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How Long to Hold Bikram Yoga Poses

by
author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
How Long to Hold Bikram Yoga Poses
Half Moon pose is the first posture following deep breathing. Photo Credit Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

While taking a Bikram yoga class, you may have been so distracted by the 105 degree F temperatures and 40 percent humidity that you didn't even pay attention to how long you held each of the 26 postures.

If you're away from an official studio and still want to practice, you need to know the specific timing for each pose. A traditional class lasts 90 minutes. Each posture is generally held 10 to 60 seconds, depending on your fitness level, the particular pose and when in the class it falls.

Read more: How to Improve at Bikram Yoga Poses

Standing Deep Breathing

Every Bikram class should begin with Standing Deep Breathing, in which you stand with feet together and your fingers interlaced together under your chin. Your elbows flare out to the sides of the room.

As you inhale deeply through your nose, lift your elbows. The inhale lasts 6 seconds. Exhale and lower your elbows, also through your nose for 6 seconds. Perform 10 rounds of the breath.

Eagle is practiced early on in the Bikram series.
Eagle is practiced early on in the Bikram series. Photo Credit fizkes/iStock/Getty Images

Standing Postures

Class begins with 11 standing postures, including Half-Moon, Eagle, Awkward pose and Tree. Each of these is designed to improve your leg strength and balance — and they do so effectively, shows research published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2015.

In a standard class, you run through these standing poses twice. The first time, you visit them each for 60 seconds. The second time through it's for half as long, just 30 seconds. Beginners may have trouble sustaining several of the postures for the full duration, however, and are encouraged to stay for at least 10 seconds and work their way up to the longer holds.

Seated and Reclined Postures

Following the two rounds of standing postures come 14 seated and reclined postures. These include hamstring stretching postures, such as the Sit-Up, and back bends, such as Locust, Cobra, Camel and Bow. Before completing these floor-based poses, you spend about 2 minutes in Savasana, to refresh and rejuvenate.

In a 90-minute class, you again hold each seated or reclined pose the first time through for 60 seconds and then repeat them for 30 seconds each. Class concludes with final relaxation, or Savasana, in Corpse pose.

60-Minute Classes

Some studios that don't carry the Bikram name offer a variation of the 26-postures in an hour-long format. In these classes, the standing poses are held for 60 seconds each the first round through and 15 seconds each the second time. Seated and reclined postures are held for 60 seconds each and only performed one time through.

Read more: Health Effects of Bikram Yoga

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