If you're a heavy sweater (not the wool kind!) or practicing a lot (shout out to our 30 day challengers!) you may need a lil' sumpn' extra to replenish the electrolytes you lose from sweating. But first: what are electrolytes, anyway?
Science says multi-tasking makes your efforts less effective.
We're always telling you to stare at stuff in class, aren't we? Your knee in the mirror or your stomach or 4 feet on the floor in front of you.
A single point of focus is a tool you get to use not only for balancing, but also to quiet your "monkey mind" which likes to swing from thing to thing (mine sometimes even screeches or bites!)
With our phones and cars (not to mention kids, if you have them!) so many of us are almost always multi-tasking. Bad news, because it turns out multi-tasking is really ineffective and may actually hurt your brain.
The good news is, your yoga practice can help you hone the skill of focusing on Just. One. Thing.
Studies show that the more you practice mindful concentration, the better you'll get! For example, the results of a pair of studies in "Frontiers in Human Neuroscience" suggest that "brief meditation impacts attention even in novice practitioners."
Try in class: commit to tuning in to each present moment your main objective for one session. Notice how you feel afterwards. Then try it on a stressful day at work or when there's just a ton to do around the house: Pick one thing, focus on it.
Focus one point, eyes open and breathing normal. We have a feeling you'll feel better! But let us know how it goes in the comments below!
Especially if you practice Bikram yoga daily (shout out to you, yoga challengers!) it's critical to replenish your electrolytes and fuel your body with all the nutrients it needs. One of the most delicious ways to do that is by eating plenty of hydrating fruits and veggies. Here's one of our favorite go-to recipes, full of leafy greens and citrus. "Pro" tip: double the ingredients and keep the extra salad in the fridge for lunch tomorrow!
Ingredients for 2 servings
4 cups kale, thinly sliced in ribbons
1 can chickpeas/ garbanzo beans
1/2 avocado (use other 1/2 for garnish)
1 grapefruit, sectioned then cut in chunks
Tahini Citrus dressing:
1-1 1/2 Tbsp creamy tahini
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp maple (or agave) syrup
a few pinches black pepper
a few pinches cayenne (more if you like it spicy)
a pinch of sea salt
water if needed to thin it out
1. Add dressing ingredients to small bowl, whisk together.
2. Rinse your greens. Pat dry between paper towels and chop.
3. Rinse beans and toast briefly on a frying pan (optional)
4. Dice avocado, add to greens bowl. Set aside 1/2 of it sliced for garnish.
5. Add dressing to greens bowl and toss well.
6. Fold chickpeas and grapefruit chunks into greens.
7. Serve right away, or refrigerate covered for up to 3 days.
Adapted from the recipe at https://www.popsugar.com/Kale-Chickpea-Power-Salad-sweet-tahini-dressing-26959938
Cobra pose is the greatest for preventing and relieving lower back pain and tension! Practicing with impeccable technique will allow you to get all of the goody out of it. Check out this video for tips:
For more on the benefits of the Cobra, check out this post from way back! For more spine strengthening, come to any class on our schedule. ;)
Hi, I'm Matt! I'll be covering a lot of classes this month at BYSJ while Kay is on maternity leave. Here is a bit about me and how I came to be a Bikram yoga instructor:
I started Bikram Yoga back in spring of 2011 - I was the Chief Architect for one of HP’s Cloud product lines and found that my productivity, happiness and health were being impacted by my work stress. I knew I needed to find something powerful that would work on my mind as well as my body and deliver tangible results. I attended one class - was completely exhausted - but happy and at peace - and I knew this was exactly what I needed in my life!
I graduated from Bikram's Spring 2014 Teacher Training program in LA. My life has always had an element of teaching/mentoring in it - something that is humbling and rewarding, and having the opportunity to do this in the context of peoples health, wellbeing and - let's face it - life - is a huge privilege. In February 2015 I left HP to devote my time to being a full-time Bikram Yoga teacher.
I look forward to seeing you all in the hot room soon!
I have been practicing Bikram yoga for 1.5 years. My beautiful wife Sophia has been doing it for years, and seeing the difference it makes in her life made me want to try it.
I have gotten numerous benefits from Bikram, starting with the common, increased strength, stamina, pain relief and flexibility. More surprisingly, I have developed a better sense of listening, contemplation and patience. With all the physical improvements, I am most proud of conquering my mind.
Everything in my life has improved since I started Bikram yoga. Love, sex, relationships, work, even my tolerance of society. My skateboarding and surfing are more focused and I can target my aggression in productive ways. My Bikram yoga practice has helped me to improve my agility and recovery time, which has left me feeling like I have a long, long time to keep doing all the activities I enjoy. I think Bikram yoga is the key to longevity in all areas!
The thought I have in the room that keeps me going is: solace.
I want to thank Kay for this great honor of asking me to share my story, my wife for enhancing my life and the East Coast for making me strong. Love, Strength and Peace.
Any veteran, any time. Redeem in-studio by showing your military/veteran ID. Then simply keep showing up. ;)
Can you believe how much your thighs burn in this one? Or how hard it is to keep the straight leg from slipping? And then, the teacher seems to keep holding this posture forever! Good news: while Triangle is definitely challenging, it really doesn't have to be unbearable. Often, making one simple adjustment (such as the size of your step- see video above!) can completely change how much you love (or love to hate) a posture.
Triangle pose firms the thighs and waist, opens hips, and helps alleviate rheumatism, lumbago in the lower spine and frozen shoulder. Practicing this posture regularly helps correct chemical imbalances, relieves constipation, normalizes blood pressure and improves cardiovascular function.
By exercising the circulatory, digestive, immune, reproductive, respiratory and muscular systems, Triangle pose targets and benefits every part of your body! (That's why it's often referred to as the "master posture" and... maybe that's why it feels like your teachers hold it forever.)
Tips to remember:
Once your total foundation is in place, the next step is to move your both arms, making sure that the elbow is directly in front of the knee and the fingers are stretching down to touch between the big and second toe. Then turn your head and look up while stretching your arms in opposite directions. Simple, right?
Ok, you got us: it's a tough one! Remember that all you have to do is try the right way. Do the best you can, breathe normally and hold absolutely still without moving. That's it. Enjoy..!!
Want to learn more about the postures? Ask any of our certified Bikram yoga instructors, before or after your next Triangle pose. Attend class at least 2 to 3 times weekly to put your learning into action and make your body smile!
Dandayamana bibhaktapada paschimottanasana! This posture is not only the most fun posture to say the name in Sanskrit, but also a phenomenal stretch for your hamstrings, hips and spine.
Because of the upside-down position, this pose provides increased circulation to the brain, nasal cavities and adrenal glands. It decompresses the spine, relieving pressure on the intervertebral discs and the spinal nerves (including the sciatic nerve) as well as having a pretty incredible effect on your cardiovascular system (see below...)
Check out our video about how adjusting the size of your step can help you get the most out of this one:
Have you heard of a baroreflex? "Baro" comes from the Greek baros, meaning pressure or weight. So the baroreflex is one of your body's mechanisms which helps maintain blood pressure at nearly constant levels. When you hang upside down in Standing Separate Leg Stretching, baroreceptors in your arteries sense that blood pressure to the head is elevated, and this starts a rapid feedback loop which causes the heart rate to lower and blood pressure to decrease to a more normal level.
Lower heart rate and lower blood pressure is associated with a calming sensation in the body, amirite? Which, if you think about it, means the placement of this pose in our series is simply genius! I mean, you just completed Balancing Stick pose, which got your heart beating out of your chest. And you're just about to do Triangle pose... But first, you get to do Standing Separate Leg Stretching, to bring your blood pressure and heart rate down, so by the time you hit Triangle you're operating on a much more even keel. Wow!
What if you have sciatica?
In this pose, a special consideration for those with active sciatica is that the feet should not be "slightly pigeon-toed." They should be parallel to one another, or even a little turned out. This takes pressure off the sciatic nerve during the pose.
In 2009, I was diagnosed with spondylolisthesis, spondylosis and degenerative disc disease. I was told I would need to have a spinal fusion surgery or, eventually, lose all feeling in my legs. At the time, I was running marathons, extremely active and couldn’t fathom the thought of having surgery on my spine.
Understanding that running wasn’t going to be a long-term activity due to my diagnosis, and that I wasn’t ready to succumb to surgery, I began to explore more low-impact activities. It wasn’t until I tried Bikram yoga that I felt the physical challenge I was seeking in an activity that would not progress my diagnosis. In addition to the satisfying physical challenge, I found Bikram brought me significant mental clarity and focus.
As I began to increase the frequency of my practice, I found myself diving deeper to help manage emotional and mental health. At the time I started practicing I was struggling with various aspects of life and Bikram yoga gave me an outlet to support my emotional and spiritual well-being. I still don’t quite know what it is, but to this day when life feels draining I latch on to my yoga practice and begin to feel filled up again.
On the physical side, I haven’t yet had to resort to spinal surgery and still have all the feeling in my legs. In fact, each summer I go on a week-long 500-mile bicycle ride. Due to other commitments, I typically don't find the time to train. Despite this, for the past two years, I have been able to participate in these rides without significant struggle. Fellow riders are always shocked when I say I haven’t ridden my bike for more than 50 miles since the last year. I give credit to my consistent yoga practice for giving me the power, strength and mental agility to successfully participate and enjoy myself on these rides.
Today, despite numerous scheduling challenges, I make my practice a priority. I am proud of allowing myself to make the time and I (usually) don’t feel guilty about it. I now know, no matter how difficult it seems in the moment, each time I step out of the hot room I will feel more positive and be healthier than when I walked in.
Bikram Yoga St. Johns' studio owner, yoga-doer and life-lover, Kay D.