Three Stretches Not to Miss in Your Bikram Yoga Class

During the 26 hatha yoga postures that make up the Bikram yoga series, we stretch our bodies in every direction. This stretching of our spines, hamstrings, obliques, hip flexors and more is part of what makes us feel so alive and “in our bodies” once we’re done. There are small moments in class where you can earn extra credit points for your body, the question is are you taking advantage of the class for all it’s worth?


1 – Passive neck stretch:

Place your ear fully on the ground during savasana, between spine strengthening postures

Next time you’re in savasana during the spine strengthening series, pay attention to how you place your head on your mat. Are you resting your face on your cheek bone? If so, you may be missing out on a wonderful and important passive stretch of your neck. Take a moment to place your ear fully on the ground and relax. Overtime you will notice your neck will open up when you turn from side to side.

2 – Lower spine and hamstrings:

Place your head to your knees after completing each sit up

If you’re inflexible and have a tight lower spine and hamstrings, you have an opportunity to open up during an unexpected part of class. After you complete your sit up, make sure you are pulling your toes and fully placing your head on your knees, even if this means they are bent. Taking a moment to do this and gently pull at the end of each sit up will greatly open up your lower spine and hamstrings. A wise teacher once told me if I worked my sit ups, in time I would be able to kick my leg out in Standing Head to Knee. She was right.

spine twist

Photo credit: Bikram Yoga Virginia Beach

3 – Hip flexor and glute stretch:

Roll towards the mirror during Spine Twist

Do you slack off during Spine Twist? (raises hand sheepishly) When you do Spine Twist take a moment to roll your hip towards the mirror to fully stretch your hip and glutes. So if you’re twisting right (which we do first) roll your weight towards your right hip. This will feel strange at first, but it will actually make your spine straight for the posture. Same goes for the left side, roll your weight towards your left hip. Finally, for an extra stretch use the hand placed behind your spine to twist and open up your shoulder.

What little stretches do you think are easy to pass over in Bikram yoga?

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(Photo credit: Savasana – Flickr CC amanjeev, Spine Twist – Bikram Hot Yoga Virginia Beach, VA)

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