Don't miss attending our Posture Clinic with Josh on Saturday, October 13! Free for BYSJ members, $20 everyone else.
We're so excited to offer a more consistent class schedule, so you can maintain your regular Bikram yoga practice with ease. Now you'll have time to eat breakfast, drop the kids at school and still make it in for your you-time, every dern day that you want.
Are there other class times you would like to see more of? Comment below, we love to hear from you! (Of course, the best way to encourage us to add more of a class time is... show up- and bring your friends!)
The stick is quick! But you don't necessarily have to be...
Tuladandasana is only 10 seconds. Besides which, it's the only time in class where your instructor will even voice a "time constraint" on a posture! If you're someone who often feels like you are constantly running a race against the clock, just the idea of that might get your heart sped up. But try not to let yourself feel rushed or under pressure. After all, 10 seconds can feel reeeeealllly long in Bikram yoga! ;)
Balancing stick raises your heart rate for sure, because balancing on one leg while bringing the body and leg parallel to the floor is demanding! Your heart steps up to work hard bringing oxygen-rich blood to all the muscles involved. Some claim this posture even stretches specific arteries of the heart. (We don't know of any open-chest studies done on this one, so it's really hard to say!) Without question, though, in Balancing Stick you are stretching your body. And you're using your own strength to do it, which is where you start to work the balance. Balance always refers to the balance between flexibility and the strength to support that flexibility.
Intensity and depth, as mentioned in our video, can vary greatly from person to person and day to day in this pose. It's critical to listen to the messages your body sends you, even (or especially) during such a short posture. Because it's really tempting to "throw yourself in" to this one when the teacher claps and says "step forward." Instead:
Be sure to take the time to breathe, use your breath to sustain length, and set up the form of the pose correctly using the coordination of all the participating muscles. Don't worry, even if you take a moment (or a month) longer to come down in the posture than the rest of the class, you will still have plenty of time to hold it at your maximum available that day. And if you've set it all up correctly, you'll probably be able to hold it longer! Remember: precision of alignment is always more important than depth.
BONUS: For some fun photo inspiration, follow Bikram yoga teacher Changu Changezi's group Tuladandasana Everywhere. Changu loves to do this pose... well, everywhere. ;) And you can submit your photos, too!
I started Bikram yoga when I was 39, feeling my body aging, still smoking, and scared of getting old and being sick. I suffered from depression most of my life and had been recently diagnosed with ADHD. Turned off by the many side effects of the medications being prescribed, I was interested in how mindfulness and yoga could help with rewiring the brain. Then a friend of mine turned me on to Bikram yoga while we were training for marathons. I loved the heat and the challenge, so I kept on going back.
I need discipline and good orderly direction to feel balanced in my life. Bikram yoga to me is like an ever-present life coach, always kicking my butt back into line when I have become too indulgent, too distracted, or too lazy. A bonus of my practice is that my friends say I look about 10 years younger than I am! When I am hurt, going to yoga helps me heal faster. I had a shoulder injury, and some inflammation in my elbow that were a bother, but when I stepped up my frequency, the pain went away. My pain flares up now and again, but now I know it’s just an indicator I need to get to class more often!
This past year I have experienced a great deal of grief and pain, but the one thing I have been most able to rely on is my yoga practice. It is unwavering and brings me great relief to know it is always there for me. Recently I have found myself crying in class, but Kay tells me that just happens sometimes. Yoga people (like Kay) tend to be loving and accepting, in my humble opinion after a few years of observation. I feel safe in the hot room and I can allow myself to cry when I’ve been holding onto things too long.
Yoga helps me to release and accept pain without taking it personally. Yoga has also helped me come to terms with myself completely. I am more able to accept all the parts of myself… experiencing depression, distractability and a very busy mind, as well as all of the great aspects. I understand myself more deeply through yoga.
One of our most favorite guest teachers, Audrey Holst, returns to BYSJ on September 14-15 for a superspecial 2-part event! Check out this video from last time she was here...
Audrey's "Fortify Your Foundations" class will have plenty of gems along the lines of what you see in this video and more: including how to practice sustainably, no matter if you are flexible, stiff, strong, loose, new, experienced, whatever. Her Moving Beyond the Postures workshop on the 15th will explore the incredible impact of breath and mindfulness on your yoga practice. Audrey lives in Massachussetts, so this is a rare opportunity to get to soak up some of her awesome energy. Click below to find out more and reserve your spot!
Last December, I bumped into Natalie (who I later found out is a longtime Karma Yogi at BYSJ) at a Garcia Birthday Band show. She stuck a buddy pass in my hand and told me I should go to yoga. It was a wild night and Natalie seemed like a cool lady, so I decided to check it out. I had no idea what I was getting into! At 65 I had never been to a yoga class. Now I do Bikram yoga every day...
In 7 months of daily practice, here is what Bikram yoga has done for me:
I wanted to share my story especially for other people with fibromyalgia who think there is no answer besides expensive medications with tons of terrible side effects. For me, Bikram yoga gives me relief of my symptoms without all of that other stuff, and it makes my life better in so many other ways too. You've got to give it a try!
With temperatures in the 90s this week, summer is definitely here! Are you wondering whether it makes sense to turn the heat up even more by coming to hot yoga class? You may be asking yourself if you even have the energy for it. Your friends and fam may be looking at you funny if you mention where you're headed when the thermometer outside is reaching the triple digits... So is it worth it? Short answer= YES. Here are just a few reasons it is:
Exercise scientists have been researching the benefits you may already be experiencing! Here's a study that explores how “Exercising in the Heat May Improve Athletic Performance in Cool and Hot Conditions.”
As Bikram yoga teachers, so many students tell us this one is their "nemesis!" And we get it. SHTK not only requires you to use a ton of physical strength and stamina to develop your own flexibility, it also calls upon 110% of your will power, integrity and mental fortitude to stick with it, try the right way and not give up. The good news is, by using those aspects of your body and of your character you are building them up, and they (like this posture) will only get better with practice.
Health benefits include:
How to do:
Standing Head to Knee can be best understood by dividing it into a progression of stages or steps. Keep in mind that while we identify 4 main "steps" in the posture, there are a bazillion mini-steps along the way, and any one of the steps may take you weeks, months or years to master. For example, between grabbing your foot and locking both knees, you may find your maximum expression of the posture somewhere in-between for quite some time. No worries: as long as you try the right way and you don't give up, that's the ultimate destination!
*You want me to lock my knee??
Yes. But let's make sure you understand what we mean by that. In Bikram yoga, to "lock the knee" means 3 things: Straight leg (full extension of the knee joint) + thigh muscles (including quads) contracted + body weight even on the foot. Check out our post on the subject for more!
Eyes and abs!
Balancing on one foot is a big challenge for many beginners. Remember that your 2 best friends on your "balance team" are your abs and your eyes. So always keep your abdominal muscles pulled in firmly, and maintain your one point of focus on your standing knee throughout the posture.
Breathing properly is key. If you’re working on Step 1, simply breath normally with an engaged core. If you are kicking out into Step 2, inhale slowly by the nose while you kick your leg forward. Take another deep inhale when your both knees are locked and exhale as you bend your elbows down for Step 3. Take another deep breath and slowly exhale again as you tuck your chin to your chest for Step 4. This focused breathing keeps you calm and maintains oxygen moving through your body to feed your muscles. It also assists with the stretching and rounding of your spine and ribs.
Finally, the real secret to mastery of Standing Head to Knee is: attitude. Relish every step of the magical journey, because every step has something to offer your body, mind and soul. And more than anything, this posture demands that you activate and cultivate the connection between those! That's part of what makes it so tough, and that's also what makes it so... yoga.
Bikram Yoga St. Johns' studio owner, yoga-doer and life-lover, Kay D.