Monday, 30 April 2012

Rabbit Pose - Sasangasana

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 therapeutic for the nervous, skeletal, digestive and glandular systems this is pose that is difficult to master but well worth the effort.

  •     Muscles of the back
  •     Shoulders
  •     Scapula
  •     Medulla Oblongata

  •     Thyroid
  •     Parathyroid

  •     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
  •     Helps insomnia
  •     Helps with depression

Posture Tips (from
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.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

Start up on your knees, with six inches between both the knees and feet. Support the spine by placing the hands on the back of the hips, with the fingers pointing down.

Keep the elbows drawing in towards one another and let the shoulders roll back. This way we start with an open chest, reversing the slouching tendency that many of us habitually have.

Inhale and lift the chest, exhale drop the head back. Inhale again and lift the chest, exhale and arch the torso back more, using the hands to support the spine.

It’s important to keep the chest lifted throughout the pose to minimize the compression in the lower back.
Are your hips forward and lined up above the knees? Then bring the right hand down to grab the right heel, followed by the left hand and left heel, with the thumbs on the outside and fingers inside.

If your hips collapse back and you sink into the spine as you grab the heels, be patient, keep the hands on the hips and keep lifting the chest.

Keep arching the spine back and work the hips forward whilst lengthening the tailbone down towards the floor. Be sure that the body weight hasn’t sunk back into the heels and hands by constantly lifting the chest.

The breath is our best friend, especially here in Ustrasana, where emphasizing the exhalation can help. If you’re feeling the intensity of the pose and freaking out, breath. To go deeper in the pose, breath.
Hold for 20 seconds with deep breaths and allow the heart to open and lift.

Reverse out of the pose by bringing the right hand to right hip, then the left hand to left hip. Press the knees down and use abdominal strength to lift and straighten the spine up.

  • Trapezius Muscles
  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Erector Spinae

  • Rib cage
  • Diaphragm
  • Throat

  • Respiratory System
  • Cardiovascular System
  • Nervous System
  • Endocrine Glands


  • Tones and stretches muscles and nerves attached to the spine
  • Compresses spine, relieving back problems
  • Good for diabetes
  • Helps with spondylitis of cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine
  • Helps with bronchial problems
  • Improves flexion of neck and spine
  • Flushes fresh blood through kidneys
  • Helps eliminate toxins
  • Good for vocal disorders
  • Helps with genito-urinary disorders of the kidneys, urinary bladder, ovaries, testes and prostate
  • Helps gastro-intestinal disorders: constipation, colitis, dyspepsia, liver and gall bladder problems

Our studio on film!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Student Profile - Letter from Stephan Liu

Bikram Yoga Vancouver shared an amazing story with us!

One of our most incredible student stories comes from Stephen Liu, who, at the age of 86, was convinced by his daughter, April, to try Bikram Yoga. Read the letter that Stephen wrote about his experience in the hot room, and see why he serves as a living testament to the statement: “Never too late, never too old, never too bad, never too sick to start from scratch once again.

Yoga and I

An 86-year-old retired professor of English Literature, I have survived seven months of jungle warfare in North India (WWII), two strokes, one full hip replacement and numerous gout attacks. Our life span, the Bible says (Psalm 90), is 70 to 80 years. Thus, my days are numbered. I have, however, no fear of death, the ultimate oblivion, the un-awakening sleep or perhaps a trip to Heaven to see my Lord Christ. What troubles me most is the inevitable return of my infant stage, “Sans eyes, sans teeth, sans taste,” feeding from the cold hand of a stranger nurse, breathing in wires and tubes, powerless to live or die, a nagging burden for family and society, a laughing stock for Confucius: “The lingering life of an old man is that of a thief.”

While sinking deep in the hopeless abyss, Shakespeare’s voice came to my rescue: “The miserable have no other medicine but only hope.” So I hoped and waited until Hamlet uttered in his melancholic tone, “The hot yoga is the only thing in which you stand firm and tall, like a king.” After much quibbling and arguing, I finally slumped after my willful daughter into a Bikram Yoga room, attending Master Danny’s class, where I sweated cats and dogs on the floor, where I toppled and dropped, where I cursed my stiff legs and grumbled before my God, and was on the verge of quittingthe struggle for good. But then the cliché saying – “No pain, no gain!” – came to challenge me, and along came Mencius’ resolution: “If someone can practice something once, I will practice it a thousand times.” So I didn’t quit and tried to learn the art of yoga. A few months passed. Surprisingly something happened to me. It’s all new and exciting and encouraging. My days of struggling and sweating were not in vain

After doing my yoga, I ate better, slept better and focused on things better. I also had more energy and a stronger will to fight the darkening moments of my depression. I realized that doing yoga may not bring back the “rosy cheeks and lips” of my youth, yet it will surely slow down my aging process and help me recover my lost confidence and joy of life as I chant once more Robert Browning’s song, “Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.”

Too often inside my private little cosmos, in the silence of night, the voice of my late father, once a follower of a Shaolin warrior monk, returns to revive my sleeping soul:

Never, never a quitter be oh my son,
Fight your battle before the day is done;
For a higher aim and stand you fight on,
Look around and hear the cries, my brave one,
You’re not alone, oh my son, you’re not alone!

Here is link to the original article: 

Thank you so much Bikram Yoga Vancouver for sharing this amazing story with the world!!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Half-Tortoise Pose (Ardha-Kurmasana)

Start in a kneeling position, sitting on the heels with the feet and knees together. This kneeing position alone can be difficult, be patient and the ankles and knees will start to cooperate.

Raise the arms up overhead and bring the palms together, thumbs crossed. Keep the spine straight and the arms straight throughout the pose.

Inhale stretch up, and exhale slowly bend forward in a straight line from the tailbone to the fingertips. Stretch forward all the way until the forehead touches the floor and the sides of the hands reach the floor

Engage the arms and straighten the elbow so much that the wrists, elbows and triceps lift off the floor, and keep sliding the fingertips forward.

To create a deep spine stretch, simultaneously reach the buttocks back to the heels. Keep using the abdominal muscles and eventually the buttocks will touch the heels throughout the pose.

With the arms stretching forward and the hips reaching back into the heels, bring the chin forward and away from the chest. Relax the shoulders and breath, and enjoy the deep stretch along the back.

Hold for 20 seconds.
Come out of the pose the same way you worked into the pose – slowly, with the hips reaching back to the heels and the spine and arms straight.

To prevent the spine from rounding and buckling as you move in and out of the pose, remember to use the abdominal muscles.

  •     Shoulders
  •     Deltoids
  •     Scapula
  •     Trapezius
  •     Latissimus Dorsi
  •     Hips

  •     Abdomen
  •     Quadriceps

  •     Pituitary Gland
  •     Pineal Gland
  •     Hypo-thalmus
  •     Lungs


  •     A rejuvenation pose providing maximum relaxation
  •     Relieves digestion problems and constipation
  •     Stretches lower part of the lungs, increases lung capacity
  •     Excellent for respiratory conditions
  •     Increases circulation to the brain
  •     Improves mobility of shoulder girdle
  •     Relieves stress and migraines
  •     Helps with insomnia
  •     Helps with jet-lag
  •     Helps to increase circulation to facial muscles, helping to prevent and erase the signs of aging

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Lady Gaga passion - Bikram Yoga

Photo by Terry Richardsons

Did you know that Lady Gaga has a personal Bikram Yoga trainer who travel with her everywhere. 

She is one of the most influential women in the world. But for anyone who has been wondering how Lady Gaga made it to the top, the secret is finally out. The pop star’s personal trainer has revealed Lady Gaga’s success is down to Bikram yoga
Tricia Donegan, a former college soccer player, met the singer before she was famous – when she was known as was known as Stefani Germanotta. Donegan, who is now her private teacher, told The New York Times Insider: ‘Lady Gaga is something very special, because she is a woman of service. ‘She uses her talent to make this world better, and that’s because she practices yoga.
‘She is blessed that she has talent, but what’s special about her is that she’s going to change the world.’ Gaga is a longstanding fan of the exercise – based on the traditional yoga techniques carried out in sweltering temperatures of 105°F. The sport, popularized in the Seventies by guru Bikram Choudhury, is hard work and normally consists of a 90 minute session in sauna-like temperatures where 26 different postures are carried out.Gaga is said to have started Bikram Yoga back in New York in 2004 before she was famous.
Re-posted from:

Fixed Firm Pose (Supta-Vajrasana)

For some this pose is a breeze, for others it’s torture. Just a reminder that we all have different bodies, different injuries and different capabilities. While some people easily slide into this pose, others feel it in the knees, ankles or lower back.

Set up by sitting in between the heels, feet facing upwards and knees together. If there is sharp pain in the knees, separate them a little, but keep the feet hugging the sides of the hips.

This pose will heal and improve weak or injured knees, but the knees must stay grounded throughout the entire pose.

Progress into the posture by placing the hands on the soles of the feet with the fingers facing forward. Lower back one elbow at a time, then look back and let the top of your head drop back. Slowly lower your shoulders onto the floor as you slide your elbows out, resting the upper back on the floor.

Raise the arms overhead, latch onto opposite elbows and press the arms and shoulders down, bringing them flat on the floor. With the chin tucked into the chest, press back with the arms and lift the ribs up to feel the chest stretch. Simultaneously ground the knees and feel the stretch along the stomach, hip flexors, front thighs and knees.

Relax deeper into the pose by breathing, bringing the knees closer together on the floor and pressing the buttocks into the floor.

Remember, the knees must not lift off the floor in this pose. Initially, this may mean not lowering back all the way and widening the knees. Listen to your knees and if needed, use your hands to support your body weight.

Breath here and hold for 20 seconds.
Come out of the pose slowly, the same way you went into the posture, using one elbow at a time.

Posture Tips

Fixed firm pose is particularly challenging for athletes and those suffering from knee injuries. It is important to recognize that this is an anatomically correct asana, and helps to rebuild a natural flexibility of the joint.

ALWAYS maintain correct alignment, heels touching with the hips, just as the dialogue says. This will ensure the ligaments of the knees and ankles are stretched evenly building balanced flexibility.

DO NOT compensate in the posture by changing the position of your feet. Your ankles should be straight, toes pointing to the back wall.

DO correct the depth of the posture if you feel pain, less is more.

Posture Tips from the Pros

ALWAYS keep your knees on the floor. – Bikram

“Do not mess with the knees, you can mess with the Gods but you cannot mess with the knees” – Bikram Choudhury

Even if you are experiencing pain in the pose, start with your knees together and your heels touching your hips to ensure proper alignment. Once you have the alignment, then separate the knees as much as you need. – Emmy

  • Quadriceps
  • Spleen
  • Lower Back
  • Lymph glands in arm pits
  • Ankles
  • Knees
  • Diaphragm

  • Lymphatic System
  • Adrenal glands
  • Kidneys
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Digestive System

  • Improves circulation to kidneys, liver, pancreas and bowels
  • Rebuilds the flexibility of the knees and ankles
  • Helps to boost the immune system through stimulation of the spleen
  • Helps to stimulate the lymphatic system, particularly the lymph glands of the arm-pit
  • Helps with digestion problems including indigestion, gas, constipation
  • Good for asthma and respiratory conditions
  • Helps to flush knees and ankles of calcium deposits, scar tissue and arthritic starts
  • Helps to minimize menstrual pain
  • Helps with sciatica, gout and varicose veins
  • Helps to activate kundalini energy
  • Maintains sexual longevity with age

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Yoga through other peoples eyes!

Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)

The last of the of spine strengthening series postures works on the entire spine. Lying on the belly, bend the knees, reach back and grab the outside of each foot, two inches below the toes.
Keep the knees and feet as close together as possible and make sure that the wrists have not twisted downwards. If the set up of Bow Pose alone is uncomfortable for you, remember, be patient!
Inhale deeply to simultaneously kick back into the hands, lifting the thighs and upper body off the floor. For more strength, push the hips and pelvis into the floor before lifting the legs up and back.
Release the shoulders back as the torso keeps lifting and roll the body weight forward to balance on the center of the abdomen.
Use inner thigh strength to make sure the knees don’t splay out too wide – keep the knees and feet six inches apart. If needed, refrain from kicking the legs up too high.
Hold for 20 seconds, 80-20 breathing. Slowly lower the torso and legs to the floor, Savasana.


Always grab right below the toes, no grip on the ankle or shin.
Remember, this posture is about kicking
Often students will kick first and look up second. Try to synchronize bringing your head back and the kick at the same time.
Always look up in the pose, this helps to complete the benefit for the cervical spine (neck) and helps to tone the muscles surrounding the eyes while stretching the ocular nerve.

Tips from the Pros

If one foot is higher than the other, instead of thinking to kick harder with that foot, think kick toward the corner of the ceiling. – Bikram
Manifest tension in the grip, but not the arm – Craig.
80/20 breathing is essential because it directly effects the compression of the spine. - Craig
Grab the feet not the ankle. - Craig


  •     Erector Spinae muscle
  •     Deep spinal muscles
  •     Deltoids
  •     Rhomboids
  •     Trapezius Muscles
  •     Latissmus Dorsi


  •     Entire front side of the body
  •     Shoulder joints
  •     Spinal column


  •     Digestive system
  •     Kidneys
  •     Liver
  •     Thymus
  •     Lymph glands in neck and endocrine glands.


  •     Increases circulation to the heart and lungs
  •     Improves breathing by extending and opening the diaphragm and chest
  •     Increases circulation to the spine, helping to revitalize the spinal nerves
  •     Tones the abdomen, improves digestion and relieves constipation
  •     Helps to regulate the ovaries and prostate gland
  •     Helps to relieve rheumatism, arthritis, lumbago and cervical spondylosis
  •     Relieves menstrual problems
  •     Stimulation of the thymus gland helps to regulate the cycle of eating, making bow good for eating disorders
  •     Helps to correct bad posture
  •     Alleviates fatigue
  •     Good for anorexia and bulimia
  •     Improves the function of the kidneys, liver and spleen
  •     Good for bronchitis
  •     Strengthens concentration and determination
  •     Develops freedom of expression
  •     Relieves stress associated with taking too much responsibility for others