Basically, Bikram Hot Yoga is a 90-minute class that consists of 26 distinct postures and two additional breathing exercises.
Each posture is done twice so that you are able to reach your full potential in every pose. Think of it like this: the first set is the warm up, and, in the second one, you go for the gold.
The room is heated to approximately 105 degrees fahrenheit with about 40% humidity, so that your body becomes warm, flexible and limber -- and able to get your sweat on.
The instructor, rather than doing the poses with you, verbally guides the class, step by step, through each posture -- making corrections as necessary. Students simply follow along and go with the flow.
Standing & Floor
The class is divided into two main sections: the Standing Series and the Floor Series.
In the Standing Series, you will focus on strength, flexibility, and balance. It's the part that will get your heart pumping, your sweat going, and challenge your poise and stability. You will be worked, but many think of the first part of class as only a warm up for the Floor Series, where you take that fully warmed up body and go deep into muscles and spine and really work out the kinks.
There's not much rest between poses during the Standing Series (remember, your getting warmed up and heart pumping), but once you hit the Floor Series, you will rest in Savasana (lying down relaxed) between every set.
The class begins and ends with two important breathing exercises. During the first one, your focus is on warming up your body and expanding your lung capacity to get ready for the class. At the end of class, the second breathing exercise is designed to cool you down and perform a final flush to the system (your body being the system...).
This practice is different from other common American yoga practices in that the focus is on stillness, rather than movement. During class you will be guided into each pose step by step, and your goal is to hold each pose (to the best of your current ability) in stillness while breathing calmly and normally. This class is not a constantly moving aerobic exercise as is taught at many other yoga studios. Don't get me wrong, though, you will get worked, and your heart will get pumping, we just do it in the more traditional manner.