Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class is a demanding series of 26 postures (asanas) and two breathing exercises (pranayamas) practiced in a heated room, which is suitable for all ages and levels of ability. Each posture stretches and strengthens specific muscles, ligaments, and joints needed for the next posture.
The Bikram method also stimulates the organs, glands and nerves, moving fresh oxygenated blood to 100% of the body, restoring all systems to a healthy working order. Bikram scientifically designed this vigorous 90-minute program to deliver total health through the balancing and strengthening of every system in the body in order to prevent illness, injury and limit the effects of aging.
In addition, the series of postures combines skills of concentration, patience, determination and self-control, leading to increased mental clarity and reduced stress.
Pranayama Series: Standing Deep Breathing
Because of sedentary habits, most people use only ten percent of their lungs, never allowing the lungs too reach the maximum expansion capacity. As a result, they are susceptible to emphysema, asthma, shortness of breath, and dozens of other breathing problems. Standing Deep Breathing teaches you to use the other ninety percent of your lungs.This exercise should be done before any kind of physical activity. Because it expands the lungs to their full capacity, it increases circulation to the whole body, waking everything up and preparing the muscles for action.
Ardha-Chandrasana: Half Moon Pose
Half Moon gives quick energy and vitality; improves and strengthens every muscle in the central part of the body, especially in the abdomen; increases the flexibility of the spine; corrects bad posture; promotes proper kidney function; and helps to cure enlargement of the liver and spleen, dyspepsia, and constipation. It increases the flexibility and strength of the rectus abdominus, latissmus dorsi, oblique, deltoid and trapezius muscles.
Pada-Hastasana: Hands To Feet Pose
Increases the flexibility of the spine and the sciatic nerves and of most of the tendons and ligaments of the legs, and strengthens the biceps of thighs and calves. It also greatly improves blood circulation in the legs and to the brain, and strengthens the rectus abdominus, gluteus maximus, oblique, deltoid, and trapezius muscles.
Utkatasana: Awkward Pose
Strengthens and firms all muscles of thighs, calves, and hips, and makes hip joints flexible. It also firms the upper arms. It increases blood circulation in the knees and ankle joints and relieves rheumatism, arthritis, and gout in the legs, and helps to cure slipped disc and lumbago in the lower spine.
Garurasana: Eagle Pose
Supplies fresh blood to the reproductive organs and the kidneys, increasing sexual power and control. It helps firm calves, thighs, hips, abdomen, and upper arms. It also improves the flexibility of the hip, knee, and ankle joints and strengthens the latissimus dorsi, trapezius, and deltoid muscles.
Dandayamana-Janushirasana: Standing Head to Knee Pose
Helps develop concentration, patience, and determination. Physically, it tightens abdominal and thigh muscles, improves flexibility of the sciatic nerves, and strengthens the tendons, biceps of the thigh muscles, and hamstrings in the legs, in addition to the deltoid, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, scapula, biceps, and triceps.
Dandayamana-Dhanurasana: Standing Bow Pulling Pose
A perfect example of the “tourniquet,” or “damming” effect in Yoga, because it transfers the circulation from one side of the body to the other, and then equalizes it-circulating fresh blood to each internal organ and gland to keep them healthy. Like the Standing Head to Knee, this pose helps develop concentration, patience, and determination. Physically, it firms the abdominal wall and upper thighs, and tightens upper arms, hips, and buttocks. It increases the size and elasticity of the rib cage and the lungs and improves the flexibility and strength of the lower spine and of most of the body’s muscles.
Tuladandasana: Balancing Stick Pose
Perfects control and balance by improving physical, psychological, and mental powers. In addition, it firms hips, buttocks, and upper thighs, as well as providing the same benefits for the legs as the Standing Head to Knee. It increases the circulation, strengthens the heart muscle, one of the best exercises for bad posture; strengthens the flexibility of latissimus dorsi, deltoid, and trapezius muscles; and improves the flexibility, strength, and muscle tone of shoulders, upper arms, spine, and hip joints.
Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Paschimotthanasana: Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose
Cures and prevents sciatica by stretching and strengthening the sciatic nerves and the tendons of the legs. It helps the functioning of most of the internal abdominal organs, especially the small and large intestine, and improves the muscle tone and flexibility of thighs and calves and the flexibility of the pelvis, ankles, and hip joints, and of the last five vertebrae of the spine.
Trikanasana: Triangle Pose
The only posture in the world that improves every muscle, joint, tendon and internal organ in the body. At the same time, it revitalizes nerves, veins, and tissues. It helps cure lumbago and rheumatism of the lower spine by flexing and strengthening the last five vertebrae, and it improves crooked spines. This is the most important pose to increase the strength and flexibility of the hip joint and of the muscles of the side of the torso. It also firms upper thighs and hips, slims the waistline, and improves the deltoid, trapezius, scapula, and latissimus muscles.
Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Janushirasana: Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose
It slims abdomen, waistline, hips, buttocks, and upper thighs. Increases the flexibility of the spine and the sciatic nerves and of most of the tendons and ligaments of the legs, and strengthens the biceps of thighs and calves. It also greatly improves blood circulation in the legs and to the brain, and strengthens the rectus abdominus, gluteus maximus, oblique, deltoid, and trapezius muscles.
Tadasana: Tree Pose
Improves posture and balance and increases the flexibility of the ankles, knees, and hip joints. By strengthening the internal oblique muscles, it prevents hernia.
Padangustasana: Toe Stand Pose
Develops psychological and mental powers-especially patience. Physically, it helps to cure gout and rheumatism of the knees, ankles and feet. It also helps cure hemorrhoid problems.
Savasana: Dead Body Pose
Returns blood circulation to normal. Helps high blood pressure, improves concentration, good for hypertension, nervousness, anxiety, and irritability. It also teaches complete relaxation. This pose is done after each pose that follows.
Pavanamuktasana: Wind Removing Pose
Cures and prevents flatulence, which is the source of most chronic abdominal discomforts. Improves the flexibility of the hip joints and firms the abdomen, thighs, and hips. Strenghtens the bicep and tricep muscles of the upper arms and all the muscles of the forearm.
Bhujangasana: Cobra Pose
One of the best ways to maintain the body in perfect condition. It increases spinal strength and flexibility, helps prevent lower backache, and helps cure lumbago, rheumatism, and arthritis of the spine. It also relieves menstrual problems (irregularity, cramps, backache), cures loss of appetite, helps correct bad posture, and improves the functioning of the liver and spleen. The Cobra strengthens the deltoids, trapezius, and triceps.
Salabhasana: Locust Pose
Has the same benefits as the Cobra, but it is even more potent in the cure of any back or spinal problem such as gout, slipped disc, and sciatica. It cures tennis elbow and is also excellent for firming buttocks and hips.
Poorna-Salabhasana: Full Locust Pose
Firms the abdominal wall and upper thighs, and tightens upper arms, hips, and buttocks. It increases the size and elasticity of the rib cage and the lungs and improves the flexibility and strength of the lower spine and of most of the body’s muscles.
Dhanurasana: Bow Pose
Improves the functioning of the large and small intestines, the liver, kidneys, and spleen. It helps straighten rounded spines, relieves backaches, and improves pigeonchest by opening the rib cage, permitting maximum expansion of lungs and increased oxygen intake. The Bow also revitalizes all spinal nerves by increasing circulation to the spine. It improves digestion and strengthens abdominal muscles, upper arms, thighs and hips (it is especially good for increasing the flexibility of dancers’ hip joints). It also improves the flexibility of the scapula, latissimus, deltoid, and trapezius muscles.
Supta-Vajrasana: Fixed Firm Pose
Helps cure sciatica, gout, and rheumatism in the legs. It slims thighs, firms calf muscles, and strengthens the abdomen. It also strengthens and improves flexibility of lower spine, knees, and ankle joints.
Ardha-Kurmasana: Half Tortoise Pose
In terms of relaxation, Bikram says thirty seconds of this posture is the equivalent of eight hours of sleep. It also cures indigestion and stretches the lower part of the lungs, increasing blood circulation to the brain. It firms the abdomen and thighs. And it increases the flexibility of hip joints, scapula, deltoids, triceps, and latissimus dorsi muscles.
Ustrasana: Camel Pose
Produces maximum compression of the spine. Improves the flexibility of the neck and spine and relieves backache. The peak of the floor series. This posture stretches the abdominal organs to the maximum and cures constipation. It stretches the throat, thyroid gland, and parathyroids. Like the Bow Pose, it opens a narrow rib cage to give more space to the lungs. It also firms and slims the abdomen and the waistline. In addition, this posture allows release of emotional tension held in the body as stress, anxiety, anger and depression.
Sasangasana: Rabbit Pose
Produces the opposite effect of the Camel, giving maximum longitudinal extension of the spine. As a result, it stretches the spine to permit the nervous system to receive proper nutrition. It also maintains the mobility and elasticity of the spine and back muscles. The Rabbit improves digestion and helps cure colds, sinus problems and chronic tonsilitis. And it has a wonderful effect on thyroid and parathyroid glands. The pose improves the flexibility of the scapula and trapezius and helps children reach their full growth potential.
Janushirasana: Head to Knee Pose
Helps to balance the blood sugar level. It improves the flexibility of the sciatic nerves, ankles, knees and hip joints; improves digestion; enhances the proper functioning of the kidneys; and expands the solar plexus.
Paschimotthanasana: Stretching Pose
Increases the flexibility of the trapezius, deltoid, erectus femoris, and bicep muscles, sciatic nerves, tendons, hip joints, and the last five vertebrae of the spine. Relieves chronic diarrhea by improving the circulation of the bowels. It also increases circulation to the liver and spleen and improves digestion.
Ardha-Matsyendrasana: Spine Twisting Pose
The only exercise that twists the spine from top to bottom at the same time. As a result, it increases circulation and nutrition to spinal nerves, veins, and tissues, and improves spinal elasticity and flexibility and the flexibility of the hip joints. It helps cure lumbago rheumatism of the spine, improves digestion, removes flatulence from the intestines, and firms the abdomen, thighs, and buttocks.
Kapalbhati in Vajrasana: Blowing in Firm Pose
This last breathing exercise strengthens all the abdominal organs and increases the circulation. It makes the abdominal wall strong and trims the waistline. It also allows the body to release toxins through the respiratory system.