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Monday, December 22, 2014

Tip of the Week: Stretch Your Toes to Keep Them Strong

Your toes play an important part in maintaining your balance. Stretching your toes can reduce your risk of injury by increasing the overall flexibility of your toes and the arch of your feet. Here are some great tips for stretching your toes at home. Keeping them strong will help you with all of your balancing postures, and maybe even help you come up higher on your toes for the second part of Awkward Pose.

Simple Toe Fan Stretch

Sit on a chair or on the floor, or lie in bed for the easiest of all toe stretches. Use the muscles of your feet to fan out your toes as far as you can get them apart. Once your toes reach their max separation, hold the stretch for five seconds and then relax for five seconds. Repeat this stretch 10 times. It's easier to stretch warm muscles, so perform this stretch after a warm shower to enhance the stretching potential. 

Toe Tops Chair Stretch

Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground. If it's a simple four-legged chair or computer chair, keep the back of your thighs pressed on the seat of the chair as you further bend your knees to move your ankles under your chair and place the tops of your toes on the ground. Tuck your toes under your foot so your toenails are firmly against the floor. Push the top of your foot into the floor until you feel a painless stretch. Use your leg muscles to advance or pull back on the stretch. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds. If you're sitting on a couch, rest the ankle of your right foot on top of your left knee. Place your fingers over the top of your toes and pull your toes toward your heel.

Seated Toe-Foot-Calf Stretch

To perform this stretch, sit on the floor while holding a  towel with one end in each hand. With your knees bent, place the middle of the towel under the ball of your right foot. Extend your right leg while keeping your left knee bent with your foot flat on the ground. Pull the towel toward your body until you feel a painless stretch; hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat the stretch with your left foot. This stretch also benefits your calf muscles. Stretching your calves reduces concentrated forces to your feet, according to comfort shoe specialists.

Rubber Band Stretch

While sitting on the floor or in a chair, place one thick rubber band around both of your big toes. The thick rubber band used in the produce department of your grocery store for asparagus is perfect for this stretch. Slowly pull your feet apart as your big toes stretch because of the resistance from the band. Hold the stretch for five seconds and repeat 10 times.

Toe Lunge Stretch

Start this stretch by standing with your feet together. Step forward about 2 feet with your right foot and lower your left knee so it touches the ground. The cushions of your left toes stay on the floor under your buttocks while arching your foot, so you're sitting on the heel of your left foot. Place your hands on the floor to the sides of your body to help maintain your balance during the stretch. Lean your body forward against the upper thigh of your right leg, so your chin is aligned with your right knee. Your right foot is flat on the ground. As you feel the stretch in your left toes, hold the position for 30 seconds and then switch feet.

information by Melissa McNamara, eHow contributor

Simple Toe Fan Stretch

  • Sit on a chair or on the floor, or lie in bed for the easiest of all toe stretches. Use the muscles of your feet to fan out your toes as far as you can get them apart. Once your toes reach their max separation, hold the stretch for five seconds and then relax for five seconds. Repeat this stretch 10 times. It's easier to stretch warm muscles, so perform this stretch after a warm shower to enhance the stretching potential.

Read more :
it doesn't matter if you're a ballerina or a factory worker, your toes play an important part in maintaining your balance. Even with this important function, toes are often neglected during stretching routines and abused by uncomfortable footwear. Stretching your toes can reduce your risk of injury by increasing the overall flexibility of your toes and the arch of your feet. All of these toe stretches are performed barefoot. Before stretching, consult with your doctor, especially if you have a pre-existing foot injury.

Read more :

Monday, December 15, 2014

Tip of the Week: Class Etiquette


This is a nice review, especially since we have so many new students to our studio! 


  • Sign in for each class at the front desk.
  • Remove and put your shoes in the lobby area. No shoes are permitted in the changing rooms or practice room.
  • Arrive at least 10 minutes before class begins to get set up in the yoga room (New students arrive 15 minutes early).
  • Please bring only towel, mat, and water into the yoga room (no cell phones).
  • Avoid wearing perfume, scented lotions, and excess jewelry or watches.
  • Enter the yoga room silently. Practice and observe silence in the yoga room as students may be meditating.
  • Make sure you can see yourself in the mirror, but also be sure the people behind you can see themselves as well. 


  • Refrain from talking in class. Practice and observe silence in the yoga room. If you have questions for the teacher, please ask before or after class in the lobby.
  • Practice in the front row only when you feel you are ready to be a role model to those behind you.
  • Do your best to stay in the room once class begins. If you must leave, please let the teacher know and return between postures.
  • Focus on yourself in the mirror.
  • Practice stillness in between postures.
  • Listen to your body and take a break if you need to.
  • Try to refrain from drinking water until "Party Time" right after Eagle Pose. This will allow your body to warm up properly. After that, take small sips of water as needed but only in between postures so you won't distract those around you who may be in a posture.
  • Refrain from using hand towels to wipe sweat from your body during class. Your body cools naturally through perspiration.
  • Wait until the final savasana to use your cold hand towel that is passed out at the end of class. 
  • Have fun...and remember this is your practice.


  • Practice and observe silence after the final savasana. This is your time for meditation. Try to relax for at least 2 minutes.
  • Use a mop located at the back of the yoga room to clean up any sweat or water from your water bottle.
  • Leave the yoga room quietly by walking softly, rolling your mat carefully, and shutting the door gently.
  • Leave your cold hand towel in the purple bucket just outside the yoga room door. 
  • Bring rented towels and mats back to the front desk when you are finished with them.
  • Please be mindful of the time. Be aware of students coming in for the next class who might need your space if the class is full.
  • Take all of your items home with you (clothing, mat, towels, water bottles).
  • Thank your teacher before you leave, and feel free to ask any questions you might have.
  • Enjoy the peace and energy you have within you. Come back tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tip of the Week: More Great Back Bending Tips

Bikram Yoga SLC student Lori Stromness

So many great tips from Tomasz Goetel at Yoga Evolution Studio on back bending that we just had to share! You can find his blog by clicking "here". 

I hear often from students who practice Bikram yoga that their back hurts after class! That’s not very good news! I would recommend you look at the standing back-bend in detail, there may lie the cause.

First and most important: LIFT UP through the chest toward the ceiling to support your sacrum – make sure you don’t “crunch” into your lower back.

Secondly: proceed SLOWLY when coming in!

Ground the feet into the floor, engage your inner thigh muscles, contract the buttocks together, mula bandha active.
Lift your ‘heart up’, relax your neck, and let your head fall back. There should be a space at the back of the neck.
Keep your arms straight, look back (not up), and reach back.

Go slowly at first. Then, increase the intensity. Give yourself a tangible goal, each time you exhale – lift the rib cage up and reach back through the arms one inch, repeat with each exhaling breath. Hips press slightly forward, it is good to shift the weight back to heels, toes can lift off the mat. Legs must be straight at the knees. Inhale to come back to standing straight.


If you have a sensitive neck, it is okay to keep your head between the arms (ears and arms together). If you have a lower back issue/injury, place the palms of your hands in your lower back and drop your head back only as far as comfortable on your neck/lower back. The way to practice (and teach) this posture is “less at the beginning, more towards the end”. Don’t be frustrated, if you can’t go as far back as the others. The “back-bending” is one of the most advanced parts of Yoga posture practice.
Give yourself plenty of time, there’s no rush.
IMPORTANT: We need your pelvis in a neutral position. Tuck in the tailbone, drawing it down toward the back of the heels. Common beginner’s mistake: the tailbone/butt sticks out, then the lower back gets “crunched” and hurts the next day from inflammation!

Beginners tip: if you need to hold your breath in this exercise, that’s okay.


Here’s a GREAT KEY to standing back-bending: “Strong legs, flexible spine.”

Here’s another one: “Work from the feet up.” Ground the feet, engage the inner thighs, contract the gluts. You will eventually shift your weight slightly towards the heels.
The “strong” feeling in the legs and hips is the foundation of this back bend.

We’re lifting up through “the heart”, as we reach back out of the chest through the arms.
Learn to see the back-wall behind you, but instead of dropping back, continue lifting up through the sternum. Then, straighten out the elbows and squeeze you palms together flat.

If you like, hold the position a few seconds longer than the rest of the class, the come back up with control and go straight to Padahastasana with no unnecessary movement.
Intermediate tip: look BACK behind you, not up.


“Strong legs, flexible spine.” As you can already see the back wall, begin to relax your lower back. Drop the head even further back and begin to look for the floor behind you. Isolation: inner thighs engaged, gluts (buttocks) engaged AND lower back muscles relaxed!

Once you see the floor behind you – look for the back edge of your yoga mat. The next step is to see your heels, your arms will be pointing down towards the ground behind you.

Advanced considerations: the back-bends explore the heart-chakra and its psychology. Here we approach our capacity to give and receive love. The heart is the Yogi’s “mission control center”. Back-bends explore this area of ourselves and offer a tremendous contribution to our emotional development, and general well-being!

For Teachers

Common teaching mistakes: not giving the students enough time to do this backbend and/or rushing them in/out this pose. In my class, you’d have as much as 30 SECONDS to do this part of half-moon (10 seconds to set up, 20 seconds in the pose).
The most important – offer the following modifications:

  • Head between the arms for sensitive neck.
  • Hands flat on the lower back for back injuries.
  • Careful coming down to Padahastasana after the half-moon: bend the knees, hands on thighs on the way down to protect the lower back.
  • No back-bends in pregnancy. Teach active Mountain Pose instead?
Common Student mistakes:

  • Tailbone sticks out – bad for the lower back.
  • Eyes closed – danger of falling back.
  • Rushing into the pose (this is very common in bikram) – chances of injury, lack of satisfaction.
  • If your Students are getting lower-back pain from class, the first thing we must evaluate is the alignment of their standing back-bend.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Tip of the Week: Stay Healthy During the Holidays

According to a recent Weight Watchers report, the average American gains around 7-10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. This is through pure over-indulgence and gluttony. Moreover, much of this weight is maintained from thereon despite our promises to go on a diet in January.

Food and festivity will always be a major part of the holiday season - and there is certainly nothing wrong in that. However, the holiday season is also a stressful time for many of us, and we need plenty of energy and stamina to cope with it. It is therefore essential that we eat the right type of food with the necessary nutrients to give us energy and reduce stress levels. This is not to say that we shouldn't allow ourselves to indulge a little, but we should eat in moderation and maintain a varied diet.

Here are some tips for enjoying the holidays in a healthy way:

Narrow down your options  
If you attend a gathering that is offering a lot of sugary treats, find one or two of your favorite holiday goodies and enjoy them! After that, call it quits on desserts. 

Eat regularly

If you are going to a big party or dinner, don’t starve yourself all day in anticipation. If you do, you're in danger of arriving there feeling ravenous and eating everything in sight. Instead, consume a balanced breakfast (egg, toast, and fresh fruit) and a reasonable lunch (sandwich and fresh vegetables/fruit) so your blood sugar doesn’t drop and cause even more sugar cravings.

Be assertive

Don't feel as though you have to say yes to everyone that offers you food. If you are not hungry, then simply say so. Peer pressure can influence some of our food choices around the holidays, so be aware.

Prepare for outings

If you have some big meals planned over the holiday season, try to have as many routinely healthy meals as possible leading up to the event. Then when you attend the gathering you can enjoy all the special entrĂ©es and treats - within moderation. Many of us think that we might as well forget about healthy eating over the holidays instead of realizing that we shouldn’t forget all about our healthy habits. It’s a time to simply manage them a little more carefully. 

Do a 30 Day Bikram Challenge

Sign up at the studio to a 30 day challenge. Knowing that you're committed to practicing daily will keep you on track with eating routines. And staying focused on your practice will  keep your stress level down, especially during this hectic time of the year.