How I Do It in Twenty-Six Positions: a not so objective analysis of my Bikram Yoga postures

I’m not sure how to start this post other than to say I want to look at, really look at how I DO my Bikram Yoga postures.  I’m fond of telling people how much I’ve changed, altered, grown in the three months that I’ve been doing Bikram, and I yearn to keep going, to keep growing, and the one way to do that is to work at deepening my postures.

Each Bikram class consists of 26 postures, but, given that every body differs, how one person does a posture will vary from the next.  The end goal may be the same, but, as with the rest of life, how each arrives at the destination varies.

So, how then do I work at deepening my postures, which will allow me to intensify the personal evolution and growth I’m experiencing at lightning speed? I decided to take pictures of myself doing the 26 postures and including with them my own thoughts on where I’m at in the pose and where I want to go.

I’m feel strangely brave and courageous, so I’m going to share all the pictures with you, and that’s probably the most vulnerable I’ve felt in a long time. To see my body in some of these poses made me feel physically ill because, in my head, I don’t see my fat, but to see it in pictures sends me into shock.

If you want to see what the ideal body looks like doing the Bikram Yoga series, you can check out this link:

http://bikramyogabethesda.com/what-is-bikram/26-postures/

To see what THIS BODY looks like doing the Bikram Yoga series, keep reading this post:

Posture # 1: Standing Deep Breathing (when I’m in this pose, I often don’t feel connected with my breath.  I’m breathing, but I’m not always sure I’m keeping the right count, and I know my upper back may tend to curve when it maybe shouldn’t, and my abdomen, well I ALWAYS need to keep pulling it in tighter):

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Posture #2: Half-Moon Pose (The elbows always need to be closer together, the hips maybe curved a little more, and I always feel like I cave into the fatigue in my biceps too early.  More often than not, part of the way through the first set, and most of the time through the second set, I’ll rest my arms against my chest.  Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I just pushed through the pain?  What would happen if I just ignored it?  I feel like I’m capable of pushing through it but I don’t.)

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Posture # 3: Awkward Pose (With this one I feel like I’m always compensating for the size of my stomach and ignoring the placement of my shoulders, my arms, etc.  I also have a hard time really figuring out the balancing on my toes.  I feel unstable in the middle of my toes, and then, sometimes I think that my legs aren’t the appropriate distance apart.):

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Alternate view of Posture #3:

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Posture #4: Eagle (Curses.  My body is NOT made for Eagle.  Having said that, I do work at deepening the squat part of the pose, and I have also made a concerted effort to work at stretching my shoulder. It really is one of the postures where I feel my stomach gets in the way, but that’s probably an attitude that prevents me from going further, so I need to work at flushing those thoughts down the proverbial toilet.):

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Alternate view of Posture #4

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Posture #5 Standing Forehead to Knee (My stomach definitely gets in the way of this one. For awhile I used a strap to hold up my foot, but I wasn’t feeling it too much.  Then Loren suggested I try holding up my bent leg and working on balancing.  The image in the picture is actually difficult to hold, so, I’m guessing, this is a good spot to be in; although I do imagine that I could work at holding my foot just a bit higher.):

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Alternate view of posture #5:

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Posture #6: Standing Bow Pulling Pose (I cannot currently reach my ankle on my own.  Loren helps me grab my ankle–usually during the second set.  I also have trouble staying properly aligned as my hips want to shift. I admit to feeling scared when I try to stay balanced.  Often I think the problem is that I forget to breathe.  When I’m feeling stronger in the posture I will attempt to lift my bent leg higher so as to stretch the thigh muscles.):

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Posture #7: Balancing Stick Pose (so much to say here. I think if I wasn’t so sweaty I could go deeper, but then I wouldn’t be working as hard. Particularly with this pose, my mind gets in the way.  If I didn’t conceive of my stomach as an obstacle, and if I remembered to breathe I’d like to think I could go deeper; also, I tend to think about the placement of my feet a great deal.  My feet tend to torque sideways to compensate for the size of my stomach, so I always try to be conscious of alignment.  I often wonder if it’s better to adjust the alignment a bit so I can go deeper into a posture.):

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Posture # 8 Standing Separate Leg Stretch Pose (Here I feel like I need to have an awareness of how deep I go. I can go pretty deep, but I’ll do it at the expense of proper alignment. Sometimes in the yoga room I don’t go as deep because my feet will start to slip, but I think part of the problem is that I concentrate too much on slipping and not enough on strengthening my thigh muscles.  Where my thoughts go, there my practice goes, so if I concentrate on slipping, I’ll slip, but if I concentrate on holding the pose more in my thighs, what might happen then?  Might be worth a try?):

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Posture # 9 Triangle (My knee needs to bend more; my thigh probably isn’t properly aligned and I always feel like my arms aren’t quite right.  Sometimes I wonder what it means that there is supposed to be more room under my armpit? This is another pose I don’t go as deep as I could on a sweaty floor.  Again, I wonder what would happen if my mind concentrated on my leg and thigh muscles and not on my slippery feet?):

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Posture # 10 Standing Separate Leg head to Knee Pose (I have to confess here.  I think this is one where I feel my stomach gets in the way–actually, I think I need to reframe how I think of my body.  It served a purpose, and I’m working on changing it, so maybe it’s my mind that really gets in the way.  In this pose I often feel like I need to pay greater attention to the form of my torso.  Am I bending it to accommodate my stomach at the expense of proper form? Are my hands reaching the ground at the expense of my form?):

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Posture # 11: Tree (I’m working at being able to hold up my leg.  I’ve gotten better at keeping my shoulders aligned as I hold my leg.  On a good day I can hold one of my hands in prayer.  When I’m not so slippery and sweaty it’s easier to hold my leg, but here again what am I concentrating on when I’m doing the pose? I feel like there’s more that I can do with this pose, but I’m not sure what. Also, I never feel like my standing foot is aligned properly in this pose):

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Posture #12: Toe Stand Pose (There’s really not much hope for me with this one. Think of it as squatting while holding tree and standing on your toes.  Basically I just work on tree.):

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Posture #13 Dead Body Pose (Think this one’s easy, eh?  Think again!  I often don’t lengthen my neck to fully relax and sometimes the same is true of my arms and legs!)

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Posture #14 Wind Removing Pose (In the picture I don’t have a strap, but in class I do. Using a strap allows my shoulders and elbow to maintain proper alignment. With this pose, I’m really learning the importance of keeping my abdomen tightened as this allows me to pull in my abdomen more):

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Posture #15 Sit Up (Those feet–they are NOT properly aligned. I THINK the big toe and the little toe need to be aligned to maximize the stretch.  Not until recently did I actually do the sit-up part in class.  I always made the assumption that it would take ME too long, and one day I tried it, and I could actually do it.  Now, am I doing it properly?  That I don’t know.):

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Posture # 16 Cobra (Here I just get confused about lengthening forward with my head.  I understand it in principle, but get confused when making it happen.  How do I lengthen and maximize going up?  Also, am I supposed to concentrate on lengthening my legs too?):

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Posture # 17 Locust (To maximize lifting my legs I actually have to slide my torso forward a bit at the beginning of the pose to maximize the lift in my legs. My arms. I’m never sure how to have proper arm placement and maximum lift.  If my arms are flatter to the ground then my legs don’t go as high.  Yet, when I concentrate more on flattening my arms I can feel the effect on the back of my upper arms–home of the famous “wings” many people have):

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Posture #18: Full Locust Pose (Arms, legs, shoulders–I do this pose, but am not sure I maximize its potential.  Sitting here thinking about it I’m visualizing my shoulders and wondering if they’re back far enough.  Actually, this pose kind of confuses me.  Where should the bulk of my attention go?):

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Posture # 19: Fixed Form Pose (I LOVE this pose because it’s one I NEVER thought I could do!!!!  To work at going deeper I concentrate on holding in my core and moving my torso toward the ground a centimeter at time. This also helps stretch out my thigh muscles, or, at least that’s what it feels like. Most days I feel like I can go a little deeper in this pose but I’m not sure how.):

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Posture #20: Bow Pose (Here’s one where I can’t reach my ankles, but Loren will help me grab one ankle, so I can work toward holding both someday. In turn I attempt to maximize the stretch by lifting my thigh up.  I don’t want to just hold each leg.  I strive to lift myself higher and higher.):

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Posture #21 Half Tortoise Pose (I haven’t been able to find a way to go down smoothly in this posture, but once I’m down I’m learning to stretch out my arms and move my bum back to maximize the stretch.  I wish there was a way for a smoother entry and exit but I’m not sure there is.  I’m also not sure I’m doing everything I can with my torso and arms):

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Posture # 22: Camel (With camel I think I’m ready to deepen my posture by concentrating on hand placement and how I hold my chest.  I think I can place my hands lower but I don’t want to do it at the expense of my chest.):

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Posture # 23: Rabbit (Where do I begin with this one? I know it’s important to feel a rounded stretch in the back, but that’s what I find difficult.  Then there’s the the feet, the thighs: I don’t feel like they’re close enough.  I know when I have them closer it’s easier to have the crown of my head on the floor.)

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Posture # 24 Head to Knee Pose with Stretching Pose (well with this pose, one of my hands can now reach my foot, but often my foot isn’t properly aligned to maximize the stretch in the foot, so I always have to keep that in the forefront of my mind, especially since I can be a bit lazy toward the end of my practice let the finer aspects of a pose go to “pot” so to speak. Also, I’m wondering if there’s more I can do to emphasize stretching the arm that can’t quite reach the foot yet?):

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Posture #25: Spine Twisting Pose (Here I think if I can concentrate on holding up my spine more I can have my one foot touch the floor. I’ve been able to do it before. I just have to concentrate on lengthening the spine instead of just allowing it to collapse back.  This will lead me to emphasize the twist and not simply hold a lazy pose.):

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Posture #26: Blowing in Firm Pose (I’ll be honest here; sometimes I allow myself to get tired here and I pretend to breathe but I’m not, yet I know by doing that I’m only cheating myself.  Somehow I find this pose to require the greatest effort in some ways.  It seems like that shouldn’t be the case, but, for me, it is.  The simple truth with this one though is that I simply need to do it. That’s all.  I can do it. I just have to do it. If I can spend 90 minutes in a very hot and humid room I can do a one minute breathing exercise.):

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15 thoughts on “How I Do It in Twenty-Six Positions: a not so objective analysis of my Bikram Yoga postures

  1. Oh my, you can actually balance doing the Tree Pose? You’re amazing. I can barely do most of those poses. You’re brave and lighting the way for others to express their vulnerability. Way to go!!!!! (Great patio, by the way.)

  2. What a magnificent, brave, and beautiful post! Thank you so very much for sharing — and for making me feel better with my own yoga efforts (which are nothing like yours, but still, I enjoy them and I can feel and tell how they make me feel better).

  3. Nancy: You are remarkably limber!!! Having done Bikram in the past, I know how hard it is to get into some of those poses and you are doing them so much better than I did then!!! You are such an inspiration! You go girl…:)

  4. Nancy – Never underestimate yourself! Most of these poses look extremely complex and the fact that you do them so well is an accomplishment in itself. Keep up the persistence! You will be where you want to be before you know it!

  5. Ah-maz-ing! Your locust is beautiful and your camel looks great! This is impressive and may, just might, inspire me to do my own photo journal of my postures! You are an inspiration! Reading your blog has been a great way to start my day! Namaste!

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  7. Pingback: Anatomy of a Backbend: Going Backwards to Move Forward | Confessions of a Hawaiian Princess: One Woman's Journey to Greater Health

  8. You amaze and inspire me! i think it’s a great idea to take the pictures so you can see what you are doing (hard to look in mirror and do pose!) I loved the tips you gave yourself, it help me rethink my poses. Thank you so much for posting this!

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