Keith says, “I started Bikram yoga to increase overall agility but also because I was starting to lose some of my flexibility. I was usually sore after work and I could tell my hamstrings were way too tight, so tight it felt like the tightness was starting to pull other parts of my body out of alignment like my hips and knees.
“Going from one job as a crane operator where I spent most of the day in a seated position to another job that required standing most of the day only increased the tightness in my legs. I heard about the new yoga studio that had just opened up in my area and, on a whim, I decided to go check it out..."
“I didn't quite know what I was getting myself into, or if it was even meant for somebody like me. I was surprised at how challenging it was, but after leaving I felt very accomplished and overall really good about myself which has kept me coming back... I have now been practicing Bikram yoga 2-3 times a week since February.
"In these past months, I have learned a lot more than just how to properly stretch. I've learned how to be comfortable when I'm uncomfortable and how to control the "monkey mind."
“Since I began Bikram yoga it has motivated me to quit smoking, and it has made a remarkable difference in my overall well-being. I can see and feel the difference after each class. I have learned so much from the different instructors there and the stories they have to share.
One of my favorite things I’ve heard in class is: ‘It's not the stimuli that changes, it is our response to the stimuli that changes.’ I am so happy and thankful to be a part of the community at Bikram Yoga St. Johns.”
“I took my first Bikram yoga class ever about 3 months ago. Considering that I have always had an off and on relationship with yoga, I knew absolutely nothing about Bikram yoga specifically. On a Tuesday evening I went into the studio, bought my month pass, and showed up the next morning at 5:30AM. I was told to bring water and a towel, because the classes are held in a heated room.
“As I walked into the room the next morning, it felt like walking into a hot wall. Wow! Was I really going to do this? After the first five minutes I was ready to bolt. What was I doing there in the heat? I don't like heat, hot summer days, or even hot showers. I stayed with it, stuck it out, and by the end of the class I had a yoga high, and I was ready to come back! I've been going since then at least 3 times a week and I love it!
"What brought me to Bikram yoga? Primarily I want to keep my spine flexible and strong. I have a large osteochondroma (benign bone tumor) on my cervical spine, and my doctors also found some early signs of ankylosing spondylitis (an inflammatory disease that could cause some of the vertebrae in my spine to fuse together.) Well, I am not willing to sit around and wait for things to get worse. I've always been active, but these new issues called for more drastic measures.
“The one thing consistently missing from my life was yoga, a solid practice to build strength and flexibility. Since surgery on my tumor last year I'd tried various different styles of yoga, but did not find a good fit until I came to Bikram Yoga St. Johns. I love the routine of doing the same poses in each class, it gives me an opportunity to feel the change, to see the growth. In addition to the obvious benefits, the best additional benefit I'd gotten from Bikram yoga is being a part of a great community!
“Brand new students: do the 10 class challenge when you sign up. It will give you an opportunity to really see how Bikram yoga works for you. It might just be the thing that improves your life in a big way!”
Sometimes it seems that everyone in Portland has tight hamstrings. All the running, biking, hiking and everything we do out (and in)doors seems to make us tight. Well! This posture is one of the postures that will help you move through any "tightness". You might even feel your sciatic nerve saying "hello" from time to time. That will clear up, too.
Especially because you are stretching large, tight muscles, it is important to take this posture one step at a time. The form itself is not difficult - but getting your muscles, nerves and spine to open up may be.
So how do you do it? Starting from a standing position, bring your arms over your head and take a big four-foot step to your right, bringing your arms down at the same time. Then, especially if you are tight, slowly bend forward with a nice flat back. You may not be able to get your hands underneath your feet yet. No worries. Simply start by putting your hands on the floor in front of you - making sure your legs remain straight. This will allow those tight muscles to open up slowly.
Next, start working to get your hands under your heels. Eventually - before you know it - your forehead will be on the floor between your feet. Once you are there you will be stretching not only the back of your legs - you will also be opening your hips and stretching your whole spine. Then, you will want to just stay in the posture because it feels soooo good.
Benefits of this posture include opening and stretching the muscles and tendons of the legs as well as stretching your spine. It also helps the functioning of the abdominal organs. By hanging your torso upside down, you get similar benefits as you do from a headstand - without doing the headstand. Inverting this way invigorates the pituitary gland, the thyroid gland and even your eyes.
One of the best ways to learn more about the postures is to read Bikram's "Beginning Yoga Class" book. Attend class 3 to 5 times weekly to put your learning into action and make your body smile!
Studio leader, yoga-doer and life-lover, Kay D.