by Barbora Simek
Full Locust Pose
Ashley Hooper in Full Locust Pose image: Bikram Yoga College of India
“This is the hardest posture to improve. No matter who you are if you just struggle, you will get 110% benefit.” Bikram Choudhury
Lower and Upper Back
Muscles of the upper arm (deltoids, triceps)
Muscles of the upper thigh (hamstrings)
Benefits: Continue reading
by Barbora Simek
Bikram Yoga is obviously a very physical practice. Often, the physicality of the practice draws the ire of other yoga communities who centralize their practice around meditation. But anyone who has practiced Bikram Yoga for long enough, knows that consistent practice has a profound and lasting impact on the mind.
“One life time is not long enough to talk about life, one lifetime is not long enough to talk about the body, one lifetime is not long enough to talk about the mind, but the basics you must know.” Bikram Choudhury
The mind can be your best friend and your worst enemy. Bikram calls the mind your telecommunication system, the vehicle that sends messages not only to your body, but the world around you. “How you use [your mind] can make you Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, Gandhi or Jesus Christ,” says Bikram.
He points out that our mind is constantly feeding us information, “sometimes to satisfy you, sometimes only to satisfy itself.” To discipline the mind becomes one of the most important tasks in life, as it is the mind that will dictate what kind of life we will lead.
Our minds are constantly being inundated by wants and needs. “Sometimes we want but we don’t need, sometimes we need but we don’t want,” says Bikram. True discipline of the mind then, according to Bikram, is when you can make decisions based on both wants and needs accordingly.
There are many ways your mind is exercised in a Bikram Yoga class, but Bikram likes to break it down into five categories, otherwise known as the ‘five aspects of the mind.’
In one of my favorite articles of all time, Emmy Cleaves, a teacher of over 35 years breaks down why Bikram Yoga is so incredible. Enjoy.
January/February 2005 Volume 4/Number 1
By Emmy Cleaves
Bikram Yoga, sometimes also called “hot yoga,” is a system of a set 26 yoga posture sequence practiced in a room heated to 100+ degrees and lasting 90 minutes.
Bikram Choudhury, under his guru’s guidance and using modern medical measurement techniques, researched and arrived at this specific sequence of postures. The individual asanas are classical hatha yoga. Each classical yoga posture has a specific anatomical, neurological, physiological and psychological effect on the human body. The intelligence of any posture sequence determines the overall benefit of the practice.
Bikram introduced his unique style of yoga in the United States in 1971. During the first 20 years this style was taught only in his Beverly Hills studio, mainly to movie stars and athletes. Bikram was finally persuaded to start a teacher-training program, which opened up the system to national and international exposure. As of 2004 there are hundreds of Bikram Yoga studios throughout the world. In recognition of the unique nature of this posture sequence, the U.S. Trademark Office has issued a Trade Mark registration for Bikram Yoga.
by Barbora Simek
If the challenge of half-moon has ever left you asking ‘why the hell did am I putting myself through this?’ then OMB has your answers.
Half Moon (Ardha Chandrasana)
The goal of half-moon is to create lateral flexion (side bending) of the spine in a continuous arc that extends from the heels to the fingertips.
- Trims fat all over the body: thighs, hips, waist, buttocks, arms and abdomen.
- Improves and strengthens every muscle in the central part of the body, especially the back and abdomen.
- Increases flexibility of the spine
- Helps pigeon chest
- Helps release tension in the respiratory system
- Corrects bad posture
- Promotes proper kidney function
- Helps cure enlargement of the liver and the spleen
- Helps cure dyspepsia and constipation
- Helps to alleviate lower back pain, bronchial distress, scoliotic deformities, tennis elbow, frozen shoulder
- Realigns spine
- Stretches the lymph glands and is good for lymphoma
- Good for children to build will power and self-esteem
Proper alignment of half-moon exercises and opens many of the chackras.
- Aligning your hips opens the 1 (root), 2 (sexual) and 3rd (solar plexus) chackras. This breaks through issues of power, intimacy, sexuality, creativity and self-image.
- Opening of the shoulders activates the 3 (solar plexus), 4th (heart) and 5th (throat) chackras. releasing of the shoulder area helps to balance the difference you feel between your inner and outer self : how you see yourself, and how you feel the world sees you
- allows you to break free from taking yourself too seriously
Class Notes from the Pros
- You MUST use the hips. If you feel pain in the ribs or scapula, you are using your upper spine too much and not enough of your hips.
According to Craig, the two biggest mistakes in Half-Moon are holding the body up to avoid the pain of stretching and flopping down using only flexibility. Here are his tips to avoid these mistakes and improve your pose:
- Stretch up first as much as possible to open up the intervertebral disks [soft tissue between your vertebra]
- Your hips should initiate the movement because they are both your centre of gravity and prana [energetic center]
- Exhale as you stretch, gravity will help you. This applies to all poses that use gravity.
- Think ‘stretch’ instead of ‘come down’ so that the static arc of the posture will hold you up
- If you feel pain in your lower back, you have failed to stretch
- Instead of focusing on bringing the palms together, focus on stretching and lengthening which will automatically force the elbows to straighten and the palms to touch
Tips for Teachers
- Hold the first set at least 30 seconds, 1 minute is better. If the room is not hot enough, hold it approximately 1 minute – Craig
- Pay close attention to the order of the dialogue. “The dialogue is a set of variables executed in a sequence, each one must exist in order to allow the next to happen.” – Craig
- Say the dialogue once, make the students see themselves and repeat, repeat, repeat until they understand the pose – Bikram
- The first dialogue of half-moon is important because it establishes your authority in the class, and sets the stage for the students to surrender to the instructions. If you can make a beginner understand half-moon by second set, you can make them surrender. – Bikram
- Half-Moon is a very diagnostic posture, use your knowledge of the form to diagnose and anatomical inconsistencies affecting your students – Craig