“If we could master breath, everything after that is going to be handled a bit better.”
That's a quote from James Newbury, an athlete who completed the entire 5-hour bike ride and 4-hour run of an Ironman race, breathing only through his nose.
“We’re going to live at a higher level.”
Living at a higher level sounds good.
Here is my nose:
Maybe you’ve been here:
Huffing and puffing through the first few poses in one of your first hot yoga classes, your face turning bright beet-red. The more you try to breathe, sucking air in through your mouth- the harder it seems to get.
From somewhere in the distance, you hear the instructor’s calm, encouraging voice:
“Close your mouth, breathe through your nose.”
You try it.
Nose breathing is the way
Many people have been taught or just naturally start breathing through their mouths while exercising, especially when it gets intense. But emerging research suggests nasal breathing (like we do for about 80 out of the 90 minutes in a Bikram Yoga class) is actually where it’s at.
That’s no big surprise for yoga practitioners, who have been harnessing the power of breath for centuries! (But we always love when science backs up what we do!)
Breathing by the nose helps athletes perform better
For example, this recent study looked at runners who used nasal breathing and found their maximum rate of oxygen consumption was unchanged compared to mouth breathing.
At the same time, their respiratory rates (breaths per minute) and ratios of oxygen intake to carbon dioxide output decreased, which means they didn’t have to work as hard to get the same amount of oxygen!
Researchers believe the lower breath rate caused by breathing through your nose (a much smaller opening for air than your gaping maw) allows more time for oxygen to get to the bloodstream.
That means you get more oxygen to your cells from each breath, which allows you to breathe less.
Wait a sec? Is breathing LESS a good thing?
Don’t worry: no one is telling you not to breathe. It’s about being efficient.
By breathing through your nose "you actually can perform your big physical tasks – running, cycling, things like that, you can perform them using less oxygen because you're not having to breathe as much to perform them,” says researcher George Dallam. “Which turns this not just into a health thing, but also into a performance thing too.”
Nose breathing helps with daily wellbeing too
I recently read a fascinating book called Breath, by James Nestor. In it Nestor “explores the million-year-long history of how the human species has lost the ability to breathe properly and why we’re suffering from a laundry list of maladies—snoring, sleep apnea, asthma, autoimmune disease, allergies—because of it.”
One thing Nestor did as part of this book was an experiment where he plugged his nose completely for 10 days, forcing himself to breathe only through his mouth. Spoiler alert: the results were disastrous!
Other spoiler alert: everything got better when he began breathing through his nose again.
Among other things, it turns out people who breathe primarily through their noses have:
Nasal breathing calms ya down
Breathing slowly through the nose is associated with the parasympathetic aspect of your nervous system, known as the “rest, digest and reproduce” state. (You probably know that one from yoga class!)
Breathing fast, through the mouth, or too much (hyperventilation) activates the sympathetic nervous system, putting you into a state of “fight, flight or freeze.” (You know that one from if you’ve ever been stressed out.)
That’s because nasal breathing activates the lower part of the lungs, which is associated with the parasympathetic nerves.
Oh hey, we made a video about that!
“You’re dealing with what is called a vagal response,” Dallam says. “You’re actually activating your vagal nerve to do the action of the lung itself when you breathe that way. That’s why a relaxation breath is a deeper breath. If you breathe deeply and activate the diaphragm well, and activate the lower portion of the lung, then you create some immediate relaxation.”
It ain't always easy, but it's worth it
As James Nestor and James Newbury found, breathing by the nose during physical exertion isn't necessarily easy.
The key, whether in a Bikram Yoga class or training for a triathlon, is to only challenge yourself as much as you can while maintaining nasal breathing. This means you may need to back off on intensity at first and be patient with the process.
(Helloooo, psychological benefits!)
When you breathe calmly through your nose, you take charge of your own nervous system
The more you practice, the better you'll get at nasal breathing and the more your health will improve as a result.
Don't take my word for it though! Try it in class today ;)
While returning to your Bikram Yoga practice may not be the hardest thing you've done this year it can be a challenge to get back into your routine after a hiatus.
PLUS you might be making it harder without even knowing it!
Don't do that.
Here are 3 blunders to avoid when re-starting your yoga practice post-break:
1. Practicing exactly like you used to
The reality is, until your first class back in the studio (unless your "quarantine project" was building a sauna in your garage) you have not done Bikram Yoga in 105 degrees in at least 7 months. And you've probably never done it in a mask!
If you come in going "balls to the wall" you may find yourself in final savasana around party time. Instead, EASE back into your practice by... lowering your expectations.
One way to try is doing the 1st set of each pose very gently (seriously, 10% of what you think you can do) and hold it still and breathe. If you feel strong, try doing a little bit more in the 2nd set.
Instead of trying to do a "deep" posture or even the whole posture, try doing 1 step at a time with your most perfect technique. Your body has been through a LOT lately (even just sitting long hours at a desk can be traumatic!) It's not kind- or fair- to ask it to perform like it did back when you were attending yoga several times a week.
Approaching your practice in this patient and measured way will help you build strength and stamina- and reconnect your consciousness to your body in a way you haven't done in a while!
Backing off on intensity always provides an incredible opportunity to learn so much about the pose, the yoga- and most importantly, about yourself.
2. Not drinking water, because face diaper
Maybe it's just us, but the team have noticed ourselves drinking WAY less at the studio now that we've got masks on (and kombucha is no longer on tap!)
Especially if you wear a mask throughout the day, create a habit of chugging at least a 16-24 oz glass of water first thing in the morning when you wake up. You'll be ahead of the hydration game before you cover up your piehole.
P.S. We now have SOMA Kombucha in bottles! Grab one after class and take it with you. Did you know the Concord Grape Rii is caffeine free? Refreshing and hydrational (yes that is now a word)
3. Not involving your peeps
One of the biggest mistake we make as individualistic American cowboys (or cowgirls or cowpersons) is believing we have to go it alone.
If being trapped home alone for months has taught us anything, it's how much we gain from being with others. Returning to your yoga practice is no different. Studies have even shown that people tend to exercise more regularly when they have an exercise partner!
Making plans for a "yoga date" can be the best motivation (and hey, we've made it super easy to socially distance in the hot room.)
Send a yoga buddy THIS LINK to get their 1st month for $50!
Did these tips help you rock your return? Let us know!
NEW! Take our Home, to your home.
We understand that keeping up your practice away from the studio can be challenging! That's why you can now access yoga online with your favorite HHY teachers… ANYTIME, ANYWHERE.
Strength, flexibility, transformation and accessing your true potential is now possible, To Go! You'll find a variety of options ranging in length from a 5-minute guided savasana to 90-minute Bikram Yoga classes and more, now easily accessed right here from our website.
Have you ever struggled to find 90 minutes to yourself for a home practice?
We get it.
Look, we have 2 kids under 5 and run a small business! We know that finding time for yoga at your place can be TOUGH.
So while we believe whole-heartedly that the 90-minute Bikram Yoga class is the most effective yoga around (so effective that it's the only class we offer in the heated studio!) we also know that some days ya just can't fit that in.
The truth is that some yoga is always better than no yoga! Which is why HHY To Go includes a whole page of "Quickies." Quickies range from 5 to 60 minutes and include a variety of options for a shorter home practice when 90 minutes just ain't happening.
HHY To Go includes:
Interactive Zoom classes
Options from 5-90 minutes
Add HHYTG on to your current in-studio membership!
Current HHY members, please note that HHY To Go is a separate membership on a completely different platform than the one we use for in-studio classes. Questions? Check out our FAQ about HHYTG here.
If you have a current membership with us and wish to switch completely to HHY To Go, you'll need to EMAIL US to make that change. If you sign up for HHYTG but don't email us, you'll enjoy a subscription to both our virtual and in-person offerings: yay!
Today is International Yoga Day! (Of course, every day is “yoga day” around here.)
Too many people see yoga as a luxury item -- something to be disposed of when finances or schedules are tight. If there’s one thing I want you to know today, it’s this:
Practicing some form of yoga is not only essential to having a meaningful life, it’s absolutely necessary for a large number of us to practice if we’re going to create and maintain a peaceful, just society.
Practicing yoga is not like other forms of “self care” it tends to get lumped in with. Yoga is not like getting your nails done, taking a bubble bath or even having a massage (though I’m not knocking those things!)
Yoga is not about yoga postures.
When you practice yoga (raja yoga, bhakti yoga, jnana yoga, karma yoga, mantra yoga and hatha yoga-- which Bikram Yoga is one style of-- are the 6 main types of yoga) you cultivate Faith, Self-disicipline, Determination, Concentration and Patience within yourself.
If you’re doing hatha yoga, you’ll get pain relief, increased flexibility and strength and a litany of other physical health benefits too. You’ll improve the quality of your life. Which is amazing! But that’s not all you do.
The ultimate goal of any yoga practice is Self-Realization.
That’s Self with a capital “S.” Your highest Self, the greatest version of who you are. The word realize (v.) means "bring into existence," from French réaliser "make real" (16c.), from Middle French real "actual.")
Self-Realization means then, bringing your highest Self into existence.
When you practice yoga, you become able to pull the BEST version of yourself out of your pocket when you need it most:
If you keep practicing yoga, that Best Version of You appears more and more frequently. Eventually, the way you live begins to align itself with your full potential. You behave like your Self more often than not. Your Self is the part of you most in tune with nature. It’s the part of you which is connected to all other parts of you, which feels connected to all of humanity and even all of the cosmos.
Yoga comes from the word “yuj” meaning “to yoke together.”
When you access a place inside yourself where everything is united: mind, body and the rest of the world, that is Self. Because you become aware of the connection between you and all of humanity, Self is where your compassion for others lives.
If you still think that yoga is something to do:
How would this Father’s Day have been different for George Floyd’s family, if Derek Chauvin had been able to access the Best Version of himself for 8 minutes?
Yoga is not about yoga postures.
When you step on your mat today-- remember that the important work you are doing inside yourself has the power to change the world.
I've been writing this for 2 weeks, trying to get it just right. But (like yoga) done is better than perfect when it comes to speaking up. So here we are.
Racism and injustice are NOT new.
But it's true that (while these issues have always been important to us) we’ve never used the studio's platforms to speak out in a significant way about them before.
(That's about to change.)
Before I go on, I want to (1) acknowledge that we know we are late to the party, and (2) to ask that you please do not congratulate us for saying something now. We don't deserve any kudos (though we would love to listen to any feedback you have about how we can do better!)
At Home Hot Yoga, we support the Black Lives Matter movement.
If you've been to the studio, you know: we welcome and respect all people of all colors and backgrounds. We are firmly anti-hate, anti-racism, anti-injustice and anti-harm.
Which is why I'm writing, to add Home's voice to the sea of voices who've just starting chiming in, because it's better late than never:
Black lives matter. They have always mattered. For too long, they have been treated as if they don't.
And that's why it needs saying now. Over and over until someday it hopefully won't need saying anymore because it will just be something everybody understands.
We know that no email, no post on social media, no sign we put in our window can "fix" the atrocities inflicted on human beings because of racism.
Demonstrating our support is important, but on its own cannot stop the terrible injustices which are still going on today.
We understand that action is needed. One of the first actions we need to take is to begin intentionally engaging in respectful, open-minded conversations about the issues of social justice and race.
Talking to each other is the place to start. We're committed to having those important talks.
IN FACT... keep your eyes peeled for a super special event coming SOON that is all about just that...!
Some resources for now:
If you don't know a lot about race issues yet, it's time to start learning. We're so lucky to live in a time when resources are EVERYwhere. Here are just a few:
What does this have to do with yoga?
Stay in your lane, right? We are.
We started a business because we know that business leadership is the most important leadership of our time, and we wanted to make a difference.
We chose to build our business on Bikram Yoga because we know that not only can ALL people practice and benefit from Bikram Yoga, but this yoga has the power to bring people together like nothing else around.
Yoga means "union," and we are all about super-sizing the amount of unity in the world.
Our work in the hot room (and in our online classes) gets us closer to this end.
You can now expect to see us putting our yoga into action "off the mat" even more from here on out. We're so excited for you to join us on this journey.
If you have any ideas about ways that Home can be of service in the cause of racial equity, please reply to this email or reach out to us by phone at (503)505-9805.
When you practice at a studio (or in one of our interactive Zoom classes!) you benefit from the watchful eye of a trained instructor. But when you use a recorded class to practice, it’s up to you to make your own corrections and look out for any less-than-helpful habits.
Here are several common mistakes to avoid when practicing on your own:
Mistake: Tweaking your neck to see the screen
Why you do it: If you take an online class with video, especially if you are a visual learner, you’ll be tempted to look up at your screen. That might be to check your alignment, check out that cute puppy crawling on your yoga buddy’s savasana, or see if your technology is working correctly.
Mistake: Pushing too hard
Why you do it: Overexerting yourself during a home Bikram Yoga routine is something to watch out for, especially if you’re an experienced student. If you’re used to being strong and flexible in the hot room, you may tend to push yourself at home. Remember that your intensity needs to account for the fact that you’re not as warm. Take it easy.
Mistake: Getting kinda lazy
Why it happens: It can be challenging to stay motivated when you practice on your own. There are so many more distractions at your house than at the studio! And you don’t have the heat to demand that you focus on the present moment. You may find yourself “going through the motions” or even skipping the poses you don’t really enjoy. The problem with that is, the poses you dread the most are likely the ones you need the most! Bikram Yoga is a balanced full-body physical practice, and skipping the same poses repeatedly may aggravate asymmetries, tightness or injury.
Mistake: Allowing Interruptions
Why you do it: If you don’t architect an environment that supports your yoga practice, distractions will abound: kids, phone calls, Facebook notifications, pets, the list is endless! Without a reserved time and space for yoga, there is always something vying for your attention.
Why you do it: When you’re not joining others in-person, it can be challenging to hold yourself accountable.
Hey everyone, it's Stacy and I'm thrilled to be writing this post. I appreciate the little pockets of "creative outlet" I can find in this whole new normal we're living in.
Let me share a little about myself so you can catch my perspective. I'm a wife, a mom of 3 kids, we have a bunch of little animals at our house (7 chicks, a dog, and a bunny! - and yes, you can come to our urban petting zoo when this is all over!)
We are one of the families impacted by the astounding lay-off statistics which happened to account for 95% of our family's income. We have 2 school aged children and are navigating distance learning for the long haul, our other child is in the medically vulnerable population, and we're just doing our best to live life and be happy and make this whole crazy thing work.
We're happy, worried, soaking in all the family time and utterly exhausted by the end of each day all at once.
On top of that, I'm also trying to make sure I am taking care of myself by doing things that fuel my soul and make my body happy - one of those being Bikram Yoga.
I am no expert... at, well, any of this. I am not a long-seasoned yogi. I am certainly no expert at managing a life and a household during a global pandemic. I mean, is anyone? But I do want to offer a couple ideas that have been extremely helpful in finding peace, balance, and time to practice yoga.
First, let’s chat about peace.
It almost seems like a taboo topic right now. Peace? In the middle of all this?? Isn’t that completely neglecting the reality of the world right now which feels pretty full of unrest? Are you actually being a toxic-positive person?? Yikes. No, definitely not. I don’t know about you - but I cannot just sit and soak in sadness and despair. It’s already here, I don’t have to do anything else to help it exist.
Don’t get me wrong, I could get completely caught up in the endless amount of news floating around, but my peace would suffer. Right now I must keep my peace for my own sake and also for my family’s sake, since we are cooped up together 24/7. So how do you do this when you’re busy and being pulled in a thousand directions from your kids, spouse, life, etc.
You must decide you are deserving and worth it and peace is as essential as water and air to live and thrive and you must must must make it happen.
Finding peace looks different for every single one of us. It could mean dedicated quiet time, exercise, laughing, reading, napping, fresh air, praying, meditating, journaling, painting, creating, the list is endless. Whatever it looks like for you, do it. Do it as often as you can. I'd love to say I carve out pockets of peace every single day, but I don't... I wish!! But I do the majority of the time. And in my life, majority rules.
After peace, I try to create a little balance in our day.
Ah, the great "balancing act." I can’t possibly fit in everything I want and need to do every single day in our busy household, but I can find a sense of balance that makes me feel like I’ve got a (small) sense of control to what’s going on around here.
Even though we are not going out as much, I notice feeling just as busy (if not more) at home! Kid's school work, house projects, Zoom meetings, the endless amounts of cooking and cleaning, getting in some exercise, carving out time for yourself and/or your partner, and each kid, and walking the dog... did I mention cooking and cleaning yet? Don’t forget you need to rest! And and and… am I right? It’s a lot!
And it’s totally ok to feel like it is, because hey: IT IS. I mean, there have been multiple days where I had planned all the things, and then just sat around, re-dried the same load of laundry 3 times and ate snacks all day.
Well, I quickly learned that was not going to work for me, and just as quickly realized balance is possible. Thank goodness, too!
Here’s what works for me, and if you’re struggling to “fit it all in,” maybe this can help you feel less overwhelmed with it all:
1. Make a list of "non-negotiables"
These are things that are absolute musts for yourself and your family. Family dinner, time outside, breakfast together, quiet time… what are they in your life? This list doesn’t have to be long, but I encourage you to evaluate all the things you are busy doing, and pull out those key things that keep your household functioning and moving forward.
2. Set a schedule
Don’t you feel better when you know what is coming next? This schedule doesn’t have to be strict or even down to the minute, but more so a guideline to what and how you will move through your day. A rhythm. The rest, listen closely: IS OPTIONAL. I know… I know! Give yourself, your family, and your day the grace it needs and deserves to be fluid enough to feel good. It's called balance
3. Do yoga
Ahhhhh... yes, the yoga. My brain already feels a sense of calm coming over it just thinking about it. How do I fit this in? Like seriously, I can barely take a 10-minute shower without interruption let alone dedicate 90 whole minutes to myself, inside my house, with all these people and animals.
Before, I could go to the studio, I could shut off all the things, the hot room was a sweet and sweaty escape, I could "hide" away and just... do something for myself. Yoga looks pretty much the opposite of that right now in every way, except that it is still yoga - and it's for me - practiced by me - and the benefits are all mine.
Having to practice at home has uprooted all the "feel good" things I love about yoga and has forced me to a realization that yoga is so valuable to my life, even without all the frills of the studio environment.
Is my space hot? No. It's a little hot with chaos some days. Do I have a mirror? Also, no, not really. Does my toddler mimicking me count? Can I get it humid enough? Not nearly. But sometimes, I have a couple kids or a dog breathing right in front of my face and it feels a little humid... (kidding. not kidding.)
Do I get to focus and meditate completely? Ehh... not entirely. And by entirely, I mean not at all. Am I able to complete an entire 90 minutes, uninterrupted? Negative. I don't even always get a chance to complete 90 minutes at all.
I have learned that in order for me to have a successful home practice, I had to reconstruct what the word "successful" means.
I often practice in the middle of the living room floor, or when it's nice out, I throw a mat down outside. Always, I have a couple kids bopping in and out and lying down next to me, or on me, or trying to crawl through my legs, a dog rolling around on the floor thinking it's playtime, or kids taking their own sweet savasana on top of me while I'm in one too...
The commotion is endless.
But the yoga is timeless.
I've learned to let go of my idealistic perfect yoga experience, and realize that yoga IS the experience.
Some is better than none, and I've had to adjust my mindset from tolerating that, to celebrating that, and remarkably I can say that my body and mind are still reaping the benefits of a "not-so-perfect" yoga practice. My family and I are better for it, and I’m really glad I decided to just get over the fact that yoga is different now, and get to doing it for any amount of time, at any time of day.
The truth is, some of us haven't been in a good habit of practicing yoga since the stay-home orders have been in place. That's ok... kind of. If it's truly just not for you, not important to you, and yoga has not been a positive impact in your life, then sure, it's ok to not be practicing
But some of us need to check our yoga-egos (I know I did) at our own front door.
We need to realize that the benefits of practicing at home, an imperfect practice in a less-than-ideal environment, win out by far over the consequences of not practicing at all.
And here's the good news: it's a practice. This is quite possibly the only time we will be forced to practice peace, balance, and yoga in a world that looks like this, in a home space that exists like this, and in a mindset that feels like this.
I for one am optimistic for my future self - that I will have learned so much during this time in a way that I never would have before. I mean, can you even imagine how good my savasana will be when we get back into the hot room after all this practice with my kids jumping all over me? Ha!
So here's to you, and me, and all of us. Making an attempt for joy in our life, through the practice (and grace!) of peace, balance, and yoga.
See you at Home!
No level of experience, strength or flexibility are required to safely attempt a Bikram yoga class! However, online classes are a bit of a tricky way to start, especially if you are a visual learner, mostly because it's difficult to see the other students.
Our friends at Wellness Hot Yoga made this video to help new yogis have a better understanding of the postures, so you can feel better during and after your class! Thanks, WHY!!
This coronavirus epidemic has destroyed our sense of normalcy. It’s turned our worlds upside down, leaving us feeling scattered and out of sorts. Everything that was familiar and routine is gone.
We’re finding ourselves having to make adjustments to our lives, to make room for this new (hopefully temporary, but real) normal. It can sound counterintuitive, but developing a daily routine can help us to feel a sense of control and help us to make room for our more-important-than-ever self-care.
Routines create predictability and reduce our stress level.
But what if reclaiming your previous self-care routine isn’t possible given these new circumstances?
Or what if you never had much of a daily rhythm before, but feel desperate for the stability of one now?
Where do you start?
You start small. That’s where.
Use the behavior change strategy of Kaizen or 1% improvement over time.
“Kaizen” is a Japanese term that refers to small, continuous improvement.
It’s about making 1% improvements every day.
So, let’s say you’re someone who staying up past midnight every night lately. You want to go to bed earlier so you have energy for the next day. Instead of forcing yourself to go to bed at 10pm tonight, you go to bed five minutes earlier. Five minutes is your 1%. If you go to bed five minutes earlier everyday, it will take you at least 24 days to be in bed by 10pm. This is kaizen.
At first, it feels like there is no improvement. (You might think: 11:55pm is barely earlier than midnight! I’m desperate for some change now!) It takes some time for each day of 1% change to accumulate. Once these small improvements do build up though, you’ll begin to see and feel the effects of your gradual shift.
With gradual change and continuous improvements, our nervous systems slowly adjust to our new ways of being - allowing our new habits to stick.
Which is really what we need. Better habits now to reduce our stress and better habits that last beyond this crisis, so we remain healthy in body and mind.
Cate Stillman writes this in her book Body Thrive: “The problem with kaizen, for most of us, is that it seems too easy. When you get inspired to change or upgrade a habit, you want big returns. You bite off more than you can chew, which guarantees you’ll fail. The kaizen approach makes the bite small enough that you hardly notice as it nudges you in the direction you want to go.”
This is what I teach in the Vibrant Life Program.
A daily self-care routine that brings balance to the body and mind, that promotes vitality and longevity - so you can cope better right now and stay healthy in the future.
And we do it one step at a time. 1% at a time. For lasting change that doesn’t add more stress to the nervous system. Because that’s the last thing we need right now.
Won’t you join us? Learn 10 essential habits to thrive. Starting April 20.
Lael Peterson is a life coach and Certified Yoga Health Coach with over 20 years experience helping people thrive. She specializes in teaching people the habits and mindset they need to accomplish their goals. Her own life experiences with anxiety, addiction, and cancer combined with her professional expertise make her coaching relatable, practical and powerful. Lael is a member at Home Hot Yoga and believes that a regular hatha yoga practice is an essential component in a vibrant life! The Vibrant Life Program is a mini (coed) version of her popular 6 month program for women, Vibrant Body + Wise Mind.
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:
HHY Founder, Yoga Business Coach, yoga-doer and life-lover, Kay Afif!