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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tip of the Week: Doing a Double

The following is by blogger Seouldiva:

If you’ve ever done a Bikram Yoga class, you’d probably say, “What kind of crackhead do you need to be, to want to do TWO of these classes back-to-back?”
Yep.  You read correctly: 2 Bikram classes back-to-back. 180 minutes in the hotbox.
While most of us don’t opt to do this on a daily basis, if you’re doing a 30-day or a 60-day Bikram Yoga Challenge, there is an allowance that states:

  • During a 30-Day Challenge, if you miss a day of class, you may double up on another day.  But you cannot double up more than TWICE during a 30-day.  (hell, life happens, right?!)
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need (or want) to take a double, here are some things to consider… (Again: please note I am not an official Bikram instructor…just a fanatic)


  • Be honest with yourself.  Don’t do a double just because your hell-bent on it.
  • Assess how your body feels: if you feel great, give it a shot.  If not, then there will always be another day.


  • Most studios will have 30 minutes in-between the end of the last class, and the beginning of the next class.
  • After your final savasana, I recommend leaving the room to cool down slightly and normalize.
  • HYDRATE.  (duh.)  In addition to drinking regular water, I really like drinking a coconut water.
  • My home studio (Bikram Yoga NYC) carries Zico, but I just got tuned in to VitaCoco which (at least to me) tastes like it has a little less sugar than Zico.  While it’s nice to have a little sugar for energy, drinking something sweet can sometimes make you more thirsty.  So generally speaking, the less sugar the better.
  • Don’t forget to pee before the 2nd class.  On the real.


  • If I’m doing a double, during the first 15 minutes of Class #2, my mind is grumbling things like, “Holy crap, what was I thinking?,” “Oh damn, this is gonna be a long freaking class…,” “Get. Me. Out.”
  • Let it go….Once you learn to accept the fact that you are committed to be in the room…the fun begins.


  • EUPHORIA. The second class is euphoric.  Your body is already warmed and stretched out from the 1st class, so the 2nd class is less stiff.
  • YOUR MIND IS QUIET. One of the reasons for hatha (physical) yoga is to quiet the body, so that the mind can be quieted and prepared for meditation.  The 1st class helps you get all the “noise” out of your head.  The 2nd class, you experience a focus, awareness and “present-mindedness” that is indescribable.
So if you DO decide to try your hand at doing a Bikram double…hope this helps!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tip of the Week: Backbending

Yoga Tip: Common Mistakes in Backbending

By HotCore Yoga

For 35 years+ Bikram has repeated over and over that the way to heal most spinal problems is by doing proper backbends in a hot room mixed in with a proper compliment of other yoga postures. In part he designed his 26-posture sequence to correct skeleton misalignments. Bikram’s Hot Yoga has worked for so well that Bikram yoga studios are opening up throughout the country and Europe. Yet there are individuals who fear doing backbends for seemingly good reasons … such as… “it hurts” … “my physical therapist told me not to do it” (has the physical therapist done it within the 26 posture series in a hot room with proper instruction? probably not.) … “I injured myself doing a backbend in gymnastics 20 years” … etc.
Look, it is very simple. In order to heal the spine you need to develop core strength from the base of your spine up. If you slump when you sit in your car or a chair, you probably lost your core strength some time ago … without realizing it … maybe you never had it.

Okay, so how does one get this core strength?
1. Establish downward pointing vectors of energy which act as a platform from which you can harness whatever strength you possess to extend upward. With practice you will develop more body awareness so that you extend yourself in vectors of energy which engender strength, vitality & flexibility. You will feel a natural lift in your spine. So how do I get this lift?

2. Once you get this downward vector, you must create a continuous stream of upward lift so that you can reach back without collapsing. Let me use Half Moon pose as an example. The downward vector only happens when one does the following: squeeze your legs and buttocks together intensely, wake up the soles of the feet by grabbing the floor, lock out the knees, and engage in root lock. If you have any lower back issues, it is essential to establish your lower body foundation. From here, you can create an upward lift by extending your index fingers, crown and core up toward the ceiling. So there’s a simultaneous reach down & reach up. Now as you extend your reach backwards as well as up, you introduce a vector backward and forward. Lines of energy always move in 2 directions. So there is reach back with the upper body and the hips move forward … without bending the knees which would impede the downward vector. Does all of this make sense? This posture in NOT a backward collapse. It is backward core lift.

So what are the most common mistakes in backbends?
1. Laziness about creating a downward vector. How tough is it to squeeze your butt and thighs together and grab the floor with the soles of your feet? No one is asking you to run a 4-minute mile. Just squeeze your legs and butt together… as best you can.

2. Laziness about reaching up. Here it is so much easier to simply collapse backwards than it is to reach up and build this core lift. I know because I ignored this core lift for years until I realized that I wasn’t developing meaningful strength. I was just dropping backward to see how far I could go. And in so doing, I injured myself. And then healed myself. And then injured myself. And then healed myself. You get the point. Through the yoga I could heal myself . But I wasn’t getting the core lift which Bikram calls, “creating natural human traction.”

3. Fear can create an unwillingness to explore this core lift. So you might decide backbends are too dangerous. And you may never give this yoga system a fair trial period. Emotional release is a common occurrence in the process of healing the spine through proper backbends. Why? Think of it! You are moving into the unknown each time you reach up and back. During Savasana it is very important to give yourself time to let go of tears or whatever. During standing series, you can always lie down in savasana if you feel strong emotions so that you can breathe and release. This is what the yoga is designed to do.

Which Bikram postures offer the best backbends?
Half Moon, Standing bow, cobra, full locust, bow, & camel. Most of the other postures include this core lift. Even during the standing series between postures you can experience an energizing core lift with your inhale and a grounding downward vector with your exhale.

Let us know how this tip works for you. We want to serve you with greater integrity. So please don’t be shy. And share your victories … no matter how small … you never know who you will inspire.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tip of the Week: Locust Pose

Although it may seem like you're mostly using leg strength during Locust Pose to raise your legs in the air, the power actually comes from your upper body.

During the first part, you want to keep your chin out, throat stretching so you can activate/isolate the muscles surrounding your shoulders, scapula and upper spine. 

With your arms straight under your body with your palms facing the floor, stretch your fingers down to your knees until your arms are straight. The wider you stretch your fingers apart, the more you will be able to engage your tricep muscles. Amazingly enough, the strength in your fingertips actually helps you to bring your legs higher in the air.

The more you focus on putting your energy into your back strength and the muscles of your upper body, the easier it will be to lift your legs.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tip of the Week: How often should you practice Bikram?

Q: How often should I be coming to Bikram yoga class?

A: As often as you can!

The more often you are able to come to class, the better you will feel. Each class gets you ready for the next one. If you are only able to attend class a couple of times per week, you will experience benefits and see results, but not as fast. A minimum of three times per week is encouraged for good results, with four to six times per week being the best for life changing results. The more often you are able to attend class, you will begin to notice changes in your health, improvements in posture and to your body overall.

Yoga can be practiced daily unlike other forms of exercise where you should rest in between workouts. Sometimes daily life gets in the way of consistent practice. Bikram recommends that you practice yoga a minimum of 10 times per month. However, if you have set certain goals to lose weight, reduce stress, or heal an injury, then more classes yield a quicker result. Bikram often tells new students, “Come everyday for the next 2 months and I will give you a new body, a new life.”

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tip of the Week: Half Tortoise Pose

Making it to class this week is practically a MUST if you want to combat all the stress and calories associated with Thanksgiving. But if for some reason you aren't able to sneak away from peeling more potatoes for Aunt Edna while you watch Grandpa Joe's dentures fall into the cranberry sauce, Half Tortoise Pose is the one posture you can do at home outside the studio.

Half Tortoise Pose provides maximum and ultimate relaxation. It’s amazing to just let the body sink into this pose and really feel all the bliss as your head goes below your heart. It is great for tense necks and shoulders. It also increases blood flow to the brain, which enhances memory and mental clarity. This posture also stretches the lower part of the lungs, which is therapeutic for asthma. It counters indigestion, flatulence, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (which, let's face it, after all that Thanksgiving food you'll probably need relief from the most. Just sayin...).

 Steps :
  1. Sit down on a yoga mat with your buttocks resting on your heels.
  2. Inhale and lift both your arms to the sky. Bring the palms of your hands together and intertwine your two thumbs together. Your arms should be straight with your biceps touching your ears. Straighten your back and feel the stretch.
  3. Exhale and slowly pivot down from your waist until your little fingers and forehead touch the yoga mat.
  4. Hold this pose for at least 20 seconds while you continue to breathe normally.
  5. Inhale and come back to the starting position with your hands straight up in the sky above your head.
  6. Exhale, release your arms, and come back to sitting on your heels.
To increase the stretch, straighten the arms so that the wrists, elbows and triceps form a straight line. You will feel the stretch in your shoulder blades. Ensuring that your buttocks remain rested on your heels will also increase the stretch; this can be achieved by keeping your mid-section taut. Do not draw your chin into the chest when performing the stretch. Try to keep it as far away from your chest as possible while keeping your forehead rested on the mat.

Have a safe, happy and healthy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tip of the Week: Camel Time!

Camel Pose forces you to let go of things that don't serve you anymore. These might include drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, food additives or -- on an esoteric level -- toxic emotions and relationships. If you keep dietary toxins to a minimum you may find your practice becoming stronger and more enjoyable, even in difficult postures.

 Photo of student Tegan Spangrude
Camel at Lake Josephine, Glacier National Park

Camel pose opens your heart, solar plexus and throat chakras. We generally keep them protected. If you feel nausea, fear, anxiety as a beginner GOOD FOR YOU! You are doing it right. Have the courage to stay with it and feel a wonderful release happening in you body. The dizziness you experience as a beginner is completely normal so try not to get anxious. If you just keep pushing your hips forward and breathe, the dizziness will pass. When you feel dizzy it is because of a change in blood pressure in your body from the backward bend. It is a new sensation which can be scary because we are always forward bending. Remember to breathe! When entering into camel make sure your hands are are on your hips or "back jeans pockets" with fingers facing down. Take a deep breath and drop your head back, go back half way and stop. If you lean back half way you will realize how close your hands are to your feet. Once you realize how close your hands are to your feet it becomes less scary to just reach back. If your heels are more that an arms length away, keep your hands on you hips but PUSH your chest up and your hips forward. If you can reach your heels, grip your heels with your palms, and bring your body weight forward onto the knees instead of leaning back on the heels. When coming out of the posture, bring one hand back to your hip then the other and slowly come back up being mindful to keep your spine in alignment, coming up one vertebrae at a time. Finding your eyes in the mirror and giving yourself a few breaths while concentrating on your eyes will help with any dizziness and will calm you. Try to push your Camel to your edge without experiencing any anticipation or anxiety. As you learn to embrace Camel without fear, you will learn to love it!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What's eVette's Secret?

Bikram Yoga SLC student eVette Raen was recently featured in an article by GE. We are so proud of you eVette! You are a great inspiration to us all. 

What's Their Secret?

31 Oct 2012
Source: Communications
Story Highlights:
  • eVette Raen, quality assurance analytics manager at GE Healthcare, challenged herself to attend 200 hot yoga sessions in 200 days.
  • eVette finds the benefits of yoga extend far beyond losing weight and being psysically fit. She finds yoga reduces stress and makes her feel much mentally stronger.
  • A piece of advice from eVette on a fitness plan: Make it challenging. And when you've got a good challenge, double down.
What counts as a challenge? It's different for everyone, but it always means setting a goal above and beyond your ordinary. For some of us, a fitness challenge might be taking a dance class for the first time. For some of us, going to the gym twice a week. When eVette Raen decided to challenge herself she was already attending an very demanding yoga class, so she chose to go for 200 sessions in 200 days.
Among the manufacturing, service and engineering personnel at her site in Salt Lake City, eVette is quality assurance analytics manager on the C-Arms for the OEC 9800, a fluoroscopic machine that allows surgeons to see an internal x-ray video image of their patient, which allows them to make incisions that aren't as deep, so their patients can recover faster.
Over the span of her three years at the site, eVette credits HealthAhead with bringing her to a new level of health and fitness. She was an athlete in high school and kept up with her active lifestyle, going to the gym a couple of times a week, but she just wasn't into it. What turned things around for her was joining exercise classes and groups at her site. As she says, "If I just work out on my own, I'm prone to quit after fifteen minutes. If I even go."  Now she regularly attends yoga and a variety of other aerobic workouts. "It's a social group of people. Once I get there I know that I'm committed for the length of the class." 

Thus, after two years with the positive influence of esprit de corps and healthy new food and nutrition habits she learned at weight management program at her site (paid for by GE), eVette found she was working out more, enjoying it more, and had lost forty pounds in the process.
In the course of her new class-oriented fitness routine, eVette had started attending an especially challenging "hot" type of yoga, which is done in a humid studio at 105 degrees.
So to keep things interesting, she gave herself a 30-day challenge. She met that challenge, then made a new one: A hundred sessions in a hundred days.
Now eVette had also been reading yoga philosophy, and a section on testing one's determination struck a chord with her. The idea is to take a goal that's challenging yet attainable and then double it. So eVette found herself embarking on the challenge of 200 hot yoga sessions in 200 days. "I was a little fearful at first doing that and I thought about it for several days," she said. "But right now I am on Day 67 and this afternoon when I practice I will be on practice 74, so I'm already ahead." 

Our yogini hero is already ahead because she occasionally does multiple sessions in a day. In fact, one day this summer eVette logged four sessions, spending an unheard-of six hours in hot yoga over the course of the day. "People think I'm a little crazy, but I've really worked up to that," she says. "I like to think of it just as people train for marathons, I've done the yoga for so long and I'm so used to the environment."
But for eVette it's not just about losing weight, keeping busy, or even being fit. "Besides just the physical practice of it, the yoga reduces stress and makes me feel much mentally stronger," she says. In the pursuit of more of the intangible benefits, she has recently added Yoga Nidra to her routine. "Basically I go and lay down on a yoga mat in a class and the teacher leads a visualization that's all about body awareness and what you want in your life." What better complement to 200 days of heat and effort. Om shanti, eVette.
eVette's tips for a well-balanced fitness plan:
  • Learn good eating habits, preferably through a weight management program.
  • Make it social. It's much easier to stick to a workout schedule if you're not in it alone.
  • Make it challenging. And when you've got a good challenge, double down.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tip of the Week: Toe Stand

When you're in Toe Stand you are only 5 toes away from levitating! Or at least it may give you the feeling you're at the top of a beautiful snow capped mountain like our student Erin Comstock in the photo above! 

The most important thing to remember about Toe Stand is that it is not an advanced posture, so just TRY IT! 

Keep your standing leg locked, your eyes locked on the floor, stomach sucked in. 

When you go down try to let the hips hover slightly above the heel, it will bring the focus to the core to find the balance. Remember it is a “toe” stand, not a toe and fingers stand so try not to focus on creating a tripod base. Sit centered over your heel, shoulders should stack above the hips. Stretch upward from the base of your spine to the crown of your head. Don’t look at yourself in the mirror until you are perfectly balanced on your toes with your palms together in front of your heart.

Even if you can’t do the full toe stand just yet, easing yourself into the pose is a great opener for your hips, so do as much as you can!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tip of the Week: Get the Wrinkles out of Eagle Pose

The tip this week is in honor of the carrot one of our favorite students Mary brought in. As you can see in the photo below, this flexible carrot is doing an AWESOME Eagle pose!

The following tips on Eagle actually come from our friends at Bikram Yoga Bellvue. Such great advice!

For the uninitiated, the word "yoga" often conjures up images of a skinny dude in baggy pants putting a foot behind his earlobe. While our Bikram beginning yoga series sets itself apart from that contortionist image in many, many ways, let's face it: Eagle is about as pretzel twisty as one can get.

The basics: cross one arm under the other, twist, palms together. The posture is named Eagle as your arms / elbows form the shape of an eagle's beak.
Wrinkle #1: palms won't to go together 

Tip #1: Bikram recommends focusing on getting the pads of the fingertips together "by whatever necessary contortion" and use the pads as leverage until the palms touch.  If you can't get the fingertips together just yet, interlace the fingers then wiggle the wrists back and forth ten to fifteen times.

Wrinkle #2: palms are a zillion miles away from each other

Tip #2: No matter how much your ego begs you do something to fit in with the cool hand-together crowd, don't give in and grab your shoulders. One of the big benefits of Eagle is developing flexibility in the shoulders and the only way to do that is to place one elbow on top of the other elbow and pull, pull, pull down with all your might towards the floor. If you grab your shoulders, you'll have zero downward pull. And with zero downward pull comes zero benefits.

Those of you with big beefy biceps are going to struggle here, but remember, struggle = benefits.  The more you stretch through neck and shoulders, the more tension you release, the less you'll have headaches.

Wrinkle #3: toes won't wrap

Tip #3:  For starters, unlike the fast swing-n-wrap of the arms, the leg wrap needs to be done slowly and deliberately. Bikram reminds us to squeeze so hard that "you could crack walnuts between ankles, knees and thighs." Start with a good sit, spine straight. Right leg goes super high and... what? What's that? You've already got the right leg high enough already, you've been trying for years and nothing works?

Well, as former spokesperson for the "I'll Never Wrap" club, I can pledge to you that there is hope. Lots of it.   

A few years ago, I had the privilege of practicing next to Aiko, the owner of Bikram Yoga Brooklyn. While I pride myself on good concentration in class, Aiko's graceful Eagle posture blindsided me. Her leg seemed to just slither on down and her toes appeared to be nearly encircling her ankle like a silky ribbon.

I cornered Aiko after class and demanded to know if it was as easy as she made it look. She laughed loudly and then explained that she had spent many, many years as a dues-paying member of the "I'll Never Wrap" club. She decided she was going to wrap her toes if it was the last thing she did on this planet. So she began doing homework.  

First thing when she woke up, still flat on her back in bed, she tried to wrap. Sitting at a desk, she tried to wrap. Watching television, she tried to wrap. And within six months of homework, she started to wrap. Just the pinky toe touched first and then, toe by toe, she eventually got all five toes to wrap around behind the calf muscle. Aiko promised me if it worked for her, then surely the homework would work for me too.

I'll admit, I was dubious. Mostly because I labored under the incorrect impression that the problem originated in my non-thin thighs.  Actually, my encounter with Aiko made me rethink my blame-the-thigh approach entirely. Aiko is a lithe Asian gal with thin thighs and she couldn't wrap either.   

Bikram points out that it isn't the thighs, necessarily, but the short forelegs. Those that are not long from the knee to the ankle will struggle with toe wrapping, but they'll "make up for lack of length by gaining even more flexibility than the rest." 

Sure, you do lift your wrapping leg up really high. But in addition to the high lift, you'll want to really extend the leg, reach the leg, as though you're going to push your neighbor over with your big toe.

Last year, in my sixth year of not wrapping, I decided to try Aiko's homework in earnest. And let me tell you, the results have been eye opening. Both laying in bed and on the sofa, my right leg now fully wraps around my left and all five toes end up where Eagle wants them: wrapped around the ankle. The other side is less flexible, but I've still got 2.75 toes wrapped. It was about four months of trying to wrap during Desperate Housewives, but once I established the muscle memory of the wrapped toes in a non-heated environment, then the toes started sliding around back the calf muscle during class.

You can also try wrapping homework after final Savasana at the end of class. This is a great time (again, on your back) to practice the reaching of the top leg, try to nudge open the studio door with your big toe.

In summary: abandon shoulder grabbing, you beefy sailors and pull elbows down hard (no matter if the hands aren't perfect... or even in the same zip code) and release tension and prevent headaches. Non-wrappers: homework, lift high, nudge your mat mate with your extended big toe and you'll provide fresh blood to sexual organs, firm calves, firm hips and thighs, improve flexibility of the hips, knees and ankles.

And once you've jump started all those benefits, you'll feel the improvements paying off handsomely in the next posture, Standing Head to Knee.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tip of the Week: Straight Wrists in Bow Pose

Today's tip of the week comes from student Heather who asks, "Why do I have to keep my wrists straight in Bow Pose?"

 Our very own Bikram Yoga SLC instructor Jamie doing Bow Pose in Costa Rica.

If you are bending your wrists, it is a sure sign that you are using the strength of your arms instead of the strength of your legs. Bow Pose is all about the KICK. Instead of holding on to the feet, think of yourself as ‘hanging’ from your feet, using your fingers only. You kick your legs up and back behind you. This pulls on your arms. The arms have hold of the feet only through the grip of the hands (the only active part of your arms). The kick of the legs pulls the arms back allowing a surrender of the shoulders so that they get pulled behind you as well.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Kellee's Cosmic Consciousness

I loved this story that Kellee told the class the other day, so I asked if she would share it again for the blog. Thanks for sharing Kellee!
@ Bikram Teacher Training in the Fall of 2000.  I was one of the worst students in the group of about 120 people.  I stood in the back, trying to hide from the eagle eye of boss Bikram since I came to the training after only doing 20 classes in my entire life.  He of course found me and singled me out several times and each time he would ridicule and tease me, even calling me out by saying: "hey you with the fat (bleep)", meaning my butt.  At the same time he was doing this though, he was also teaching us, as a group,  something very important during his lectures which was this: "if anyone can steal your peace it is your problem" and "don't listen to people who talk (bleep), don't listen to them".  He would tell us how, in this life, a yogi is only as yogic as their ability to hold a single point of focus, without reaction to the externals at any time.  He calls this "cosmic consciousness".  He shows us how by focusing on ourselves for 1.5 hours every day in the mirror, in our Bikram class, that this is the power we get, we get immunity to irritation.  He calls it becoming "bombproof, bulletproof, emotion proof, theft proof, windproof, sex proof" meaning Bikram Yogis don't react to anything, get seduced or damaged by anything.  This is his big promise if we do as he says.

Anyway, at the end of the  9 weeks, after all our sweat, suffering, humility and intense learning, with me being, not the teacher's "pet" but the teacher's "pest",  it was the final day of training.  Bikram gathered us all together in the main room for our final group together,  where he called on his best and favorite students to show their skills to him, to sing to him to immerse him in the bounty of the  fruit of his labor with us all for the past 9 weeks.  It was a beautiful reflection of just how magnificent we all were as a whole.  As the meeting drew to a close and we prepared to go get ready for our graduation, Bikram's eyes once more scanned the big  room, found me in the back, as usual.....he pointed his finger at me and yelled out in the irritated rude voice he would speak to me in: "YOU"  I recoiled inside to think my last exchange with Boss might be another chiding but I was ready. "YOU, how come I can never make you mad this whole time?"  I took a deep breath and bravely replied:  "because you taught me not to listen to bull(bleep)" to which he replied: "That is 100% correct, good job honey"

that was the end of my teacher training.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Meet Kellee

We are excited to welcome instructor Kellee to our studio! Be sure to take of one of her classes to learn something new with her expertise, vibrant personality and positive energy!


Hi, I am Kellee Morris and I am (one of) your yoga teacher (s) here at Salt Lake City Bikram Yoga! I graduated from Bikram Teacher Training in the Fall of 2000 and can truly say, these years as a Bikram Instructor have been the best of my life. Life began with Bikram Yoga for me, the world unfolded after I took this yoga to be the pivotal foundation of my lifestyle. I have taught all over the country, without interuption since I graduated and can honestly say, I have never taught a class I didn't love teaching!

Bikram Yoga has helped me overcome crippling fibromyalgia, depression and opened my life to the myriad possibilities of potential in overcoming circumstances, history, emotional issues and learning that when I can focus one spot on myself in the mirror, keep my mind inside my brain for 10 seconds, that I am capable of creating things I never dreamed of! Today I revel in the development of who I have become because of how this yoga showed me my own life path. 

I love Bikram yoga with my whole heart. I didn't like it when I started it, it hurt, but I invested in the pain in order to overcome the tremendous suffering which had become a part of life which I liked even less. Today, middle aged, and happier than I could have ever imagined, I am a huge advocate of Bikram Yoga.  After Bikram Yoga, life really began for me and it just keeps getting better.

My speciality is enthusiasm and positive energy with a focus on precise alignment and subtle adjustments within the postures to keep your body free from misalignment.  I adore sacred geometry exhibited as we practice the postures.

As a senior teacher who has stayed close to Bikram and HQ, I am constantly learning and growing in my teaching.  I am also a therapeutic body worker/thai yoga massage therapist/life coach/Reiki Master, I am available to offer many complimentary therapies to compliment your yoga practice.  I am always happy to teach, and answer questions,  always sincerely interested in the well being of my students and I look forward to embarking on this journey of your unfolding with you.  Namaste

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Guest Instructor Nathan Dennett is Coming!

We are so excited and pleased to have guest instructor Nathan Dennett teaching our 4:30 class on Wed., Oct. 17!

 You won't want to miss this class. Nathan is a six-time International Yoga Asana Champion who owns Bikram Yoga Sutherland Shire in Sydney, Australia and is a judge for yoga championships. 

He will also be doing posture clinics at the Bikram Yoga Sandy studio this weekend.  
Come to a deeper understanding of the set-up, proper alignment, and full expression of each asana. 
At this clinic, Nathan will explore the full range of the Bikram Yoga Beginning Series using demonstrations, explanations and plenty of practical information. 
*Please note they've dropped the price back down to the early bird special pricing - $55 per day or $110 for both days. Buy online or at the Sandy studio.

Nathan Dennett — Director and Principal of Bikram Yoga Sutherland Shire

Photo of Nathan Dennett

What are your personal tips to students at Bikram Yoga Sutherland Shire?

Don’t  give up yet! That point where you’re about to give up is right when you’re about to have a breakthrough- don’t let a physical plateau put you off either… As a teacher I always see (and say) that there’s always room for more! I didn’t get into my current shape by wishing and hanging about!

What is your most embarrassing moment while teaching yoga?

I’m quite happy to be the first one laughing at anything. But embarrassing doesn’t happen often. But
  1. Trying to squeeze water out of my stupid plastic water bottle when the lid blew off and water drenched the Beginner in the back row! He didn’t know what was going on, and I couldn’t stop laughing to apologise and continue teaching…
  2. Saying  “Camel Toes” instead of ‘Camel Pose’ to a crowded room. Total hilarity ensued, along with the best group Camel pose EVER!

What is the best/worst thing about being a Bikram teacher?

Best: Seeing people take control of their bodies for the better and for the long term.
Seeing people completely give up way to soon (like first class…). Give it a month and THEN start looking at what’s been happening to you.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Define “grown up’’ please? Actually, I wanted to be a monkey because of their tail and swinging through the trees. I even have the Kindergarten booklet with all our Grown Up Wishes in it. Mine is the only animal. Woop woop!

Word/Phrases you overuse?

Make up some wild and elongated reason for why we’re about to do [pose] ‘in the nude’ . Just because it’s a challenge to get new reasons all the time. I’m still waiting for the Yoga Room Streaker…

Do you remember what your first Bikram class was like?

After 2 car accidents and a year of painful physio, my first class in the heat was totally liberating for every cell of my body. I knew I had found my saving grace. Later when I became a teacher I found that Bikram said “Pain kills Pain”, for me it’s very true, if I don’t get my Bikram classes in weekly my body suffers.

Just Beginning Or Returning After A Break?

We have an exciting offer for returning students who haven't been to the studio in awhile! 

We know how time can slip by, and if you've been wanting to come back now is the perfect time! So take advantage of this offer and read the following excerpt for tips on returning to your Bikram practice from "HotYogini" on Squidoo. There's also some great information if you are just beginning to try Bikram yoga for the first time.

 It's a full-on Mind-Body-Spirit challenge ...

It's gonna take you a while to acclimatize ... so here's what is going on ...

Whether you are athletically super-fit or you haven't lifted anything other than wine and cake for the last few years, you will probably experience some quite dynamic shifts in your mind-body connection.
hot yoga girl

This is likely to happen just in the first few classes (say 3-5) as you begin to adjust to the combination of a 90-minute challenging class held in a room heated to about body temperature.

And then further on, in your first 3 weeks as your body's systems acclimatize to this type of training.

So what will some of these changes be?

So here's a list of some of the things I've experienced when beginning/coming back after a break and talking to friends who "do the hot yoga thing" they've also experienced.
  • You may experience odd body symptoms - dizziness, sweat, cramp, light-headedness, headaches, blurry vision.
  • You may find your breathing and stamina is challenged in the first 1-3 classes.
  • You may discover tightness in areas where you didn't even know you had muscles (please don't ask ... lol!).

Typical symptoms and what to do about them - if anything

So here's my list of typical things experienced in "your first hot yoga class" or if you are a returning Bikram Yoga devotee ...

Could any of these be you?

Some typical side-effects of a Bikram Yoga class

Feeling out of breath

Pretty normal - most of us apparently only use about 1/3 of our potential lung capacity - so dramatically extending the use of your lung capability will take a few classes. If your teacher uses a very long pranayama breath timing, you'll notice it even more.

Fortunately, you improve rapidly, so keep it up!

Returnees: Remember to breathe deeply into the tummy as you used to and you'll sail through!

  • Lack of stamina/Can't make it through class

    This one probably applies more to the returnees than the first timers, though it can definitely afflict anyone!

    Like any exercise, you need to build up momentum - and this cannot be achieved in one class alone. First timers can get overwhelmed by how "hard" it seems but this quickly changes in the first 5-7 classes.

    Returnees have a harder time because they "know" what they used to do - and try to repeat it immediately after long break!

    So take it step-by-step and you'll feel after the 3rd or 4th class back everything is getting easier.

  • Dizziness

    Usually connected with breathing - most of us aren't used to breathing through our noses. Beginners might find themselves gasping for air through the mouth, though this is not good practice, as it stimulates a "panic breath".

    Some dizziness can also arise from the sudden elimination of waste from the body stirred up by the activation of the lymph system.And some dizziness can be from exiting some poses too quickly.

    Tip: Take the warm-up poses at a lower energy level, even "pacing yourself" and holding back energy reserves for later in class (despite what the instructor might be urging you to do!).

    Smelly sweat (but wait ... there's a very happy ending)

    This is also quite normal, but a bit disconcerting as it can even smell like urine (yuk!) and you wonder what the studio accidentally left on it's towels or mats. Have I put anyone off yet!!

    In fact, with your skin being such a huge elimination system, this might be another phenomenon related to the lymph system stimulation causing "waste" to be eliminated through the skin.

    Major upside: It passes quickly in the first 6 or so classes (though it CAN return if you have had a "big weekend" - too much wine or
    chocolate) after which you smell as sweetly as the day you were born ... well ... after your first bath anyway.

    AND ... people will literally stop you in the street to comment on your skin, your glow and ask you with a bit of a nudge and a wink, "So, what have YOU been doing?".

    A friend of mine even went home after her 4th class and had her husband ask her what the new makeup was that she was wearing (she wasn't wearing any). Now that's the kind of result a girl needs! 
  • Feeling out of breath
    Although I am not a qualified physician, I feel this must also be to do with rebalancing the body and your essential salts. I have taken electrolyte replacements (ask at your pharmacy or health shop) to help as I do get cramps when returning after a break. Do NOT use most sports drinks to rehydrate/replace salts as they are mostly sugared water with some added table
    salt and won't do it for you.

    Once again, cramps do go away pretty quickly. But do consider taking some minerals or other supplements to help - and definitely stay hydrated, avoid caffeinated tea & coffee for a few days.

  • Stiffness/Aches & pains

    Some don't feel anything after their FIRST class which is great ... BUT, beware the second or third class as this is where it can creep up on you.

    An easy solution: Keep up your Bikram Yoga. I promise you that most of the more uncomfortable aches and pains and stiffness go away very quickly - anywhere from the 3rd or 4th class, to 3-4 weeks (assuming you go at least 3 times/week).

    Remedy (and a very nurturing one at that): Apart from more yoga, which is the best solution, try luxuriating in an Epsom Salts bath. Put on some nice relaxing music, light some candles too ... invite a partner ...
  • Hunger/Thirst cravings

    As you body settles into a new routine, your appetite may change and you might get sudden major hunger cravings. Try to avoid cramming in some carbs, instead have a light pre-made salad on hand for these moments (especially if you are after some reduction in dress size *wink*).

    Those new to Bikram Yoga or Hot Yoga should be aware that you will need to increase your liquid intake. Though there are those who scorn exercising in the heat due to their beliefs about the replenishment of water, they probably don't realize you ARE allowed to drink in class (sips at a time is best).

    But remember to step up your water intake BEFORE class - drink a liter of water up to 45 mins before and you will not regret it. It can also really help relieve any cramping issues.

  • Emotional ups & downs

    This yoga is so fantastic for creating a beautiful, positive, happy state of mind -- for no reason at all - that it seems strange to discuss ups and downs.

    But there is no doubt that in your first few classes, or first few classes back, the rebalancing of the body can cause some emotional oddities.

    - Sudden busts of anger

    - Sudden sadness
    - Sudden euphoria (I like this one!)
  • What I have found to be a very helpful antidote is a nice large drink of water, or water dosed with electrolytes. I can't explain it (maybe it is just a need to be better hydrated), but it seems to help level out the emotional states.
  • Difficulty sleeping

    If you are at all like me, you cherish your sleep, and you would think that a highly cardio, 90-minute intense yoga "workout" would give you a blissful night's sleep.

    Normally yes, but some folks can end up tossing and turning a little due to the physical changes being made in the body; circulation system changes; maybe even some disturbance in sleep due to limbs aching from a good stretch.

    If this is you, then you might find a 10-minute quiet meditation just before bed (no TV!), or a stroll in fresh air if possible, will help relax your mind-body connection.

    Just instruct your unconscious mind to let everything relax with a bit of soothing self talk and you'll be sleeping peacefully through the night in no time.

  • Acute awareness of your surroundings

    Not so much a negative, but an unusual side-effect is a sharper awareness of "life". This CAN mean surprising reactions to events or people - where you might have gotten "plugged in" before, now you are not reacting, but observing. I personally think this is a good thing - but it can feel a bit weird at first!
  • Difficulty balancing

    This is both to do with straight up strength (of leg muscles, ankles etc), as well as the yoga reflecting for you any "imbalance" there may be in your life. So it can return under times of stress for example.

    Tip: Ignore this completely, make NO judgment whatsoever and get on with the yoga. Focus on breathing, restart whatever pose you fell out of and move on.

  • Headaches

    As long as you are well enough hydrated and drinking plenty before and after class, any headaches in your early days are likely to be just the body cleaning itself out.

    Beware though - you MAY be unknowingly holding tension - physical or emotional - in areas of your back, neck & shoulders that are creating undue stress in poses which plays out as a headache. Observe your poses carefully and work on relaxing muscles that are not directly used in the pose (Tip: I think it's all in the breath. But that's just me :-)).

  • Shaky or trembling muscles

    You might find that, during a pose, one or more of your muscles starts "twitching" or "trembling" or a type of spasmodic shake.

    It can feel as if you are weak or lacking in strength - when in fact this is a good indication that this is exactly when your muscles are actively retraining themselves!
  • It takes at least 10 seconds of holding a pose to gain 100% recruitment of all the muscle fibers - after which you are "trying to go somewhere you haven't been before" (I so love that phrase one of my best teachers uses!). At some point your muscles cannot hold the position they have been "fully recruited" for and release. Then as you consciously re-recruit them while continuing the pose, they will go spasmodically backwards and forwards between fully engaged then releasing - hey presto here's the trembling!

    So this is purely building your stamina and can come and go as you build your body's expectations of your own muscle power.

    So when I am shaking and trembling in a pose - I am very proud that something is changing!
  • Sore knees

    Sometimes, after your first few classes, you may experience some soreness in the knees. I believe it is important for this
    not to continue - fortunately it is easily cured!

    It probably is caused by standing with a straight (or "locked out" leg WITHOUT sufficient contraction of the thigh muscle groups (especially the quadriceps). So the knee joint itself is overly stressed and can become inflamed.

    Remember "Lock the knee" = "Clench your thigh muscles" and your knee soreness will quickly disappear.

  • Stomach acidity/Reflux

    Yes, I know, not the most pleasant topic - but if you've been enjoying a - shall we say - "rich diet", you can expect that with the amazing amount of internal organ and digestive system massage, that your stomach, elimination system and regulatory organs
    will respond!

    This sometimes manifests as a "clearing out" which might mean you burp a lot (yes, even in class - yuk!); get a slightly acid tummy sometimes; release gas ... anyway you get the drift.

    Stick with it, as just like the strong sweat smell, this disappears quite quickly with a regular practice.

    Even quicker if you work on cleaning your diet up too!
    Blurry vision

    Depending on how much you sweat, in your first few classes (new OR returning) the extra waste products finding their way into your sweat, giving you a good cleanse, *might* make your eyes sting a little and hence cause some inflammation & blurriness. Wipe the sweat away from your eyes if you really need to. Check that you ARE drinking enough as this is another warning sign of lack of good hydration.

    You can soothe your eyes after class by using an eye cleanser, or just by rinsing them a few times in water.

    Really the best cleanser is tears - so watch a sad movie or go out to a really good comedy club!

    Also check that in the "head-to-knee" poises you are NOT pushing eyeballs unduly against your kneecap or shin. It should be your forehead touching, but this can be tricky until your flexibility comes.

    Shoulder/Arm stiffness/soreness

    Most of us don't hold the weight of our own arms over our heads every day - so this is a real workout of the arms and shoulders.

    That is one of the reasons I love this yoga - your body is doing resistance training against itself - how cool is that?
 Don't be surprised then if you feel as if sometimes your arms are so weary that they won't stay up - or that during pranayama breathing your shoulders start to ache a little.

Again, I've found that this disappears after a few classes - might take half-a-dozen - but this is not many!

And ... a
wonderful side effect - you'll get beautifully sculpted and attractive "movie-star" looking arms!

Things to remember!

Take it easy on your first class - there's way too much to learn in one hit!

Allow yourself some time to integrate and your body to recover - go for an inspiring walk or a swim.

If you are returning from a break - don't push it! Even though you know what you used to do, it doesn't mean you should.