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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tip of the Week: Understanding Backbending

 Below are some great tips on back-bending from an article we found back in May from blogger "Oh My Bikram".

“If you have a good spine, the gods will chase you. Nobody has psychological or emotional problems, everyone has a bad spine.” Bikram Choudhury

By Barbora Simek on Oh My Bikram

Understanding why and how back-bending is beneficial for the spine is a challenge for many yoga students. For many, back-bending is an emotionally charged, challenging and often uncomfortable part of practice. However, despite its discomforts back-bending can be one of the most therapeutic parts of a yoga practice.
Think of all the time you spend bending forward in a day, from enjoying a coffee with a newspaper, to driving, to typing at a computer, cleaning or lounging with a friend. The reality is, we spend most of our day in an unsupported forward bend.
Internally, forward bending causes the front of vertebrae move closer together, forcing the inter-vertebral disks and spinal nerves back. Prolonged poor posture can:
  • cause or aggravate back and neck pain
  • constrict blood-flow and put pressure on vital organs and glands preventing them from functioning properly
  • has been shown to have negative effects on self-esteem and mood in studies
Ironically, when most people experience back pain or discomfort their first reaction is to bend forward, not knowing it is the cause of their discomfort. In reality back-bending is what is needed to counter-act the impact of continuous forward bending. This impulse is not easy to unlearn.
First it is important to recognize that back-bending is a natural range of motion for the spine. “Think of monkeys or children climbing in a tree who reach backward for a branch, the spine bends backward,” says Jeff Weisman a Toronto based Bikram Yoga teacher and Hellerworker.
As you bend backwards you compress the posterior part of your spinal column, pushing your disks away from the spinal nerves and decompress the front of the vertebrae. This effectively counteracts the damage of hours spent forward bending.
Those concerned and intimidated by back-bending should rest assured that the controlled environment and proper progression of the Bikram Yoga series allows for back-bends to be preformed safely. For those with limitations and injuries, remember to speak to your instructor, move slowly and listen to your body.
Physical Benefits
  • Stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and prepares the body for action.
  • Helps counteract damage of bad posture.
  • Relieves back pain, bronchial distress, scoliotic deformities, tennis elbow, frozen shoulder.
  • Realigns the spine.
  • Promotes proper kidney function.
  • Helps with digestive function, eliminating constipation and flatulence.
Energetic Benefits
  • Stimulates all the chakras, primarily creating opening in the fourth (heart) chakra.
Emotional Benefits
  • Helps to break through insecurity and fear.
  • Relieves stress and tedium.
  • Opening the lower back helps to free you from insecurity and taking yourself too seriously.
  • Helps to build confidence and self-esteem in children.
Tips from the Pros
Allow your exhale to lower you into your maximum depth, allow your inhale to lift you up and forward. Reverse this pattern on purpose by pulling backward more vigorously into the posture during the inhalation (taking you more fulling into the posture) and then relaxing and easing off the posture during the exhale (thereby reducing tension).- Anatomy of Hatha Yoga, Dr. H. David Coulter

“Lift your breastbone up as you go down into it, instead of jamming only the lower waistband spine. You HAVE to have your elbows pressing IN, not bowing out before you go down.
Also, LIFT the front of the neck and shoulders and armpits before you drop down.
Then you lift UP, OUT and OVER your waistband spine so you do not get that crimping feeling.” – Mary Jarvis for All Back-bending Heals the Spine

Do not contract the gluteal muscles until you reach your maximum expression then tighten – Rajishree Choudhury 

The standing back-bend is regulated by locked knees – Craig Villani

Drop the head back as far as it goes. The head and arms do not need to stay together. – Bikram Choudhury

Tips for teachers
Beginners are always afraid of back-bending. Make sure to stress that the hips, stomach, legs everything must come forward. – Bikram Choudhury

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tip of the Week: Blowing in Firm Pose

Blowing in Firm Pose (Kapalbhati Breathing) is the final breathing posture after all 26 postures have been completed. Put every last bit of energy into the final breathing exercise to get maximum benefits from 90 minutes of stretching, compressing and opening the body. Kapalbhati breathing gives the body a serious cleanse, by exhaling every last bit of carbon dioxide left in the lungs. It is good for digestion, strengthens all the abdominal organs, and energizes the body. It also strengthens the abdominal wall while trimming the waist line.


  • Sit on your knees with your spine completely straight, and your shoulders relaxed.
  • Focus your gaze at yourself in the mirror.
  • Completely relax your abdomen.
  • Inhale will happen automatically, so focus on exhaling.
  • Exhale like you are blowing out a birthday candle.
  • Only your abdomen should be moving.
  • Do not bounce or move your shoulders up and down.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tip of the Week: Practicing Outside the Studio

We've had a lot of students traveling this summer, and questions have come up regarding how to practice when away from the studio. First check the website's studio locator to see if there is a Bikram studio in the area where you will be staying. It's always best to attend a studio guided by a Certified Instructor to provide the best possible instruction in the Bikram Method. If there isn't one close by, remember that the one posture that is always safe to do anywhere at any time without any warm up is Half Tortoise Pose. 

The following tips were found on's website:

Q: If I can't get to a studio to practice in class, will I get any benefit from practicing at home in a normally heated room?

You must heat the area where you do your yoga. If you can, you should try to heat it to at least 100 degrees F. You should sweat a lot when you do your hatha yoga. If your bathroom is large enough, you can preheat the room with a space heater, and by running the shower with hot water, leave the water in the tub as this will keep the room hot. If you have difficulty heating an area to 100 degrees, then you must wear  warm up clothing while you do your yoga. This will keep the heat from escaping the body. 
I cannot overstate the importance of doing your hatha yoga in heat. Doing your yoga in a cold environment can bring harm to your body. Remember you are changing the construction of your body as you perform these postures. Suppose you are going to make a sword. You start with a piece of fine steel and the first thing you do is put the steel in the fire and heat it up. When the steel is hot it becomes soft. Then you can hammer it and slowly you make it change shape to the sword you want. This is the natural way. Now if you don't heat it up and start hammering the cold steel nothing is going to happen to the steel but you'll break your hand, the hammer, your arm and all the connecting  joints. The same thing happens when you do any exercise, even hatha yoga, in a cold environment. When you do your hatha yoga in the heat, your body is malleable.

If this is completely impossible to arrange, then move more slowly and carefully, and breathe more deeply into the postures.

Q: There is not a Bikram Yoga studio in my area.  What is the best way to learn the postures at home?     
 It is recommended one should have a copy of Bikram's book on hand, and begin by reading the book all the way through to get a clear idea of the postures, their benefits, and the proper approach to each posture.  
Then begin by teaching yourself one new posture at a time, starting with the first posture, and adding the next one, and so on and so on.  This will build your strength and help you to remember the postures in order.
Practice while following Bikarm's Beginning Yoga Class CD or cassette tape is an ideal method to practice the postures, as best as possible without being in an actual Bikram Yoga class.

Some tips: Set aside a special time of the day to create a regular daily practice.   Set aside a regular practice area in your home, and if possible, equip it with a mirror and an extra heater or two. Wear clothing that does not restrict your movement. Do not eat within 2-3 hours of practice.
If you get discouraged, be patient, keep trying with "bulldog determination" and don't give up! When you see yourself progressing, you will become encouraged, and want to continue practicing all the more.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

August Newsletter

Bikram Yoga Sugarhouse

Bikram Yoga Sugarhouse

New Location at 1924 S. 1100 E.


About The New Location 
July's relocation to the new studio ran smoothly and students seem to be happy with the additional space, privacy and energy the new space provides. We've put much thought into making the new studio convenient, sustainable and conducive to the most nourishing Bikram practice for students. We hope you enjoy a new chapter in your practice at the new Bikram Sugarhouse.

30-Day Challengers for July
Congratulations to 
Tracy Sjostrom and Edson Ramirez who completed 
30 straight days of Bikram last month.

Struggling With a Particular Posture?
Want to go a little deeper on a posture? Hold it for longer? Feel like something just isn't right? 
Check out our Wednesday Tip of the Week for great insights on how to improve your postures. Visit

Follow our photo-feed on Instagram: bikramyogaslc !

Online Inspiration
Bikram Yoga SLC is now sharing valuable yoga tips, inspiring clips, as well as coverage of our recent happenings on Yelp, Pinterest, Foursquare, and City Search. 

Mat Fresh
Stay fresh and healthy by regularly cleaning your yoga mat. Cleaning solution is available for $7 in the Bikram Sugarhouse lobby, and comes in a convenient spray bottle you can carry with you and spray right after class. Hang your mat to dry and you're ready to practice with a fresh mat the next day. 

Forget Something?
We have a very impressive collection of clothing, mats, and water bottles we would love to reunite with their rightful owners! Please check our lost and found to reclaim your stuff, you have about 2 months before we donate them to local thrift stores.
Settle Up, Please!
Thanks to those of you who have paid your balances, but we still have a lot due. If you have an outstanding balance with Bikram Sugarhouse, we ask that you please settle up, so we can continue providing the best Bikram Yoga experience to you. Simply come see us at the front desk.
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Bikram Yoga Salt Lake City
1924 S 1100 E
SLC Utah 84105
(801) 488-4681

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Bikram Yoga Salt Lake City
1924 South 1100 East 
SLC,  Utah   84105