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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tip of the Week: Fixed Firm Pose

Benefits :
  • Fixed Firm Pose strengthens and improves the flexibility of the lower spine, hips, knees and ankle joints.
  • It increases circulation to the lower limbs, and is therapeutic for lower back pain, sciatica, rheumatism and varicose veins.
  • It helps prevent hernias. 

Set up by sitting in between the heels, feet facing upwards and knees together. If there is sharp pain in the knees, separate them a little, but keep the feet hugging the sides of the hips. This pose will heal and improve weak or injured knees, but the knees must stay grounded throughout the entire pose.

Progress into the posture by placing the hands on the soles of the feet with the fingers facing forward. Lower back one elbow at a time, then look back and let the top of your head drop back. Slowly lower your shoulders onto the floor as you slide your elbows out, resting the upper back on the floor.

Raise the arms overhead, latch onto opposite elbows and press the arms and shoulders down, bringing them flat on the floor. With the chin tucked into the chest, press back with the arms and lift the ribs up to feel the chest stretch. Simultaneously ground the knees and feel the stretch along the stomach, hip flexors, front thighs and knees.

Relax deeper into the pose by breathing, bringing the knees closer together on the floor and pressing the buttocks into the floor.

Posture Tips:

This pose causes a lot of knee compression and can be especially difficult for big men and athletes, or someone with a knee injury. If you experience too much pain when practicing this posture, you could open up your knees wider (but never let your knees come off the ground!).

ALWAYS maintain correct alignment, heels touching with the hips, just as the dialogue says. This will ensure the ligaments of the knees and ankles are stretched evenly building balanced flexibility.

DO NOT compensate in the posture by changing the position of your feet. Your ankles should be straight, toes pointing to the back wall.

DO correct the depth of the posture if you feel pain, less is more. Listen to your body, and only go down as far as is comfortable for you.

ALWAYS keep your knees on the floor. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tip of the Week: Stop the Fidget

Bikram yoga aims to reign in your focus, and fidgeting is an easy way to break this meditation. It often takes a lot of self-discipline to not let your mind wander, and the minute you start fidgeting your mind is elsewhere. Fidgeting not only distracts others, it stimulates your sympathetic nervous system, promoting a ‘fight or flight’ response, which is exactly the opposite of what you want your body to be doing in the middle of class. Transitioning without fidgeting between the poses cultivates patience and calm. When coming out of a posture, bring yourself to a total stillness, with a calm and smooth breath. Focus on yourself in the mirror, and don't let let anything break your peace. Try to make a conscious effort not to fix your hair, drink water when you don’t need it, wipe the sweat, or adjust your mat and towel. Letting go of being ‘bothered’ by the details will do the mind wonders. Wiping the sweat will only make you sweat more. The next time you reach for your water bottle, ask yourself if you are truly thirsty or if you are just drinking out of habit after a certain posture. Is a hand towel your security blanket? What if you didn't have it in class? See if you can let go of the things mentally and physically that are causing you to fidget and see how your practice improves by reigning in your focus.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tip of the Week: Eat Right Before Bed or Go to Bed Hungry?

Which is worse? Eating dinner right before bed or sliding into the sheets hungry? This is quite a dilemma especially if you've just finished an evening Bikram class and didn't eat a couple of hours beforehand. The following is an article by that helps to answer this tricky question.

Don't go to bed with a growling stomach, says Melinda Johnson, R.D., a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Hunger signals the brain to stay alert so you can scavenge for sustenance. And a hungry, restless night makes for next-day grogginess, which could have you desperately reaching for more calories for energy. As for eating a full meal right before bed, you might have heard that it makes you more likely to store the calories as fat because you're not awake and actively burning them. Not true, Johnson says—timing doesn't matter much to your body, calorie burn–wise. That said, going to bed stuffed isn't a great idea, since you could wind up with sleep-disrupting heartburn or indigestion. Have a light 200- to 300-calorie prebed snack that includes carbohydrates and protein, suggests Michael Breus, Ph.D., author of The Sleep Doctor's Diet Plan. Think carrot sticks with 1/2 cup hummus or a sliced apple with 2 tbsp peanut butter. The carb-protein combo triggers the brain to produce serotonin, a calming hormone.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


From the September Newsletter

I was recently having a conversation with my friend about generosity. He is in a tight financial situation and both of his parents have given him loans. The amounts of the loans are quite close in number but his mother, who is married to someone who is quite well-off financially, has given him a time frame in which to pay off the loan. His father, on the other hand, is single and lives on a small monthly pension. He gave my friend the loan and told him it was a gift, no need to repay. My friend said to me, "don't get me wrong, I am really grateful to both of them for their help, and I think they are being really generous, I just find it interesting that my mother, who has so much, has an expectation of quick repayment and my father, who has substantially less, gave me the money freely with no expectation of repayment." We pondered this juxtaposition and wondered about the state of mind one must cultivate in order to give; freely and generously. What is the quality one must possess to feel the abundance of life rather than the scarcity?

We were having this conversation in the car on the way to see Michael Franti at Red Butte Garden Amphitheater. While watching Michael Franti play, I couldn't help but notice his generosity. He probably spent more time in the audience than on the stage and I was amazed to see how he allowed people to touch him; and it wasn't just that he allowed it. It almost seemed like he knew how important it was for him to give people the permission to touch him; to experience his warmth and love. It was so stunning and poignant to me how
generous he was with himself, letting people touch this "rockstar" for whatever reasons they had for wanting to touch him. And then I noticed he was barefoot. He was running all around stage and all around the audience with no shoes or socks on. I thought about the times I am most often barefoot and of course, practicing yoga asanas is one of those times. I wondered if there could be a link.

You've likely noticed the weather changing lately. These past few weeks of hot days and cool nights have sent the plants in my garden into high production mode. All of these crops,
creating fruits and vegetables while they stay rooted in the ground, sinking themselves deep into the earth. Creating abundance while being still and barefoot in their own way. Noticing this, the connections started to materialize for me. It's not uncommon that I'll show up for yoga class and my monkey mind will be juggling all the different "problems" and "stressors" in my life. My judgment of myself is up and I feel stingy, annoyed by little things that seem so big. And then I stand on my mat, and practice the asanas. My mind begins to calm, I am present, and still. My judgment begins to slip away and I feel more generous, with others, but first and foremost with myself. In the present moment, I experience clarity, see the abundance of life and am able to let go of the fear of scarcity. By standing still, I'm able to feel grounded and connect to this vast and amazing planet that gives immeasurable things so freely.

Practicing the quality of presence may not be the only way to battle the thoughts of scarcity, but I wonder if the plants and Michael Franti are on to something. So grab your mat, get
barefoot, and come join us for class. You may find that while practicing presence you are able to tap into your own generosity.

Feeling generous? The studio would love your donations of plastic grocery bags and hair bands (read: reduce, reuse, recycle). Feel free to drop them off at the front desk next time you come in to practice.