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.
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.
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.
Bikram Yoga St. Johns' studio owner, yoga-doer and life-lover, Kay D.