Tag Archives: Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga Confession: how I lost my practice.

by Barbora Simek

Forgive me Bikram for I have sinned, it has been 6 years since my last yoga challenge.

I don’t really know how it happened.

Image

My bow pose and I, 2010.

When I returned from teacher training I couldn’t get enough of the practice. Yoga was my life. All I cared about was doing the standing splits, touching my forehead to my toes, eating better, hydrating  more and sleeping consistently.

I didn’t eat dairy, wheat or sugar. I didn’t go out. I practiced five or six days a week. I taught 12 classes a week, sometimes 14, I hung out at the yoga studio. I journaled about the things I learned about myself in class. I didn’t drink.

But I was 19 Bikram! Just a kid. And I hadn’t let myself be a kid. There I was, hyper-disciplined, making yoga my life when it hit me: I wanted more.

I wanted to see what it was like to dance till 5am. I wanted to follow other career paths. I wanted to eat wheat and dairy. I wanted to be friends with more than my water bottle and naturopath.

Soon, the desire to escape my self-imposed discipline grew so strong that I started crying an hour before class. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to judge myself in the mirror. I didn’t want to obsess about standing bow or the amount of sugar in my diet.

I wanted a bit of freedom.

I blamed the yoga.

It was foolish, Bikram, I know. But it was so easy to point a finger at the most consistent and disciplined thing in my life: my practice.

I began to resent my standing bow. I stopped trying in forward stretching. I danced till dawn. I ate dairy and wheat. I began skipping class. I stopped being disciplined.

Days, weeks, months went by. It took me 3 months to want to be in the yoga room again. Slowly, inconsistently, I started practicing again. I didn’t love the hot room anymore, I was still mad at the practice. But I was trying.

After another year it became clear that it wasn’t the yoga, but it was me.

I began to understand that I wasn’t being true to myself. I had forgotten that I practice so that yoga can enrich my life but not become my life. I didn’t want to be a career yogi, but a yogi with a career.

I forgot to honour that I was both the girl who loved dancing and the girl that loved working hard.

In a way, diving so deeply into the practice taught me the most valuable lesson of all: that we must all follow our own path and stay true to our spirit. You talk about it all the time Bikram. How yoga teaches us self realization. How our practice teaches us to like and love ourselves.

And so here I am nine years into my practice, about to turn 26.

For the first time I am ready to love both parts of me, the girl that loves to stay up dancing until 5am and the girl who loves to eat fresh salads and work on her standing bow.

So I am trying again. I am ready to welcome some discipline back into my life.

For 30 days, I am going to show up and try. I will still drink lattes and eat pastries but I will also dream of standing bow and touching my forehead to toes. Let’s see what we can make happen in 30 days.

See you in the hot room, Bikram.

Love,

Barb

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Filed under Bikram Yoga, Diary of a Yogi, Yoga Challenge

Sweat the Small Stuff: a photo essay

by Barbora Simek (text) and Caitlin Hicks (photos)

Photographer and yogini Caitlin Hicks joins OMB with her stunning yoga photo essay. Hicks is a fourth-year photography student at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD). The images below are a part of her final project in which she photographs yogis of Bikram Yoga Toronto.

“In photographing this series, I aimed to get away from the idea of photographing each pose, instead I examined the intense form and focus that is required throughout the 26 postures,” said Hicks.

More after the Jump….

Continue reading

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An open letter to a new student on their first class

by Barbora Simek

Dear New Student,

Welcome. Like it or not you are now a part of the Bikram Yoga family. Whether today’s class will become something that is laughed about with friends and never attempted again, a daily routine, an occasional pass time or obsession, your experience today will stay with you forever. This means I have ninety minutes, and ninety minutes only to show you a practice I have dedicated a part of my life, my heart and much of my body to. So listen carefully, because this is important, this can change your life in ways you never thought possible.

I know the room is hot, and the poses are difficult. This is not because we are trying to prove something. This is because these specific elements: the postures, the heat, the mirrors, the style of teaching — are the perfectly combined to heal your body, heart and mind.

I know there are a lot of people. This is not because the studio is interested in a big pay-day. This is because the more we can practice together, the more we can share energy. Your neighbors will help you get through class, inspire you, become your friends and maybe even your future fiance (it’s happened more than once!) So be kind. Be patient. Because the more patient you can be with people here, the more patient you will be with them out there in the world.

I know my voice is loud. This is not because I want to dominate you. My voice is the best tool I have, along with the dialogue (the directions), to help you through your class today. When you feel weak, my voice will be strong to support you. When you are tired Continue reading

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Posture Clinic: Rabbit Pose

Rabbit Pose

Sasangasana

Rabbit Pose photo: Bikram Yoga San Antonio

The progression between Camel Pose and Rabbit Pose is one of the most stimulating and beneficial parts of the Bikram Yoga series. Both poses open the spine deeply, helping to stretch and stimulate the inter-vertebral disks. This helps to not only ensure proper spinal alignment but helps to maintain the spongy nature of the disks which helps them absorb shock from daily movement to prevent back pain. Highly theraputing for the nervous, skeletal, digestive and glandular systems this is pose that is difficult to master but well worth the effort.

Strengthens:
Abdomen

Stretches:
Muscles of the back
Shoulders
Scapula
Medulla Oblongata

Stimulates:

Thyroid
Parathyroid

Physical Benefits:
Provides maximum longitudinal extension of the spine.

Stretches the spine to increase proper nutrition to the nervous system.

Improves the mobility and elasticity of the spine and back muscles.

Helps balance and regulate metabolism.

Balances hormones.

Improves digestion.

Helps relieve glandular problems.

Helps improve conditions of the sinus, common cold and chronic tonsillitis.

Emotional Benefits:

Helps with depression.

Helps with insomnia.

Releases issues with taking on responsibility for the happiness of others.

Energetic Benefits

Opens the back of the heart chackra.

Posture Tips

Rabbit pose is one of the most challenging postures to master in the Bikram Yoga series. This is a posture where it is especially important to pay attention to the dialogue.

Always start with the right grip in the pose. The thumbs should be included with the rest of the fingers, thumbs on the outside, fingers on the inside.

Once you are in the posture, do not move to correct it. Fix the posture in the set up, not when you are in it. – Bikram

The biggest misconception beginners have about rabbit is that there should be no weight or pressure on the head. In fact, about 15% of the body weight should be in the head.

The dialogue will always encourage to lift the hips up, which is important to the pose. But it is important to never sacrifice the grip to get the hips higher. Remember,it is the grip and pull that create the force to stretch the spine.

If there is too much pressure on head, grab lower on the foot – Craig Villani

The harder you pull on the feet the better of a compression you will create benefiting the organs.

Try to eliminate any gap under the ankles and work to have the heels together through the pose.

While pulling on the heels, lift the shoulders away from the ears.

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Filed under Daily Feature, Posture Clinic, Posture Tips

Studio Sneak Peek: Bikram Yoga Hamilton/Dundas

Alexandra Evans opened the doors of Bikram Yoga Hamilton/Dundas early this November. This beautiful facility has been designed by a feng-shui designer for good flow and energy, features green appliances, an ionized-alkaline-PH balanced water filter, full shower rooms with lockers and the first headset microphone in Ontario. Such a beautiful space should not be missed, take a trip to visit Alex today!

The AMAZING ionized, alkeline water filter.

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Filed under Bikram Yoga Hamilton/Dundas, Daily Feature, Studio

Diary of a Yogi: A boxer stands alone on the mat

 

by Peter Wood

I’m 57 and I’m standing on a yoga mat. I’m in a Bikram Yoga class sweating bullets, more so than the middle-aged woman wearing a two-piece leotard on my left, or the thin young man in white shorts on my right. The room in cranked up to a hot 105 degrees and my heart is racing. My towel is sopping wet. I haven’t sweat as much since I was fighting in the ring.

I’m standing in a warm puddle of sweat and it brings me back to when I was someone else—that angry eighteen-year-old middleweight slugging other middleweights in Jersey City. Back then, boxing was my yoga. I didn’t realize it then, but punching felt good because it purified me of my anger, fear and hate. All of that negativity during every training session was good because it spewed out of my fists and never coagulated in my mind. Unknowingly, I was purging myself. Today, I have a smile in my heart because of boxing.

One big difference in this yoga class is that there is no coach barking, “Dig deep!” or “Get tough!” Another big difference is that, thankfully, I don’t see anyone in here who wants to punch the tip of my nose into the back of my brain. Now, it’s only me on my yoga mat beating myself up, gasping for air, pushing myself to stretch and strengthen my old muscles.

I’m new to yoga and I’m enjoying its gentle, meditative philosophy. Om, and its mind-body-spirit thing. At this stage of my life, I enjoy having a supportive teacher who is happy to guide me through various postures, while reminding me to breathe deeply through my crooked nose. I appreciate her encouraging me to release negative thoughts and to avoid all judgments. This gentler, more enlightened coaching is so refreshing. My old anger-fear-hate thing, which worked so well for me as a fighter, has no value here. And, quite frankly, there isn’t much left in me any more. After all, I am 57 years old. Continue reading

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Filed under Daily Feature, Diary of a Yogi, Guest Blog

Yoga and G20 protest: an open letter to residents of Toronto

Downtown Toronto is fenced in, boarded up and empty.

Plywood covers glass in preparation for the hurricane of fury that protesters have promised to unleash in the streets this coming weekend during the G20 summit. Packs of police parade the streets. Pedestrians clutch government issued identifications to gain access to their neighbourhoods and homes. Companies are closed for business. Liquor stores are on lockdown. Homeowners hold their breath, and keep a brave face.

Homes boarded up in Toronto in preparation for the G20 protests. photo: Barbora Simek

Trees have been uprooted, bus shelters removed, for fear that they will be used as weapons. Residents reel.

“What about our liberties?” ask some.

“When did I chose this?” ask others.

“What’s all the fuss?” say the rest.

Amidst the fury of rhetoric, threats, challenges, brute force, politics and protests, its important for us to stop and take a breath and get some perspective.

Torontonians weren’t asked if they want the summit.

Neither were those displaced from their homes by policies and politics in a majority of the world’s countries. Around the world, the displaced do not get fair warning, press releases and the courtesy of polite police officers. They are not put on lock-down preemptively to uphold their safety and the security of their homes. Their lives, assets and loved ones are the tallies by which warring factions keep score of their victories and defeats.

We are the small percentage of the human population that does not live on a precipice between life and death.

Perhaps rather than grumbling about the inconvenience of this summit, we should embrace the gift that we have to live in a democracy in which we and those around us have the ability to express our beliefs -regardless of whether we agree with how some of us chose to excercise the right.

As members of a free and democratic society, its my belief that is our duty to listen to each other, even when the message is relayed in a destructive and hateful way. There are a lot of issues that surround this summit, and many of the arguments made by protesters deserve good ears. Other messages may not have merit in our eyes or hearts. However, listening and considering the opinions of others is one of the foundations upon which democracy was built. If we can’t uphold the value among each-other, we certainly can’t expect our leaders to.

This weekend, I will be teaching and practicing and Bikram Yoga Centre in the downtown core, a few meters outside of the “traffic zone.” I will be nervous travelling to and from the studio. But my practice and my presence as a teacher will be my version of protest.

The great yogis believe that the violence, inequality and suffering in the world is a mere reflection of the imbalances and cruelties within us. Yoga teaches us to bring harmony into our bodies, into our lives, into our hearts.

“When your body, mind and soul are harmonious, you will bring health and harmony to those around you and health and harmony to the world – not by withdrawing from the world but by being a healthy living organ in the body of humanity,” writes B.K.S. Iyengar.

This weekend, I hope Torontonians will join me and practice their yoga so that we can all bring harmony to our city.

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Filed under Daily Feature, Letter from the Editor

Media Mix-Up

“My mother used to do yoga regularly, and once she tried Bikram, the kind of yoga where they dress in hot pants and heat up the room until your eyes melt,” so opens Lee Schneider’s consideration of whether we need to be cleansed to be spiritual.

Image by Jason Schneider courtesy of New York Times

“An Indian government body tasked with protecting the country’s rich heritage of medicinal and medical philosophy and practice has started filming hundreds of asanas – yoga poses – in an attempt to make a rigid system out of this most flexible of meditative practices,” reports Jason Burke for the Guardian.

Daily Global asks, “Are you cool enough for competitive yoga?” in their article about yoga competition.

Find of the week:

“The class has barely begun and it is not going well for Long Pants.  Bikram watches him while the rest of us continue with the posture, staring straight ahead, hoping that Long Pants will get it together. He doesn’t,” writes Kristina Chandler of her experience joining, struggling and surviving a teacher training class as a beginning student.

New York Times tells us the most ridiculous yoga behavior in their list of the worst yoga etiquette violations and in response, Social Workout facilitates a hilarious comment thread (filled with many Bikram nightmares) on the same topic. Everything from soda drinking, to shattered glass, to poor clothing choices and in-between.

Best of Bikram Blogs…

“What also surprised me was that first class back felt like home,” writes Eat the Yolk blogger about her return to Bikram Yoga after a 10 year hiatus.

“Even when you are feeling like you can’t possibly get up and walk out of the class at this point because you are physically and emotionally exhausted, when the teacher says something positive to you, you get a tiny bit of energy and you are able to pick yourself up. Amazing what you can do with just a tiny bit of energy!” reflects Marcia McGonagle upon week seven of teacher training.

Training updates come to us from Juliana at KeepItLocking, and from ThatsMyTri.

“Let’s get dirty… Just so you know, there are 2 types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber (oatmeal, oranges, apples, carrots, nuts) is good for absorbing toxins and regulating blood sugar. Insoluble fiber (whole wheat, leafy green veggies) prevents constipation and regulates pH levels,” writes Lori Givens on YoGotta Eat in a post all about fiber.

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News and Events: June

There are some great things cooking in hot rooms around Toronto  this summer, and we’ve got a list of this month’s hottest events.

In Toronto…

Sunday July 13th 6:30pm

Bikram Yoga Centre in partnership with Tim Ledger is doing a fundraiser class for the Friends for Life Bike Rally for the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation.

$30 gets you a week of unlimited yoga ($20 going to charity).

Click here for more info.

30 Day Challenges…

Bikram Red Tree

continues its challenge with challengers completing their 30 days on the 15th of June.

Bikram Yoga Toronto

kicked off their 30 Day challenge June 1st and is offering a special on the one month membership at $125 (tax in), it’s not too late to sign up!

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Teaching Clinic: Bikram Burn-Out

For all the eager trainees coming into the last weeks of teacher training, it is nearly impossible to imagine feeling stagnant and uninspired by Bikram Yoga. But for even the most devout teachers, after teaching for a few years (or months) burn-out is hard reality.

Joseph Encinia teaching photo: Bennie Shapiro

In a community that embraces, promotes, and rewards daily practice, doubles and a full immersion into all that is yoga, not feeling love for the practice becomes a burden that many carry in silence.

Vesna Jarcevic, owner of Bikram Yoga Red Tree thinks it is important to consider how burn-out effects us as teachers. “How are we going to explain to our students how to stay in the yoga room, or with Bikram Yoga for years, if we as teachers are having the same problem?” she asks.

For many, the answer is not always simple. In the Fall 2005 Teacher Training, Craig Villani said that most Bikram Yoga teachers burn-out after two years. Many leave teaching for other pursuits, scale back their classes or begin teaching other forms of yoga.  Still, there are those push to persevere through their doubts and seek ways to regain their inspiration.

Senior Bikram Yoga Teacher Diane Ducharme, recently identified three causes of burn-out on her “Bikram Yoga For You” Facebook forum :

  1. Teaching too many classes per week, sometimes out of necessity. Everyone has a number of classes they can COMFORTABLY and JOYFULLY teach. Stick to that if possible. You can always do more on a TEMPORARY basis, but take care of yourself first.
  2. Not maintaining a personal practice OR practicing too much like these 100 day challenges. First, take care of yourself.
  3. The most important one I’ve found is not teaching with the dialogue. This by far is the biggest reason teachers burn out. They go in there every day and “make it up.” That requires a tremendous amount of energy. Saying the dialogue is not only a meditation for the student, but also for the teacher. When you are not feeling your best physically, you can, with little effort, get in there for 90 minutes and say the dialogue and teach a very safe and good class.

A fourth reason why many teachers get burnt out is professional conflict. Spending a lot of time at the studio surrounded by co-workers often blurs lines of professionalism, making it difficult not to take things personally. This, coupled with low job security can make it personally challenging to deal with certain situations. If at all possible, it is important to communicate clearly with co-workers and owners and teach in studios with a positive work environment (often easier said than done).

For different reasons, falling back in love with the yoga can take time, patience and perseverance. Here are some tips from Toronto’s senior teachers about overcoming burn-out.


“Practice, practice, practice. The more I practice the more I love it. It helps the teacher/student connection while teaching, making it more meaningful for everyone involved.”Jocelyn Doyle, Bikram Yoga Toronto

When you get bored looking at the canvas,  it is often from focusing on the canvas as a whole.

In that moment step in, examine at a micro level, and find the one brush stroke that really grabs you. One that seems brand new- though you know you’ve seen it a million times. With this new-found clarity and understanding something seemingly small but exciting, you can start from scratch. And once again, you can behold something grand unfold on canvas before you.

What may seem daunting is the search of finding that first stroke.

But it is there; perhaps to be found in a word, sentence, or idea in the dialogue, a change within your own practice, or inspiration justly drawn from a student’s growth or accomplishments.

When you do find this new bud, growth begins again, and behind it may lie a whole new field of flowers …or as my pal Sting always tries to ram down my throat, perhaps even “Fields of GOLD.”Damien Smith, Co-Owner Bikram Yoga Toronto


Read Books.
Attend Seminars.
There is never enough time to say it all in 90 minutes!!
If you get “burnt out” or Bored..
Then YOU are BORING!!!!
Namaste’

Janice Guertin, Owner Bikram Yoga Forest Hill


I’m gonna sound like a Bikram broken record but….GO BAAAACK. Seriously, hitting up TT, a seminar or anytime with Boss has been the #1 revitalization in my teaching career. – Dana Moore, Co-Owner Bikram Yoga Toronto


Add a little GIN to your water bottle lie down at the front of the room in savasana and start teaching… Just kidding!

Some times we feel burnt out, but you have to remember why you are there: to help all the cranky, burnt out, lazy students that walk in that room. No matter how bunt out we are, our students are normally more burnt out than us!

As a teacher it’s always a good idea to tell your self you’re awesome because some one will always have something bitchy to say about your class. No matter what, love yourself and do the best you can that day! David Mook, Teacher: Bikram Yoga Toronto, Bikram Yoga Forest Hill, Bikram Yoga Centre

Visit Bikram studios other than the one(s) you’re usually at and take a variety of other teachers’ classes not only in the city where you live, but especially whenever you travel.
You’ll keep in good shape on vacations and gain many valuable insights from the variety of teachers’ experiences and knowledge you encounter all over the world! You’ll also be able to steal many many great jokes and pawn them off as your own.
Andrea Blakey, Teacher: Bikram Yoga Toronto, Bikram Yoga Forest Hill, Bikram Yoga Centre


My advice:

Accept that we are bored and have nothing anything against it.

To stay teaching (like to stay in the room when it is hot) and still be useful to those who need us

To get entertained by how bored we are and not to judge ourselves for it until the boredom disappears, and it will!

It will go the same way as it came.

-Vesna Jarcevic, Co-Owner Bikram Yoga Red Tree


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Filed under Bikram Yoga Centre, Bikram Yoga Forest Hill, Bikram Yoga Red Tree, Bikram Yoga Toronto, Daily Feature, For Teachers, Senior Teachers, Tips and Tricks