Tag Archives: Bikram

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

Building a Yoga Community

by Barbora Simek

Yoga studios are attract people from all walks of life, from doctors and layers to artists and community activists and in between. Developing a strong community at your studio can not only make the experience of your clients more rewarding, but can also drastically improve client retention. Here are five simple events you can use to kick start interaction between your students.

1) After Class Chat and Chew
Yoga afterglow always makes for fun conversation. Try  to stimulate after class discussion between students and teachers alike.

  • Encourage  teachers to stay away from the front desk and move into a communal area right after class, this helps bridge the student teacher gap and make asking questions less intimidating for newer students.
  • Help stimulate conversation with after-yoga snacks. Whether its a small fruit bowl or some treats, food is always a great way to encourage students to spend a little extra time to connect.
  • Take advantage of weekends! Get creative, make a fruit platter, chop a chilled watermellon, put out frozen grapes or make homemade iced tea. Even the most budget friendly and quick treats can go a long way to making your students feel special.

2) Anniversary / After-Challenge Party

Almost every Bikram Yoga studio has an annual or bi-annual challenge or throws anniversary parties. The end of a challenge is a great way to get students to interact and reward them for a job well done. At Bikram Yoga Forest Hill, owner Janice Guertin has perfected the after challenge party. Here are some great ideas you too can incorporate to your next challenge:

  • Promote your clients and local businesses with prizes. BYFH promotes community involvement in and out of the studio with a prize draw that features hair and nail salons, restaurants and massage therapists, nutrition consultations as well as clothing, mat and towel give-aways to promote internal retails.
  • A draw for a teacher prize, helps to make staff feel special as well.

    As an owner, make a speech. Encourage and inspire students by sharing your passion. Point out some individual student achievements from the  challenge by pointing them out to the group, this is a great form of positive reinforcement.

    Always document the party and make images and media available for students after class, so that students can get excited for the next challenge or studio event, and show off the community you invest your time, money and energy building.

Check out this great video made at the last BYFH 30 Day Challenge Party

3) Special Events
Whether your event is wild and wacky or casual, a creative special event can take studio spirit to a new level.

  • We love Bikram Yoga Lower East Side’s wildly successful “Hot-o-ween” Events. Owner Tricia Donegan  rewards the best costume with great prizes like yoga wear and memberships.
  • Bikram Yoga Darlinghurst runs movie nights on a projector in the studio. Screening documentaries and independent and encouraging people to stay after for discussions helps this studio engage their community outside of the studio and create discourse on alternative ideas.

4) Posture Clinics and Seminars

Help to improve your students understanding of the yoga, inspire people to practice more and grow your yoga community by running posture clinics. Have your most senior staff run a short clinic on a weekend, or invite a senior teacher to teach a seminar. Improving the knowledge of how to do the yoga and why to do the yoga stokes the fire of a strong community.

5) Karma Classes

Running a by donation class allows your studio to give back to the community outside of the studio. Some studios chose to lower their rates for these classes, while others like Bikram Yoga Richmond chose a charity to sponsor each month and donate proceeds to a cause that is announced in their monthly newsletter.

*Karma classes in Toronto happen each week at Bikram Yoga Bloor, Fridays at 8pm min. donation $10

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Filed under Bikram Yoga Forest Hill, Bikram Yoga Toronto, Studio

Diary of a Yogini: Bikram Yoga and Tattoos

by Barbora Simek

“Tattoos have served as rites of passage, marks of status and rank, symbols of religious and spiritual devotion, decorations for bravery, sexual lures and marks of fertility, pledges of love, punishment, amulets and talismans, protection, and as the marks of outcasts, slaves and convicts.” – Wikipedia on Tattoos

It always strikes me how yoga unites people from different walks of life. How the front row of a class can have a Rastafarian DJ, next to a CEO, next to a housewife, next to a graphic designer, next to a social worker, all working, sweating, breathing together.

But if there is one other thing that unites us in the yoga room it is the presence of body art.

Whether it is a small zodiac sign on an ankle, a traditional Celtic armband or an elaborate back piece, it seems that tattoos are the one uniting attribute of Bikram Yogis.

As lover of art and type, the idea of using skin as a canvas has always fascinated me, though I have always had profound reservations against getting a tattoo.

At the age of 17 my older brother walked into the kitchen and sat down at the kitchen table. As he turned his head a small beam light reflected off of his new nose ring. My mother fell apart, sobbed violently, screamed, shook. “You might as well pack your bags and move under a bridge,” she wailed. “No one will ever give you a job.”

A fiercely obedient 12 year-old, I sat on spying on the steps shaking my head at my brother’s foolishness. I swore a silent oath that I would not repeat his mistakes, I would not get into this kind of trouble when I was a teenager. Thus, body art remained out of the question for years.

Until I started yoga.

In hot yoga rooms I saw stars spilled on shoulders, family crests fill spaces between scapula, trees extend branches across shoulders and words circle wrists.

Then came teacher training.

My appreciation for body art grew with the animals that marched across thighs and pin-up girls that stretched in half-moon.

Then came Bikram’s lectures.

He ranted that the body was not ours, the body is a temple.

The way I understood his argument was this: the body is the house of our spirit. Because our spirit is everlasting, and the body is only temporary, the spirit is borrowing to body for this lifetime. Since the body is borrowed by the spirit, it is not ours to decorate or deface, it is ours to honor, cherish and maintain.

I understood, and understand, his position. But tattooing has been around for centuries, for many cultures tattooing is spiritual rite of passage. From Ancient Egyptians, to Celts, Queen Charlotte Indians tattoos were the marks of warriors, told stories, served magical purposes and were badges of honor. For thousands of cultures, the tattoo has served a purpose more spiritual than aesthetic.

For myself, I can say this:

Between sweaty towels, aching poses and cathartic releases, I have experienced moments of feeling infinite, spiritual, profoundly connected to myself and people surrounding me. Slowly, I have assembled a piecemeal spirituality. While I am still unable to define my thoughts and beliefs on the matter, while I still feel like I am searching, I can also confidently say that because of my yoga, I am a spiritual being.

As a result of that, I feel like there is a spiritual value to the tissues, synopses, and cells that make up my body. I do feel that my body is a temple. Not being an Ancient Egyptian, a Celt or Queen Charlotte Indian, I don’t feel I can claim that there is something profoundly spiritual and magic about choosing to colour my skin.

Photo credit: The Tattoologist Blog

So the question then remains: am I ready to decorate , or deface, my temple?

The answer: I don’t know.

For the first time in my life I have found a design, a decoration that I feel is worthy of etching on my skin. A coming of age symbol that summarizes both the place that I have come to as a woman and the direction I would like to see for myself in the future.  And so I find myself poring through articles, reviewing the opinions of the tattooed and un-tattooed and trying to assemble an opinion of what I think is right.

“If the body is our temple, then shouldn’t it be ours to celebrate and decorate?” said Dana Moore, a tattooed yogini and studio owner during our conversation on the matter. And I agree with her.

To me, tattoos should be rites of passage, decorative milestones, celebrations of our bodies, experiences and stories.

The decision I made as a little girl was made out of fear of other people’s opinions: my mothers’, my peers’, my teachers’. As I grow into my own I realize more and more that their opinions are not so scary, and while they are important to me, their ideas of what my body should look like are not the ones I need take to heart.

I am not sure yet whether I chose to wear ink will permanently mark my skin, but I do know that the little girl who sat on the steps at 11 years old and swore to never mark her skin has changed her mind. Or, rather, has opened her mind to new possibilities.

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Filed under Diary of a Yogi

Posture Clinic: Standing Head to Knee Pose

One of the most dynamic and challenging postures in the Bikram Yoga series, here is OMB’s breakdown of standing head-to-knee.

Standing Head to Knee Pose

Dandayamana Janushirasana

Huiping Mo, Bishnu Ghosh Cup Champion demonstrates standing head-to-knee pose. photo: Bikram Yoga College of India

Anatomy:

Contraction of :

Compression of:

Extension of:

The proximity of the heart to the floor, puts pressure on the muscle, exercising the heart through elevating the heart rate.

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Filed under About Bikram Yoga, Benefits, Bikram, Bikram Yoga Toronto, Posture Clinic, Posture Tips, Tips and Tricks