Spotlight On Spine Twisting Posture

Yoga Downtown Sarasota

On the window displayed on the Bikram Yoga Studio in downtown Sarasota, a yogi is sitting in the spine twisting pose with the words Flexibility, Health, Balance, Strength, and Focus encompassing him.

Spine Twisting Pose, or Ardha Matsyendrasana, is the 26th posture in the Bikram Yoga practice.

This is a universal yoga pose with variations. Even though the 26 sequential postures in the practice are designed to set the body up for the next posture, this is an exercise that may be practiced at any time during the day or evening.

One of the benefits is reduced lower back pain and many follow. It is also an excellent compliment to forward and backward bending postures in the practice. 

The posture may be demonstrated in a few ways. In the Bikram practice, sit with both hips evenly on the floor, bend your right knee with toes pointing back, cross your left leg over the right knee on the floor so that hand, heel, knee, and ankle bone touch, place your right hand on the floor at the base of spine for stability or for a deeper stretch wrap it around your back with hand reaching for inner thigh of costume. Keep knee planted on floor, spine elongated and twist to see the wall behind you. Twist further if there is not a strain. Uncross legs and arms and perform the posture on the opposite side. 

Things to keep in mind while in the posture, exhale as you twist, learn slightly forward, lengthen the spine from the sacrum to the crown of the head. Keep the ankle, heel, and elbow in alignment. Keep both hips evenly on the floor. 

Benefits are tenfold and include:

Physical Benefits:

  • Stretches back muscles to keep back supple 

  • Improves flexibility of the spine

  • Helps reduce back pain

  • Ease cramps in the midsection from digestive issues

  • Increases circulation to internal organs including kidneys and liver for improved function

  • Improves blood flow in between spinal disks 

  • Increases hip flexibility

Emotional Benefits: 

  • Helps relieve stress and anxiety with an increases focus on breath

  • Promotes grounding and stability

With this, is as with any posture, it is important to listen to the body and not over exert. Recognize the difference between pain and slight discomfort and ease up if pain is felt. 

Replenish Lost Electrolytes Through Foods You Eat

Sarasota Bikram Yoga

Just as it is important to hydrate before coming to class, it is equally important to be sure the body has a full electrolyte supply. Losing these essential minerals is inevitable through working out in the heat and through excessive sweating. Even though this is a side effect, the benefits of a regular Bikram yoga practice outweigh any consequential effect. And with thoughtful preparation before practice, you can ensure the body has a full supply of electrolytes not only through hydrating fluids, but also through the foods you eat. 


What are electrolytes

Electrolytes are minerals consisting of potassium, sodium, calcium, chloride, and magnesium which have an electric charge. They are needed to balance water levels in the body, move nutrients in and wastes out of cells, help ensure proper function of nerves, muscles, heart, and brain. 

Electrolyte imbalance is caused by both dehydration and over hydration in the body. Certain medicines, illnesses, excessive sweating, and liver and kidney malfunction can also cause an imbalance. 

Symptoms include fatigue, confusion, muscle spasms and cramps, irregular heartbeat, changes in blood pressure. 

While sports drinks and coconut water may be the first things that come to mind as a way to replenish, there are numerous foods you can eat to keep things balanced. 

Electrolyte-rich foods include:

Broccoli 

Spinach

Kale

Avocado

Potatoes

Beans

Almonds

Bananas

Oranges

Peanuts

Yogurt

Turkey, chicken, and fish

Raisins

Olives

Canned soups and vegetables

Before coming to class it is important to hydrate and make sure electrolyte levels are in check. You can do this by eating a balanced, nutrient-dense diet, with foods rich in electrolytes and water supply. 

4 Essential Oils to Use Outside of the Yoga Studio

Sarasota Bikram Yoga Studio

The use of essential oils inside the studio is not suggested, however they can be especially beneficial outside of the hot room. In an earlier post we wrote about the power of peppermint essential oil and its many benefits that may enhance our practice. Some of those benefits include its cooling properties, promoting mental alertness, aiding in digestion, headache relief, among many others. There are a wide array of essential oils to work with, below are four and some of the positive effects they may have outside of the yoga studio.

Tea Tree Oil 

This oil has antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties which can be a lifesaver when washing sweaty yoga clothes that may travel home in a dark plastic bag or even left on until arriving home. Tea tree oil rids clothes of any odors, germs, and eliminates mold and mildew. This is also a cure-all for clothes forgotten in the washer that become musty smelling.

Add ten drops to a wash load with your regular laundry detergent. 

Lavender 

This universally-loved scent is well known for its calming effects relieving stress and tension. It also has anti-fungal and anti-nausea effects.  

Use it in a spray bottle diluted with water as a bed linen spray or rub a few drops in palms of hands and wipe over pillowcases for a restful night’s sleep.  

Spike Lavender

This essential oil smells much different than regular lavender, it has an energizing camphor-like aroma which promotes concentration and focus. It may also be used diluted in oil or water and applied topically to repel insects and to ease muscles and arthritis-induced aches and pains. 

Try adding a few drops to the shower floor to create a spa-like steam room effect

Oil of Oregano 

This powerful plant has strong antioxidant properties that may help to fight off colds and flus serving as a natural source for immune health. Several studies have shown that carvacrol and thymol, two compounds found in oregano, have antibacterial properties. You can add fresh or dried oregano to your food or swallow a couple of drops of oil with water. 

Always consult with your healthcare provider before using any essential oils. 

Ways to Hydrate with Increased Heat and Humidity

Bikram Yoga Downtown Sarasota

As the heat and humidity rise it is more important than ever to ensure proper hydration. Plain filtered and spring water, non caffeinated herbal teas, kombucha, coconut and mineral waters are all good ways to replenish lost fluids before and after class. Did you know you can also get 20 percent of your hydration through the foods we eat?

It’s easy this time of year to find an abundance of fresh, healthy, local, organic fruits and vegetables that help hydrate. Along with providing hydration, these foods also contain an abundant source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients.

Food choices with high water content include:

  • Strawberries – 92 percent water and and great source of vitamin C, antioxidants, and folate. 

  • Cucumbers – 96 percent water and an excellent source of electrolytes. Other ways to replenish electrolytes through food may be found here.

  • Celery – 95 percent water and a natural source of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. 

  • Lettuce – with iceberg packing the most water at 96 percent, look for other leafy green varieties for more vitamins A, C, K, and folate. 

  • Watermelon – 92 percent water and packed full of vitamin C, lycopene, and beta-carotene. 

Here’s a recipe for watermelon agua fresca, a delicious alternative to plain water. 

What we do outside of the studio before and after class is as important as our practice. Remember to replenish after to restore hydration and electrolyte levels and before to be in proper balance before taking a class. 

Self Care - Spring Cleaning for Mind & Body

Bikram Yoga Sarasota

With Spring in full bloom, this is a time to refresh, reset, and renew. Many people think of spring as a time to thoroughly clean living and working spaces. This is also an opportunity to spring clean your mind and body through self care. 

Spring Cleaning Origins

The actual term dates back decades through age-old cultural practices. This annual cleaning of the home came about after winter passed to clean up the heating residue that coal and wood left in the home. There are also religious and cultural roots for the term relating to the time of year of Passover and Lent. This is also the Persian New Year which is celebrated with a 13-day ritual that involves cleaning the home and even refreshing wardrobes with new clothes. 

What is Self Care?

The definition of self care is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, particular during periods of stress. It’s important to recognize self care does not translate to selfish care, rather quite the opposite. It is nearly impossible to nurture and give back to others if our own tanks are depleted. When we take care of ourselves we are giving the best version of ourselves to those around us and are able to project that onto others through kindness, patience, and mindfulness. 

There are different types of self care to practice and both fall into emotional and physical categories. 

Emotional — allowing oneself to experience feelings even not-so-good ones. Acknowledge, honor, move through them, and allow them to pass. This is also an opportunity to be kind to oneself — having the same compassion and kindness for yourself that you have for those who you love and care for the most

Physical – taking care of the body through exercise, proper nutrition, and adequate rest. 
Bikram Yoga is an excellent way to practice self care — it allows you to take 90 minutes of your day improving your mental and physical wellbeing. It enhances patience, mindfulness, and makes us more pleasant people to be around to family, friends, and coworkers. So use this season to spring clean your mind and body through self care. 

A Gift for Your Love, a Friend, or Yourself

Bikram Yoga Sarasota

Valentine’s Day has become a day to celebrate love and affection with gifts, dinners, and greeting cards. It is a tradition that dates back to the early 1400s honoring three different saints named Valentine, or Valentinus, each with its own story. One is the story of a priest named Valentine was put to rest for performing secret marriages when marriage was banned by a Roman emperor because he believed that single men made better soldiers than those who were married with families. 

 Today, Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14 in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Great Britain, and Australia. Popularly it is celebrated among significant others with showers of affection in the forms of flowers, chocolates, nice dinners, cards, jewelry, etc. However, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to only be for couples. Galentine’s Day has become popular as a way of singles to recognize the day and whether coupled or not you can celebrate your friendships and bring a pal to class. 


Also remember to love yourself by making your own health a top priority. There is no better way to show love to yourself or others than with the gift of health. So whether it’s a Bikram Yoga Sarasota gift certificate, an invitation to take a class, or showing yourself love by practicing on this special day, Bikram Yoga is perfect for Valentine’s Day.


Something to note: While it is important to maintain a regular practice for optimal health and if you feel a bug coming on coming to class may help nip it in the bud, but if you are already sick and/or taking medication, refrain from practice until you are better. 

Stay Healthy Over the Holidays

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The holidays are upon us and taking care of oneself doesn’t have to be compromised because of the season. There are plenty of healthy food options available, cooler temperatures allow for more movement outdoors, and the studio is open 365 days per year with special holiday class times. 

Diet

There is an abundance of healthy food options available during the winter months. The benefits of eating seasonal, local foods are tenfold. Food has the most nutrients the closer to harvest it is eaten, something to think about when you see that bag of lettuce or spinach on the grocery store shelf. The downtown Sarasota Farmers Market is within close proximity to the studio and offers a wealth of seasonal, local, and organic food vendors. A few yummy seasonal food options which can fuel your body are:

  • Avocado

  • Broccoli

  • Brussel Sprouts

  • Cabbage

  • Carrots

  • Cauliflower

  • Celery

  • Cilantro 

  • Cucumbers

  • Eggplant

  • And so much more! 

Another tip to stay healthy during the holidays is to eat a light nutritious meal before heading out to holiday gatherings. This will help you to resist the temptation of over-indulgent food choices. If you drink, do so in moderation. Drink water in between cocktails, beer, or wine, and stick to mixers like soda water or fresh fruit juice. 

Movement and Keeping Up a Regular Practice

Take advantage of the cooler temperatures and walk, run, bike, garden, or practice any other outdoor activity you enjoy. There are benefits to working out outdoors as opposed to an indoor gym which include: fresh air, sunshine and a dose of essential Vitamin D, and the terrain works muscles gym equipment cannot provide. 

You can also keep a regular practice, the studio is opened 365 days a year with special class times offered on holidays. On Saturdays at 12 noon during the month of December, the studio is offering Inferno Hot Pilates classes. Check the website or Facebook page for updated hours and classes.

Happy Holidays from your Sarasota Bikram Yogis!

Welcome Kristen Perez Teaching Inferno Hot Pilates

Inferno Hot Pilates Sarasota

Welcome Kristen Perez, certified Inferno Hot Pilates instructor, to the Bikram Yoga Sarasota studio. Kristen joins us from New York City and is teaching Inferno Hot Pilates classes every Saturday in December at 12 p.m. Last year, she completed her wellness coach training with Gabriela Walters.  

Despite having a day job as an accountant, Kristen made staying active a priority trying just about everything including running, swimming, cycling, yoga, dance, basketball, and various other sports.  

As a longtime practitioner of yoga, she was always drawn to the importance of the mind-body connection in practice. Outside of yoga, she had not found this connection.  She had tried other activities to find it, but always fell short. 

Two years ago her mom asked her to try this new class called Inferno Hot Pilates. Skeptical at first until her mom mentioned burpees, planks, and serious ab workouts! Once she tried it, she discovered it was much more than that and was hooked!  

For Kristen, the Inferno Hot Pilates class really calls for your “inner warrior” and is a great compliment to a yoga practice. So, if you’re looking to strengthen your practice, or just want to get a great workout and feel awesome doing it, then her Kristen’s is what you’re looking for!

WHAT IS INFERNO HOT PILATES?

Inferno Hot Pilates is a training system which combines Pilates principles with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and it is performed in a room heated to 95 degrees Fahrenheit and 40 percent humidity. It is a high-intensity, low-impact exercise, easy on your joints and muscles. It is an intense, full-body workout designed to strengthen muscles, increase flexibility, and improve overall health.

BENEFITS OF INFERNO HOT PILATES

  • Fast results: the quickest way to burn fat and gain/maintain muscle at the same time.

  • Super-efficient: 20 minutes of HIIT burns as much calories as 45 minutes of running.

  • Creates long lean muscle mass and a stronger core.

  • Improves circulation.

  • Prevents the body from hitting a plateau.

  • Boosts metabolism and will continue to burn hundreds of calories hours after the workout is complete.

Standing Head-To-Knee Pose

Bikram Yoga Sarasota

Standing Head-To-Knee pose, or Dandayamana Janushirasana, is a balancing posture with a multitude of benefits for both the mind and body. The Sanskrit name broken down into six parts means, danda, stick; yamana, balancing or maintaining; jana, knee; shiksa, head; and asana, posture or pose

This posture is exercised in the beginning part of the class as part of the balancing series. Practicing balance enhances mental concentration and focus, determination, and calmness of the breath and mind. 

Some benefits of Standing Head-To-Knee pose include:

  • Strengthening the muscles of:

    • Legs

    • Abdominals

    • Ankles and feet

  • Improves flexibility of the hamstrings and Achilles tendon

  • Stretches sciatic nerves

  • Improves concentration, balance, and determination


What is most important is the correct form not going further into the posture before the initial part is mastered. You are in the posture and reaping the benefits if you have the standing leg’s knee locked and holding your foot/leg. Pull in the abdominals while doing so to protect the lower back. Slowly, lift the leg and kick the heel out while trying to straighten the leg. Pull the toes back towards the face to stretch the Achilles tendon. 

In this expression of the posture, the muscles of the upper back, deltoids, and biceps are also being strengthened. The last part is to bend the elbows and touch the forehead to the knee stretching the spine and improving blood flow to the brain. 

With all postures keep the breath flowing through the nose and practice at your own pace honoring the body without overworking.

Warm Mineral Springs

Bikram Yoga Sarasota

With the red tide affecting our beautiful Gulf beaches, it gives us a good reason to explore our extraordinary area and look for other outdoor activities. Approximately 40 minutes from the downtown studio is the Warm Mineral Springs Park in North Port. 

This is the only warm mineral spring in Florida and visitors have been frequenting these so called healing waters for decades.There is a plaque upon entry titled, The Original Fountain of Youth, which states the Springs is the Fountain of Youth sought by Ponce De Leon. 

An underground spring produces nine million gallons of water daily. The water is 87 degrees year round, which feels comfortably warm yet still refreshing in the hot summer months. 

Soaking in the Springs is a form of balneotherapy, which is treating disease through immersing oneself in mineral waters. Health claims include increased circulation and blood flow, increased metabolism, absorption of essential minerals through the skin, and help with other digestive issues and diseases.

These springs are rich in over 50 minerals including sodium, potassium, silica, sulfate, selenium, and radium. Minerals are alkaline which can help the body recover and regenerate itself. They also contain positive ions which can help with chronic pain and some types of disease. 

Not all of the health claims are not proven to be true, although soaking in warm mineral springs induces relaxation which in turn calms the breath and quiets the mind much like the Bikram Yoga practice. 

The park is surrounded by breathtaking grounds with grassy areas and shady trees to relax under. It is open year round (except on Christmas day) and the cost for Sarasota residents is $15. If interested, more information can be found on their website.

Even though the situation with the beaches can be disheartening, it is fun to explore and discover the abundant natural beauty around the area. Places in nature like the Springs can compliment a yoga practice by providing relaxation and a sense of overall well being. 

The Name Behind Eagle Pose and It’s Benefits 

hot yoga downtown Sarasota

Eagle Pose or Garudasana was named after Garuda. In Hindu mythology, Garuda is a bird creature, half eagle and half human. He is known as “King of the Birds.” He represents birth and heaven and is associated with sun and fire.

During this posture, along with strength, flexibility, and balance you also sharpen the third eye chakra from the concentration of focusing on one point in the mirror to help hold the pose. The name Eagle relates to the keen and observant eye of an eagle who can see 4-8 times stronger than the average human. This pose helps to enhance intuition and clarity. 

In this posture, first you swing your right arm under left, crossing at the elbows and wrists. Palms face each other and fingers are below the nose. Pull the elbows down, this helps to open up the shoulders.

Then, sit down low and twist your legs by lifting the right leg high across the left wrapping the foot behind the lower calf so all five toes are visible in the front mirror..

In the second set, you switch sides, the left arm swings under the right, and the left leg wraps over the right. 

There are numerous benefits and some include:

  1. Improves balance
  2. Strengthens legs, trapezius, and deltoids
  3. Reduces varicose veins
  4. Awakens the 14 major joints in the skeletal system:
    1. Ankles
    2. Shoulder blades
    3. Shoulders
    4. Wrists
    5. Elbows
    6. Hips
    7. Knees

 

Studio Etiquette

Hot yoga Sarasota

Please help us maintain an intentional, considerate space that will facilitate your yoga practice by observing the following:

BEFORE CLASS:

  • Sign in when you arrive to the studio.
  • Leave your expectations and your shoes in the lobby.
  • Come early! If you are on time, you are late! Classes start on time, the studio is locked during class.
  • Please use the restroom before class.
  • Turn off cell phones and please refrain from using them in the studio.
  • In consideration for those with sensitivities or allergies, please refrain from wearing scented products in class. No perfume, cologne, essential oils, or any fragrances in the yoga room.

DURING CLASS:

  • Bring only mat, towel, and water into the yoga room. Please leave purses, gym bags, cell phones, watches, fit bits, gum, and other personal belongings in the dressing room or your car.
  • Make sure your water bottle has a lid and is not made of glass.
  • Please find a space close to the mirror, filling up the classroom from front to back (beginners may stay in the back). Please work together to create enough space for everyone and a good flow of energy through the room.
  • Maintain silence in the yoga room before and after class as many students utilize this time to quietly meditate. Respect the silence of your neighbors.
  • Follow the directions exactly, as they are given, to the best of your ability in each posture. Focus on what you can do now, rather then what you can’t do yet. When you are not actively doing a pose, try to remain calm and still, and focus on yourself in the front mirror. Any extra movement are distractions to you and others.
  • Stay in the yoga room. It’s always okay to take a break if you need to. If you must step out, please notify the instructor first, and re-enter the class between postures.
  • Allow yourself to sweat with no wiping. Sweat has a cleansing effect and helps regulate your body temperature.
  • Practice on your mat and towel unless you are instructed to step off your mat. The towel is there to catch the sweat. Please do your best to keep sweat on your mat/towel.(Hand towels are provided to wipe the sweat off the floor after the standing series. We do NOT use them or any prep for the postures).
  • Move together with the class during postures. Please reserve additional postures or stretches you want to practice until after final Savasana.
  • Be a good role model. Practice your stillness and discipline between poses. Notice if you are in front of a beginner, they will follow you.
  • Have compassion for yourself and others. Remember: “Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

AFTER CLASS

  • Still no talking
  • Enjoy Savasana. This is the final relaxation. Please do not leave the room until the teacher does. The last few moments of relaxation in Savasana at the end of class may be the most important.
  • Place rental mats on the ballet bar or hangers in the back of the room when finished with Savasana and rental towels/hand towels in the bins in the lobby or the changing rooms.
  • After class, respect others’ Savasana time and leave the room quietly – walk softly, roll your mat carefully, and shut the door gently.
  • Please limit your shower time to two to three minutes in consideration of others.
  • Check to make sure you have your personal belongings, if you forgot something be sure to come back within 24 hours to collect.
  • Take the peaceful energy you create in class into the rest of your day.

See you tomorrow, Namaste!

Tips for Practicing in Higher Humidity

yoga downtown sarasota

You may have noticed your Bikram Yoga practice is a little extra sweaty during the summer months. While the outside temperature has increased, it may seem like that translates into higher temps in the studio, but it’s the higher humidity, not the heat that you are feeling. 

A regularly practice is essential during the summer to help you better acclimate to the outside temperatures and to keep your practice consistent throughout the year to reap maximum health benefits. Here are some tips on how to best tolerate the increased humidity both inside and outside of the studio.

Listen to Your Body

Sweat is your body’s natural air conditioning. With the increased humidity in the air though, sweat doesn’t evaporate from the skin as readily and internal body temperatures may rise. This may also cause an increased heart rate. As with any session, it’s important to listen to your body. Remember, every day and every body is different. Honor what yours is feeling and don’t push it beyond reasonable limits. 

Stay Extra Hydrated

Staying hydrated assists your natural internal ac unit by allowing you to sweat to cool down. Keeping hydration levels consistent the days before and after practice is key. Remember, you can also hydrate with the foods you eat and with other non-alcoholic and caffeine-free beverages along with plain water.  

Also remember to replace lost electrolytes. You can avoid sugary sports drinks with natural electrolyte-rich sources such as coconut water, watermelon, bananas, and vegetables. 

Wear the Right Clothing

You don’t have to go out and overspend on expensive yoga clothing. But it is important to wear moisture-wicking materials. Avoid cotton clothing because they absorb sweat, become heavy, and get in the way while in some postures. You want to wear clothing that moves with you and does not require adjusting in order to stay in a meditative state during practice.  

 

Foods that Cool and Hydrate

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It’s important to stay well hydrated in the hot summer months upon us. It’s not just the heat that can be depleting, but also the increased humidity. Even with increased heat and humidity, it’s important to keep up your Bikram Yoga practice during the summer. It will actually help you adjust better to the temperatures outside and keep your mind and body in shape year round. 

Fresh water, mineral water, herbal caffeine-free teas, and juice are all excellent ways to replenish fluids, but the foods you can eat play a big role in hydration and cooling the body down as well. Here are some examples that will help you to have your best Bikram yoga practice this summer.

Watermelon

An added bonus with this juicy fruit is that along with being rich in carotene and vitamins A and C, it’s rich in electrolytes. It’s important to replenish electrolytes after sweat-inducing exercise. Watermelon is one of the most water-dense fruits you can eat. Eat it whole or extract the juice for a yummy alternative to plain water. 

Cucumber

It is 95 percent water and is perfect for snacking on, juicing, and even added to plain water to give it flavor. This cooling vegetable can also reduce swelling, like on puffy eyes, and help calm sunburn.

Mint

In an earlier post, we mentioned the powerful benefits of peppermint, one of which is it’s cooling effect on the body. You can use mint in a variety of ways to reap its benefits. Chop it up and use in salads and on other vegetables, steep the leaves to make a refreshing tea, add it to plain water, or add to fruit salads and desserts. 

Why You Should Practice Without Gadgets

Sarasota Hot Yoga

When practicing Bikram Yoga, you are in your most natural, real, vulnerable state. Even if your hair was fixed, or for the ladies your makeup applied perfectly, the sweat from the heat and humidity is sure to mess it up and melt it away quickly. 

This is one of the purest forms of yoga. There are mirrors surrounding you and for a good portion of the class, you are instructed to look directly at yourself in them. Clothing is simple because the heat and humidity of the room dictate that it pretty much has to be. Other than your mat, towel, and water, there is no need to bring anything else into the yoga studio. This includes watches and watches that are synced to a mobile device, smart phones, fitness tracking devices, etc. 

Bikram yoga is beneficial equally for the mind as it is the body integrating the two together. This is why it’s called a 90-minute moving meditation–movement in the body, calmness of the mind. Give yourself these 90 minutes to dedicate this practice solely to you without outside distractions of text messages, emails, phone calls, etc. 

If you are on a specially-regimented fitness routine where tracking your heart rate and other fitness-related goals is necessary, use the device in just a few classes, get an average of your rates, then leave it at home. Using such devices breaks the union between the mind and the body. It takes away from listening to your own body. Each class may feel different on any given day and it’s important to stay in-tuned with the messages you are receiving. 

These gadgets take yoga out of its natural state. This is the state of yoga which has proven to be beneficial for thousands of years. Reap the maximum benefits of this incredible practice in your most natural, real, and gadget-free state. 

The Importance of Following Instruction Part II

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The last post was about the importance of following the exact Bikram Yoga instruction not only to receive maximum benefits, but to also protect the body when moving through the postures. Here are some additional instructions taught during the practice and the reasons they are important.

Breathing with the Mouth Open

In the first breathing exercise, called pranayama, the fingers are clasped under the chin and the stomach is sucked in for six counts of inhalation and then six counts of exhalation. When the head goes back, you’ll hear to breath out through your mouth with a “ha” sound. This is to warm up and prepare the body for class.

Breathing Through the Nose 

With the exception of the two breathing exercises, you will will hear to breath through the nose only and this is to help cool the body down. 

Opening the Chest and Shoulders

During standing bow, the ankle is grasped from the inside to assist with opening the chest and shoulder once deeper into the posture. When kicking the leg back and up while the upper body and opposite arm are down and forward, it important to keep the arm that’s holding onto the foot relaxed to allow the chest and shoulders to open up. Too tight of a grip and a tense arm will prevent this opening. 

The same holds true in floor bow when holding onto both ankles and kicking the legs back and up simultaneously. You’ll be instructed to use the hands like hooks with straight wrists, this looser grip keeps the arms relaxed to again allow for the chest and shoulders to open up. 

Stretching the Achilles Tendon 

When in standing head-to-knee and head-to-knee and stretching poses, kicking your heal out and flexing your foot back to your face is done to stretch the Achilles Tendon. This is especially important for the health and flexibility of the lower leg and for improving leg circulation.

Getting Oxygenated Blood Circulating

Keeping arms and legs close to the body in savasana allows for the heart to not have to work as hard to get the freshly oxygenated blood flowing faster to the arms, legs, and knees.

Release Toxins

When doing kapalbhati, or blowing in firm, breathing at the end of class, you will breath in through your mouth. This is to release toxins from the mind and body, cleanse the lungs and respiratory system, improve digestion, and help cool the body down. 

Why It’s Important to Follow This Exact Instruction

downtown sarasota yoga

The Bikram Yoga practice is referred to as a 90-minute moving meditation, and is a powerful meditative practice, if you allow for it. One instructor says, “Bikram’s teachings, my words, your body.” What this means is to not let your mind wonder in its own direction altering poses or the timing of the series. Instead, focus on the words being said and follow along with your body's movements. 

The series has been carefully put together so that each posture prepares the body for the next. These series of movements were designed for maximum healing benefits. It is not a free-style type of practice where everyone moves to a different pace. 

When you get into the meditative state your mind benefits as much from the practice as your body does. 

The practice was designed to thoroughly follow the teacher’s exact instruction and not go into or out of the posture before or after instructed to do so. When the class stays together, a beautiful energy, a flow, takes place among the practitioners. It’s an energy from which they can feed off of one another creating a stronger, more focused practice. 

There’s another importance to those words, they are emphasized to protect different parts of the body and help prevent injury. One of the first ones you may hear is, “are you breathing?” Keep this in mind and check in with yourself throughout the entire practice. It doesn’t matter how deeply one thinks they can go into a posture if they are not breathing naturally, calmly, and through the nose. When you master this one skill, it allows for a deeper expression of the posture than when holding the breath or breathing too hard. 

The instruction of sucking the stomach in and holding it in during forward folds protects the lower back. During the floor series in wind-removing pose, the calf of the leg extended should be touching the floor; this keeps the hips in alignment. Another phrase that is heard in class is, “chest up,” this also protects the lower back and ensures the posture is strengthening the correct part of the back whether it is lower, middle, or upper. 

Lastly, “lock your knee.” Locking the knee in postures like standing head to knee is important so that you don’t hyper extend the knee joint. It also allows for the hamstrings to safely stretch. 

So while it isn’t always fun to listen to instructions in the Bikram Yoga studio, it’s important to do so to get the most out of your practice. 

Spring Cleaning for Your Gut

How Fermented Foods Keep Your Gut Healthy and Your Whole Body Healthy

Downtown Sarasota Yoga

Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” If that is true, wouldn’t it make sense that a healthy gut means a body free from disease; therefore keeping the body in a healthy state? One way to accomplish this is by feeding the body bacteria, the good kind. 

Here locally in Sarasota, Sharon Juraszek has created a line of fermented foods called Fermentlicious. She began experimenting making fermented foods when she, herself, was experiencing health issues and sources she turned to for help referenced fermented foods. The beneficial bacteria in these foods killed yeast and zapped sugar cravings, two culprits of illness. Fermented foods have strains of healthy bacteria that destroy and inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria changing the gut flora or microbiota for the better. 

Sharon makes a variety of products which are cabbage based and include curry, ginger, turmeric, and other naturally medicinal ingredients, all which serve a beneficial purpose. There is also a kimchi hummus made with chickpeas and fermented chocolates the are delicious. You can find fermented food products at the grocery store and at the Sarasota Farmers Market on Saturdays near the studio. 

Yes, there are probiotics you can take that are ingested into your stomach, but the fermented food contain fiber that pulls the healthy bacteria down into your intestines and colon where it is most needed to be effective. 

Being well hydrated and eating a proper diet is an essential part of a Bikram yoga practice. You can feel a positive difference when you take care of yourself outside of the studio. A healthy body makes for a healthy practice.

Private Lessons Available for Individuals, Groups, and Sports Teams

Bikram Yoga Private Lesson

Private lessons for individuals, groups, and athletes offer a world of benefits for those new to the practice, experienced yogis looking to take their practice to the next level, as a way to work through and past an injury, as a group activity, and for athletes to enhance their training. 

Individuals

If you’re new to yoga and prefer to learn the practice in an individual setting rather than in a class right away, you can take advantage of this offering. Learn the postures the right way from the start. In this setting, you can stop to ask questions and have a custom session unique to your individual needs.

Experienced yogis can benefit from private lessons when they have hit a plateau and want to advance in their practice. A small tweak can make a huge difference in the way a posture feels and benefits you. You can come alone or have a private lesson with a friend or significant other. 

For those with injuries, private lessons can help get you back on your path to being recovered and help the healing process go more smoothly. There’s no reason to skip out on practicing, you can learn modified poses to work around and through your injury. 

Groups

Do something different as a girls get together or with a bridal party, as a team building exercise with your peers, or with a group you may belong to who is wishing to change up their routine. Bikram yoga group lessons are a fun and unique way to spend time with the people you choose and have a class tailored just for you.  

Sports Teams

Bikram Yoga is beneficial to an an array of athletes. Not only does it strengthen the spine, muscles, and increase balance and flexibility, these 26 postures are formulated to regenerate tissue, cure chronic ailments, and heal and prevent injuries. 

It’s no wonder the Bikram Yoga practice has become increasingly popular with professional athletes including San Francisco 49ers Tony Parrish; NBA great Kareem Abdul Jabaar; Kobe Bryant; Wimbleton winner Andy Murray; and many more–for its injury-healing and preventative properties and also to prepare the body to perform better at sports.

Call the studio at 941-447-0090 for more information and pricing. 

The Difference Between Organic and Hydroponic

Bikram Yoga Sarasota

There is a heightened awareness of where our food is coming from and how it is grown. Many are familiar with and seek out organically-grown produce. And then there is hydroponic farming which has been around for centuries. It is not organic, but it is 100 percent pesticide-free. So what’s the difference between being organic and hydroponic and why isn’t hydroponic produce organic? 

The major difference between organic and hydroponic farming is organic plants are grown in the ground in soil, while hydroponic plants are grown above ground under greenhouses. To be organic, you must grow in soil. The soil used to grow organic food is enriched with fertilizers and may contain animal manure and other animal-derived products. With hydronic farming, there is no dirt used. The seedlings are planted in elevated trays and water-soluble minerals are fed through an irrigation process directly to the roots of the plants. 

Since there is no soil used, this type of farming is very clean, pesticide-free, and produces nutrient-dense food that uses only one-tenth the amount of water than traditional farming. Locally, we have a hydroponic farm called The Homestead Hydroponic Farm. They use a system called Integrated Pest Management (IPM) instead of pesticides or any other sprays used as a repellant. This is an eco-friendly pest control method which incorporates insects, such as lady bugs, and flowers. Both act as natural protection for the produce. Because the growing takes place above the ground in greenhouses, twice the amount of food can be produced in the same amount of space with longer growing seasons. It is a very safe and nutritious way of growing food. 

Hydroponic produce is available from Homestead at both the Wednesday Phillipini Farmhouse Market and on Saturday at the Sarasota Farmers Market, nearby the downtown Bikram Yoga studio. They sell beautiful lettuces, tomatoes, and edible flowers. The farm is located next to the Myakka River State Park just 20 miles or so outside of town. You can be certain you are are eating clean, pesticide-free, and local food.