Bikram yoga is a type of yoga that has 26 Bikram postures, also called asanas. This type of yoga is meant to be practiced in a very hot room, where sweating is encouraged. Bikram yoga postures include both floor and standing poses that emphasize strength, flexibility, and breath control. Each pose flows into the next pose and builds upon the last. People who practice Bikram yoga call themselves yogis.
During the yoga session, the yogi sweats profusely, which releases tension and toxins. The hot room also helps the muscles warm up and stretch more easily. Bikram yoga must be performed on a mat that will not get slippery when damp. There are special textured mats available that will grip to a yogi's feet. Yoga rugs are also an alternative, as they do not move around and can be washed easily.
The first dozen Bikram yoga postures are standing poses. They begin with pranayama, which is the development of breath control and relaxation. The yogi must stand straight up during the first pose, with his or her hands clasped underneath the chin. Next, the yogi must slowly bend backward and look upward. The elbows should point toward the ceiling.
The next Bikram yoga postures are also performed standing up. These poses are designed to increase flexibility. The yogi must bend in various positions while standing. Sometimes the leg is lifted toward the sky, and other times the legs must remain flat on the ground. A yogi must hold these postures for a few minutes in order to build strength and flexibility.
The last dozen Bikram yoga postures start with Savasana, also called the "corpse pose." These poses are meant to relax the practitioner. While on the floor, the yogi must bend forward and backward in various motions. Motions such as these increase flexibility and strengthen muscles. They also help a yogi learn to breathe deeply and slowly, which increases blood flow to all parts of the body.
Bikram yoga is only one type of yoga. It is a good choice of exercise for someone who wants to increase flexibility and strength while not stressing joints and bones. It can also help with weight loss, since a lot of water is lost during a Bikram yoga session. Someone who is interested in taking a Bikram yoga class should first consult a physician to see if working out in a very hot room is advisable for his or her health.