You would like to start with Bikram Yoga? Congratulations, your goal, at the age of eighty years is to be able to lace your shoes and to turn your head to change lanes driving your car.
There are 26 poses selected from the 84 classic Hatha yoga asanas which help to achieve this goal.
The series is called Bikram Yoga, if practiced in the same sequence in a mirror walled room heated to 38 degrees with a slip-proof carpet floor and taught by a teacher certified by Bikram Choudhury himself.
The 26 postures start and finish with one breathing excercise. Also in Bikram Yoga we have short breaks of stillness between the poses to get the maximum health benefits of each pose.
Beginners are welcome in every class. They start off in the back row and try each pose to their best ability. After regular practice they can move up to the next row and be a leading example for the beginners behind.
Bikram Yoga is taught in the exact same manner all over the world. You can not only observe your body changing class by class, but you can also jump right into any Bikram Yoga class while travelling in any of the more than 1000 studios worldwide.
Bikram Yoga stands for the same quality standard all over the world. The same experience, the same heat and of course, showers are always at your convenience.
The cleansing of your body, mind and soul will soon become a regular routine like taking a daily shower or brushing your teeth.
All joints are fully opened to all four sides, you create a small gap within the joints to let the fluid inside lubricate, nourish and rebuild the cartilage. Your internal organs and glands get compressed, stretched and activated to their full potential. The digestion is stimulated by a gentle massage. The connective tissue and skin become more elastic. You will be surprised that your finger nails and your hair will grow faster. Your nerves are given room again to connect the brain with all parts of the body without any pressure points.
Consider the Bikram Yoga series with 26 asanas and two breathing excercises as a body meditation. Balancing on one leg strengthens your focus and concentration. The first breathing excercise allows your mind to arrive in the room. Breath is the only thing that happens in the now. Everything else is either in the past or in the future. The goal of each meditation is to arrive in the here and now. If you imagine a blue sky in your mind and thoughts are small puffy clouds passing by, than your goal would be to only see a blue sky above you. The most wonderful effect in Bikram Yoga is, no matter how black the cloulds above you might be, at the end of each class in the final savasana, you can always see blue sky.
In the teachings of the yogis our soul is the immortal part within us. Imagine your life comes to an end and you request entrance at heavens door. You lay out your entire life in front of Saint Peter and he decides whom to accept. The sweating in Bikram Yoga and the Chakra opening poses make you soon realise which problems you carry. Your are more alert to good and bad energies and you start to avoid the bad ones. You learn to let go, to empty your backpack and start on a path to more happiness.
This is the beginning of each Bikram Yoga training. You breathe in warm air to heat up your body inside, you fill your blood with lots of oxygen, you loosen up our neck and shoulders and you are surprised about the funny sound of this breathing that fills the entire room.
You try to find the rhythm with the teacher and the other students and before you can even think you have started the journey through your body in the here and now. You become conscious of your breathing and you realise, you don’t have to think anymore as the teacher leads you word by word and the journey begins.
Toes and heels touching, arms over your head, we bend to the right, to the left, backwards and forwards, your spine is warming up.
This is building your foundation, three different excercises, three different muscle groups are strengthened, your feet and most of all, your toes can move freely without shoes.
You are stretching your wings, opening all major joints and you realize that the right arm has to go under the left arm. You squeeze your arms and legs to create white pressure points on the skin, the blood starts moving, you massage your lymphatic system. It is said that this posture improves your fertility.
Now the fun begins, you open joint by joint. Here you focus on your knee, the heat stretches the tendons and the backside of your knee opens up, the fluid in the joint can reach the entire cartilage, nourishes and rebuilds it. Unfortunately the body dries up with age, as does the fluid within your joints, leaving behind crystals which grind away the cartilage. But not in Bikram Yoga, we simply dissolve them back into the fluid.
But you will need “Bengal tiger strength“ and “English bulldog determination“ as Bikram says. You have to overcome your inner demon, which will be of great benefit in your life out there. You are stronger than you think, you can do it.
This is the favorite pose for all those who could never live the dream of being a ballerina. Balance on one leg, almost like Denise Biellmann’s pirouette, but you just want to turn your spine sideways and move your internal organs from left to right and back again.
Luckily only for 10 seconds, maybe sometimes 20, you are creating a table, as horizontal as possible, placing the heart below all other organs which pushes the pulse into the aerobic zone.
You are now turning to face the side mirrors and are learning to keep your thigh muscles tight at all times. This loosens up the opposite muscles behind the leg, maybe you can achieve the goal of touching your forehead to the floor one day. In the future, millimetre by millimetre the floor gets closer. It needs patience, it won’t happen overnight.
Normally called the Warrior Pose, but in Bikram Yoga we love peace in the world and never use such words. You marry your heart with the lungs, the most powerful pose, all muscles are trained, twisting and turning your spine sideways 90 degrees. You are now warmed up inside and out and your sweat is dripping.
A little uncomfortable, to round your spine like a scared cat, compressing your throat to squeeze out the liquids of 5 important glands in control of your hormones, burning off fat and the immune system. When you let go, blood rushes back into these glands to assure they fully function again.
This pose opens our knee joints sideways. Your pulse is slowing down to prepare for the floor series.
The more you practice the yoga, the faster you can bend your knee far enough to sit down on your heel. Once you can sit down, you know that your knees are healthy.
You deserve a break now, laying on your back in complete stillness, your thoughts drift away to a beach under palmtrees. But you must keep your eyes open, without even blinking, because you want to stay here to let your body do the healing inside.
Until now you have opened all joints, woken up all internal organs, flushed them with fresh blood. You feel the pulse similar to light jogging, the heat expands your blood vessels and lots of oxygen can reach even the last cell in your body to make sure, that the next generation of cells being born is a perfect one.
You lubricate your hip joints and massage your colon for a better digestion. Only here you are allowed to feel a gentle pain in the hip, because you are pulling your knees with force down towards your shoulders to stretch the spine to release your intervertebral discs.
An energy boost between each pose to renew the oxygen in your lungs and to work your abdominal muscles.
The cobra series, four different exercises to strengthen the long muscle in your back that helps keeping your spine upright. You should never forget to keep your butt tight throughout the poses, as that’s where this muscle is anchored. In cobra pose you strengthen mostly your lower back.
Ouch! Stretched arms underneath your stomach and palms facing the floor, you now stretch your elbows, wrists and fingerjoints. Half Locust strengthens mostly the upper back.
Your airplane pose, you are taking off, fly as high as possible and imagine in your mind to only work with the mid section of your back.
With the help of your legs you are bending your spine backwards, you need an elastic spine that cushions your steps while walking.
This pose opens your knee joints in the front and stretches your ankles. You need a little courage to lay on your back all the way, you are building your self-confidence and you give your well protected kidneys a gentle massage.
Another stretch of your spine. Your shoulder joints are opened in the upper radius, the brain gets flushed with blood, the pineal gland activated for a better sleeping rhythm and your sinuses opened up.
After 75 minutes of warming up you can now do the deepest backbend. You will need a little courage in the beginning, but you can help with slightly bending the knees. Your teacher keeps a close eye on you, but you will get rewarded. This pose opens the heart chakra, where emotions are buried. Slowly but surely they come out, your inner light gets switched on, this pose simply lights up your heart. Helpful against depression.
No part of your spine gets forgotten, now you are bending forward as tight as you can, pull strongly on your heels to relieve your neck and bend your hollow back the other way.
Last chance to stretch your achilles tendon, as this tendon is the reason that your forehead didn’t touch the knee in the standing pose.
The most important pose in the end, you are turning your spine 90 degrees, this pose is used for the Bikram Yoga logo worldwide. It activates your nervous system, as the nerves connect your brain with all body parts through the vertebrae in the spine. It also realigns your intervertebral discs. Bikram says: “If you have a good spine, you have a good life”.
You made it, one more time 120 short breaths, like blowing out a candle, filling up your blood with oxygen and then you quickly turn around into final savasana.
Minimum of two minutes, if you leave earlier, all your efforts are wasted, you worked hard for 90 minutes, now comes the harvest, recharging your batteries, enjoy the moment.
Through physical exercise you have automatically reached the deepest level of meditation (Theta State), to reach this level you would need to exercise for months with other techniques.
You are allowed to dream now, imagine you are radiating with health, you may even plant a wish to the universe.
You completely relax, first the feet, than the legs, butt, stomach, chest, than the hands, arms and shoulders, your mouth, tongue, eyes and forehead, your mind and finally, you open your heart.
How clever to descend into meditation with this wisely chosen mantra, meaning "The Spirit within me salutes the Spirit in you" - a knowing that we are all made from the same One Divine Consciousness.
Now you can close your eyes fly away, where ever you want, just follow the sunshine, where the sky is blue.
Slowly the first students begin to move, rolling up their mats leaving the room quietly, gentle, like new born babies, smiling with pink colored faces and full of courage to face the world outside.
In appreciation to Bikram Choudhury, Bishnu Ghosh and all the other great yogis dating back 5000 years to Lord Krishna, who passed on their knowledge generation by generation into our modern world.