Bikram Yoga: 26 postures, countless benefits

More than just a great workout, the series of 26 postures is designed to benefit you mentally, physically and emotionally.

Complete the series and your entire body benefits from your head to your toes. This includes: your circulatory, lymphatic, respiratory and digestive systems; your nervous system and its subdivisions; and your entire musculoskeletal structure.

Check out our the postures below to read about some of the many benefits you’ll experience by practicing Bikram Yoga regularly.

Sitting Postures

Postures 13-26: Sitting

Seated postures alternately stretch and compress abdomen and back muscles, lengthening sinews and opening joints. Sitting transfers weight from the legs, allowing the quadricep, hamstring and calf muscles to be isolated during the postures.

Each posture is alternated with Savasana to stimulate circulation and tone the core. This also gives the student an opportunity to experience a calm, mindful and reflective pause between asanas.

Postures 1-12: Standing

Standing postures take physical and mental balance – but practice them regularly and that’s exactly what they give back.

Helping you develop patience, determination and a stronger more flexible body, you’ll also find your confidence increase and your moods lift as you stand taller and reach further.

Find out more about Standing Series postures and their benefits.

13. Savasana

Dead Body Pose

Physical benefits

  • Restores cardiovascular circulation
  • Slows heart rate, reduces blood pressure
  • Relaxes entire body

Mental benefits

  • Stills and focuses the mind

Emotional benefits

  • Promotes self-reflection
  • Teaches mindfulness

14. Pavanamuktasana

Wind-removing Pose

Physical benefits

  • Massages ascending, descending and transverse colon, increasing peristalsis in the lower digestive system
  • Alleviates constipation, flatulence and hyperacidity
  • Relieves lower back pain
  • Improves flexibility of the hip joints
  • Firms and tones muscles of the abdominal wall, thighs and hips

Mental benefits

  • Increases clarity

Emotional benefits

  • Relaxes the mind

15. Sit-up

Physical benefits

  • Strengthens and tightens the abdomen
  • Open-mouthed exhalation stimulates diaphragm and eliminates toxins from lungs

Mental benefits

  • Maintains alertness

16. Bhujangasana

Cobra Pose

Physical benefits

  • Improves flexibility and tone of spinal muscles
  • Rejuvenates spinal nerves enriching them with a rich blood supply
  • Helps cure, relieve and prevent lower back pain (lumbago), rheumatism, arthritis and menstrual problems
  • Helps cure loss of appetite by massaging all organs thereby improving their function
  • Stretches the thoracic region and expands the rib cage bringing relief from asthma

Mental benefits

  • Relieves stress
  • Lessens fatigue

Emotional benefits

  • Opens heart centre, releasing emotional tension

17. Salabhasana

Locust Pose

Physical benefits

  • Strengthens shoulder, arm and back muscles; firms buttocks and hips
  • Increases spinal strength, flexibility and circulation, helping to relieve and prevent backache, slipped discs and sciatica
  • Helps cure or relieve rheumatism, arthritis, menstrual problems, loss of appetite and sluggish digestion
  • Strengthens the abdominal wall and helps correct bad posture
  • Improves function of liver and spleen

Mental benefits

  • Encourages concentration
  • Builds perseverance

Emotional benefits

  • Builds determination
  • Increases concentration

18. Poorna Salabhasana

Full Locust Pose

Physical benefits

  • Firms muscles of the abdomen, upper arms, hips and thighs
  • Compresses and opens spine and increases spinal strength and flexibility
  • Helps cure or relieve lumbago, rheumatism, arthritis and menstrual problems
  • Helps cure loss of appetite, bad posture and cervical spondylosis
  • Improves function of liver and spleen

Mental benefits

  • Encourages concentration
  • Builds perseverance

Emotional benefits

  • Builds determination
  • Increases concentration

19. Dhanurasana

Bow Pose

Physical benefits

  • Tones spinal muscles and increases  spine strength and flexibility
  • Revitalizes spinal nerves by increasing circulation
  • Opens diaphragm and expands the chest region
  • Increases circulation to heart and lungs, improving oxygen intake
  • Strengthens deltoids, trapezius, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi and triceps to open shoulder joint and help frozen shoulder conditions
  • Reduces abdominal fat and strengthens abdominal muscles
  • Improves function of kidneys, liver and spleen and helps regulate ovaries and prostate gland

Mental benefits

  • Strengthens concentration and mental determination

Emotional benefits

  • Develops inner balance and harmony

20. Supta Vajrasana

Fixed Firm Pose

Physical benefits

  • Slims and tones thighs, firms calf muscles, strengthens and lengthens abdominal muscles
  • Strengthens and improves flexibility of lower spine, knees and ankle joints
  • Helps cure and prevent hernia, sciatica, gout, varicose veins, lower back pain and rheumatism in the legs
  • Lubricates and increases circulation to joints
  • Creates a great stretch into hip joints and diaphragm

Mental benefits

  • Stimulates circulation to brain, enhancing memory and alertness

Emotional benefits

  • Cultivates courage and determination

21. Ardha Kurmasana

Half Tortoise Pose

Physical benefits

  • Stretches lower part of the lungs — good for respiratory conditions, especially emphysema and asthma
  • Relieves stress, migraines, diabetes and insomnia
  • Assists in relieving digestion problems and constipation
  • Improves flexibility of hip joints and mobility of shoulder girdle and associated muscles; firms the abdomen and thighs

Mental benefits

  • A rejuvenation pose increasing circulation to the brain and providing maximum relaxation

Emotional benefits

  • Increases awareness
  • Decreases anxiety

22. Ustrasana

Camel Pose

Physical benefits

  • Tones abdomen
  • Works reproductive, digestive and endocrine systems, especially thyroid
  • Works obliques, iliopsoas, quads and deltoids, trapezius, biceps and triceps
  • Assists in regulating pancreas and kidneys, good for diabetic conditions, balancing blood sugar levels

Mental benefits

  • Minimizes memory loss

Emotional benefits

  • Lifts mood, alleviating depression

23. Sasangasana

Rabbit Pose

Physical benefits

  • Stretches the spine to maximum length
  • Improves  mobility and elasticity of the spine and surrounding muscles, especially the trapezius
  • Stimulates thyroid and parathyroid glands through compression, helping balance and regulate metabolism
  • Improves digestion by massaging abdomen and intestines
  • Helps alleviate glandular problems and improve conditions of the sinus and throat

Mental benefits

  • Increases circulation to brain, enhancing neurological function

Emotional benefits

  • Helps alleviate depression

24. Janushirasana with Paschimotthanasana

Head to Knee Pose with Stretching Pose

Physical benefits

  • Helps relieve arthritis in leg and hip joints
  • Strengthens stomach muscles
  • Strengthens weak hips, knees, ankles and toes
  • Reduces pain from gout

Mental benefits

  • Restores mental equilibrium
  • Promotes self-awareness

Emotional benefits

  • Establishes and maintains calmness of mind
  • Promotes emotional equilibrium

25. Ardha-Matsyendrasana

Half Spinal Twist Pose

Physical benefits

  • Improves elasticity, flexibility, circulation and nutrition to spinal nerves, vessels and tissues
  • Improves flexibility of spine and hip joints, relieving lower back pain
  • Helps prevent slipped disc, sciatica, indigestion and tennis elbow
  • Opens bronchial muscles and rib cage and firms the buttocks, thighs and abdomen
  • Removes adhesions in the joints caused by rheumatism and increases synovial fluid of the joints, especially the knees
  • Massages kidneys, liver, gall bladder, spleen and bowels

Mental benefits

  • Promotes concentration
  • Helps clear the mind

Emotional benefits

  • Lengthens spine, enhances confidence

26. Kapalbhati in Vajrasana

Blowing in Firm Pose

Physical benefits

  • Improves elasticity, flexibility, circulation and nutrition to spinal nerves, vessels and tissues
  • Improves flexibility of spine and hip joints, relieving lower back pain
  • Helps prevent slipped disc, sciatica, indigestion and tennis elbow
  • Opens bronchial muscles and rib cage and firms the buttocks, thighs and abdomen
  • Removes adhesions in the joints caused by rheumatism and increases synovial fluid of the joints, especially the knees
  • Massages kidneys, liver, gall bladder, spleen and bowels

Mental benefits

  • Promotes concentration
  • Helps clear the mind

Emotional benefits

  • Lengthened spine enhances confidence