Friday, 29 June 2012

Student profile - Karen

Tell us about your very first Bikram Yoga class
Think it was about 2.5 years ago now.  I went because I had practiced the series by someone who taught it a few times just so we could experience it and I loved the sequence.  When I realized there was a Bikram studio opening I couldn't wait to try it 'for real' in a hot room. 

How soon did you come back for your second class?
I came back within the week.  The 2nd class was much harder as the heat really got to me.  Still, I was intrigued by the "after feeling" that the series gave.  I surprised myself by purchasing a pass-card.  Thinking I'd go "once in a while", before I knew it I was going fairly regularly, did a 30-day challenge (or 2) and now buy yearly memberships.

What are some of the benefits you receive from Bikram Yoga?
Besides literally sweating out pain from my body, the biggest benefit I get from the practice is the deep sense of calm I feel after class (and over time also "during" class). 

What keeps you coming back for more?
It feels good!  Plain and simple.  I love and appreciate many different styles of yoga but Bikram yoga is my medicine.

What do you find most challenging about practicing Bikram Yoga?
Getting out the door!  I live in Arthur now so it’s easy to get lazy and just not drive down to Guelph.  But, prior to that, the most challenging part of the actual practice was the mirror.  Who could imagine that could be so hard....but it was!  It’s all there.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  I am slowly making peace with the girl in the mirror.

What’s your favorite posture? Your most dreaded posture?
Favorite and dreaded postures definitely change over time.  Right now I'd have to say the third part of awkward pose is not one I particularly look forward to whereas standing bow pulling pose feels expansive and freeing.

Any tips for new people?
All our experiences are different no doubt.  But some tips I would suggest from my experience would be:  
1. Be patient with yourself and enjoy (its only yoga!);
2. Focus on your breath; allow it to remain calm;
3. Consider not drinking water (or at least try not to guzzle it).  It’s just a distraction;
4. Do less; move as little as possible and
5. Smile at yourself once in a while.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Student Profile - Doug

Tell us about your very first Bikram Yoga class. When was it and why did you go?
I signed up for a two-week trial in late March of 2012, as I recall, then got a 3-month membership and recently signed up for a year. For the last several years I have been getting ample exercise, but in the winter I was seeking something not only physically demanding and beneficial, but potentially transformative in terms of my overall well-being. I had never done any yoga of any type before, but Bikram had the reputation for being particularly beneficial and particularly challenging, so I thought I would jump into what I perceived to be the deep end of the pool. I found the first class extremely demanding: while (as I remember) I was able to complete the class without skipping any postures, it took everything I had to get through. I remember how unstable my legs turned out to be even just during the initial warm-up series, how my muscles and joints refused to cooperate with the instructor’s guidance, and how much I was dwelling on how miserably hot the room was! But I also remember my first walk home: I felt loose, light, and limber, and had a tranquility of a different quality than I had experienced from other forms of exercise in the past.

How soon did you come back for your second class?
It was perhaps two or three days after my first one.

What are some of the benefits you receive from Bikram Yoga?
Apart from the obvious physical benefits – like improved strength, balance, and endurance – I’ve also experienced an increased capacity for calm, focus, and discipline. I also sleep very well after class, and find myself more capable of being fully present when interacting with others. In my work I spend a lot of time reading and writing for extended periods, and I believe Bikram has improved my perspicacity and mental stamina. Also, I’ve found the culture at Bikram to be very diverse and welcoming – great people!

What keeps you coming back for more?
One of the things I like a lot about Bikram is the regularity of the class. Since I know what’s coming each time, I can pace myself depending on how I’m doing that day, I can time water breaks so that I’m not made uncomfortable during certain poses (I discovered early on that drinking too much before/during cobra-locust-bow series was not a great idea!), and I can monitor my performance and my improvement class to class.
Another thing I’m finding is that over time, while the experience becomes no less challenging, with some consistent attendance it becomes pleasurable not only after – but during – the session: never thought that would happen! 
Finally, one thing I really like is the simplicity of yoga practice. There is no equipment or embellishment, just 26 ways of assuming a space over an hour and a half. If only life outside the studio could be so simple!

What do you find most challenging about practicing Bikram Yoga?
Sometimes I find it challenging not to get frustrated with myself if my body isn’t cooperating on a particular day, or in a certain posture. There are times when I can’t summon quite the strength, balance, or composure that I’d like to have, and sometimes it can be challenging to be charitable to or forgiving of myself in those moments.

What’s your favourite posture? Your most dreaded posture?
I think Bow Pose and Toe Stand are probably my favourites, even though I have a hard time maintaining the balance with them and even though there are others I’m certainly better at. I’m really warming up to Triangle Pose too, which is odd to me because I used to fear it most of all.
Most dreaded posture? I’m not sure I can really answer that, because there is definitely more than one that seems to want to claim that title. Currently, Standing Separate Leg to Knee (and Separate Leg Stretching), the third posture in the Locust sequence (both legs), and Half Tortoise (go figure!) are the ones that make me wish I had chosen a different, less agonizing pastime… y’know, maybe like recreational dental surgery.  :)

Any tips for new people?
In my (limited) experience, I think it’s important to realize at the outset that your first few, or several, classes are likely going to be very uncomfortable and highly demanding. It takes time to get used to the heat, and to build up some strength for these postures even if you begin with a good fitness level. I think consistency is really the key to overcoming the initial intensity of the practice; as soon as I began to come three times a week, things quickly got a lot more manageable and enjoyable.
Another thing I would add is that at the beginning, a lot of my discomfort was the result of not attending to my breathing. As a beginner, you’ll probably be so focused on listening to the instructions and making all kinds of adjustments to your posture that you may forget to breathe in a measured and effective way. Once you learn the forms and aren’t depending as much on the instructor, then you can start to pay more attention to your breathing. I think consistency in attendance is again the real key here.
Finally, I would emphasize the importance not only of hydration but being careful what you eat in the hours leading up to practice. Sometimes I’ve eaten something even three or four hours beforehand that can throw my practice off. Anything that induces bloating can make things especially uncomfortable when you’re doubled over! 

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Ardha-Chandrasana Half Moon Pose - For Beginners


Unless you are fortunate enough to be made of cooked spaghetti, your attempt to raise your arms over your head and look like a church steeple will be as fraught with complications as inhaling and exhaling to a count of six. The most frequent problem is that you find your chin is crushed down onto your chest  - instead of 3 inches away from it. Try moving the shoulders backward and look into the mirror. Progress is quick to come!


It might feel super easy to just bend yourself to the right, but those are not bending poses; they are stretching poses. Once you steeple it up and your chis is lifted as much as possible, sway your hips directly to your left before you do anything else. Sense the immediate pulling in the left waist. Now you are doing the right thing - counterbalancing the weight between torso and hips! If you can stretch only one inch to the side in this manner the first day you will be miles ahead of the fellow who breaks at the waist, twists his body, and bends halfway to the floor. He has accomplished nothing, while tomorrow, you will stretch a couple of more inches, and then more and more!!


 You'll always be better at doing things on one side than the other. But it will be a different side with each pose, lopsided creatures like we are! "Staying like a statue"  - for a count of ten! The exercises are called "poses" for good reason. The object is to reach the ultimate correct stretch that you, on that day, are capable of, then to hold it for 10 honest seconds! You then relax to allow the blood to circulate and normalize, then you stretch again. This alteration is where the benefit is derived! So don´t advance and retreat like a nervous puppy - freeze like a pointer!


You will be making many sounds in this pose  - totally normal, but make sure you breath once in a while! "Just let your head go" seams simple enough. Except that it won't seem to go back. Relax! Focus your attention on the base of your neck and let it go in that spot. More. The back bending won´t be half as difficult or uncomfortable if only you relax!. This pose requires both stretching and bending. Keep knees and feet together! Gather your courage, renew your effort to push hips and thighs forward, and just let go there. Make sure your bum is nice and tight, that will protect your back! But most of all  - if you learn to relax in that pose you can´t hurt you! (think of babies who are super relaxed and can bounce back from falling..and drunks who often fall over with no injuries..just because they are relaxed)

You will probably feel dizzy when you get there and you will want to collapse your hands on your head. But don' t give in!!!

Read more about the benefits of this pose and a watch a video  -

Drawings and info from "Bikram´s Beginning Yoga Class " Book, 1978.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Homemade Electrolyte drink

When it gets so hot outside and you also plan yoga class into your day  - you need to hydrate a lot. Just plain water might just go through your system. There are many ways to get fresh natural electrolyte replenishment from foods such as oranges, coconuts and honey, plus, save a few dollars by preparing your own sports drink that your body will embrace. But if you didn't have time to make your own electrolyte drink  - coconut water is your best friend! You will find different home made drink recipes from here!


Water is the main ingredient as it will act as the primary carrier of the electrolytes. It must be as clean as possible to work optimally. If you do not have the luxury of a home bottled water dispenser, simply boil water in a tea kettle. Incidentally, distilled water--the captured vapor from boiling water--is the best. It is very close to pure water, having almost all trace elements such as minerals, pollutants and other contaminants, removed. If you want distilled water, it's best to purchase it because collecting the vapor is difficult to do at home. Sometimes you can ask your bottled water carrier if they offer distilled water instead of spring. Tap water should be your last resort.


Electrolytes are basically salts. Salts keep your body's electrically conductive to maintain cell voltage for receiving or passing along information. Regular table salt works fine as long as it contains sodium chloride, which almost all salts are made of. Some also have potassium iodide, which is also excellent for your cocktail. If you can locate fine grain salt, it dissolves much faster. Using a mortar and pestle on regular salt work just as well.




Oranges, grapefruits, tangerine, lemons and limes--try to always have these on hand as they are the best ingredients for electrolyte replenishment. Oranges are a particularly good choice. This is why you may have seen many athletes gorging themselves on juicy slices. Citrus fruits are great, even alone, for electrolytes. However, adding some other ingredients can enhance the effect.

Containers and Recipes

When you make your electrolyte drink, make sure that you're using a container that you like to travel with. If you like your container it will increase the chances that you will indulge in your drink concoction more often.

The Lip Twister - tart and sweet

  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 whole squeezed orange (or one frozen can of orange juice)
  • 1 liter of water

Easy Sweet - not too sugary

  • 2 cups of coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of Stevia (natural sweetener) or honey
  • 1 liter of water

Mix It Up - use a blender

  • 2 bananas
  • 3 cups of coconut milk or 2 cups of strawberries
  • 1 cup of water and ice
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Juice of 1/2 of a lemon

Fast and Dirty #1 - bare bones approach

  • 2 lemon halves squeezed into a glass
  • 2 orange halves added
  • Squirt of honey
  • Four shakes of salt
  • Fill the glass with water and gulp down

Fast and Dirty #2

  • 1 bottle or can of V8 vegetable juice (any flavor)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of orange juice


In addition to making your own electrolyte drink there are many foods that will help with replenishment as well. These include: avocados, broccoli, yogurt, tofu and apricots.

(article from and photos from google search)

Friday, 15 June 2012

Student profile - Tiffany

1) Tell us about your first Bikram Yoga class…
My Bikram Yoga journey began in May of 2010. One of my best friends had recently been exposed to BYG and she thought that it may just be the one thing that could balance out my life. I like to keep busy, be efficient, and generally seek adrenalin-inducing challenges. I am also a veterinary student – a demanding program no less, but one in which you really need to learn how to take time for yourself if you intend to live in the present and have a balanced lifestyle. She was right, Bikram began to recentre me from the very first class. 

2) How soon did you come back for your second class?
I believe it was only a couple of days later that I returned to the ‘torture chamber’, as my first teacher referred to it. I will be honest, I sought the day where the heat would be a benefit instead of torture – and to me, that would only happen if I kept giving myself a chance to adjust. The first year of my journey I practiced about 2-3x per week, but in that last year I have discovered that 5-6x a week is a better fit for me.

3) What are some of the benefits you receive from Bikram Yoga?
For me, it is combination of physical and mental exertion. By returning to the heat and trying to put every unit of energy you have left into the postures, while observing how you are feeling that day – you experience a moment of relaxation and concentration. The concentration that develops as you practice regularly is one of the most appealing benefits of Bikram Yoga in my opinion. I try to carry this skill into my work and school, knowing that overcoming the many distractions in life may not only benefit my career, but help me to be more attentive of the great small moments that pass us by daily. Along with the relaxation and concentration comes an appreciation of your health. I suffer from a condition called Samter’s syndrome that consists of obstructive sinusitis and asthma, among other things. I am able to feel the difference in my breathing when I am practicing regularly. About a year ago, I had a severe episode and was unable to practice. When I finally was able to breathe through my nose I returned to BYG, and found the recovery to occur much quicker. It was like a daily dose of symptomatic treatment both for my lungs and airways – which led to me seeking daily practice. 

4) What keeps you coming back for more?
While the benefits are undeniable, the practice is addicting – it becomes part of your life. For me, requiring the health benefits is a major pull. I also find the release that comes with the physical aspects of yoga desirable, as sometimes that exhausting relaxation just refocuses your day and enables you not only to do more, but concentrate on the present. Bikram Yoga really is a full body/mind practice – each part benefitting differently, but requiring it all the same.

5) What do you find most challenging about practicing Bikram Yoga?
Focus is both a result and deterrent for my practice. From family to friends to school to the little things that are always occurring – maintaining focus while in class in order to obtain a more sustained concentration outside of the studio, is most challenging for me. Regardless of the importance of the daily obstacles that one faces, it needs to stay outside of the studio. Well, it would be ideal. But, you learn to work through it – or at least just observe the topics clouding your focus while Bikram Yoga works to recentre your attention to both the physical and mental 
 requirements of your body, that day. 

6) What is your favourite posture? What is your most dreaded posture?
I would have to say all of the backward bends are my favourite. Certain days these bends are better than others depending on how I feel physically, but I find they are my most craved postures. The strength that is both a requirement and a result of backward bend, camel, etc. challenges my body while giving it the stretch that it desires. My most dreaded posture is without a doubt Awkward pose. From day one this pose is like a race from beginning to end. I do not regard my practice as a countdown, but in Awkward I cannot help it. I challenge myself every day to appreciate this posture – but this needs practice, much more practice. 

7) Any tips for new people?
First off, ensure you are feeding your body the nutrients that it needs to take part in this experience and be sure to hydrate – it will literally keep you standing. Secondly, I would like beginners to be aware that we all have been there – that very first time you step into the studio, feel the rush of heat envelop you and you wonder - can I stay in here for even 20 minutes, let alone 90 minutes? Well, just get through the first class – be gentle with your body and really try to make it into a learning experience. We are all still learning, we all still feel the heat, and we all still feel that pain in our hamstrings. The only thing that really changes is your perception of it – it not only becomes something that your body/mind craves, but a means of improvement as you develop an appreciation for the heat as it protects you from the pain, and the pain as it recentres your mind to take care of those parts of your body. It is always challenging, but that’s why we do it.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Delicious Cold Lemon Pie !

I had a baby shower in my house and I made a pie from my Estonian pie book. It is great for summer gatherings, as it is very light tasting and it doesn't take much time. 4 people asked for the recipe so I translated it for them and now I am sharing it with my Bikram Yogis :). If you end up making it, let us know how you liked it! It is worth the try as It doesn't take much effort at all!

Cold lemon pie

Digestive cookies 160g ( available in most food stores)
80 g butter
1 tbsp. Brown Sugar

5 egg yolks
400 g condensed milk  (its 300ml)
Squeezed lemon juice 1 dl (3-4 lemons) (its half a cup)

2.5 dl whipping cream (it’s up to you how much you want to decorate)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 lemon thinly sliced (this is a cool decorating idea!)

Crush cookies and mix with melted butter and brown sugar. Push mixture on a circle baking tray, corners too. Bake in 175 C (350 F) for 5-8 minutes and let cool. Beat the egg yolks until light and fluffy fluff, add condensed milk, and whip them forth. Mix in the lemon juice. Pour over bottom and share evenly. Bake another 10 minutes and cool. Put into the freezer and hold it, minimum 3 hours or overnight. Take the cake at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before serving. Whip the cream with vanilla sugar and decorate the cake with whipped cream and slices of lemon.


Friday, 8 June 2012

Pranayama - Standing Deep Breathing - For Beginners

Feet together

The first thing you will notice about the ridiculously simple maneuver of standing with your feet together is that you can' t do it. Feet together means heels together, bunion bones touching. Once you get this firmly in mind and keep reminding yourself, your heels will behave most of the time, but your toes won' t. They will refuse to stay together and pointed directly forward because you will feel as though you're falling to one side or another. You' ll be tempted to spread your toes for support. But keep them together and don' t panic. You won' t fall over. And you will soon feel comfortable in the stance.

Interlace your fingers

Most people are able to interlace their fingers and put them under their chins without much trouble - but then things get tough. Avoid the common error of arching or breaking the wrists upward leaving the elbows dangling Clara Bow style. Keep the wrists relaxed and down, with the nice straight line from knuckles to elbows.

Raise your elbows

Don' t be discouraged if you can't raise your arms above shoulder level at first. Concentrate on pressing the chin against the knuckles so firmly that you finally make them crack.

Breathing with your throat (inhale)

As for breathing, that will come when finally you understand what is meant by "breathing with the throat". If, on the intake, you feel it in your nostrils and make a sniffing sound, you' re not using your throat. To get the air where it belongs, you must pull it in steadily through your nose, until the pressure of it forces a snoring sound in the back of your throat. 


The exhalation will be even more disconcerting than the inhalation. To do it properly, just reverse the air flow, forcing it slowly and steadily up to ricochet off that same "snore" spot in the back of the throat under the nose, allowing the air to find its own way out of your slightly opened mouth. At the same time, be sure to touch the wrists as well as the elbows together. You might feel dizzy  - do not close your eyes or you'll topple over.


Because of sedentary habits, most people use only ten percent of their lungs, never allowing the lungs to reach the maximum expansion capacity that Nature intended.  As a result, they are susceptible to emphysema, asthma, shortness of breath and dozens of other breathing problems.  Standing Deep Breathing teaches you to use the other ninety percent of your lungs.

This exercise should be done before any kind of physical activity. Because it expands the lungs to their full capacity, it increases circulation to the whole body, waking everything up and preparing the muscles for action. 

Read more about this poses benefits, pictures, video and tips from here
Drawings and info from "Bikram´s Beginning Yoga Class " Book, 1978.

Did you know that this breathing exercise gives you energy and power to do the whole class? That is why we truly recommend not to come in late, or you will miss that amazing part!!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Recipe of the week - Kale chips

1 bunch kale
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 - 1/2 Cup of sesame seeds
1 teaspoon seasoned salt

Take one bunch of kale, leaves ripped up chip size, in a bowl. Mix in olive oil, seasoned salt, lemon juice and sesame seeds. Mix it all up; spread onto baking sheet; bake in oven for about 30 min. at 220F. Makes a nice healthy snack. Good calcium-filled snack!

(Photo from Canadian Living)
Recipe from Corinne! :)