Bikram yoga is a yoga system that incorporates 26 yoga postures, also known as asanas, and is designed to be practiced in a heated room. Of the 26 bikram yoga poses, there are both standing and floor postures. Some of the postures emphasize a development of strength, while others emphasize breathing and flexibility, among other goals. The bikram yoga poses are designed to flow in a specific order and complement each other, and all emphasize different areas of the body and health goals. Those who practice yoga of any form are commonly referred to as yogis.
The first 12 bikram yoga poses are performed standing up and begin with pranayama, which is geared toward relaxation and has the goal of strengthening the respiratory system and preparing the yogi for the rest of the postures. Pranayama is performed with the feet placed together flat on the ground and the body standing straight and tall. There are two stages to this yoga pose. In the first one, the yogi’s hands are clasped with the top of the hands touching the chin, and his or her elbows are stretched toward the sky. The next stage involves having the elbows held up square and the fists touching the neck as he or she bends backward so that the yogi can look straight upward.
Continuing through the second and 12th bikram yoga poses, the yogi remains standing on the floor. The poses involve remaining upright but bending over to varying degrees to both the sides and front. Some of the poses have both feet on the ground, while others have a leg stretching straight up or back. Many of the standing yoga poses may be difficult for the yogi to hold, while some focus on holding a position that is not particularly difficult but aims to increase flexibility or increase bodily health in some way.
The bikram yoga floor poses constitute the 13th through 26th and final pose and begin with savasana, more commonly known as the corpse pose. This 13th pose generally aims to relax the yogi, release tension that built up from the previous poses, and recenter the yogi in preparation for the second half of the set. The floor poses incorporate positions where the yogi is bending forward or has his or her head touching the ground, positions where the yogi is facing upright, as well as positions where the yogi’s back or stomach is touching the floor. Goals of these various positions include increasing the flexibility and strengthening muscles, increasing mental clarity, and increasing blood flow to certain parts of the body.