to your knees as possible and allow the top of your head to touch the floor.

  1. Creating the Stretch:

  • Lift your hips towards the ceiling, aiming to get your thighs perpendicular to the floor.

  • Walk your knees forward to close any gap between your forehead and knees.

  • Ensure your arms are straight with no bent elbows.

  • Keep your shoulders away from your ears.

  1. Maintaining the Pose:

  • Press firmly down through your knees and the tops of your feet while continuously pulling on your heels.

  • Approximately 20% of your weight should be on your head.

  • Keep your abdominal muscles tight as you lift your hips towards the ceiling.

  1. Exiting the Pose:

  • Slowly uncurl by bringing your hips back to your heels.

  • Repeat the pose as needed.


Benefits of Sasangasana:

  • Maximizes Compression: Compresses the entire spine, promoting spinal health and flexibility.

  • Longitudinal Stretch: Provides a significant stretch along the length of the back.

  • Increases Mobility: Enhances the mobility and elasticity of the spine and its muscles.

  • Stretches Muscles: Stretches the back muscles, shoulders, and scapulae.

  • Relieves Tension: Alleviates tension in the neck, shoulders, and back.

  • Stimulates Glands: Compresses and stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid glands, as well as the thymus.

  • Activates Digestive System: Stimulates the esophagus, pharynx, larynx, and digestive systems.

Sasangasana is an effective pose for stretching and decompressing the spine while also providing a calming effect on the mind. This pose is particularly beneficial for relieving tension in the upper body and improving overall spinal health.

Stretching Pose

Janushirasana and Paschimothanasana is a combination of poses that integrate a deep forward bend with a stretch, targeting various muscle groups and stimulating different body systems.


How to Perform Janushirasana and Paschimothanasana:

1.     Initial Position:

  1. Start in a supine position, perform a sit-up, and swivel around to sit on your bottom.

  2. Extend your right leg out at a 45-degree angle.

  3. Bend your left knee and place the sole of your left foot against your upper inner right thigh. Flex your left foot.

2.     Janushirasana (Head to Knee):

  1. Ensure both sit bones are touching the floor and facing forward.

  2. Inhale, lift your arms overhead sideways, interlace your fingers, and lift.

  3. Rotate your torso to the right and stretch over the extended leg.

  4. Grasp your right foot, interlacing your fingers underneath it. Bend your right knee if necessary to get the grip.

  5. With the grip held, slide your heel away to lengthen your leg fully.

  6. Tuck your chin into your chest and roll forward to bring your forehead to your knee.

  7. Bend your elbows, moving them towards the floor by the sides of your calves.

  8. Adjust to even out the shoulders so they align from the side.

  9. Continue sliding the heel away while maintaining contact between your forehead and knee.

  10. Return to the starting position, switch legs, and repeat on the left side.

3.     Paschimothanasana (Seated Forward Bend):

  1. After completing both sides, lie down quickly and then sit up immediately.

  2. Shift onto your sit bones and grasp your big toes with your index and middle fingers.

  3. Hold the grip and stretch your legs out in front of you.

  4. Ensure your pelvis is tilted forward and your spine is flat with shoulders away from your ears.

  5. Inhale, lift and elongate your spine.

  6. Exhale, fold forward without rounding your spine. Pull with arm strength and move your elbows towards the floor.

  7. Aim to bring your forehead to your toes, keeping your spine flat throughout.


Benefits of Janushirasana and Paschimothanasana:

  • Strengthens:

  • Spine

  • Abdomen

  • Thighs

  • Arms

  • Stretches and Opens:

  • Lower back

  • Hips

  • Backs of legs

  • Adductors

  • Sciatic nerve

  • Achilles tendon

  • Stimulates:

  • Digestive system

  • Renal system

  • Lymphatic system

  • Endocrine system (Thymus gland and liver)

This sequence effectively integrates stretching and forward bending, providing comprehensive benefits for muscle flexibility and strength while stimulating important body systems. The poses help in opening up the lower back and hips, stretching the legs, and improving overall spine health.


Ardha Matsyendrasana – Spine Twisting Pose


Ardha Matsyendrasana, or the Spine Twisting Pose, is a powerful asana designed to increase spinal flexibility and improve circulation to the spinal nerves.


How to Perform Ardha Matsyendrasana:

1.     Initial Position:

  1. Sit down with your legs extended in front of you.

  2. Bend your left leg and place the left heel just outside your right hip, ensuring the heel and hip are touching.

  3. Bend your right knee and bring it up and over the bent left knee, placing the right foot flat on the floor on the far outside of the left knee. Ensure the right foot is not halfway up your thigh.

2.     Grounding:

  1. Ground yourself through your sit bones. Aim to keep your left knee, left thigh, and both sit bones on the floor throughout the pose. Remember, the effort counts.

3.     Hand Placement:

  1. Bring your right hand behind you and push the hand or fingers into the floor close to your spine near the tailbone to help straighten your spine.

  2. Inhale, lift your left arm up and over the right knee, trying to grasp the left knee at the front. Grab whatever you can manage when you are new to the pose.

4.     Twist:

  1. Maintain a straight spine. Inhale and lift up, then exhale and twist, looking over your right shoulder as far as possible without extending your neck. The twist should occur from the coccyx to the neck, with the head turning last.

  2. If you are particularly flexible and have grasped the front knee with your left hand, you can bring your right hand around behind your back to grasp your left thigh. Ensure you maintain a straight spine while doing this.

5.     Repeat on the Other Side:

  1. Come back to the center, release the pose, and repeat on the other side.


Benefits of Ardha Matsyendrasana:

·        Twists the Spine:

  • Increases elasticity and flexibility.

  • Enhances circulation to all spinal nerves.

  • Aids in nutritional access between intervertebral discs.

·        Strengthens:

  • Gluts.

  • Thighs.

  • Abdomen.

·        Stretches:

  • Spine.

  • Spinal nerves.

  • Hips.

·        Massages and Compresses Abdominal Organs:

  • Stimulates digestive, renal, and lymphatic systems.

  • Stimulates the liver.

·        Calms the Nervous System:

  • Helps to relax and soothe the nervous system, promoting a sense of calm.

This pose provides a comprehensive twist that benefits the spine, strengthens and stretches key muscle groups, and stimulates various body systems, contributing to overall well-being and flexibility.


Kapalbhati in Vajrasana – Blowing in Firm Pose


Kapalbhati in Vajrasana, or Blowing in Firm Pose, is a powerful breathing exercise that clears the mind and energizes the body, performed while sitting in the Thunderbolt Pose (Vajrasana).


How to Perform Kapalbhati in Vajrasana:

1.     Starting Position:

  1. Sit in Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) with your knees bent and sitting on your heels.

  2. Place your palms flat on your thighs wherever the full length of your arms allows them to land. Ensure your elbows are straight, not soft.

  3. Relax your shoulders back and down.

  4. Begin with a soft belly and balance your head over your neutral spine.

2.     Breathing Technique:

  1. Inhale to prepare.

  2. Begin 60 steady, fast exhalations as directed by your instructor, ensuring each exhale fully clears the lungs. Focus on the exhalation; the inhalation will happen naturally.

  3. After 60 exhalations, pause.

  4. Repeat the sequence.


Benefits of Kapalbhati in Vajrasana:

·        Strengthens:

  • Diaphragm.

  • Abdominal muscles.

·        Massages and Stimulates:

  • Abdominal organs.

·        Stimulates:

  • Digestive System.

  • Cardiovascular System.

  • Respiratory System.

·        Generates Prana:

  • Vital life force energy.

·        Amplifies Elimination of Toxins:

  • Via breath.

·        Aerates Lower Lungs:

  • Improves lung function and oxygenates the blood.

·        Balances CO2 Levels:

  • Regulates carbon dioxide levels in the body.

·        Clears the Head:

  • Improves mental clarity and focus.

·        Energizes the Body:

  • Boosts overall energy levels.

Kapalbhati in Vajrasana is a rejuvenating practice that not only enhances physical strength and stimulates vital organs but also promotes mental clarity and overall vitality.


Final Savasana – Corpse Pose

Final Savasana, or Corpse Pose, is the concluding relaxation posture in Bikram Yoga, where the body and mind integrate the benefits of the practice. It is essential for physical recovery and mental tranquility.


How to Perform Final Savasana:

1.     Starting Position:

  1. Lie flat on your back with your legs extended long and comfortably apart.

  2. Modify this position if you have back problems or are pregnant by consulting with your instructor.

2.     Positioning the Limbs:

  1. Allow your legs to fall open at a comfortable distance, ensuring they remain within the vicinity of your mat.

  2. Let your arms fall open enough to enable full expansion of the lungs but keep them close to your body.

3.     Relaxing the Body:

  1. Ensure your chest can open fully.

  2. Lengthen the back of your neck.

  3. Release your jaw.

  4. Close your eyes and focus on relaxation.

4.     Duration:

  1. Ideally, take one minute of Savasana for every 10 minutes of practice.

  2. At minimum, a two-minute conscious relaxation is built into the end of the session to slow down your heart rate and normalize your breathing.

Benefits of Final Savasana:

·        Facilitates Absorption:

  • Allows your body to absorb the benefits of the practice.

·        Encourages Physical Recovery:

  • Relaxes muscles and joints after the exertion of the yoga session.

·        Promotes Mental Calmness:

  • Provides time for mental stillness and relaxation.

·        Balances Physiological Functions:

  • Helps normalize heart rate and breathing.

·        Enhances Circulatory Benefits:

  • Facilitates the flow of oxygenated blood to the body's tissues.


Why 2 Minutes Conscious Relaxation

There isa tendency for practitioners to rush out of the studio immediately after Kapalbhati. To counter this and ensure at least a minimal benefit of relaxation, a 2-minute conscious relaxation period is included in the 90-minute session commitment.

·        Mandatory Relaxation:

  • Ensures everyone slows down their heart rate and gets their breathing back to normal before leaving.

·        Encourages Full Savasana:

  • Although practitioners are encouraged to stay for the full Savasana to fully integrate the benefits of the practice, the minimum period ensures at least some relaxation.

Final Savasana is where the "magic" of Bikram Yoga happens. It is crucial to experience this firsthand to truly understand its benefits. The practice not only rejuvenates the body but also calms the mind, leaving you refreshed and balanced.



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