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Monday, February 22, 2016

Tip of the Week: 10 Things a Yoga Teacher Learns About You in the First 5 Minutes

on rodalesorganiclife November 19, 2015

                               PHOTOGRAPH BY JACK RADCLIFFE/GETTY

Have you ever wondered what is running through your yoga teacher’s mind during class? Is she eyeing you up and down, calling out in her head everything that’s wrong with your health? What exactly does she know just by looking at you and your practice?
And what other intel are instructors privy to? We tapped some of our yoga teacher friends to find out just what they can say about you and your health based on your practice.

1. What Other Sports You Play


For example, runners often have tight ankles and struggle with postures that involve sitting on their knees, such as Bikram’s Fixed Firm and Child’s Pose.

2. If You've Had Knee Injuries


The signs? You’re hesitant to put all your weight on one leg, you struggle with balancing postures, and you’re reluctant to straighten your knees.

3. You Might Have A Weak Lower Back

If you go off into a corner to start Savasana early while everyone else is doing backbends, you probably consider the area above your sacrum a trouble spot.
Pro tip: Teachers say that more back injuries actually occur from forward bends. 

4. You're Type A


Being overly ambitious and pushing through poses beyond your current ability—a telltale sign that you’re a Type A personality—will likely end up hurting more than helping. But remember: Some of the most beneficial poses aren’t necessarily the acrobatic ones. In some traditions, Savasana offers the most benefits to body and mind. 

5. You've Had Too Much Caffeine


If you’re fidgety, falling out of balancing poses, and constantly looking around you, too many cups of morning coffee might be the culprit of your lack of focus.

6. You Are Hungover


If you’re extra slow to get into postures, can’t keep up with the flow, and are taking frequent breaks, you’re likely suffering from a late night out. (The other telltale sign is the smell of booze that oozes from your skin.) 

7. You're Having a Bad Day


Teachers say that not looking in the studio mirror at all throughout class is a sign that you might be feeling a little down in the dumps.

8. You Need to Poop


Wind-removing poses (lying on your back, hugging knees to chest) and inversions (Shoulderstand and Plow) are the most likely triggers for passing gas in class. 

9. How Often You Practice

Are you eager to hit the mat when you get to the studio? Do you move through postures with ease? Do you geek out about yoga in the lobby after class instead of planning post-yoga drinks? If you answered yes, then you’re likely a frequent yogi.

10. You’ve Got A Big Head


If you move too quickly through poses, constantly look in the mirror, and appear to be in competition with the people around you, you might be guilty of being egotistical.

on rodalesorganiclife November 19, 2015

Monday, February 15, 2016

Tip of the Week: Breathe Clean Air!

We were graced with a storm this last weekend which helped to clean out some of the pollution in our air, but our air quality in Utah is still far from great. Practicing Bikram yoga in our state-of-the-art fresh air system is much safer for your respiratory system than any outdoor exercise.

There was a Salt Lake Tribune article from Jan 4, 2016 titled "Running a risk: Is it safe to exercise during a Utah inversion?" It states that according to Robert Paine, a pulmonary physician at University of Utah Hospital, when people exercise, they breathe faster to bring more air into their bodies. Anything in the air small enough to bypass the respiratory system's natural defenses also comes in with each breath, so those who exercise outdoors when the air quality is poor get a much bigger dose of pollutants — making 3 miles feel like 6, lengthening recovery time and increasing one's risk of having a heart attack that day. And exercising repeatedly in bad air could possibly lead an athlete to develop asthma.

Below is a previous post of ours titled "Tip of the Week: Breathe Fresh Air" to remind you why it's a good idea to come and let your lungs breathe fresh clean air for 90 minutes in our studio. Ahhh...

With the air quality in our city being so poor lately, have you wondered why you actually find it easier to breathe in the studio? This is because our studio at Bikram Yoga SLC has a specialized fresh air and heating system that is the perfect marriage between fresh air, heat, and humidity. We have developed a state-of-the-art fresh air system that pumps fresh air along with consistent heat and humidity. We have made every effort to care for the health of our yogis by ensuring that the air quality in the studio is well oxygenated, properly humidified and disinfected from harmful germs.

At Bikram Yoga SLC the room is always being pumped with fresh oxygenated air! We knew there had to be a better system than simply closing the doors and turning up the heat. We've gone through great lengths to maintain the air quality in our studio within a healthy range.  Our fresh air system pulls air from the outside, and goes through a large complex filtration system, eliminating all airborne bacteria. This fresh air is pumped through the system along with consistent heat and humidity. The result is fresh air that doesn’t smell and is not full of harmful bacteria. 

Ever wonder why Bikram Yoga SLC does not smell badly?  We have spent the time, energy and expense to make sure that our classes never smell and that you are breathing the freshest cleanest air possible. Our clean air system will greatly reduce CO2 levels and eliminate and destroy: bacteria, odor, mold & mildew, viruses, V.O.C.’s, cleaning chemicals, smog and other airborne pollution. 

The benefits of a clean air environment are enormous. Clean air will help prevent colds and influenza, prevent headaches after class, provide relief from asthma, hay fever and sinus problems, reduce fatigue, and breathing problems, and relieve sore throats, runny noses, wheezing and sneezing. Practicing yoga at Bikram Yoga SLC will  have a dramatic effect upon your physical and mental well being.

Where is the coolest spot in the room? Unlike other studios that are thermostat controlled where there are hotter and cooler spots, our studio does not have this problem. Due to our system, there is a consistent temperature of 105 degrees and 40% humidity every minute of class, regardless of the number of people in the room or how hard they are working. Instead of a thermostat that just switches on or off, we use sensors in the room that can sense accurately the temperature and humidity in the room, and give instant results. Everything works on a bell curve, to instantly increase or decrease fresh air flow, heat and humidity depending on class size. The speed of the motors is always changing during class.

All is computer controlled with accuracy down to the hundredths. All of the variables are computerized with a software program written specially for us so we can monitor our system and see that the temperature, humidity, and fresh air is always consistent. We can see that as the students are emitting more heat and breathing harder in the cardiovascular series, such as Standing Head to Knee Pose, the motors of the system begin to speed up to pump in more fresh air and remove the bad air. At the same time, the heat in the room is being decreased. The system knows what's happening in your body before your body can even sense it. The CO2 levels are kept to a minimum, and you are able to breathe easily.

So the next time you're in class and you hear the teacher say, "inhale" can really "INHALE"! You will be oxygenating and energizing the cells in your body with very fresh, healthy air.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Tip of the Week: Adapt to Your Challenges

Whatever your views are on yoga competitions, the feeling of inspiration will be undeniable after reading about a couple of these determined yogis. Both were awarded first place in the women's division for their state in the USA Yoga Mountain States Asana Championship. 

Kira Brazinski, who has a prosthetic leg, hopes to motivate someone who may have lost a limb or who has a disability to try yoga. "For me, really for everyone, yoga is about modifying and adapting to your body's strengths and challenges."

Our very own teacher Charese Peterson, from Utah, in the past had struggled with addiction to painkillers and had insomnia and anxiety prior to practicing yoga. "It's not a competition to prove you're better than someone. It's more to spread awareness for yoga, and you never know who you may be saving."

The full article from Jackson Hole News & Guide is below:

A contest with a greater purpose

Posted: Wednesday, February 3, 2016 4:30 am
Gasps of astonishment echoed from the walls of the Pink Garter Theatre on Saturday when Kira Brazinski lifted her prosthetic leg toward the ceiling to complete adho mukha vrksasana, the Sanskrit name for a yoga handstand pose. In fact, the final posture the Jackson resident assumed during the USA Yoga Mountain States Regional Asana Championship earned her a standing ovation and first place in the women’s division for Wyoming.
One person who rose from his seat was judge Abhinav Sagar, who said Brazinski’s strength and determination defines yoga.
“It was beyond imagination,” Sagar said. “It really touched me. I had never seen something like that before.”
Sagar believes that yoga competitions are about connecting the mind, body and spirit in order to inspire. He surely felt inspired by Brazinski.

The champion, however, had a different opinion about yoga competitions when she first heard one was going to be hosted in Jackson.
“It seemed like it was defeating the purpose to make yoga, which is something focused around acceptance and nonjudgment, competitive,” she said.
Once she got on stage to execute six asana postures in three minutes, Brazinski had a change of heart.
She realized it wasn’t about proving she had more talent than the other competitors. It was about encouraging audience members to hit the mat to try their hand at the discipline.

Brazinski, who was born with one leg shorter than the other, hopes that her demonstration Saturday will motivate someone who may have lost a limb or who has a disability to try yoga, which she says is a practice anyone is capable of doing.
“For me, and really for everyone, yoga is about modifying and adapting to your body’s strengths and challenges,” the competitor said.

Brazinski, who teaches at Inversion Yoga, wasn’t the only one who participated Saturday with hopes of motivating people to try yoga. Charese Peterson, a competitor from Ogden, Utah, who finished her three-minute routine in a deep backward bend known as full camel pose, wanted people to witness how yoga had helped her.
“I was struggling with years of addiction to painkillers,” Peterson said, “and I had anxiety and insomnia.”

After the winner of the Utah Division started practicing yoga on a regular basis she no longer felt she needed to take painkillers or antidepressants.
Like Branzinski, Peterson feels that yoga competitions have a larger purpose.
“It’s not a competition to prove you’re better than someone,” Peterson said. “It’s more to spread awareness for yoga, and you never know who you may be saving.”

Dien Huynh, Colorado’s first place winner, said he participated in the championship to connect with the yoga community.
“It’s awesome to go back, meet new people and mesh in with the community,” Huynh said. “It reinvigorates me and motivates me to set goals for my practice.”

He also learned quite a bit from yoga. Huynh said he never thought he was capable of doing a split, but yoga taught him that his body can do much more than he originally thought.
For his last posture Saturday, Huynh completed the standing splits.
Though all contestants were judged on strength, flexibility and balance, Sagar said that the competitors’ willingness to participate made everyone a winner.
“They all won because they already overcame so much just by signing up,” the judge said.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Tip of the Week: Don't Become a Hunchback!

The following by Kevin Perry at ExperienceYoga offers up some compelling information on why bending backwards is so important for avoiding kyphosis or "hunchback". The supported chest opener he suggests at the end is a good idea for getting the feel of how you should be using your shoulder blades in backbending postures in your Bikram practice (or sitting at your office desk or standing in line at the grocery store!)

Never say "never."

I once told my yoga students no one ever bends backward in ordinary daily life. For instance, you don't do "the limbo" to pick your socks up off the floor. Of course, you don't.


But we bend forward all the pick things up, to look at the computer screen, even to put our pants on in the morning.

I think, because we constantly bend forward and never bend backward, I see a lot of people with "rounded backs," or kyphosis. When the upper back is bent dramatically forward, it's called hyperkyphosis.

obvious examples of kyphosis

"Kyphosis is a curving of the spine that causes a bowing of the back, such that the apex of the angle points backwards leading to a hunchback or slouching posture." That's what the medical dictionary says. This is what it looks like:

Our spines were constructed to bend backwards. But you've got to do it. If you don't use it, you lose it.

I started this message by reminding us all to "never say never." I learned this lesson (once again) in church about a year ago. Up until then, I frequently made the pronouncement that no one ever bends backward in everyday life.

Then I saw it. The woman just ahead of me was holding her baby on her hip. Rather than turning around, she continued to face the front of the church, bent backwards and reached down to pick her baby's pacifier up off the pew.

People really do bend backwards in real life! When you look up at a bird flying overhead, you bend back. Sometimes when you reach for something on a high shelf, you bend backward.

Probably the most common backbend I see in real life is the posture of an expectant mom. As the baby gets bigger, moms bend backward to counter-balance the ever increasing weight of the baby. Here's an illustration that exaggerates the point:

 You might be surprised to learn, however, that you can bend backward and still slouch. Yes! You can lean back and still have your upper spine slouched forward into that kyphotic shape that crowds the internal organs, makes breathing difficult, and dooms you to a future of neck pain.

Look at these pics. When people lean back, they still collapse their chests!

You can lean back and still round your upper back. See the shoulders rounded forward?

 See how he's leaning back, but rounding his upper spine and neck forward?

To get all the benefits of backbending you've got to learn to lengthen your spine (lift the breast bone away from the navel) and dig the bottom tips of your shoulder blades into the back of your ribcage. That action--using the shoulderblades--transforms posture and opens the chest.

When you do it, you relieve compression on your organs and breathing comes easier.

I think the best way to get the feel of using your shoulder blades for backbending, or in regular upright posture, is practicing the supported chest opener. Sometimes I just call it lying over a rolled up blanket, as shown here.

It may take some getting used to, but you'll eventually love this practice. Enjoy it. Feel yourself breathe easier when you come out of it.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!