The sit-up. It's not officially a yoga pose, but more of a transition move to get you from savasana to your next posture.
Official yoga pose or not, correct sit-up technique can make a big difference, especially if you have back pain (or if you want to have amazingly strong abs!)
Try it in class today.
Big change is coming.
At BYSJ, our mission is to get the most people feeling the best by providing a joyful, inclusive environment for the practice of yoga.
We named our yoga school "Bikram Yoga St. Johns" because we believed it was helping us achieve our mission. Bikram Yoga is the style of yoga we teach. It is a highly impactful, even lifesaving, yoga system.
We chose (and kept) our name for the last 4 years, because we wanted anybody seeking Bikram Yoga to be able to find us easily.
Bikram Choudhury is the man who popularized this yoga system in the West and worldwide. He has also been accused of some abhorrent behavior.
We do not condone or support any of this behavior.
We are sad beyond words at what has happened, and we hope that everyone involved finds peace and a healing path forward.
We want you to know that BYSJ is and always has been independently owned and operated, by us.
Like most, if not all, yoga schools who teach Bikram Yoga, we have never and do not pay any affiliation or franchise fees to Bikram Choudhury or any other person or entity.
This is a fact which has been misrepresented in the media for years. There is no worldwide Bikram Yoga franchise as many poorly fact-checked articles have reported.
Perpetuating the myth that Bikram yoga studios pay fees to Bikram Choudhury does not right any wrongs and does not bring justice to any wrong-doers. In fact, it only harms two groups of people: (1) small business owners, many of them women and mothers, and (2) the yoga students they serve.
To us, Bikram the yoga and Bikram the man have always been separate and distinct.
We now realize that, seeing multiple studios worldwide with the name "Bikram Yoga" on their doors, it can be easy to assume that we are part of a chain. (We're not, but that doesn't matter unless it can be communicated.)
We understand if people don't want their money to go to Bikram Choudhury, and we can see how, because of this, the name "Bikram Yoga St. Johns" may prevent them from coming to our yoga classes. (And most people really need this yoga!)
It has become clear to us that our name is now getting in the way of our mission.
So, like anything that gets in the way of us helping people, we are letting it go.
Our hope is that our new name will communicate to the public that we are a locally owned, independent business, and also convey a sense of what we stand for as a business and a community.
We are changing our business name. We are not changing our values, our mission- or our personalities.
You can help us spread the truth about who we are by sharing this video, but even better, you can help by sharing your own positive experiences with the yoga and with us.
We are not changing the yoga.
Bikram Yoga is still the most powerful, most inclusive, and most joyful system of yoga that we've ever encountered, and we intend to continue practicing and teaching it as long as we possibly can.
We are looking forward to offering this impactful wellness technology to everyone, under a new banner that communicates what we believe in:
We think we've found the perfect name, and we look forward to sharing it with you!
Stay tuned for the big name-reveal coming soon...
What duds you sport in the hot room can really make a difference.
Watch this video to learn the science behind shorty shorts, then read on for 4 tips to consider when choosing what to wear to your next class...
1. Bare skin is part of your body's cooling strategy.
Your body cools itself by way of the evaporation of sweat off your skin's surface. Therefore, the more of your skin exposed to the air, the cooler you will feel, even in a hot environment.
For the same reason you probably wear tank tops and shorts in the summer, clothes that leave (at least) your arms and legs uncovered are the healthiest choice for hot yoga.
2. Loose clothing traps body heat.
Ever tried sleeping in a hammock? You'll get COLD at night because the hammock's fabric sits snug against your skin. There's no space to trap your body heat in there.
Similarly, when you wear tight-fitting clothing in hot yoga, your body heat escapes, which means you will feel cooler.
3. Downsize your yoga clothes to super-size body positivity.
Look, we get it. Your whole life you have been sent the message (from the media, peers who are not your real friends, possibly even your parents) that your body is somehow flawed or not good enough.
Too many of us have accepted that messaging to the point that we try to hide our "imperfect" bodies-- even from ourselves!
You may have discovered by now: there is no hiding under the bright lights of the yoga room. You also may have noticed: you are the only one in class who bats an eye about the size of your thighs or a little hanging skin around your middle from those babies you brought into the world! So, who are you hiding from?
Revealing your body to yourself in the mirror for 90 minutes at a time will cause you to appreciate your body more-- not only for its physical beauty (and yes it has that!) but also for the amazing things it does for you every day as it carries you through your life.
4. Don't miss out on the gift of a teacher.
Your certified Bikram yoga teachers are highly trained and constantly honing our craft with continuing education. Of the gifts your teacher offers you are personalized verbal corrections.
We have had hundreds of hours of education (and thousands of hours of experience) in this yoga system, and you get to borrow our eyes!
However, we can only let you know to make an adjustment in a posture IF we can see your alignment! Baggy clothes get in the way of us helping you use correct technique.
You are the most important person in your life.
In the end, of course, this is all up to you. We understand there may be many reasons for every choice of attire.
Just like when we give instructions in class: our role here is to offer the information we know to be useful for practicing Bikram yoga, and you get to choose what you do with that.
Your Bikram yoga teacher will love you unconditionally, no matter what you wear to class!
I started practicing at BYSJ in fall of 2016 because I felt like my body and I were at odds. I needed a practice that allowed me to reconnect with myself. Since December 2015, I've been pregnant 4 times. The first three pregnancies have all ended with miscarriages. I was grieving the loss of those babies in unhealthy ways and I sought out yoga as a way to find my way back to peace.
Since practicing, I appreciate my body in a different way.
Like I mentioned, when I began practicing I felt at odds with myself. I was really self conscious and critical of my physical appearance, being overly critical of every lump and bump.
There's something a bit magical that happens when you stare at yourself for 90 minutes. Over the course of practicing I began to marvel at all the ways my body could move and how it carried me through the poses.
Even when it was hard, I learned that I could do hard things. This belief has carried over into my life.
I am proud of my consistency in practice. The yoga is hard, but I continue to come back because of the benefits. The best thing I receive from my practice is peace. My husband, Filip, has noticed a big change in my temperament. I used to have big, dramatic reactions to small things. I was filled with anger and would lose my temper quickly. I've always had a difficult time managing anger. Since practicing Bikram's I am much calmer, my reactions are less immediate and intense, and I am overall happier/ more optimistic.
My mantra in the room is just breathe. It's the only thing I tell myself I have to do. When it feels challenging to get to a class I just say, "show up and breathe." It makes it feel so manageable.
The effects of the yoga practice:
Physically, my posture has improved dramatically. I used to have a bit of a hunch, which I don't have anymore.
I have always suffered from pain in my right shoulder. This practice has really opened/loosened those muscles that were always so tight. Eagle pose works wonders.
But really, I practice for the mental benefits. It's the most important thing I do that keeps my mind peaceful; reduces my anxiety. I used to have crazy anxiety, I would need medication at times to manage it.
Since practicing Bikram's I haven't needed any anxiety medicine.
I practiced through my miscarriages. I would set up my mat in the back of the room and cry through most of the class. I was able to grieve my losses and let go of the pain through the yoga. It helped me get to a place where I could accept that perhaps motherhood was not going to be a part of my journey. Like I said, I could do hard things.
When I found out I was pregnant for the fourth time, I didn't want to live in the fear. I also didn't want to live in the hope. I just wanted to live in every moment. Fear represented the past. Hope represented the future. I really didn't want to place any of my energy in either of those places. I thought a lot about the impermanence of a situation. The only experience I wanted was the one I was currently in.
When I practice the yoga, the only thing I can think about is the current moment. Breathing through the pose, living through the pose. That's what I wanted for this pregnancy.
I am very forgiving with myself when I practice the prenatal series. I really listen to my own cues about how much I can do and what I need in the moment to take care of myself and baby.
Moving forward, postpartum, I want to continue to treat myself this way.
Diane Ducharme Gardner recently visited BYSJ and graced us with her wisdom, expertise and insight. Among the top "a ha" moments that students have been sharing they experienced at the workshop is this one: how to get into Camel pose!
How do you know it's right?
For any body!
Check out the video for the full demonstration of correct technique:
The key you'll want to remember is: when you hear the instructor say "go back halfway and stop in the middle," that does not mean bend back.
It means lean back halfway, using your strong thigh muscles, thereby decreasing the distance between your hand and the heel. If you approach the pose this way, almost anyone can grab the heels!
Once you have the grip on the heels (and don't lose it) you can push everything forward toward the mirror, causing the back muscles to engage and bend your spine evenly, creating 360 degree angle backward bending.
It feels so good when you do it right.
Even better, Camel pose boasts numerous benefits for your life outside of the yoga room, including:
Depth in any posture is a result of correct technique and time.
So it never matters how much you do, as long as you practice with consistent correct technique.
The beautiful thing about the instructions you hear in class is that they work for any body- stiff, flexible, injured, whatevs. But don't take our word for it. Now that you have seen a stellar example in the video, try following word by word with the correct technique in your next class!
A friend posted this great little meme on Facebook the other day:
First, I love this. As a language-learning geek, a mom and a bookworm, I love everything about it. But it also made me think about... yoga! (Surprise, surprise.)
So I want to share with you this:
This is an issue I help a lot of students with, often because they have told me their shoulder(s) hurt. As Emmy Cleaves says, pain is a gift. That shoulder, bless it, is trying to tell you something! It's the first thing I look for when the student takes my class: are you overusing your poor shoulder?
Bikram yoga is so, so great for healing shoulder injuries because we don't do any weight-bearing on the arms. If your shoulder was bugging you when you started but you are not experiencing improvement after a few weeks in the hot room, it could be because you are overusing the shoulder in class and thereby preventing it from healing. Once you learn how not to overdo it and start practicing that way, any chronic pain or stiffness in the shoulder should improve relatively quickly.
Bikram yoga is hard enough.
Work smarter, not necessarily harder, in class and you will notice the difference in how you feel after.
So how do you work smarter, in this case?
Whenever you are not going to bring your palms together for the pose, there is no need to bring your palms together in the set-up of the pose. This means Eagle pose, Standing Separate Leg Stretching, and Triangle pose.
Simply bring your arms over your head sideways with shoulders fairly relaxed, the way you would do if a cop (hopefully this never happens to you, but it's just the best example I can think of!) told you to put your hands in the air. You wouldn't stop to think about stretching or looking pretty, would you? Just bring your arms over your head.
Check out the video above for a demonstration, and check out these related posts for more tips on how to stop overdoing it in yoga:
Hi, I'm Matt! I'll be covering a lot of classes this month at BYSJ while Kay is on maternity leave. Here is a bit about me and how I came to be a Bikram yoga instructor:
I started Bikram Yoga back in spring of 2011 - I was the Chief Architect for one of HP’s Cloud product lines and found that my productivity, happiness and health were being impacted by my work stress. I knew I needed to find something powerful that would work on my mind as well as my body and deliver tangible results. I attended one class - was completely exhausted - but happy and at peace - and I knew this was exactly what I needed in my life!
I graduated from Bikram's Spring 2014 Teacher Training program in LA. My life has always had an element of teaching/mentoring in it - something that is humbling and rewarding, and having the opportunity to do this in the context of peoples health, wellbeing and - let's face it - life - is a huge privilege. In February 2015 I left HP to devote my time to being a full-time Bikram Yoga teacher.
I look forward to seeing you all in the hot room soon!
I have been practicing Bikram yoga for 1.5 years. My beautiful wife Sophia has been doing it for years, and seeing the difference it makes in her life made me want to try it.
I have gotten numerous benefits from Bikram, starting with the common, increased strength, stamina, pain relief and flexibility. More surprisingly, I have developed a better sense of listening, contemplation and patience. With all the physical improvements, I am most proud of conquering my mind.
Everything in my life has improved since I started Bikram yoga. Love, sex, relationships, work, even my tolerance of society. My skateboarding and surfing are more focused and I can target my aggression in productive ways. My Bikram yoga practice has helped me to improve my agility and recovery time, which has left me feeling like I have a long, long time to keep doing all the activities I enjoy. I think Bikram yoga is the key to longevity in all areas!
The thought I have in the room that keeps me going is: solace.
I want to thank Kay for this great honor of asking me to share my story, my wife for enhancing my life and the East Coast for making me strong. Love, Strength and Peace.
Don't miss attending our Posture Clinic with Josh on Saturday, October 13! Free for BYSJ members, $20 everyone else.
Boss lady, yoga-doer and life-lover, Kay D.