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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Yoga Hygiene: A Response

Thank you to student Sheri Rysdam for this reponse to a previous post on how to be less stinky in class:
Today my studio published a guest post from Yoga Peach on how to maintain good hygiene when practicing hot yoga. When you are practicing hot yoga on a regular basis, having a good hygiene routine is a must. Having a daily practice can easily result in the accumulation of heaps of sweat-soaked yoga clothes, towels, and mats. When left wadded up in a car or in the bottom of a laundry basket, a real bacteria and odor problem can result. 

I’d like to add a few points to the topic, and maybe even contest a few points made in Yoga Peach’s post.  

1. You’ve Got Some Time
First, bad body odor is a result of bacteria growth. That means if you are clean and if your clothes are clean, you will not develop a bad odor during class, or in the hour or so after class. That means you *can* stop by the store for a quick coconut water purchase because, if you were clean to begin with, you probably won’t start to develop an odor until you’ve “sat in it for awhile,” which is not something I advocate…especially if you want to maintain a long-term yoga practice, friends, and loved ones.

2. Women Can Be More Sensitive to Odor
It seems that men tend to be less sensitive to odor than women. While I’m sure that I could link to quick research that supports my claim, I’ll just use this anecdote: my appliance repair guy recently told me that women are far more likely than men are to smell a gas leak in the house or an extinguished pilot light. The take away is that men who practice hot yoga need to be that much more diligent about cleanliness because what goes unnoticed by the man might be distractingly strong to the woman practicing next to him.

3. Launder Your Mat
Cleaning the mat is a must. In addition to wiping down the mat with your studio’s cleaning solutions, vinegar water, and/or other natural cleansers, did you know that most yoga mats can also be laundered in the washing machine? It’s true! Using a washing machine can be a great way to more thoroughly clean your yoga mat. (Disclaimer: You’ll want to double check the specs of your mat and your washing machine before proceeding.) This practice can reduce the overall lifespan of a mat, so it’s not a good option for daily cleaning. It’s more of a “once in a while” type of thing. I learned this “washing machine” tip from a fellow yogi who also laundered new mats to get rid of the slick, plastic film that some “sticky” mats have when they are brand new. If you use the washing machine, remember that you should let your mat dry completely before using it again. Because mats are made of varying degrees of thickness and materials, they usually take much longer to dry than lightweight towels. Plan accordingly.

4. Follow a Routine
I’m doing a 30-day Bikram challenge right now, so keeping up with hygiene is an essential daily practice. When I leave yoga, I follow a strict routine. I live very close to my studio, so I usually drive home and shower there. I immediately launder my towel and clothes and hang my mat to dry. If I cannot launder the clothes immediately, I hang them to dry. This is a daily (and somewhat time consuming) practice. However, if I do not practice this ritual, the various fabrics will develop an odor. It’s gross, I know, but it’s the reality of hot yoga.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Follow Your Dreams

Thought we'd share this letter we received from fellow yogis Keith and Karen. Keith started Bikram with us in 2008 and Karen in 2007. They moved in 2012. This is a great testimony of Bikram Yoga giving them the inspiration and energy to follow their dreams.

Dear Greg, Becky, Jay and Bikies,
Thought we'd send along some pictures of our house in Canaan, New Hampshire.  It's a cutie, on five acres.  We've done some remodeling to the outside, and we're now working on the inside.  We feel that the practice of Bikram is one of the major factors that has given us the inspiration and energy to follow our dreams, which is to live a more intentional life in the country.  We are continuing our Bikie practice in White River Junction, Vermont, which is a quick drive from where we live.  Wishing you all a wonderful New Year.  May we all wake up and enjoy this wondrous life.
Keith and Karen

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tip of the Week: Pranayama Breathing

“Prana” means life force or energy and “Yama” means control or restraint. “Pranayama” means control of breath. It is the essential element of yoga.
Pranayama is good for the lungs and respiratory system. We practice this in the beginning of every Bikram Yoga class to warm up the body internally. This prepares your body for the rest of class because it improves circulation, gives you energy for class, and promotes a calm state of mind.
Breath is life. Most people only use 10% of their lungs. This can lead to breathing problems like emphysema, asthma, and shortness of breath. Deep Breathing teaches you to use the other 90% of your lungs. A stronger, more elastic lung supplies the heart with more fresh oxygen. The heart, in turn, provides the body with more freshly oxygenated blood.

Be sure to watch the video below from Bonfire Hot Yoga for some very useful tips on how to avoid some of the common pitfalls while performing Pranayama breathing.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tip of the Week: Embrace What You Hate Until You Love It

This week's tip is to push through the things that you don't like about Bikram yoga. Let go of the negative thoughts that could be keeping you from coming to class. This article from will help you to remember the things you hate the most are the things that will ultimately help you to most!

10 Things I Hate About Bikram Yoga

I’ve been practicing Bikram yoga for a while now and the truth is, these were a couple of things that I hated when I began this new lifestyle. I would dread (almost) each and every one of them. But to transform what challenges us the most, it often makes sense to embrace our unpleasant feelings, and tirelessly work at what we stand to learn from them.

10. It’s Addicting!

Since beginning my yoga practice, I find myself in the studio as much as possible. I have a true desire to spend any free time that I have on my practice. More than that, it has truly become a crucial part of my well being. If my schedule prevents me from going as frequently as I’ve grown accustomed to for one week or two, I feel very out of sorts. This unsettled feeling is mental, as well as, physical. I find myself a bit grumpy and more easily frustrated. The strong body and spine that I have developed starts to feel out of alignment, and even my posture feels softer. I feel an actual NEED to get back to my practice.
An addiction is something that is psychologically or physically habit forming. My yoga practice has truly become a habit, in which, it’s cessation causes difficulty in my daily life. I have become addicted to yoga!

9. Letting Go- “Stale Air, Stale Thoughts”

We love to hold on to our negative feelings, opinions, and mantras. Sometimes, I’ll enter my yoga studio after a difficult day, feeling upset or angry about some offense or harsh word. I’ll be fixed in my emotion or opinion. After the first pranayama deep breathing exercise, I’ll begin to feel a bit lighter. As class progresses and we practice our heart opening postures, I feel even lighter still. Eventually, by the final Savasana, any negative feelings that I wanted so desperately to hold on to… hold a lot less weight. My yoga practice has naturally helped my mind learn to let go of those stale thoughts. They are only hurting me. I don’t deserve them. My yoga practice has shown me that letting go comes from within. The detox process of Bikram yoga is truly from the inside out.

8. The Sweat

I’m a girly girl. I love make-up and high heels. I love clothes and accessories. In my opinion, pink is a fantastic color! When I first began practicing, I would pile on the deodorant and add just a touch of perfume. The amount of sweat that would literally pour from my body wasn’t something I was prepared for. To be honest, I was a bit put off by this at first. . I’d never been very athletic, nor had I ever broken that kind of a sweat from any physical activity.
Now, after practicing Bikram yoga for almost one year- I love to sweat. I wouldn’t dream of putting on perfume because the smell gets in my nose during standing head to knee. Nobody at my yoga studio has ever seen me with make-up, and I feel completely free in that space. For me, the sweatier the better! If I don’t sweat enough during class, I feel cheated somehow. I’ve learned to embrace my body, the sweat that drips from my pores, and I still feel gloriously feminine.

7. There Is An Asana Called “The 10 Year Posture”

Everyone loves to feel good at something that they practice. We practice, and we get good at it. That’s the way life works, right? Anyone that practices Bikram yoga knows that some postures, like standing head to knee, can take up to 10 years to master. One day, my knee will fully lock out and I’ll kick out my heel while bringing my elbows down. The very next day my standing leg will wobble, and I find myself falling out every few seconds. It is so much more than just mere practice. How well we do in this posture depends on what is happening in our life, what we ate that day, who we interacted with- it all matters when we’re trying to kick up and lock both knees. It’s mind over matter. Our minds, as well as, our bodies are what help us stay in the posture. While practice is crucial, it is not everything. I’ve never had the kind of discipline to practice anything that would take me up to 10 years to master. Now, each day is like starting over and I’m eager to see what my body can do. Falling provides insight. There is satisfaction in falling. It means we have more to learn. One never falls by standing still in life.

6. No Drama

We are so quick to react and broadcast our feelings- either verbally or through our body language. In the hot room, we are taught to breathe in and out through our nose for the entire 90 minutes. When we are holding our triangle pose, we give attention to our form. We’re and getting a full body workout while holding this intense posture. Part of yoga practice is also practicing stillness. It is important not to be dramatic in our reactions to exerting ourselves. When we come out of a posture, we must try our best to do it gracefully and not make a big fuss about it. Let it go. Our breathing should stay calm and relaxed, and if our heart rate is rapid, we are taught how to bring it down with our exhalation. My instructor once said, “if someone were to see your face right now it should look relaxed as if nothing is happening.” We are guided to stay focused and calm ourselves down while our bodies are struggling. That is one of the most useful things that I’ve learned in my practice, as well as, the most challenging. In the beginning of my practice I had to unlearn mouth breathing and my natural response of hitting the panic button. Remaining calm has always been a challenge for me. I’m from a big Italian family. Drama is our thing. My yoga practice has helped me breathe through my reactions, and try to remain calm during of life’s challenging moments.

5. Camel Pose

One of the most difficult poses to navigate emotionally, is camel pose. Sometimes after a stressful day, or during a trying time in my life, coming out of camel is truly a challenge. One of my instructors reminds us, “It’s normal to feel weird, weird to feel normal.” There was one class, specifically, that I will never forget. My instructor had the class hold camel for one whole minute. After coming out of the posture, I lay on my mat and tears rolled down my cheeks. I felt such an emotional release. I wanted to just pull the towel over my face and cry hard. How could a yoga pose bring me to tears? After class, I waited for everyone to leave and I quietly told my instructor what had happened. I was somewhat embarrassed, yet curious as to what had taken place. She congratulated me, informing me that I went deep into this heart opening posture and made progress. Sometimes making progress means releasing those feelings that don’t feel so nice.

4. Heat

When I first began practicing, I was so aware of the heat. At times, I felt as if I couldn’t take it. Many times, I remember wanting to run out of the room. I felt as if I couldn’t breathe. It almost felt suffocating. In some classes the heat can still be overwhelming. Now, however, I’m more aware and bothered if it’s not hot enough. Something that I was so hyper aware of, and even made me feel angry with my instructors for, is now something that I crave. I actually find myself daydreaming about the feeling of being in the hot room. I’ve grown to appreciate and respect the heat. I crave its benefits. I never thought it possible to crave something that I passionately hated.

3. Each Day Is Different

I truly marvel at the mind-body connection and have never been more aware of it until discovering Bikram yoga. Most yogis will agree that one class can find us strong, energetic, and flexible, while finding new depths. The very next class (sometimes just 12 hours later), will involve immense struggle- struggle to straighten our wobbly knees as we fall out of postures that we felt so strong in holding. If I have a good class…well, I’ve had a good class. Just as we learn to let go of our negative thoughts about our practice, we also learn to let go of our positive ones. This will only hinder our progress. Yoga helps capture the essence of humanity. We are cyclical, not fixed. Letting go of our thoughts about who we think we are can only serve in helping our progress in who we can become. Everyday is different.

2. Mirrors

For me, before beginning a yoga practice, looking in the mirror was more about vanity and criticism. “How do I look?” was the eternal question. The answer was mostly self critical in nature. Only now, as I spend 90 minutes in front of a mirror 4 times a week, can I really see myself. I’m looking in the mirror to correct myself, in order to promote positive changes in my body from the inside out. I’m no longer only using the mirror for negative assessments. On my mat, I’m looking in the mirror to validate that I am evolving in my practice, to assess just where I can go deeper to improve my form. The benefits are worth it. I am worthy of that kind of self love. It’s taken me quite a long time to really see myself when I look in the mirror.

1. It Never Ends

It is because everyday is different, because our minds are so strongly connected to our bodies, that our practice is constantly evolving. Even a master yogi can have a difficult day and fall out of a posture. That is their lesson for that particular experience. I’ve learned so much about myself and this practice, yet I’ve only reached the tip of the iceberg. For me, that is such a gift. Yoga practice never ends. We’re never finished. We don’t reach a goal and stop. We continue on. We see where our practice takes our body, mind and spirit.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Meet Our New Instructor Elizabeth!

Elizabeth may speak with a bit of a Southern accent, but she is a Utah native. Just barely. She was born in Logan though her family moved back to the southeast when she was only a few months old.

Growing up in a small town in the upstate of South Carolina gave her a real appreciation of community. Now she seeks it out and works to create that same small town feel wherever she goes. She went to a small college in Charlotte, North Carolina, majoring in history with an emphasis in public history.

Following college she bumped around for a few years working a little at this and that, including teaching first and second graders in the public school system’s after school program.

Eventually, Elizabeth ended up in Madison, Georgia doing the programming for a community arts center housed in an 1895 brick school that had a museum of that region of Georgia, as well as art galleries and a performance space.  She then went on to work for a chamber of commerce and to own her own group tours guide company.

She also met her husband Rob while living in Madison. They were married in 2000 and lived in Madison for several years before moving to Utah in 2006 for Rob’s work.

Elizabeth worked for Edward Jones Investments across the street from the Sugar House Bikram studio. After looking at the sign and wondering what kind of yoga this Bikram stuff was for several years, she decided to check it out. She looked at the website and, believe it or not, the heat was a real draw for her. As a former gymnast she knew that the warmer the gym was the better she could perform stunts. She was also looking for a way to heal some old injuries from many years of riding horses and working at a horse farm, as well as from running.

One class and Elizabeth was hooked! Within the first three classes, she wanted to go to teacher training. She did decide to spend some time just practicing and getting to know the yoga better before she dropped her life and ran off to Los Angeles to get certified. After two years of practice, Elizabeth packed her bags and flew to L.A.

Going to teacher training was one of the best decisions she has ever made. Training is about the yoga and certification but it is also about so much more.

When Elizabeth isn’t in the yoga studio she is taking her dogs hiking, biking, gardening or trying a new vegan recipe. She also dabbles at home improvement projects from time to time. In addition, she serves on the Sugar House Park Authority Board as treasurer.