Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Trikonasana -- Triangle Pose

“Triangle pose this is the master posture of the series, perfect marriage between the heart and lungs,” says Bikram in many of his classes.

For many practitioners, triangle remains one of the most challenging poses in the Bikram series. The pose involves strength and flexibility and challenges a practitioners concentration with detailed movements that can make or break proper form in the pose.

What is happening in the pose…
Triangle is an intense hip opener that deeply strengthens the muscles of the legs. This greatly improves the stability of the body through strengthening and aligning the legs and hips. Because of this, the organs in the hip area (colon, kidneys, reproductive organs) benefit as do the associated chackras.

The twist through the upper body in combination with the deep opening of the arms helps to create length in the torso which helps provide adequate room for the organs in the chest to function properly. The combination of the twist and opening of the hips also helps to relieve back pain.

Finally, the deep challenge involved helps to build self-awareness, opening of the heart chackra helps to build authenticity and helps to connect you with the things you love.

Gluteus Maximus
Abdominal muscles
Muscles in the neck
Works all of the major muscle groups at the same time

Hip flexors
Spine and neck (through spinal twist)
Shoulder joints

The respiratory system
The cardiovascular system
Reproductive organs
Nervous system
Adrenal Glands

“When you improve your triangle, you improve your life 360 degrees: sexually, mentally, physically, financially, emotionally.” — Bikram

Physical Benefits…
An excellent cardiovascular workout, with very little movement.
Increases stability.
Tones arms, abdomen and thighs.
Builds better overall body alignment through strengthening of the legs.
Intensely stretches each side of the body.
Lengthens the spine, opens the torso and broadens the shoulders which allows proper function of other physiological systems (cardiovascular, digestive etc.)
Reduces saddle bags.
Good for frozen shoulder.
Helps regulate hormone levels.
Helps to build awareness of hunger, helping with eating disorders.
Helps with: constipation, colitis, low blood pressure, appendicitis, spondylitis, menstrual disorders.
Helps to balance adrenal glands and the production of the stress hormone, cotisol.

Energetic Benefits…
Opens Heart chackra.
Strengthens base chackra.

Emotional Benefits…
Helps to ground the practitioner through turning attention and strengthening the legs.
Builds overall body awareness and  self-appreciation.
Builds self-awareness helping to liberate the practitioner from emotional patterns.
Builds concentration.
Relieves stress and anxiety.

“Triangle is the key posture to bring faith back to the spirit,” — Bikram

Posture Tips
Take a BIG step…
Beginners often take too small of a step in Triangle. It would seem that a smaller step would make this pose easier, but truly the 4-5 foot step ensures that the final pose is properly aligned. When proper alignment is reached, a natural dynamic tension will help to suspend the posture.

Allow the hips to open…
In the pose the hips do not face directly forward to the mirror, instead they are slightly angled. The hip of the straight leg should push slightly toward the mirror so that the hips can sink deeper into the pose.

To prevent slipping…
Bikram says you should be able to do this pose on a block of ice, however most of us slip in the beginning. It is important to engage the inner thigh muscles to maintain the pose. Also, try focusing on pushing the outer edge, from the pinky-toe to heel, of your foot into the floor.

About the elbow and touching the toes…
“If I touch my toes, my elbow is not against the knee,” I said to Craig Villani during teacher training. “Point at your elbow,” he replied. I pointed directly at the point part of the joint. Craig pointed out that the elbow is not just the point of the joint but rather the entire area surrounding the point as well. The moral is, that your fingers must touch, don’t worry about perfect elbow alignment.

“Even if the hips are not flexible, you must touch the toes with the hand,” -Bikram.
Head and neck alignment…
The instructions in the dialogue in this pose say to look up to the ceiling, but the movement is more of a turn to the side instead of a look back. Always remember the objective of turning the head is to touch the chin with the shoulder.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Student profile - Lisa

Lisa always walks in with a great smile on her face! We wish her good luck with Bikram Yoga Journey - it is a great path to take!

Tell us about your very first Bikram Yoga class. When was it and why did you go?
My first class was October 17, 2011. My friend and I had been trying to find a healthy way to spend more time together. The month before we tried aerobics with a wag jag voucher and when we saw the Bikram Yoga voucher we were intrigued. I was hooked after 3 classes and my friend did not like the class. I never would have guessed that I would be able to do the hot yoga. I am shocked that I am so addicted to it.

How soon did you come back for your second class?
Our first class was on a Tuesday and I came back Friday and then several days the second week of my 30 day unlimited voucher.

What are some of the benefits you receive from Bikram yoga?
The biggest reward I get is that the timing of the 5pm class helps me not binge eat after work. Previously this time of the day was the worst for the amount of damage I did to my body by overeating.  Doing 90 minutes of yoga is the hardest workout I have ever given my body. Committing to this practice has mentally changed the way I think about food and I don't go home and eat badly after working so hard to improve my health. The physical benefits are an unraveling of several problems my body has endured over the years. To name a few, a severely sprained right ankle that has been bothering me for 2 years. Sciatic nerve damage in my right leg and hip, arthiritis in my tailbone from breaking it 2 years in a row giving birth 25 and 24 years ago. Three different tears in my left knee from a bad fall during a very competitive tennis game, 4 compressed discs in my back, and  finally constant strain in my spine and neck from all of the years of living with a lopsided tail bone. All of these problems feel like they are beginning to correct themselves because of the postures I attempt each day in yoga class.

What keeps you coming back for more?
The personal commitment to myself to  finally get fit and healthy.

What do you find most challenging about practicing Bikram yoga?
This is a tough question for me. Each day before class I try to review in the Beginner's book what to try to focus on with some of the postures that I want to do better. The tone and the rhythm of the instructor's  voice can add or take away from my own focus on working through the postures, so sometimes it is more of a challenge and takes away energy and sometimes the voice adds to my energy to focus on the postures.

What's your favorite posture?  Your most dreaded posture?
My favorite posture is the camel. I feel like I can do this better than any other and for the first month I was terrified to drop my head back that far. My most dreaded posture is the standing head to knee. My determination in most tested with this one.

An New Year's resolutions  for 2012?
To commit to my weight loss goals. 

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Recipe of the week - Estonian style crapes with cheese-garlic filling

If you decide to make them - you will love them!. In Estonia this filling is offered in one Crape place downtown Tallinn. In Estonia we call crapes  -  pancakes! Here is the recipe - should be super quick to make!

Recipe in a nutshell - make the batter - put it in the fridge for 30 min - grate cheese, mince garlic and mix them with mayo and sour cream. Cook crapes on the pan, both sides and then put filling on it and turn it into a pocket and fry until cheese starts to melt - DONE!

Ingredients for crepe:
2 cups of 2% milk
2 eggs
1,5 – 2 cups plain flour
a pinch of salt
a pinch of sugar
2 Tbsp. melted butter

Ingredients for filling:
6 cloves of garlic, minced (try mincing it your own, instead of the garlic from can)
¼ cup of sour cream
3 Tbsp. mayo
250g grated cheese (cheddar)

  • Whisk the eggs with sugar and salt. Gradually add flour and milk. Whisking in the center of the mixture, slowly draw the flour in until it is fully mixed. Then add the melted butter, whisking until smooth. The batter should be runny enough to thinly coat the back of a spoon; add a little more milk if too stiff. Let the batter sit for 30 minutes to an hour, covered, in the fridge.
  • Mix the sour cream, mayo, garlic and cheese. You can put it to fridge for 15 min, but don’t have to. Garlic will get stronger over time.
  • Coat a small nonstick skillet with a small amount of butter over medium heat. (Make sure the pan is hot.) Add about 1/3 cup of batter to the pan for a large crepe. Tilt the pan so the batter coats the bottom evenly. Cook until set, about 1 minute. Loosen the crepe with a spatula; flip over with the spatula. Cook the second side for about another minute. Then put 2 Tbps.(or as much as you want) filling on top of the crepe and cover it with the other half of the crepe and flip it again into a size you see at the photo in top! Wait till the cheese melts and then it’s ready to be eaten!


You can fill it with any kind of foods - ham, different cheeses, e.t.c. And for sweet lovers - very yummy is condensed milk and fresh raspberry one!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Paschimotthanasana - Separate Leg Stretching pose

Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Paschimotthanasana -  Separate Leg Stretching pose

This posture is like kryptonite for sciatica! That's because it stretches and strengthens those poor crushed and shriveled sciatic nerves, as well as all the tendons in the legs. It also messages the internal abdominal organs and the small and large intestines, and gives you added flexibility in the pelvis, ankles, hip joints and especially in the last five vertebrae of the spine.

This is the closest we come to inverting in the Bikram sequence, bringing our head below our heart as we move upside down in this stretch.

Start with the feet together. From here take a big step out to the right, approximately four feet. It’s important to set up with a wide stance here to make the pose easier on the hamstrings and lower back. Point both feet forward and stop the feet from sliding out by turning the toes in slightly and engaging the quads and inner thighs.

Keeping the legs straight and arms out to the side, we bend forward from here. Keep lengthening the spine forward, feel the weight in the toes and draw the shoulders away from the ears to encourage a long, straight spine. Grab the heels from behind stepping on all ten fingers. An easier variation if the hammies are not cooperating and the lower back is tight is grabbing the feet from the outside – still with all ten fingers.

By pulling on the heels and keeping the legs and spine straight, work on stretching the forehead to the floor. Keep looking on the floor in between the feet to keep the spine straight, keep the thighs super engaged to stretch the hamstrings safely, and work the core to support the lower spine.

If the forehead touches the floor easily, bring the feel closer together and keep drawing the torso closer towards the legs. If the floor is miles away, try widening the stance a little. Slowly come up with a straight spine – and keep it slow to avoid dizzy spells.

Latissimus Dorsi

Entire spine

Adrenal glands
Digestive organs

Helps to increase flexibility of the spine
Helps to relieve depression and memory loss
Balances the nervous system
Good for digestion, hyperacidity, constipation
Helps reduce abdominal obesity
Helps with diabetes
Releases tension in the lower back
Exercises adrenal
Exercises the reproductive system

Standing Stretching from Sara Curry on Vimeo.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Student profile - Peter M.

Peter is a person with many skills and hobbies.  He has a social media management business, he is a Recreation Therapist, a music producer and a DJ, but most of all he is a loving and friendly member of the community of Guelph, Ontario.  Peter loves Bikram Yoga and has also benefitted a lot from it!

Tell us about your first Bikram Yoga class … when did you go and why?
My very first Bikram Yoga class was in the summer of 2010.  I went because a Naturopathic doctor highly recommended it for my Rheumatoid Arthritis.

What was your impression of Bikram Yoga after that first class? Did you love it or loathe it?
I cannot remember the experience that I had in that first class I went to in 2010.  All I knew was that it was too hot, so I simply stopped going.  I started back up in the summer of 2011, but I knew that before I went to that first class again I was going to be doing it for a very long time.  Something inside me told me that I would be, it just took me a year to admit it to myself.  The second time around I went into it with a lot of respect and with a promise of dedication and trust.  The benefits that I received from the beginning were simply outstanding in every way as they continue to astound me on a daily basis making me feel like I have six senses. 

How often do you practice these days?
Right now I am practicing 3-4 times a week but my ultimate goal is to try and practice 5-6 times a week.  I am very excited about the February 4 x 4 challenge.  It’ s 4 days a week for thirty days.  I am trying to get to the point where I am going every day, so this will surely challenge me to go more often.

What are some of the most important benefits you receive from Bikram Yoga? Has it helped to improve your life in any way?
Having had Rheumatoid Arthritis since I woke up with it one day in ’98, the damage it has done throughout the progression of those years in my hands, feet and knees has been slow but steady.  Bikram Yoga has started to what I truly believe and feel is the reversal of the damage that has been done up to this point.  I feel that every posture is not only realigning my body, but it is strengthening and conditioning my joints back to optimum health as well.  Each day I can feel parts of my body letting go, physically and mentally releasing old tensions and old ways of thinking while allowing me to go deeper into the postures and deeper into meditation.

What do you find most challenging about practicing Bikram Yoga?
I find that the preparation is the most difficult thing about Bikram Yoga.  For me it is that voice in my head that I am trying to control that tells me "don't go to yoga today."  The only thing that helps with that is more yoga.  Also, getting enough water and electrolytes and eating enough nutritious food on a daily basis can be difficult sometimes as well, but working on an efficient routine really helps.  That is outside of the studio.  The most difficult thing for me inside the studio is different on a daily basis.  It all depends on what is happening to me physically and mentally that day. 

What’s your current favorite posture?
My favorite posture at the moment has to be Standing Bow Pose.  It has given me so many benefits in the past and it continues to give me flexibility, strength and it builds my concentration unlike any other pose right now.

What is your most dreaded posture?
My most dreaded posture has to be the U-turn from backbend to the forward bend in the Half-Moon Pose.  But, to be honest, it was hard for me to choose because I don’t even feel like I am present in class most of the time.  There is something about the mixture of the heat and the constant chatter from the teacher that helps me to go into a trance like state while still reaching for depth in terms of concentration and form in each and every posture. 

What are some of your New Year’s resolutions for 2012?
My resolutions for 2012 are to go to yoga more and to also get my loved ones, including friends and family, to come out to try Bikram Yoga and to see for themselves that the benefits are out of this world!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Great Yoga Videos

There has been many amazing yoga videos going around in Facebook and other social media sites. But I decided to gather some of them in here so people without social media sites can enjoy them as-well!

A morning yoga before going to work! Absolutely amazing!

Dancing with yoga elements! Wow!

Break ton Neck from Alex Yde on Vimeo.

30 day challenge - A studio in Australia interviewed their students during 30 day challenge

Bikram Yoga: 30 Day Challenge 2011 from Think Loco! on Vimeo.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Tuladandasana - Balancing Stick

Tuladandasana - Balancing Stick

One of the most invigorating and challenging postures in the Bikram Yoga series, balancing stick is a hugely beneficial to the internal organs and as a large calorie burner, helps to tone the entire body. Like standing head-to-knee and standing bow-pulling pose, bringing the chest parallel to the floor helps to stimulate and strengthen heart giving huge cardiovascular benefit. Finally, it requires extreme concentration and helps to release emotion and open the heart.
Anatomical Focus
  • Upper Thighs
  • Buttocks
  • Shoulders
  • Abdomen
  • Trapezius Muscles
  • Deltoids
  • Ankles
  • Hip Joints
  • Shoulders
  • Full Stretch of the spine
  • Pancreas
  • Liver
  • Spleen
  • Kidneys
  • Nervous System

Physical Benefits
  • Improves balance
  • Increases endurance
  • Increases lung capacity
  • Stimulates the heart and arteries, strengthening the heart
  • Helps to clear blockages from arteries helping to prevent future cardiovascular problems
  • Helps varicose veins
  • Burns fat (up to 300 calories during the posture according to Rajishree Choudhury)
  • Slims waistline and eliminates deposits fat on the body
  • Relieves tension from the spine

Energetic Benefits
Activates and opens the heart chackra

Mental Benefits
Improves memory and concentration

Emotional Benefits
Releases doubt and fear of giving and receiving love (by activating the heart chackra)
Allows you to open yourself to love and soul expression

Posture Tips
BREATHE This is especially important because you are working the cardiovascular system which is aided by the respiratory system

SUCK YOUR STOMACH IN, using the abdominal muscles in this posture will stabilize your core and will ultimately help you to balance in the posture.

Point your toes from beginning. After you step forward and before you bring your body down, lift your back leg one inch off the floor, and point your toes.

Improvement in balancing stick will help your locust pose and vice versa.

Tips from the Pros
The set up determines how well you will do the posture, lock everything before (knees, elbows, etc) so that you will have more stability in the posture

Lean back slightly in the set up to stretch the chest as you step into the posture 

Come down absolutely straight, and use your strength immediately - Bikram

Use your eyes to continue the stretch of the spine, the spine stays straight but the eyes look forward
At the end of the posture stretch forward a little more than you stretch back
Check out more posture tips from Bikram Yoga NYC here

Tips for Teachers
Keep the set up in a regularly paced tone, once the student is in the posture make the dialogue more energetic
“Sound is almost the same as solid matter. Voice and volume is tangible.” Craig Villani
Because of the intensity of the posture, you must increase your vocal energy and intensity to help the students complete and endure through the pose.
Put emphasis on stretching forward. Before coming to the repetition of ‘stretch, stretch, stretch’ at the end of the pose, make sure the final instruction is to stretch forward.
Correcting the alignment of the hips is a correction for intermediate and advanced students only, not for beginners

Balancing Stick from Sara Curry on Vimeo.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Recipe of the week - Sesame Honey Chicken

You like Chinese food but don' t know how to make it yourself? We can help you here :)

Sesame Honey Chicken

Serves four

400 to 500 g chicken breast fillets or boneless thigh fillets
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine or (medium) dry sherry
2 tsp sesame oil

For the batter:
4 Tbsp cornflour/cornstarch

For deep-frying:
groundnut oil or rapeseed oil

Honey sauce:
3 Tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 Tbsp good-quality ketchup
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp light soy sauce
3 Tbsp water

To garnish:
toasted white sesame seeds

Cut the chicken into 2 cm pieces.
Mix soy sauce, Shaoxing rice wine or sherry, sesame oil in a bowl. Add the chicken, stir and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.
Sprinkle corn flour over the chicken pieces to cover on all sides, shake off excess flour.
Heat couple of cm of oil in a small saucepan until slightly sizzling. Deep-fry chicken pieces, couple at a time, until golden brown on all sides and fully cooked. Put fried chicken pieces aside.
Combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and bring into a boil. Simmer for a few minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly.
Add the cooked chicken pieces into the honey sauce, heat thoroughly through.
Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
Serve with steamed rice or cooked noodles.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Bikram Yoga Challenge tips

In the month of February we are having our next all-together Challenge. You can choose between 4-for-4 (4 days a week for 4 weeks) or 30 continues days of Bikram Yoga. If you miss a day, you can double up!

Here are some tips for you from a lady who finished her 30 day challenge!

1. The more water you drink before class, the better you feel throughout the postures. Another note on water: never ever chug during class, even if you're seriously dehydrated - little sips will suffice to get you through the 90 minutes without making you nauseous.

2. Get to class 15 minutes early to secure a good spot and allow your body to relax into savasana.

3. With yogis of varying levels of expertise wobbling around you, it's important to have your own mantra for the balancing postures. For me, counting backwards slowly does the trick.

4. There will be good classes and not so strong classes, just like there will be postures you nail and others that are a work in progress - but the effort and focus makes it worthwhile.

5. Wear as few clothes as you're comfortable in, because it's really that hot, and you won't be the only one in running shorts and a sports bra.

6. The long, deep breaths in and out through your nose, though at first your last priority in class, quickly become the best way to sink further into postures.

7. Hold your stomach in throughout the class, especially on forward bends to protect your lower back.

8. Try. Even if it hurts.

9. Don't eat too much before class - a full stomach is worse than a hangover when it comes to Bikram.

10. Take a full savasana at the end of class - you've earned it.

A 30-day exercise regime isn't for everyone - it requires more mental drive than I suspected (forcing yourself out of bed on a lazy Sunday is no mean feat), but the rewards are so amazing!. I know I can handle this challenge, and now I'm wondering, what's next?