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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tip of the Week: Practicing While Pregnant

As soon as you know you are pregnant please seek the advice of your doctor and follow advice accordingly.

  • For a first time pregnancy, it's better to avoid any new form of exercise. 
  • If you are a regular Bikram Yoga practitioner for more than a year, you can continue your practice following Rajashree's Pregnancy Yoga.
  • The series was made into a DVD video specifically for pregnancy by Rajashree (Bikram’s wife) which is available for purchase in our retail section.
  • You can practice Rajashree’s Pregnancy Yoga after the 1st Trimester
  • Rajashree's Pregnancy Yoga can be practiced in Bikram Yoga Class with moderate heat at own discretion.
  • If you are a student (including teacher) and are at a High Risk, follow your doctor's advice.
Kate Ulrich in 3rd part of half moon 
No postures should be done which cause compression on the diaphragm and heart.

In backbends, don't push hips forward of knees.

In backbends, stretch upward and back with the upper spine; when coming up
bend the knees to relieve back pressure.

Moderate heat is okay from the beginning. Separate feet slightly in standing poses.
Kate Reese in Seated Forward Bend  In forward bends keep knees open.

No head to knee pose, separate leg forehead to knee, or rabbit.

Also no cobra, locust, full locust, bow.

Rest on your side in between postures rather than on your back.

Long, deep, slow breathing in easy sitting position is relaxing for mom and baby.
Practice at about 50% of your capacity and never to exhaustion.
• Be sure to stay well-hydrated.
• Practice in a cooler area of the room or by the door. Feel free to leave class anytime to cool down.
• From the second trimester on, practice standing postures with your feet six inches apart for stability.
• No forward compressions or belly-down postures after the first trimester. Ask your teacher for modifications

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tip of the Week: Boost Your Libido!

By P.J. Stuart from Bikram Yoga AZ

Yoga...Nature's Viagra!

Va-va voom! Nothing fuels your body quite like Bikram Yoga does. Know what I mean? It’s no urban legend or old wives’ tale.  If you’ve been practicing for a while – you already know it, first hand.  Your whole system is working better. You love it … and so does your mate. Yeah … I see that smile.
“Whatever are you talking about, PJ?” you ask, innocently.  (Mm-hmm).
I’m talking about all that nitric oxide coursing through your veins, of course.

Ahem.  When this powerful gas molecule is released into your bloodstream, it relaxes the blood vessels, expands the capillaries and increases circulation. (See where I’m going?  Gentlemen, start your engines.)

Fortunately, for those of us who practice Bikram Yoga, there is ample opportunity to produce nitric oxide during class.  Going through the 26 postures of the Bikram series, we activate muscles in every part of the body. As with any type of exercise, those muscles demand oxygen, supplied by the blood.  In order to send blood to those areas more easily, when the need arises, nitric oxide is then released from the lining of the arteries.  Presto.

Some scientists call nitric oxide “the hero of human biology.” By dilating the artery walls, it enables blood to travel faster through the body.  One popular metaphor physicians may use is that of a fire hose.  As water rushes through it to put out a fire – the hose needs to expand enough to handle the pressure, still keeping enough force to put out the fire.
Thank you, nitric oxide, for treating our circulatory system the same way!

You can imagine – during a 90-minute Bikram class, as we send blood to all areas of the body, we produce a lot of nitric oxide.  This is what makes Savasana so delicious and restorative.  And in the bedroom, it’s what …  Well, you know the rest.  I won’t use adjectives there, but they’re good ones too.

I don’t want to get in any trouble with the pharmaceutical geniuses who decided to put the power of nitric oxide into a pill … but … wouldn’t you rather get your dose of Viagra the natural way?  Avoid the need for it all together?
That’s right … see you in class!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Tip of the Week: Be on Time to Class

Do your best to arrive to class with enough time to check in, change, lay down your mat and towel, and maybe even rest in savasana before the class begins. It's a much nicer way to begin your practice with a calm, clear mind than with a rushed and frazzled one.

If you do need to come a little late and enter the room in the middle of the first breathing exercise, just throw your mat and down without rolling and straightening them out so you can get right into the exercise. It's so important to at least get a few deep breaths in before you start the postures. 

If you come really late and the class has already completed the Standing Deep Breathing, most teachers will not allow you into the class. If you are allowed to enter, be sure to do a few deep breathing exercises on your own first even if the class has moved on to the first posture.

The golden rule of being on time is most important for newbies. Try to get there at least 30 minutes early to give yourself plenty of time to sign up, get dressed, settle down on your mat, and acclimate to the heat. Take a minute to introduce yourself to the teacher and let her or him know if you have any injuries that you're working through, so that she or he can guide you through the postures without exacerbating any issues.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tip of the Week: Avoid Your Cell Phone After Class

It's so tempting to grab your cell phone right after class. But you’ve just spent 90 minutes cleansing your body and mind, enjoy it. All day we’re attached to our electronics, computers, phones, Twitter, texts and email. Enjoy the peace of mind you’ve cultivated. Think of all the gifts you have in life, and all that you are thankful for. Let this be your goal for next class, and try not to look at your phone until you're back home.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tip of the Week for Tight Hamstrings

It doesn’t add up at first, but focusing on executing really good sit ups can really increase your hamstring flexibility. In postures like Standing Head to Knee and Standing Bow you might struggle with getting past your tight legs. By focusing on the pull and stretch at the end of each sit up, you will gradually open up your hamstrings and the standing postures will become easier. Take an extra moment to get a really good stretch at the end of each sit up. Bonus tip: work really hard in Pada Hasthasana (or Hands to Feet Pose, the first stretching pose in half-moon.)  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tip of the Week: Relax Your Mouth

It's common for many of us when first starting our practice to clench our mouths and tighten our faces as we try to learn the postures. Aggressive or competitive personalities especially tend to have this habit. We can also carry a lot of tension in our jaw muscles from anxiety, stress, and anger which can result in neck and shoulder pain, headaches, tooth pain, damaged tooth enamel, and TMJ syndrome.

Relaxation is hard work, but developing a keen awareness is the first step to overcoming the harmful habit of unconscious clenching of the jaw. Unless you are chewing food, your teeth should never be touching. Try to be aware of this especially during your practice. Keep your lower jaw relaxed as if it was hanging in a sling. Relax your tongue and remove it from the roof of your mouth. Keeping your lips closed, relax your lip muscles and stop making those funny strained faces in the mirror.

You might be surprised that as you focus on relaxing your mouth and jaw, the rest of your body and mind will follow.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tip of the Week: Standing Bow Pulling Pose

  • Be sure to start with the knees touching together to ensure balance.
  • Grab the inside of your ankle with the inside of your elbow facing out.
  • Bring your opposite arm up so that your shoulder is almost touching your chin.
  • Focus on one spot in the mirror, and don't move your eyes off that spot!
  • The standing leg is your foundation. Keep the knee locked with a firm contraction of thigh. If you don't feel that you have the balance to go forward yet, stay in this position until you have a firm foundation.
  • Use your glute muscle to kick all the way up, as you bring your torso down creating a perfect counterbalance. Always remember that, “kicking and stretching are 50/50, equal, simultaneous.” When you increase the force of your kick you must also increase the energy of the arm stretching toward the mirror to maintain your balance.
  • Feel your spine arching backwards as you kick and imagine that you are getting that same "tear drop" arch in your spine as Bow Pose laying on the ground. Even though you are stretching your body forward, you are also pulling your chest upward.
  • Keep your weight toward the front of your foot, watch that the weight does not move into the heel as you initiate your kick. 
  • Bikram’s dialogue says to touch the shoulder to the chin, not chin to the shoulder. Keep your chin lifted and extend the arm forward to bring the shoulder and chin together, helping to promote the proper alignment of the shoulders.
  • Keep your hips square and parallel to the mirror, the same as if you were doing the splits on the floor. Often when people start the kick, their hips get out of alignment which causes them to tip sideways and fall.
  • Don't let your kicking knee swing out to the side. The more you squeeze inner thighs together the more you can prevent this from happening.
  • Make sure you are breathing. When you inhale, try to lengthen the body and when you exhale try to go deeper into the posture.
  • Ideally your stomach, abdomen and chest are parallel to the floor, with both shoulders in one line from the side and both legs in one line like standing split. 
  • If you fall, good! Get back in again! The more you practice, the better you will become.
  • Remember that often it is our minds that give up before our bodies do.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tip of the Week: Yoga for Happiness

You likely already know that yoga is the secret to happiness. But the following article by Angela Pirisi titled "Yogis Score High on Happiness" in Yoga Journal provides some interesting studies and great reminders to continue with your yoga practice for life-long happiness.

No matter how much we lust after worldly objects and material pleasures, in the end, we all just want to be happy. But despite our efforts, happiness often eludes us. Now the ranks of science have stepped in to help unravel the secrets of this precious state of being. And they're discovering what yogis have known all along.

Happiness, it seems, has a biological component. Groundbreaking studies conducted by University of Wisconsin psychologist Richard Davidson over the past decade have shown that people who report high rates of happy feelings have a larger and more active left prefrontal cortex than their depressed counterparts. Other studies have concluded that happiness may be a matter of genetics. A 1996 study of 1,500 pairs of twins at the University of Minnesota found that, on a self-report happiness scale, adult twins were highly matched in their scores despite variations in income, marital status, and education. 

Happiness also seems to lie outside the limits of material wealth and life events. Winning the lottery may tip the emotional scales at first, but most people return to a certain grade of happiness within three months. This is nothing new to the practitioners of yoga. As Dr. R.M. Matthijs Cornelissen of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, India, explains, "In the Vedic tradition, ananda, or delight, is seen as being present in the essence of everything that exists. Happiness is thus not something that depends on what you have, but what you are." 

In fact, many studies suggest that yoga can effect positive states of mind, despite life's highs and lows. In 1993, a British team measured the effects of three relaxation techniques: chair sitting, visualization, and yoga and found that yoga resulted in the greatest increase in alertness, mental and physical energy, and lust for life. Likewise, a 1994 German study, which compared a group of women practicing hatha yoga to a second group that did not, found that the yoginis showed markedly higher scores in life satisfaction, and lower scores in aggressiveness, emotionality, and sleep problems.
"Yoga primarily changes your consciousness, which includes your way of looking at things," says Cornelissen. "In the process, many aspects of your physical functioning also change, including your brain chemistry." 

Whether we use yoga or some other self-affirming behavior, it's clear that even born-to-be-negative types can choose to cultivate happiness. Just as a bad mood can become a bad habit that perpetuates unhappiness, so can nurturing positive feelings lead to a more permanent positive state of mind.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tip of the Week: Get a Flat Stomach with Bikram Yoga

The belly is a prized area of the body for many men and women. When fat appears for various reasons, people are often led to exercise as a means to get rid of it.

Spot reduction of problem areas doesn't exist; if you only perform exercises that strengthen certain anatomical areas, you won't reduce abdominal fat. You need to eat healthy foods and perform regular aerobic exercise to lose all-over body fat. Performing the entire Bikram series will offer the overall health benefits this style of yoga provides with consistent practice, including a toned midsection.

One question that we often get from both new and old students alike is “Where are the abdominals in Bikram yoga?” It’s going to be different for each person and you certainly have to exert the effort and do the proper form to work the core (in any exercise – even crunches!). Regardless of the posture you perform, you should always engage your abdominals! What you’ll find is that Bikram is a nearly 90 minute ab workout!
  • Pranayama: in breathing, the stomach should be sucked in on both the inhale and the exhale; core strength is used to push the air out of the lungs and keeping the stomach in on the inhale helps the lungs work harder to fill, increasing your lung capacity.
  • Half moon: Half Moon pose strengthens all of the core muscles located in the abdomen and the sides of the torso and releases energy from the spine to prepare you for the rest of the Bikram series. Half Moon pose is the first pose of the Bikram series and is particularly beneficial for strengthening the abs. The first part of the pose prepares you for the backbend in the second half, which mimics the gut-busting reverse crunch, one of the top exercises used to tone the belly. With regular practice as part of a whole-body workout, expect the Half Moon to tighten your lower abs, waistline, buttocks and thighs.
  • Awkward: four times in this posture (in parts 1 and 3), the dialogue says something to the effect of “suck it in.” When you’re sucking it in that hard and trying to keep a straight spine, you can’t help but do some work in the abdominal muscles!
  • Eagle: twice here the “suck it in” revisits. Right before you sit and at the end of the posture.
  • Standing Head to Knee: another forward bend so definitely suck the stomach in before rounding down to grab your foot. Another benefit – the tighter you suck your stomach in, the easier it feels to tighten up your glute muscles and leg muscles.
  • Standing Bow: opens the diaphragm and lungs to improve circulation. When you properly engage your abs, this ordinarily difficult pose becomes easier; however, it may take several tries before you can balance successfully. When practiced regularly, this pose firms the abdominal walls, helping tone the upper and lower abdominals as part of a full-body workout.
  • Balancing Stick: every single muscle should be contracted in this posture, including the abdominal muscles!
  • Standing Separate Leg Stretching and Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee are both forward bends so suck the stomach to the spine as you go into them and then challenge yourself to keep it held in the whole time. The constant trying to keep it in is a great ab workout.
  • Triangle: trims the waistline as you use your abs and constantly lift from the lower belly.
  • Toe Stand: forward bend! Suck it in!
  • The Situp: need I say more? Ok, keeping the heels on the floor helps the situp work more of the lower abdominals as well
  • Spine Strengthening Postures: We tend to let our bellies relax in most of these and focus on our spine. But a strong spine must be balanced with a strong core. Cobra, Locust, Full-Locust, and Bow are just the poses to tone your entire midsection. And remember that a "tight body is a light body". The more you tighten your core, the easier it will be to lift off the ground.
  • Half-Tortoise: Oh yah, this is where it’s at. The whole way into and out of this posture, when you’re slowly lowering your body down or slowly bringing it back up with a straight spine, the core muscles should be working HARD.
  • Rabbit: the extra dialogue in this one definitely calls for sucking it in and depressing the abdominal wall (also another forward bend).
  • Separate Leg with Stretching: a forward bend where you curve your spine; sucking the stomach in on this one really helps you get your head closer to your stomach (more compression = more medical benefit!).
  • Spine Twisting: the more you suck your stomach in, the easier it will be to twist.
  • Blowing in Firm: the dialogue clearly states that this one is good for the abdominal muscles. You should even feel a little cramping in the abs as you do this one from using them to quickly blow the air out of the lungs.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tip of the Week: Let Go of the Things that No Longer Serve You

Are you holding on to things that no longer serve you? Ideas, expectations, desires, bad habits, false beliefs, unhealthy relationships, old injuries, judgements about your ability, self doubt? Many of these things carry over into your Bikram practice and hold you back from your true potential. The person who walked into the yoga studio today is not the same person who walked in yesterday. Every day, every moment presents an opportunity to create ourselves anew, to shrug off the baggage of the past, open ourselves up to the possibility of the moment and take action to create an incredible future. 

Are the things you're doing in your life making you healthier, stronger, happier and more powerful? Believe in yourself. Believe that holding on does nothing in fact but hold you back from becoming your best self. The following is an email we received from one of our students Sara Rodriguez who has learned the lesson of letting go. Sara is a regular student who recently had to take some time off from practicing due to some injuries from ballet dancing.

"I have every intention of getting back into the hot room as soon as possible. I can't even explain how difficult it has been to be away from all of you, to feel so separated from the practice that I have come to love as the better part of me. It's been a tough mental and emotional adjustment more than anything, as Bikram Yoga SLC has become my happy place--your beautiful studio full of such beautiful people showed me how to let go of everything that happens externally, for the internal journey is all that really is. I was able to take that from the hot room to the rest of my life, and it changed me for the better. I have struggled for the past month with not being able to fulfill that desire for inner peace through my physical practice. Even more so, I miss the energy at Bikram Yoga SLC--the way that each of you has a sincere love and appreciation for every person who walks through your doors inspires me on so many levels. This positive energy gives me the beautiful change of pace that I crave every day.

We all have a story; I truly believe that every one of us has this element of our past that comes with us wherever we go from there. Bikram has helped me learn how to channel that energy into something positive, no matter how negative the past may have seemed when it was the present. It has given me the hope that is vital to turning things around, the notion that one really never is too broken to begin again and discover the deepest potential for beauty. We can acknowledge the past, take it for what it is, and let go of the parts that don't serve us--that's what I am still trying to do every time I practice: do I really need to hold onto that muscle to achieve this asana? What can I let go to make this pose exactly what I need it to be? These questions apply in every situation: do I really need to hold onto that feeling or that event to be better, or will letting it go give me more room to grow?

As for my story, this is only another beginning. There are no ends, really. You are so right--this balance is the beauty of bikram, playing between holding on and letting go, because that's life."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tip of the Week: 50 Awesome Flavored Water Ideas

As Bikram yogis we know that we should be drinking water frequently throughout the day to stay hydrated during our practice. The following are some awesome ideas from for flavoring your water if you need a little tasty alternative to unhealthy sugary drinks.

The Health Education Council has launched the Rethink Your Drink campaign. They are encouraging healthy drink choices, like replacing sugar-sweetened beverages (think soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks) with water. Their goal is to read 8,000 pledges by the end of September.

As someone who constantly carries around a water bottle, I am on board with this campaign and immediately pledged to drink water instead of sugary drinks for the next 30 days. I know that for most other people, this would be a tough challenge. Many people drink soda everyday, or don’t think twice about picking up a Red Bull or a mocha. It’s shocking how much sugar is in pretty much any drink you can get at Starbucks. I don’t want to spoil your annual pumpkin spice latte, but seriously check it out and think about making it homemade or opting for water instead.

I came across this eye-opening photo online. I think it’s particularly important to watch what our children are drinking and eating. Do they need all that sugar in sweetened chocolate milk or soda? Instead, let’s encourage them to have water.

I know, I know. Water is boring. I hear people say that all the time. Well, not anymore! You can add tons of different fruits, veggies, and herbs to make water taste better. Fill up a pitcher, toss in some combination from below, and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours (the longer you let it steep, the more flavor you’ll get, but you can also enjoy it immediately).

Without further ado, 50 awesome flavored water ideas. I hope this gets you thinking outside the box and trying out more water.

    1. Watermelon
    2. Cucumber
    3. Lemon
    4. Cantaloupe
    5. Orange
    6. Cherries
    7. Lime
    8. Grapefruit
    9. Basil
    10. Mint
    11. Grapes
    12. Blood orange
    13. Rosemary
    14. Lavender
    15. Strawberries
    16. Blackberries
    17. Raspberries
    18. Pineapple
    19. Kiwi
    20. Papaya
    21. Honeydew melon
    22. Fresh ginger root
    23. Mango                                                                                       And don’t forget fun combinations of the ingredients above! Get creative and combine them so it never gets dull. The possibilities are endless but here are some of my favorites:
    24. Watermelon and mint (pictured above)
    25. Cucumber and mint
    26. Lemon and mint
    27. Cherry and lime
    28. Watermelon and cucumber
    29. Ginger and lemon
    30. Orange and pineapple
    31. Lemon and lavender
    32. Lime and mint
    33. Cucumber and lime
    34. Lemon and basil
    35. Strawberry and mint
    36. Blackberry and ginger
    37. Lemon and blueberry
    38. Thyme and blackberries
    39. Cucumber and rosemary
    40. Cantaloupe and watermelon
    41. Cucumber, lemon, and mint
    42. Lemon and lime
    43. Strawberry and basil
    44. Cranberry juice and lemon (use a capful of unsweetened cranberry juice)
    45. Ginger and lime
    46. Pineapple and mango
    47. Strawberries and lime
    48. Orange, lime, and lemon
    49. Lemon and a pinch of cayenne
    50. Papaya and mango

…and I could keep going. Seriously, there are so many potential combos!
For the herbs, crush or chop them up to get the best flavor. Similarly, squeeze citrus wedges, slice or cube melons, and crush berries.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

30 Days of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a buzz word lately; current research shows that it is an effective treatment for chronic pain and in my work as a mental health counselor, there are quite a few new evidence based therapies that have their roots in the concept of mindfulness. Clients know to ask to work with someone who "incorporates mindfulness" into their practice.  But so often, these same clients ask, "what exactly is mindfulness?"  

I am able to most easily understand mindfulness by narrowing it down to its three basic components; being present, aware, and non-judgmental. Acknowledging, and naming in a kind way, simply "what is".   It is the idea that when we attune to the present moment, we can find peace in the now; letting longing or sadness about the past and anxiety and stress about the future slip away.  Often, mindfulness techniques are taught through body awareness and breath work, as being present to the sensations of the body is one of the most accessible ways of being mindful.  Yoga is a mindfulness practice; being present to the body, aware of the breath, and non-judgmental about the asanas, the mind chatter, the instructor's voice...

easier said than done, right? 

A friend of mine recently did an experiment he called, "30 days of mindfulness".  The experiment entailed finding a book, quote, or image on a daily basis that for him invoked the spirit of mindfulness and he 'journaled' this experiment via Facebook.   He was amazed to find that his experiment not only had profound effects him, but also on those around him.  In talking with him about his experiment, I thought about my own practice of mindfulness; and those sacred moments where I find myself present, aware and non-judgmental.  Those moments that can feel so rare in the daily grind, but I savor in my yoga practice. Admittedly, I struggle the most with the concept of being non-judgmental.  If I were only able to let go of my prevalent self-criticism throughout my day...well, that just sounds downright heavenly.
What have you noticed about your own yoga practice? Which component of mindfulness is your area for growth?  Grab your mat, come into the studio, and do your own experiment; practice being present, aware, and non-judgmental.  See how this not only affects your asanas, but endeavor to take these qualities out of the studio, and see how it may have a profound effect on your daily life.


Special shout outs go to our students who have recently completed their 30 Day Challenges:
Isiah Iroz
Jessica Hawks
Kim Babka
Jeny Lee
Kelly MacArthur
Chris Van Oijen

60 Day Challenge:
Donna Mirabelli

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.