The last post was about the importance of following the exact Bikram Yoga instruction not only to receive maximum benefits, but to also protect the body when moving through the postures. Here are some additional instructions taught during the practice and the reasons they are important.
Breathing with the Mouth Open
In the first breathing exercise, called pranayama, the fingers are clasped under the chin and the stomach is sucked in for six counts of inhalation and then six counts of exhalation. When the head goes back, you’ll hear to breath out through your mouth with a “ha” sound. This is to warm up and prepare the body for class.
Breathing Through the Nose
With the exception of the two breathing exercises, you will will hear to breath through the nose only and this is to help cool the body down.
Opening the Chest and Shoulders
During standing bow, the ankle is grasped from the inside to assist with opening the chest and shoulder once deeper into the posture. When kicking the leg back and up while the upper body and opposite arm are down and forward, it important to keep the arm that’s holding onto the foot relaxed to allow the chest and shoulders to open up. Too tight of a grip and a tense arm will prevent this opening.
The same holds true in floor bow when holding onto both ankles and kicking the legs back and up simultaneously. You’ll be instructed to use the hands like hooks with straight wrists, this looser grip keeps the arms relaxed to again allow for the chest and shoulders to open up.
Stretching the Achilles Tendon
When in standing head-to-knee and head-to-knee and stretching poses, kicking your heal out and flexing your foot back to your face is done to stretch the Achilles Tendon. This is especially important for the health and flexibility of the lower leg and for improving leg circulation.
Getting Oxygenated Blood Circulating
Keeping arms and legs close to the body in savasana allows for the heart to not have to work as hard to get the freshly oxygenated blood flowing faster to the arms, legs, and knees.
When doing kapalbhati, or blowing in firm, breathing at the end of class, you will breath in through your mouth. This is to release toxins from the mind and body, cleanse the lungs and respiratory system, improve digestion, and help cool the body down.