I've been practicing Bikram yoga since I was a 20-something in nursing school. After about 3 months of taking class 3-4 times a week, my whole life started to change. I'm not sure there is much outside dancing and breathing that I have 'stuck with' for the past 20 years!
There are so many benefits I have received from Bikram yoga. Balanced mood, resolve to face life’s disappointments, better sleep, more energy in my body, less pain, more coordination. If I’m practicing 3-4 times a week: my cellulite will (mostly) go away, my cravings for sugar, caffeine and alcohol (mostly) go away. I’m suddenly ravenous for huge bowls of salad, sautéed spinach and hummus. People start telling me my skin looks incredible, and to be totally honest, sometimes after class I feel like I’m glowing from the inside out, bones to skin. My body is happy and my mind follows. Oh, and sex! Can't forget that good ole' sex drive that most definitely comes into play with good hormonal balancing… TMI? J
I have a pretty 'serious' neck injury - it's a tear in my spinal cord called a syrinx and I get migraines/headaches because of it. When I practice consistently my overall body pain is lessened, my headaches are much less often and I feel I am 'more stable' overall. I drink so much water when I practice consistently, and I know good hydration is a huge factor in my wellness.
The people who love me most have started practicing yoga too, because they see how significant the impact has been in my life. Those who are closest to me always ask (from my partner to my mother to my best friend) if things seem amiss, 'have you been getting to yoga?'
Everyone in my life knows how important my practice is to me and they encourage it because I'm nicer, I laugh more and I'm not bitchy when I take care of myself. Taking care of myself for 90 minutes several times a week allows me to be the engaged, present partner and mother that I want to be.
I am naturally flexible in my body, so Bikram offers me a lot of chances to build my strength. Being determined to do it is where the growth happens, that for me is where I know I can face anything (dishes in the sink I'm coming for you!) Being 'determined' to hold my self accountable to giving my best (whatever that is, and sometimes that's having a 'gentle' class so I don't worsen a sore back or pop my spinal cord open!) My determination to honor my body and the messages it is giving me - that keeps me in the room.
One of the things I love the most about Bikram is that is constantly surprises me. Who would imagine that a class where you do exactly the same thing every time could offer a lifetime of surprises?! Since my body is different every day and each teacher or class provides new opportunities for understanding, it never gets boring.
I’m so happy you have a studio that is so warm and welcoming I want to bring everyone in my life there! Thank you for having child care and making it a place for my whole family! I'm so grateful to my husband who now practices too, and that has really turned Bikram yoga into something we do/are as a family.
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?
UPDATE: in addition to Elete (and coconut water of course!) BYSJ now proudly stocks Superieur electrolyte powders. We love their fresh flavors and their "farm, not pharm" ethos.
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.
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!
Bikram Yoga St. Johns' studio owner, yoga-doer and life-lover, Kay D.