How to Modify Bikram Yoga Poses

How to Modify Bikram Yoga Poses

Performed in a heated studio, Bikram yoga involves the same 26 yoga poses during every 90-minute class. The overall goal of the practice is to improve strength, flexibility, balance and mental clarity. The particular sequence of asanas is meant to target every muscle, joint, ligament, organ, nerve and gland in the body. Although Bikram yoga might be a bit intimidating for yoga newbies, the 26 poses can be easily modified to suit anyone’s abilities.

Things You'll Need
  • Yoga strap
  • Yoga block
  • Towels
  • Blankets

1. Perform the Standing Deep Breathing pose, Corpse pose, Wind Removing pose and Final Breathing Exercise to the best of your abilities. There are no real modifications for these simple postures.

2. Use a wall for balance or extra support. Lightly put one hand on the wall during Awkward pose, Eagle pose, Standing Bow Pulling pose and Balancing Stick pose. If you’re still struggling with stability, try them with your back against the wall for extra support. You can also put your back against the wall for Tree pose and Toe Stand to increase stabilization.

Brace your back heel against the wall in Triangle pose and Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee pose. This simple position change should help you keep your heel on the ground during the move.

3. Support your heel on a ballet barre or another stable surface as you balance in Standing Head to Knee pose. Although this modification interferes with the pose’s balance-boosting benefits, it will allow you to get a feel for the position without putting your safety at risk. As you become more familiar with the pose, remove the heel support and simply try resting your tailbone against a wall.

4. Loop a yoga strap around the soles of your feet for Hands to Feet pose, Bikram Yoga Sit-Up and Head to Knee pose with Stretching pose. Grasp the yoga strap instead of your feet or toes and use it as leverage to pull your torso closer to your legs.

5. Support your body with folded blankets or towels. Position them under the crown of your head or forehead in Rabbit pose. As an added benefit, the towels also stabilize your neck during the pose.

Tuck folded blankets or towels under your sitting bones in Spine Twisting pose. During Half Tortoise pose, position them between your thighs and calves if you’re having trouble sitting on your heels.

Position a rolled-up towel under your thighs for extra assistance during Locust pose, Full Locust pose and Bow pose. Make the poses easier by elevating only one leg at a time.

6. Position a yoga block on the inside of each foot to modify Standing Separate Leg Stretching pose. Rather than grabbing your ankles, simply grasp the top of the yoga block.

7. Mind your body's limitations. Rest your lower arm on the thigh of your bent leg in Triangle pose. As you feel more comfortable with the pose, try reaching toward the ground.

Lift your chest only as far as comfortable in Cobra pose. As your flexibility improves, you will be able to lift your chest further -- but there’s no reason to risk injury by pushing yourself too quickly.

Rather than resting your elevated foot near your groin or on the upper thigh in Tree pose, simply elevate it as high as possible -- whether that’s just above your ankle or near your knee. Just avoid pushing your foot directly into the side of your knee.

8. Modify Fixed Firm pose in two major ways. First, position a yoga strap around your thighs. Pull the strap quite tight; this will keep your thighs from sliding apart as you hold the posture. If you can’t recline fully onto the ground behind you, folded blankets under your back can provide extra height and spine support. Use as much height as necessary -- over time, slowly decrease the height until you’re resting fully on the ground.

9. Ease into Camel pose, rather than trying to perform the pose perfectly as a Bikram beginner. Gently pressing the crown of your head into a wall as you bend backward can help support your neck. If you can’t reach your heels, position a yoga block on the inside of each foot. Place the yoga blocks at their tallest height and hold on to them instead.