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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tip of the Week: Love Your Body!

This week's tip is something so simple, and yet for a lot of us is the biggest struggle with our practice. And that is to appreciate and love our bodies. Love every small accomplishment we make, and love wherever we are right here and now.  It's so easy to find faults and have goals to work on, but what's more important is to realize the small changes our bodies and minds make each time we practice. Whatever shape you're in, however flexible you your body and where you are in your practice. Your body and practice might not be exactly where you want it to be "yet", but appreciate all that you have and can do "now". 

The following story is beyond inspirational and admirable of a woman who has been practicing Bikram for the last 9 months. Her blog "Confessions of a Hawaiian Princess: One Woman's Journey to Greater Health" can be found by clicking (here).

This Wednesday will mark the nine month anniversary of the day I started Bikram. Nine months usually signifies the birth of a some thing. In my case, in this case it’s the realization that I’m capable of making the choice, of taking action to create change and work toward the body I want to have.
I sat down last night to write in my journal thoughts I have about my body in this moment, in this now. I’m tired of feeling my stomach resting on my thighs when I sit down. Mind you it used to be worse when I was heavier, but still…’s a feeling I don’t like. I’ve written a bit lately on my facebook page about taking action to change that, but I woke up this morning with the idea that I’d detail my efforts.
By actively and consciously thinking about the movements and efforts I’m undergoing to activate my core and shrink my abdomen, I can track my progress, and that’s one of the best ways of feeling better about myself—seeing ALL KINDS of progress.

I’m focusing here on some of the poses of the standing series in the Bikram sequence. Some day when time allows I’ll do an entry on all the poses. I’ve included pics, but please bear in mind that I’ve used my camera with a 10 second timer so the poses aren’t my full expression. I have attempted in each pic to be consciously activating my core.
Everything comes from the breath.

Pose 1: Standing Deep Breathing
Here I’m making an effort to keep my core activated when I inhale AND exhale. This is something I’ve had to work toward. I didn’t always have the abdominal strength to keep my core activated while exhaling. I know when I first tried it I would hold my breath when I exhaled. Now I BREATHE while keeping my core tightened!

Pose 2: Half-Moon
It’s one thing to bend sideward. It’s another to activate my core and bend from there. When I first started doing the yoga I’m not sure I fully grasped how to move from my core, but, as hard as it is, I feel stronger for moving from my core.

Pose 3: Awkward
Oy. It’s my nemesis, this one, BUT when I pull in my core while I squat I can FEEL my abdomen lift off my thighs and that’s a pretty cool feeling!

Pose 4: Eagle
When I pull in my core here I can bend my standing leg deeper, and I FEEL a greater sense of balance. The more balance I feel on the mat, the more I feel it OFF the mat!

Pose 5: Standing Forehead to Knee
Another nemesis! Here I’ve discovered a trick: when I activate my core AND lift my abdomen with my hands I can lift my leg higher, which strengthens my leg and trains my abdomen that it’s NOT the boss of THIS BODY!!!

Pose 6: Standing Bow Pulling Pose
No pic here! And this one I’m having lots of trouble with. I don’t feel like I’m coming from my core. I feel like I’m just doing all I can to stay upright.

Pose 7: Standing Separate Leg Stretch
When I don’t go down with my core here, I’ve noticed I feel it in my lower back and NOT in a good way! I’m finding I do feel like my torso is longer when I go down in this one.  It’s not about how far I go—it’s about moving my body in a healthy manner so it can reach further than where it’s been.

Pose 8: Triangle
Here’s the thing with triangle. Here’s the thing with my real desire to focus on my core, my alignment. I don’t want to waddle! It’s true! When I was not in shape, when I was not active I WADDLED.  I didn’t like it. It’s one of the main reasons I LOVE yoga so much. The deeper my practice goes, the less I waddle, the more my body is in alignment. When I take pictures these days, for the most part my feet are aligned, instead of torqued!  When I hike, my feet point straight ahead. So when I do triangle, I look to feel that I have engaged my core and that my back is in alignment. I can go deeper into triangle when I’m not in alignment but that defeats the purpose.

Pose 9: Standing Separate Leg Head-to-knee pose
Same as above basically. It’s easy to bend over. It’s work to move with the breath, but I’m worth IT!!!

Pose 10: Toe-Stand
I can now work on an adapted version of this pose! This helps me see my progress!  And that’s pretty cool!

I want a better life. I don’t mean for that to sound sad. It’s not. I feel so so very grateful for all the wonderful people, places, things that are in my life. I’m very lucky in that regard, and I know it. Working out is hard work. Yoga is hard work. I can sit here and whine and bemoan that I don’t like parts of my body, including my abdomen, or I can celebrate where I am and all the hard work I did to get here, because if I can get here, imagine where I’ll be in a few months!

It’s not that I spend every moment of every class consciously thinking about activating my core or thinking that I wish my abdomen was smaller. I don’t. But I do concentrate on getting into a pose to maximize the benefits and once I’m in the pose I allow my self, my body to be, to explore the depths it’s reaching.

But it’s not just my body, it’s my mind. My ability to express my self here is a direct reflection of my mental growth, a direct reflection that I feel less shame about my body than I used to. I accept my self, this body more. And when I look in the mirror, in class or out of class I have different level of appreciation. I’m not saying my thoughts are always positive, but I’m in such a better place than I was last week, last month, last year.

I may not know where I’m going these days, but I know when I get there I’ll stand tall, with my feet, my back, and my heart in alignment with the universe! 

As I inserted these pics into this post, I could feel my body go into shock. I can’t explain it. It’s one thing to do yoga. It’s one thing to take pics, but to look at the pics is something else. It’s very difficult for me to be this vulnerable. It cuts to my core (no pun intended), but honesty is and has been a corner stone of this journey I’m on. 

There’s nothing wrong with this body. But I can work on making it better in body, mind and soul. That’s what I want. That’s what I deserve. That’s what I’m working toward. 
(And when time allows I’m going to take much better pics–with a smile and a tiara!)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tip of the Week: Balancing Your Electrolytes

Electrolytes (we talk about them a lot as Bikram Yogis!) are equally as important as staying hydrated with water. It is important to know that when we sweat you lose electrolytes and losing these minerals can greatly effect how you feel in the hot room and outside the hot room. If you are low on electrolytes before class you can become slightly deficient during or after class. Below is a list of important electrolytes to pay attention to:
  • Calcium – aids muscle contraction

  • Magnesium – aids healthy cell function

  • Potassium – helps regulate pH balance

  • Phosphate – helps regulate pH balance
  • Sodium – regulates amount of water in the body

Electrolytes help regulate the fluid balance in your body and, when present in proper amounts, ensure that your muscle fibers contract efficiently and powerfully during exercise. They also help regulate your blood pressure, blood pH and nerve function. If your electrolytes are out of balance, you may experience symptoms such as muscle cramps, twitching, heart palpitations and weakness. Sodium and potassium are the electrolytes most subject to imbalance as a result of sweating during intense exercise.

The following information on electrolytes is from Bikram Yoga Albuquerque. Their website can be found by clicking (here).



Most people think of a sweaty athlete drinking a colored sports drink when they hear the word electrolyte. On the contrary, there are many ways to get fresh natural electrolyte replenishment from foods such as oranges, coconuts and honey, plus, save a few dollars by preparing your own sports drink that your body will embrace.


Water is the main ingredient as it will act as the primary carrier of the electrolytes. It must be as clean as possible to work optimally. If you do not have the luxury of a home bottled water dispenser, simply boil water in a tea kettle. Incidentally, distilled water--the captured vapor from boiling water--is the best. It is very close to pure water, having almost all trace elements such as minerals, pollutants and other contaminants, removed. If you want distilled water, it's best to purchase it because collecting the vapor is difficult to do at home. Sometimes you can ask your bottled water carrier if they offer distilled water instead of spring. Tap water should be your last resort.


Electrolytes are basically salts. Salts keep your body's electrically conductive to maintain cell voltage for receiving or passing along information. Regular table salt works fine as long as it contains sodium chloride, which almost all salts are made of. Some also have potassium iodide, which is also excellent for your cocktail. If you can locate fine grain salt, it dissolves much faster. Using a mortar and pestle on regular salt work just as well.


Oranges, grapefruits, tangerine, lemons and limes--try to always have these on hand as they are the best ingredients for electrolyte replenishment. Oranges are a particularly good choice. This is why you may have seen many athletes gorging themselves on juicy slices. Citrus fruits are great, even alone, for electrolytes. However, adding some other ingredients can enhance the effect. 

Containers and Recipes

When you make your electrolyte drink, make sure that you're using a container that you like to travel with. If you like your container it will increase the chances that you will indulge in your drink concoction more often.

The Lip Twister - tart and sweet

  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 whole squeezed orange (or one frozen can of orange juice)
  • 1 liter of water

Easy Sweet - not too sugary

  • 2 cups of coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of Stevia (natural sweetener) or honey
  • 1 liter of water

Mix It Up - use a blender

  • 2 bananas
  • 3 cups of coconut milk or 2 cups of strawberries
  • 1 cup of water and ice
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Juice of 1/2 of a lemon

Fast and Dirty #1 - bare bones approach

  • 2 lemon halves squeezed into a glass
  • 2 orange halves added
  • Squirt of honey
  • Four shakes of salt
  • Fill the glass with water and gulp down

Fast and Dirty #2

  • 1 bottle or can of V8 vegetable juice (any flavor)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of orange juice


In addition to making your own electrolyte drink there are many foods that will help with replenishment as well. These include: avocados, broccoli, yogurt, tofu and apricots.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tip of the Week: How to Have a Successful 30 Day Challenge

Are you ready to start your New Years Resolutions? Ready to transform your life and your body? Make a commitment to make yourself the healthiest you can be. Take the 30-day challenge for a new body and a new positive attitude. Find unhealthy habits and attitudes replaced with new healthy ones. We will support you every step of the way through this exciting life changing process. This is one of the most rewarding fulfilling gifts you will ever give yourself—and the lives of those that are touched by you! 

What is the 30 Day Challenge? 

Challenge yourself with our ongoing “30 Day Bikram Challenge” by completing 30 classes in 30 days. Experience for yourself the amazing physical, mental and physiological benefits of a daily practice! 

Challenge Rules 

Participate in a yoga class at least six (preferably seven) days each week for 30 days. (If you need a day off each week, make up with a double class the following day.)

If you practice at another studio, please bring proof of your practicing there. 

Have Fun! 

Remember, when you sign up to do the challenge, you are making a commitment to yourself. Keep the commitment and see the difference it will make in your life! You may even want to keep a daily journal during the challenge, noting you observations. 

Not sure you can do it? Enroll your family, friends, and other yoga students to support you in your challenge. 

To Sign up for the Challenge: 

Talk with an instructor.
Pay the $20.00 registration fee. (In addition to class fees.)
Record your name and date on the challenge card.
Track your progress by using the stickers on the card. (Please remember to sign in)
At the end of your successful challenge, you will receive a special challenge t-shirt. Your name will also be placed on the website and published in the newsletter. 

Some Tips for Completing the Challenge:

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. We can’t say this enough! Make sure you drink plenty of water during the day, before and after your class. If you are drinking enough water out of class, you may not even need any during your Bikram yoga class. This sounds extreme in 105ºF heat, but the best Bikram yogis drink very little during class – this makes for a more focused practice and better access to your abdominal muscles because you don’t have all that water sloshing around hindering your movement.

Start Healthy. Make sure you are in reasonably healthy condition before you undertake a 30-day challenge. If you have any serious health concerns please see your doctor. However, you can also give the challenge a go and see how you feel – you may be stronger than you think, and might just surprise yourself!

Pace Yourself. Probably the most important piece of advice. Take each day as it comes without any expectations. Some days you will fly through a class, other days it will feel like you’re pushing a boulder up hill – this is all part of the process.

Vary your position in the room. We all get attached to our own favourite spot in the room. If you love the front row, challenge yourself but putting yourself at the back. And if you’ve never been in the front row, give it a try and see how it feels.

Know your Body. If you are feeling exhausted from a day at work, don’t push yourself too hard. Have a ‘relaxation’ yoga class where you position yourself in the back row – it’s okay to take it easy every now and then, and like Bikram Choudhury says, “Don’t try hard, try easy.”

Eat Healthy, Eat Strong. As you progress into your challenge you will gain greater mind/body awareness to the point where you’ll become extremely aware of what foods will help you get through the 30 days. Foods that won’t help you are of course the ‘bad’ foods such as white sugars, excessive wheat-based foods and too much dairy. Foods that will help you are: fresh vegetables and fruit, complex carbohydrates like whole grains, and because you are building new muscle tone, you may find that you need extra amounts of protein in particular. If you are vegetarian or vegan  make sure you eat more beans, tofu and nuts to compensate. You may even want to add in a Vitamin B12 supplement.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Tip of the Week: Rabbit Pose

It's been a while since we've discussed Rabbit pose, so today we are going to revisit this stimulating and spine opening pose. You can read our last discussion about Rabbit pose by clicking (here). 

Bikram Yoga SLC instructor Naomi Franchetti at the 2011 National Championships.

Rabbit pose is one of the most challenging postures to master in the Bikram Yoga series. This is a posture where it is especially important to pay attention to the dialogue.

Always start with the right grip in the pose. The thumbs should be included with the rest of the fingers, thumbs on the outside, fingers on the inside.

As you exhale, lower your chin to your chest, round your shoulders away from your ears, and tighten your abs. Imagine rounding your spine as much as Naomi is in the above photo.

Curl forward until your forehead touches your knees and the top of your head touches the floor. Very little weight or pressure should be on the head. Only about 15% of the body weight should be in the head. The rest of the weight is in your arms pulling on your heels.

The dialogue will always encourage to lift the hips up, which is important to the pose. But it is important to never sacrifice the grip to get the hips higher. Remember,it is the grip and pull that create the force to stretch the spine.

The harder you pull on the feet the better of a compression you will create benefiting the organs.