Bikram Yoga poses consist of 26 groups of postures (known as Asanas). By doing these yoga poses, one can exercise and invigorate all of the body by stimulating its glands, nerves, and organs and by improving circulation of oxygen throughout the body. Before you do any of these poses, please consider the following:

- The most important part of Bikram Yoga is to continuously focus on breathing calmly
- Beginners may need weeks or even years of practice before their bodies can move completely into many of the poses
- Practicing in front of a mirror is recommended because several steps involve using a mirror
- The standing poses warm up the body, and the floor poses squeeze, stretch, and twist various parts of the body
- To support the spine during all twisting poses, keep the abdominal muscles engaged
- Ideally, you will perform these poses in a room with an average temperature of 107 Fahrenheit; however if this isn’t possible, a somewhat cooler room will do just fine

This article provides the names and explanations of all 26 Bikram Yoga poses, and it’s divided using the following headings (bold font) and subheadings:

  • Pose number. English name of pose: Sanskrit name of pose (NOTE: The first 2 poses are grouped together, and so are poses 24 & 25.)
  • Purposes and Benefits
  • How to Do (how to perform each pose)

26 Bikram Yoga Poses

Before you begin doing the actual Bikram Yoga poses, start by doing the Standing Deep Breathing pose, also called the Pranayama. This will help you expand your lungs, improve detoxification of the organs, and increase mental relaxation as well as blood flow – all of these will prove very useful during your Bikram Yoga workout.

standing deep breathingStanding Deep Breathing Pose: Pranayama

How to Do:

More detailed instructions & video here.

  • Make sure to breath slowly as this will facilitate lung expansion.
  • Keep your back straight all the time and do not bend backwards. This will be easier to achieve if you suck your belly in so that your rib cage protrudes a bit.
  • As you exhale, tilt your head back slightly, while keeping your eyes open.
  • Shoulders should be kept in line with hips. Hips should be kept forward (you’ll achieve this by slightly squeezing your buttocks).
  • When exhaling, make sure to breath out completely to get rid of every bit of CO2 in your lungs.
  • Finally, don’t worry if you feel a little dizzy during this pose or if you feel a slight pinch in the shoulder area – these are completely normal symptoms and indicate that you are doing things right.

Do the above pose for a few minutes, and then move on to the remaining Bikram Yoga Poses, outlined below:

Bikram Yoga Poses 1 Through 9:


hands-to-feet and half-moon1. and 2. Half-Moon Pose with Hands-to-Feet Pose: Ardha Chandrasana with Pada Hastasana
(NOTE: These are 2 poses.)

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Provides quick energy and vitality for your practice session
  • Corrects any issues with posture or with lower-back pain
  • Strengthens thighs, calves, and all of body’s central muscles
  • Exercises circulatory, glandular, pancreatic, muscular, respiratory, renal, and skeletal systems
  • Improves bowel activity by toning abdominal organs and spinal nerves
  • Firms and trims abdomen, buttocks, hips, and waistline
  • Lessens anxiety and mental stress
  • Increases spinal flexibility
    How to Do:
    More detailed instructions & video here
  • Lock arms and fully engage arm muscles
  • Straighten body towards ceiling
  • While bending backwards, evenly distribute this bend over all of your spine
  • During Hands-to-Feet pose, glue body to legs and move elbows as close to each other as possible behind calf muscles
  • Lift hips up towards ceiling while moving face increasingly further down your shins

 

Awkward Pose Bikram Yoga 3. Awkward Pose: Utkatasana

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Continues warming up body for all other yoga poses
  • Heals chronically cold feet
  • Circulates fresh blood to knees and ankles
  • Alleviates rheumatism and arthritis in legs
  • Strengthens and firms all muscles of legs and upper arms
  • Increases hip flexibility and relieves muscular aches and cramps
  • Helps to cure slipped discs and other lower-spine problems

How to Do:

More detailed instructions & video here

  • Maintain 6-inch gap between knees and hands while keeping them parallel to floor
  • Ensure that shoulders stay down by relaxing them throughout all 3 stages of this pose
  • Ease exhaustion by focusing on stretching arms out
  • Keep fingers together
  • Breathe at normal pace

Are You Making a Beginner’s Mistakes?

I’ll show you the 5 most common Bikram Yoga unacceptable mistakes among beginners and teach you how to avoid them. It will take five minutes of reading. Where should I send the guide? No spam, only Yoga stuff.








eagle-pose

4. Eagle Pose: Garurasana

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Works into 12 major joints of body
  • Warms body and readies it for next 3 poses
  • Promotes health of central nervous system
  • Enhances lymphatic functions
  • Improves balance, hip-joint mobility, and immune system
  • Strengthens deltoid, trapezius, and legs
  • Reduces varicose veins

How to Do:

More detailed instructions & video here.

  • Remember to breathe
  • Pull in stomach and keep it away from thighs
  • Position fingers below nose
  • Keep palms together
  • Enter sitting posture and maintain straight spine
  • Squeeze knees and thighs together in all areas that you feel contact between them to increase tourniquet effect
  • Focus body weight onto heel of standing foot and eventually eliminate gap between wrapped foot and back of standing leg
     

standing-head-to-knee-pose5. Standing Head-to-Knee Pose: Dandayamana Janushirasana

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Uses all major muscle groups
  • Exercises digestive and reproductive organs
  • Improves concentration and mental strength
  • Unifies body and mind
  • Tightens abdominal and thigh muscles
  • Lessens/mitigates diabetic disorders
  • Squeezes and flushes out ovaries, uterus, and internal abdominal organs, such as gall bladder, pancreas, and spleen
  • Increases flexibility of sciatic nerves
  • Strengthens the following: Tendons, hamstrings, and biceps of thigh muscles; Biceps, triceps, deltoids, trapezius, back muscles, latissimus dorsi, and scapula

How to Do:

More detailed instructions & video here.

  • Evenly distribute weight over 4 points of standing foot
  • Lock knee of standing leg
  • Maintain tight grip with all 10 fingers
  • Keep non-standing leg parallel to floor
  • Suck in stomach and contract abdominal muscles
  • Move foot toward face and past perpendicular position
  • Touch elbows to calf muscle
  • Tuck chin to chest, round spine, and touch forehead to knee

Standing bow pose6. Standing Bow-Pulling Pose: Dandayamana Dhanurasana

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Exemplifies “tourniquet” effect in Bikram Yoga because this pose transfers circulation from 1 side of body to other side and then equalizes circulation
  • Improves flexibility and strength of most of body’s muscles
  • Stimulates cardiovascular system
  • Increases circulation to heart and lungs
  • Opens shoulder joints and diaphragm
  • Eases frozen-shoulder conditions
  • Enhances spinal elasticity
  • Firms abdominal wall and upper thighs
  • Tightens buttocks, hips, and upper arms
  • Increases elasticity and size of lungs and rib cage
  • Improves flexibility and strength of lower spine
  • Reduces abdominal fat

How to Do:

More detailed instructions & Video here

  • Grab ankle joint and maintain firm grip using all 5 fingers
  • Bring knees together
  • Raise arm up and stretch it toward ceiling
  • Keep knee locked
  • Charge body forward
  • Kick and then feel spine arching backward
  • Visualize foot steadily moving past top of head

Balancing Stick Pose7. Balancing Stick Pose: Tuladandasana

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Provides full spinal stress relief
  • Increases cardiovascular circulation, especially to blood vessels of heart
  • Refines control and balance by enhancing physical and mental powers
  • Improves posture
  • Gives many benefits for legs that standing head-to-knee pose also gives
  • Relieves spinal stress
  • Reduces varicose veins
  • Exercises liver, pancreas, spleen, and circulatory and nervous systems
  • May help to clear blocked arteries and to prevent cardiac problems

How to Do:

More detailed instructions & video here.

  • Keep knees locked and stomach in
  • Point toes of non-standing foot
  • Look for front foot in mirror
  • Press arms against ears and remove any arm-to-ear gaps
  • Stretch body toward both sides as though playing tug of war

 

standing separate leg stretching pose8. Standing Separate-Leg Stretching Pose: Dandayamana Bibhaktapada Paschimottanasana

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Boosts circulation to brain and to adrenal glands
  • Cures and prevents sciatica
  • Increases flexibility of bottom 5 vertebrae
  • Improves functioning of most internal abdominal organs, especially small and large intestines
  • Enhances flexibility and muscle tone of ankles, calves, thighs, pelvis, and hip joints
  • Mitigates diseases of nervous system and effects of constipation, diabetes, and hyperacidity
  • Reduces abdominal obesity
  • Releases lower back
  • Exercises adrenal, muscular, and reproductive systems
  • May alleviate depression

How to Do:

More detailed instructions & Video here.

  • Take a step (4 feet or more) to your right (wider stance = easier stretch)
  • Move feet increasingly closer (NOTE: if touching your forehead to the floor between your legs is easy, then use small steps; the higher the difficulty, the larger your steps)
  • Keep spine straight for as long as possible
  • Grab bottom of heels when they’re within reach, and then use arms to pull yourself farther down

 

triangle-pose9. Triangle Pose: Trikanasana

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Stretches both sides of body and revitalizes it
  • Improves every joint, muscle, tendon, and internal organ
  • Opens and increases flexibility of hip joints
  • Provides cardiovascular exercise
  • Reduces saddle bags
  • Helps kidneys, thyroid glands, and adrenal glands
  • Opens shoulder joint and alleviates frozen shoulder
  • Strengthens and tones buttocks and legs
  • Aids in regulating hormonal levels
  • Works all muscle groups simultaneously
  • Finally, this Bikram Yoga pose Mitigates effects of appendicitis, colitis, spondylitis, constipation, low blood pressure, and menstrual disorders

How to Do:

More detailed instructions & Video here.

  • Stretch one arm up and other one down
  • Touch chin exactly to shoulder
  • Keep shoulders down
  • Push both hips toward mirror
  • Touch lowered fingers between 1st toe and 2nd toe
  • Keep torso flat and in a straight line as you stretch arm toward ceiling
  • Avoid letting rib cage stick out
  • Remember to breathe while engaging in positive thoughts and emotions
  • Keep hips down, sit down, and prevent hips from moving up

Bikram Yoga Poses 10 through 19:

standing separate leg head to knee pose10. Standing Separate-Leg Head-to-Knee Pose: Dandayamana Bibhaktapada Janushirasana

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Compresses belly and throat to flush out and stimulate abdominal organs
  • Alleviates diabetic disorders
  • Balances levels of blood sugar
  • Aids immune system and metabolic functions by stimulating thyroid 
  • Helps regulate pancreas and revitalizes kidneys
  • Works digestive, endocrine, and reproductive systems
  • Enhances flexibility of calves, hamstrings, sciatic nerves, and spine
  • Strengthens abdominal muscles and legs (particularly calves and quadriceps)
  • Slims belly, buttocks, hips, and waistline
  • Invigorates and stretches shoulders (especially deltoids and trapezius)

How to Do:

More detailed instructions & Video here.

  • Remember to breathe throughout pose
  • Bring feet together and raise arms above head
  • Form steeple grip with hands and move right leg 4 feet toward right
  • Turn right foot out 90 degrees and do same with torso, hips, arms, and head
  • Rotate left foot in about 45 degrees to keep hips squared forward
  • Tuck chin into chest and maintain straightened arms and legs
  • Round down from hips until forehead touches right knee
  • If hamstrings or spine is tight, bend right leg until forehead touches knee
  • Keep arms and left leg straight, and if you need balance, separate hands on floor
  • Engage abdominal muscles, round spine by lifting belly, and straighten right leg
  • Work toward these 3 goals: Keep forehead on right knee; Straighten legs; Bring hands together into prayer position
  • Align hips by twisting them rightward to square hips to floor
  • Keep eyes open and ensure chin is tucked tightly into chest
  • End pose by doing theseKeep arms straight and next to ears; Engage abdominal muscles; Round up slowly
  • Repeat on left side by turning once to face forward and then turning again to face left leg

Tree Pose11. Tree Pose: Tadasana
Purposes and Benefits:

  • Prepares body for Locust pose (#17) when combined with Toe Stand pose (#12)
  • Relieves lower-back pain
  • Releases tension in belly
  • Prevents hernia
  • Stretches spine and adductors along inner thigh
  • Improves balance and posture
  • Increases flexibility of ankles, knees, and hip joints
  • Enhances mobility of knees and hip
  • Helps correct posture
  • Invigorates Internal oblique muscles and leg muscles–particularly calves and quadriceps

How to Do:

  • Choose a point for visual focus
  • Concentrate and relax by deepening breath
  • Balance on left leg
  • Use right hand to hold right foot up in front of left upper thigh
  • Keep sole of right foot facing toward ceiling
  • Tighten buttocks, straighten spine, and ensure the following:
  • Tailbone is lengthening down
  • Ribs are drawn in
  • Shoulders are moving back rather than rounding forward
  • Open right hip and work right knee down and back until knees are in 1 line
  • If right foot remains above left thigh, bring hands into prayer in front of chest
  • Prevent right foot from slipping by pushing hips forward and bringing right knee back
  • Hold pose for 10 seconds

 

toe stand12. Toe Stand Pose: Padangustasana

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Aids in curing gout and rheumatism
  • Helps relieve arthritis in hips and in all leg joints
  • Strengthens joints, stomach muscle, biceps, triceps, and shoulders
  • Invigorates ankles, feet, and knees–especially effective for curing gout and rheumatism
  • Builds balance, concentration, core strength, focus, and patience
  • Prepares body for relaxation and stillness of next pose

How to Do:

  • Remember to breathe
  • Begin in Tree pose and then hinge forward from hips while keeping standing leg straight
  • Distribute weight evenly through thighs, calves, and all areas of standing foot before descending
  • Reach for floor and transfer body weight to hands so that knees are protected as standing leg starts to bend
  • Keep standing leg locked, bend down to ground, and focus on a point on floor in front of you
  • Once you’re sitting on heel, walk hands back by hips, lift chest, and straighten spine
  • If foot of folded leg slips, hold foot with opposite hand
  • Maintain balance by visually focusing on floor about 2 feet away and by using core strength to straighten spine
  • Lengthen spine by pretending to touch top of head to ceiling
  • Bring hands into prayer
  • Breathe, stay in balance, and gradually lift gaze to meet your eyes in mirror
  • Engage abdominal muscles and inhale deeply through nose
  • Finish pose by doing these:
  • Walk hands forward
  • Push away from floor
  • Straighten standing leg while keeping its knee aligned forward
  • Once you’re standing, lower folded leg

 

corpse pose13. Corpse Pose: Savasana

Purposes and Benefits: 

  • Focuses on breathing
  • Maximizes release of tension by completely relaxing entire body
  • Optimizes circulation of freshly oxygenated blood to all areas of body
  • Slows heart rate and reduces blood pressure
  • Lessens fatigue and headache
  • Calms mind, reduces insomnia, and improves sleep
  • Cures fatigue and jet lag
  • Improves absorption of nutrients
  • Balances blood pressure, brain waves, and respiratory rate
  • Strengthens immune system

How to Do:

  • Lie back on floor, touch heels together, and let feet fall sideways
  • Relax arms by letting them gently fall to both sides with palms facing up
  • Keep eyes open and gaze softly at a spot on ceiling
  • Ensure that fingers and toes are relaxed and release any restrictions in throat
  • Pull shoulders down and back flatly against floor
  • Find a place on floor where body feels completely at ease
  • Breathe slowly and deeply, encouraging more tension to leave body with each exhale
  • Focus on breathing, especially if mind wanders

wind removing pose14. Wind-Removing Pose: Pavanamuktasana

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Cures and prevents flatulence
  • Enhances body’s nutrient absorption by massaging ascending, descending, and transverse colon
  • Regulates and normalizes levels of hydrochloric acid in stomach
  • Alleviates most chronic abdominal discomforts
  • Relieves lower back pain
  • Boosts functions of immune system and metabolism by compressing thyroid gland
  • Stretches shoulders and entire back side of spine
  • Improves flexibility of hip joints
  • Firms and tones muscles of thighs, hips, and abdominal wall
  • Strengthens biceps and hand muscles

How to Do:

  • Fully interlace all 10 fingers and take hold of right leg 2 inches below knee
  • Draw right knee out and down toward chest
  • Pull right knee to right shoulder
  • Keep elbows in close to body and relax shoulders flatly on floor
  • Tuck chin into chest and keep left leg firmly on floor; if left calf muscle lifts, flex foot
  • Hold pose for 10 seconds and remember to breathe
  • While holding pose, allow pose to work into right hip
  • Lower right leg
  • Repeat above steps using left leg and then relax into left hip
  • Raise knees toward chest and grab onto opposite elbows, hooking arms just under knees
  • If grabbing elbows isn’t possible, grab forearms, wrists or fingers
  • When pulling in knees, look down through diamond shape created between arms and legs
  • Work toward getting every vertebra of spine on floor by doing these: Tuck chin to chest to lengthen neck; Flatten shoulders against ground to extend upper spine; Push hips and tailbone down to work lower spine
  • Remember to breathe and hold pose for 20 seconds
  • Lower both legs slowly

situp bikram yoga15. Bikram Yoga Sit-Up Pose

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Realigns spine and enhances its flexibility
  • Increases flexibility of hamstrings
  • Massages abdominal organs
  • Strengthens and tightens abdominal muscles
  • Tones torso
  • Energizes body to prepare it for next pose

How to Do:

  • Start from Corpse pose (#13)
  • Flex toes up toward ceiling
  • Bring both arms overhead and cross thumbs
  • Inhale as you sit up and exhale as you start diving forward to reach for toes
  • Work toward keeping legs on floor
  • Grab toes and lay body flat on legs to stretch back of body
  • If hamstrings and lower back are too tight, bend knees slightly to grab toes and touch forehead to knees
  • Stay motivated even if you think you have no abdominal strength; building strength takes time

cobra pose16. Cobra Pose: Bhujangasana

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Targets lower back
  • Prevents lower back pain
  • Helps to cure lumbago, rheumatism, and spinal arthritis
  • Relieves menstrual problems, such as backaches, cramps, and irregularity
  • Cures loss of appetite
  • Aids in correcting posture
  • Enhances functioning of liver and spleen
  • Boosts concentration
  • Increases spinal flexibility and strength
  • Invigorates deltoids, trapezius, and triceps
  • Massages and tones back muscles

(NOTE: This pose requires 80-20 breathing, whose “How-to-Do” is described first. The “How-to-Do” for the pose is explained immediately after.)

How to Do 80-20 Breathing:

  • Begin by taking a full breath as if preparing to head underwater
  • As you inhale, lift ribs while engaging and stretching abdominal muscles
  • Move into pose while exhaling 20% of air through nose with closed mouth
  • Continue to breathe this way: inhale fully and exhale 20% of air while keeping lungs 80% full

How to Do:

  • Lie on belly
  • Put palms flatly on floor directly underneath shoulders, fingertips in line with tops of shoulders
  • Keep legs and feet together and keep them stretched down and back
  • Draw shoulders down and keep elbows in close to ribs
  • For next step, use strength of spine and legs rather than arms (it’s not a push up)
  • Inhale, look up to ceiling, and arch head and torso back until belly button just touches floor.
  • Ensure that arms are “L-shaped” at 90 degrees
  • Maintain slightly raised gaze and avoid supporting body weight with hands
  • To prepare for 80-20 breathing, keep elbows tightly to sides of body and relax face
  • Hold pose for 20 seconds while doing 80-20 breathing
  • Lower chin to floor

Locust-Pose17. Locust Pose: Salabhasana

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Includes all benefits of Cobra pose (#16)
  • Encourages concentration and perseverance
  • Targets upper back
  • Helps cure spinal problems including slipped discs, sciatica, and gout
  • Cures tennis elbow
  • Boosts circulation
  • Increases flexibility and tone in spinal muscles
  • Firms hips, buttocks, and legs
  • Invigorates arm and back muscles
  • Strengthens shoulders, pectorals, elbows, wrists, and spine
  • Builds core strength

(NOTE: This pose has 2 How to Dos: the first explains doing the pose with 1 leg only, and the second explanation involves both legs.)

How to Do (with 1 leg):

  • Lie on belly with chin forward on towel
  • Lift hips, turn arms in, and pin arms underneath body
  • Move arms underneath body by lifting one hip at a time and rolling to one side
  • Keep palms flatly on floor, spread fingers, and point fingers toward knees
  • Relax and keep body firm and steady
  • Without lifting hips, raise right leg straight up to 45-degrees, and keep left leg relaxed on floor
  • Maintain tightened muscles in right leg, point toes, and lock knee
  • Touch hipbones to forearms and ensure right hip is not twisting out
  • Keep stretching right leg back and hold pose for 10 seconds
  • Repeat with left leg

How to do (with both legs):

  • Protect neck by tilting head down, tucking chin in, and keeping mouth on towel
  • Keep arms underneath body
  • Straighten legs, point toes, and lock knees
  • Lift legs up away from floor, breathe through nose, and hold pose for 10 seconds
  • Strive to lift legs and hips away from floor all the way to belly button
  • Use every ounce of strength in legs and abdomen
  • Lower both legs without collapsing
  • Turn to one side

full locust pose18. Full Locust Pose: Poorna Salabhasana

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Improves function of liver and spleen
  • Increases spinal strength and flexibility
  • Firms muscles of thighs, hips, abdomen, and upper arms
  • Strengthens deltoids and trapezius
  • Includes benefits of Standing Bow-Pulling pose (#6) and Cobra pose (#16)

How to Do: 

  • Begin by targeting mid-spine
  • Lay belly down on floor
  • Turn chin in and stretch arms out to sides in line with shoulders
  • Face palms down
  • Keep legs, knees, and feet together
  • Ensure that calves, thighs, and buttocks remain tightened throughout pose
  • Exhale completely, then inhale
  • Lift arms, legs, chest, head, and torso away from floor
  • Keep gaze lifted to direct whole body to lift
  • Remember to breathe; a deep inhale will help you lift
  • Draw arms back so fingers are in line with top of shoulders and face palms toward floor
  • To arch body more: Use back muscles, and maintain straightened arms and legs and keep them engaged. You should also use core strength.
  • Set goal to eventually balance body on abdomen
  • Hold pose for 10 seconds while doing 80-20 breathing

 

floor bow pose19. Floor Bow Pose: Dhanurasana

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Works entire spine
  • Boosts circulation to heart and lungs
  • Improves oxygen intake by opening rib cage; this enables maximum expansion of lungs
  • Upgrades functioning of spleen, kidneys, liver, and small and large intestines by massaging abdomen
  • Enhances digestion
  • Opens shoulder joint
  • Helps correct posture
  • Develops internal balance and harmony
  • Invigorates mental focus and perseverance
  • Betters flexibility of deltoid, latissimus, scapula, and trapezius muscles
  • Stretches hip flexors and psoas muscle
  • Relieves backaches by invigorating entire spine
  • Revitalizes all spinal nerves by increasing circulation to all of spine
  • Strengthens abdominal muscles, hips, thighs, and upper arms

How to Do:

  • Lie on belly, bend knees, reach back, and grab outside of each foot 2 inches below toes
  • Keep feet and knees together as close as possible
  • Ensure the following: Wrists have not twisted downward; Wrists remain straight by grabbing; feet with fingers, not palms; Hips aren’t tilted to 1 side
  • Inhale deeply and simultaneously kick back into hands and lift thighs and upper body away from floor
  • For more power, push hips and pelvis into floor before lifting legs up and back
  • Release shoulders back as you lift torso
  • Roll body weight forward to balance on middle of belly
  • Use inner-thigh strength to keep knees and feet 6 inches apart
  • If needed, avoid kicking legs up too high
  • Flex or point toes toward mirror, not ceiling
  • Work toward these goals: Relax neck and drop head back as much as possible; Look for toes and use equal strength in both legs to kick
  • Hold pose while doing 80-20 breathing for 20 seconds 
  • Slowly lower torso and legs to floor

Bikram Yoga Poses 20 through 26:

fixed firm pose20. Fixed Firm Pose: Supta Vajrasana

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Stretches into diaphragm and hip joints
  • Helps cure gout, rheumatism, and sciatica in legs
  • Heals and improves weak or injured knees
  • Lubricates and increases circulation to joints
  • Relieves lower back pain
  • Tones thighs and calf muscles
  • Lengthens and invigorates abdominal muscles
  • Strengthens and enhances flexibility of ankles, knees, and lower back

How to Do:
(NOTE: Experiencing difficulty sitting on your heels is completely normal.)

  • Start by sitting between heels with feet facing up and knees together
  • If knees feel sharp pain, separate them a bit, but ensure that feet are hugging sides of hips
  • Keep knees on floor throughout pose by doing theseSpread knees as much as you need to avoid straining knees; If needed, refrain from lowering your back all the way; Use hands to support body weight
  • Place hands on soles of feet with fingers facing forward
  • Lower back 1 elbow at a time, and then look back and let top of head drop back
  • If going all the way down, get back bend by lifting chest up and dropping head back before touching head to floor
  • Slowly put shoulders down onto floor as you slide elbows out
  • Rest upper back on floor
  • Raise arms overhead and latch onto opposite elbows
  • Push arms and shoulders down and then bring them flat against floor
  • Tuck chin into chest, press back with arms, and lift ribs up to feel chest stretch
  • Simultaneously ground knees and feel the stretch along stomach, hip flexors, front thighs and knees
  • Relax more deeply into pose by breathing, bringing knees closer together on floor, and pressing buttocks into floor
  • Remember to avoid letting knees lift away from floor
  • Hold pose for 20 seconds while breathing
  • Exit pose slowly by using 1 elbow at a time and ensure that head is last thing to move up
  • For advanced yogis, walk shoulders down toward hips and touch knees together 

 

half tortoise pose21. Half Tortoise Pose: Ardha Kurmasana

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Aids in relaxing body and mind
  • Helps relieve digestion problems and constipation
  • Assists in regulating sleep-wake cycle by stimulating pituitary gland
  • Stretches spine, hips, and gluteal muscles
  • Increases flexibility in hips
  • Boosts blood circulation to brain
  • Extends lower part of lungs and aids in augmenting lung capacity
  • Strengthens abdomen
  • Tones thighs
  • Improves flexibility of deltoids, latissimus dorsi muscles, scapula, and triceps

How to Do:
(NOTE: If you feel tightness in the hips or lower back, you may need more time before you can relax in this pose.)

  • Enter kneeling position: sit on heels with feet and knees together
  • Raise arms above head and bring palms together with thumbs crossed
  • Maintain straightened arms and spine throughout pose
  • Inhale while stretching up
  • Exhale slowly while bending forward in a straight line that spans distance between tailbone and fingertips
  • Stretch forward all the way until forehead and sides of hands touch floor
  • Engage arms and straighten elbows so that wrists, elbows, and triceps lift away from floor
  • Keep sliding fingertips forward
  • To deeply stretch spine, do these simultaneously: Reach buttocks back to heels; Keep using abdominal muscles (Eventually, buttocks will touch heels throughout pose)
  • With arms stretching forward and hips reaching back into heels, bring chin forward and away from chest
  • Relax shoulders, breathe, and feel the deep stretch along your back
  • Hold pose for 20 seconds
  • Exit pose slowly by moving hips back toward heels and by maintaining straightened arms and spine
  • When moving in and out of pose, use abdominal muscles to avoid rounding and buckling spine

 

camel pose22. Camel Pose: Ustrasana

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Relieves back problems by compressing spine
  • Stimulates nervous system
  • Improves neck flexion
  • Flushes blood through kidneys
  • Promotes elimination of toxins
  • Opens shoulders, rib cage, lungs, and digestive system
  • Strengthens back and shoulder muscles
  • Invigorates and improves flexibility of neck and spine–especially thoracic spine
  • Extends throat, thyroid gland, and parathyroid glands
  • Helps cure constipation by stretching abdominal organs
  • Slims abdomen and waistline

How to Do:
(NOTE: If you feel dizzy during this pose, keep pushing your hips forward and remember to breathe. The backward bend causes a change in blood pressure, which can result in dizziness.)

  • Start with knees on floor and maintain 6 inches of space between knees and feet
  • Support spine by placing hands on back of hips with fingers pointing down
  • Keep elbows drawing in towards one another and let shoulders roll back
  • Inhale while lifting chest, and exhale while dropping head back
  • Inhale again while lifting chest, use hands to support spine, and exhale while arching torso back farther
  • Keep chest lifted throughout pose to minimize compression in lower back
  • Ensure that hips are forward and lined up above knees by doing these: Bring right hand down to grab right heel and left hand down to grab left heel; Put thumbs on outside of feet and place fingers on soles
  • Maintain tight grip on feet so you can push hips forward
  • If hips collapse back and you sink into spine as you grab heels, keep hands on hips and keep lifting chest
  • Keep arching spine back and work hips forward while lengthening tailbone down toward floor
  • Continue lifting chest to ensure that body weight hasn’t sunk back into heels and hands
  • If you’re feeling anxiety/fear, relax and breathe; breathing can also help you go more deeply into pose
  • (NOTE: If you have high blood pressure or any heart condition, please do the next step, which is holding the pose, for only 5 seconds. With more practice, you can gradually ease into the hold and increase the time.)
  • Breathe deeply as you hold pose for 20 seconds, and allow heart to open and lift
  • Reverse out of pose by bringing right hand to right hip, and then bring left hand to left hip
  • Press knees down and use abdominal strength to lift and straighten up spine

rabbit pose23. Rabbit Pose: Sasangasana

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Balances out spine and releases tension after doing previous pose–Camel pose (#22)
  • Prepares body to do final 2 poses (#24 and #25) by rounding out body
  • Improves digestion
  • Regulates metabolism
  • Alleviates common cold, chronic tonsillitis, and sinus problems
  • Nourishes nervous system by maximally extending spine
  • Compresses and nourishes parathyroid and thyroid glands
  • Enhances mobility and elasticity of back muscles and spine
  • Improves flexibility of scapula and trapezius

How to Do:

  • Kneel on a towel that extends back past toes
  • Reach back and fold edges of towel over heels
  • Grab heels and towel together
  • Maintain firm grip with thumbs outside feet and with fingers on soles
  • Keep chin tucked into chest
  • While exhaling, begin curling torso slowly and tightly forward and inward until forehead touches knees and top of head touches floor
  • If you notice a gap between forehead and knees, walk knees forward to meet forehead
  • As you curl inward, lift hips into air, firmly pull on heels, and roll body forward like wheel
  • Push feet firmly into floor and pull on heels with all your power to maintain about 25% of body weight on head
  • Tuck chin securely into chest, engage belly to lift hips, and stretch more deeply into lower back
  • Work toward these goals: Completely straighten arms; Reach upward using hips so that thighs are perpendicular to floor
  • Remember to breathe normally
  • Hold pose for 20 seconds
  • To reverse out of pose, lower hips back toward heel, uncurl slowly, and lift chin last

 

head to knee and stretching pose24. and 25. Head-to-Knee Pose with Stretching Pose: Janushirasana with Paschimottanasana
(Note: these are two poses grouped together)

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Balances blood sugar levels and metabolism
  • Nourishes kidneys and enhances kidney function
  • Boosts circulation to liver, pancreas, and spleen
  • Betters circulation to bowels; this advances digestion and relieves chronic diarrhea
  • Improves concentration and mental endurance
  • Expands solar plexus
  • Enhances flexibility of ankles, knees, hip joints, and sciatic nerves
  • Stretches deltoids, trapezius, and hamstrings, particularly erector femoris
  • Extends lower back, especially last 5 vertebrae
  • Strengthens biceps and quadriceps

How to Do:

  • Face mirror and start by doing theseExtend right leg out 45 degrees; Bend left leg until left sole pushes against right inner thigh; Bring left heel up to crotch (Legs form 90 degree angle)
  • Inhale, raise arms overhead, twist toward right, and stretch down over right leg
  • Hold right foot with hands tightly interlaced; bend right knee if needed
  • Pull toes back toward face until toes are flexed
  • Tuck chin into chest and round your back until forehead touches right knee
  • If needed, bend right knee to touch forehead to knee
  • Otherwise, if right leg is straight, flex right foot until its heel lifts away from floor
  • Begin bending elbows straight down toward floor
  • Keep spine evenly aligned over right leg by rolling left shoulder and elbow down farther
  • Let eyes stay open, remember to breathe, and hold pose for 10 seconds
  • Repeat pose on left side by doing theseKeep left quadriceps engaged to safely extend hamstring; Engage abdominals to safely stretch lower spine;
  • Extend legs out in front, and in 1 fluid movement, lie back and immediately sit up while inhaling
  • Wiggle hips back, and pull back flesh of buttocks to prepare to bend torso forward with lengthened spine
  • Hold big toes with first 2 fingers of each hand, and flex feet by pulling toes back
  • Inhale while lifting and lengthening spine
  • Exhale while stretching forward and work toward lifting heels up away from floor
  • Touch forehead to toes
  • Bend elbows to floor, draw in stomach, and point chest and face toward legs
  • (Spine must be straight and not rounded; bend knees slightly if needed)
  • If hamstrings burn and lower back feels stiff, breathe and exhale to relax muscles into deeper stretch
  • Hold pose for 20 seconds 

 

spine twisting pose26. Spine Twisting Pose: Ardha Matsyendrasana

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Creates equilibrium in spine and in left and right side of body
  • Compresses and stretches spine from bottom to top
  • Twists and rinses out spine
  • Boosts and enhances elasticity, flexibility, circulation, and nutrition to spinal nerves, veins, and tissues
  • Helps prevent slipped discs, spinal rheumatism, scoliosis, kyphosis, cervical spondylosis, and arthritis
  • Relieves lower back pain
  • Increases flexibility of hip joints and back
  • Stretches chest, upper back, and outer thigh muscles
  • Firms thighs, buttocks, and abdomen
  • Strengthens abdominal muscles and buttocks
  • Advances digestion and removes flatulence by rinsing out abdominal organs
  • Opens shoulder joint

How to Do:

  • Set up for pose by doing theseBend left leg on floor until left heel meets side of right buttock; Bend right knee to bring right leg up and over left leg; Line right heel up to touch left knee
  • Ensure that left knee and both buttocks stay on floor throughout pose
  • Line right hand up behind back near tailbone to keep body weight forward and lifted throughout pose
  • Inhale while stretching left arm up alongside left ear
  • Exhale while drawing left arm over right knee to firmly hold left kneecap
  • Inhale while lifting spine
  • Exhale while turning head over right shoulder, and twist shoulders and torso toward right
  • Deepen twist by doing thesePress left elbow into right knee; Reach right hand behind your back all the way around to hold left thigh or hip
  • Breathe normally and work toward twisting more deeply, specifically during an exhale
  • (NOTE: Keep abdominal muscles engaged to support spine, and use core strength to avoid twisting from a rounded, unsupported spine.)
  • As you twist, think of lifting up
  • Lift abdomen out of pelvis, and lift upper body up toward ceiling
  • Work shoulders down and away from ears
  • Breathe, hold pose for 20 seconds, and unwind out of pose
  • Repeat this pose on your left side by twisting to your left

Once you are finished doing all the poses (or whichever you choose to do), you should finish off with the Blowing in Firm pose, which is the final breathing exercise, also known as Kapalbhati-in-Vajrasana. You’ll do this to clear your mind, remove any stale air from your lungs, improve bowel movement and oxygen flow to the body, and even help normalize your blood pressure.

 

blowing-in-firmBlowing in Firm – Final Breathing Exercise: Kapalbhati-in-Vajrasana

How to Do:

  • Do not underestimate this pose; focus on it as you would on any other pose.
  • Keep your body firm and do not move anything at all except for your stomach.
  • At the same time, make sure that your belly is relaxed and not tensed.
  • During the second set of this pose, increase your breathing speed.

Summary

We hope you’ve learned everything you need to properly perform all 26 bikram yoga poses. If you still need more information, including videos and even more detailed instructions of each posture, scroll to the top of the page and choose the pose that interests you from the menu on the right. Namaste!