Like anything on Earth, rewards are often hard won and the physical results and subsequent relaxation which comes after conducting "gravity defying poses" comes at the price of engaging in the most difficult asanas within the Bikram series. Teachers claim they're hard, advanced students claim they're hard and I claim they're unbearable (if not worth the struggle). Below are several poses or asanas that will cause some pain and pleasure... or at the very least, get you ready for the beach. I'd say enjoy! but just grin and bear it...
Bhujangasana: Bhujangasana or more colloquially known as cobra pose, is essentially gravity-defying "lite". Before moving on to the more difficult full-locust asana, it preps you by requiring only half your body to lift off the floor instead of both the top and bottom of your figure (see below). Employed to strengthen the spine, cobra pose begins with one lying face down on a mat with the hands close to the shoulders. In an instant, one "takes off", bending their spine and head back towards their feet. While one is tempted to push their weight up with their hands, the real test of strength comes when one lifts their hands off the ground... and can still remain upright. A video of the pose lies below.
Poorna-Salabhasana: Two poses after bhujangasana comes poorna-salabhasana or full locust pose. After you've been prepped by lifting half your body, you are instructed to lift both your hands and feet (and head) in the air for several seconds. As stated before, the pose is known as one of the most difficult in the series but one that does not come without benefits (one of which includes increased flexibility of the spine). To begin, lay on the mat as you would in cobra pose (with your tummy on the floor). Spread both your arms above your head so that your body forms a "Y" shape with all facets remaining grounded. Next, "take off", lifting your arms, feet and head in the air as though an airplane is taking flight. Hold the position for 15 seconds before coming down and resting. Whew!
Technically, in poorna-salabhasana, only your hip bones remain on the floor while the rest of your body is in the air. It's a difficult goal but one worth working for. As my Italian yoga instructor likes to say, "Sooooo goooood for youuuuuu. Sooooo many benefits." Which is true. As we are told to "stand tall" in life, strengthening the spine can at least help us with our posture which is sometimes the first step we need to take on the day.