Ami has been working on regaining full range of motion for her knee, which she injured in a skiing accident last year. (This makes her like a lot of our students, who came to us in the first place to heal an injury or pain.)
How will Ami get her forehead on the floor in Half Tortoise? Watch and see!
I started practicing at BYSJ in fall of 2016 because I felt like my body and I were at odds. I needed a practice that allowed me to reconnect with myself. Since December 2015, I've been pregnant 4 times. The first three pregnancies have all ended with miscarriages. I was grieving the loss of those babies in unhealthy ways and I sought out yoga as a way to find my way back to peace.
Since practicing, I appreciate my body in a different way.
Like I mentioned, when I began practicing I felt at odds with myself. I was really self conscious and critical of my physical appearance, being overly critical of every lump and bump.
There's something a bit magical that happens when you stare at yourself for 90 minutes. Over the course of practicing I began to marvel at all the ways my body could move and how it carried me through the poses.
Even when it was hard, I learned that I could do hard things. This belief has carried over into my life.
I am proud of my consistency in practice. The yoga is hard, but I continue to come back because of the benefits. The best thing I receive from my practice is peace. My husband, Filip, has noticed a big change in my temperament. I used to have big, dramatic reactions to small things. I was filled with anger and would lose my temper quickly. I've always had a difficult time managing anger. Since practicing Bikram's I am much calmer, my reactions are less immediate and intense, and I am overall happier/ more optimistic.
My mantra in the room is just breathe. It's the only thing I tell myself I have to do. When it feels challenging to get to a class I just say, "show up and breathe." It makes it feel so manageable.
The effects of the yoga practice:
Physically, my posture has improved dramatically. I used to have a bit of a hunch, which I don't have anymore.
I have always suffered from pain in my right shoulder. This practice has really opened/loosened those muscles that were always so tight. Eagle pose works wonders.
But really, I practice for the mental benefits. It's the most important thing I do that keeps my mind peaceful; reduces my anxiety. I used to have crazy anxiety, I would need medication at times to manage it.
Since practicing Bikram's I haven't needed any anxiety medicine.
I practiced through my miscarriages. I would set up my mat in the back of the room and cry through most of the class. I was able to grieve my losses and let go of the pain through the yoga. It helped me get to a place where I could accept that perhaps motherhood was not going to be a part of my journey. Like I said, I could do hard things.
When I found out I was pregnant for the fourth time, I didn't want to live in the fear. I also didn't want to live in the hope. I just wanted to live in every moment. Fear represented the past. Hope represented the future. I really didn't want to place any of my energy in either of those places. I thought a lot about the impermanence of a situation. The only experience I wanted was the one I was currently in.
When I practice the yoga, the only thing I can think about is the current moment. Breathing through the pose, living through the pose. That's what I wanted for this pregnancy.
I am very forgiving with myself when I practice the prenatal series. I really listen to my own cues about how much I can do and what I need in the moment to take care of myself and baby.
Moving forward, postpartum, I want to continue to treat myself this way.
Diane Ducharme Gardner recently visited BYSJ and graced us with her wisdom, expertise and insight. Among the top "a ha" moments that students have been sharing they experienced at the workshop is this one: how to get into Camel pose!
How do you know it's right?
For any body!
Check out the video for the full demonstration of correct technique:
The key you'll want to remember is: when you hear the instructor say "go back halfway and stop in the middle," that does not mean bend back.
It means lean back halfway, using your strong thigh muscles, thereby decreasing the distance between your hand and the heel. If you approach the pose this way, almost anyone can grab the heels!
Once you have the grip on the heels (and don't lose it) you can push everything forward toward the mirror, causing the back muscles to engage and bend your spine evenly, creating 360 degree angle backward bending.
It feels so good when you do it right.
Even better, Camel pose boasts numerous benefits for your life outside of the yoga room, including:
Depth in any posture is a result of correct technique and time.
So it never matters how much you do, as long as you practice with consistent correct technique.
The beautiful thing about the instructions you hear in class is that they work for any body- stiff, flexible, injured, whatevs. But don't take our word for it. Now that you have seen a stellar example in the video, try following word by word with the correct technique in your next class!
Bikram Yoga St. Johns' studio owner, yoga-doer and life-lover, Kay D.