Practicing During the Summer

Why It’s Essential to Continue Your Practice This Summer

To some, intentionally participating in an activity that involves both high heat (105 degrees) and humidity (40 percent ) in the midst of summer may seem silly, but for those in-the-know, you’re well aware of the multitude of benefits the Bikram Yoga practice lends to both the mind and body. Year-round continual practice is where you’ll reap the most benefits. A three month, or longer, break in any healthy behavior could cause adverse effects to your overall wellbeing and a lapse can lead to setbacks. 

See below a few of the many reasons why its both essential and beneficial to maintain your practice your this summer:

•    You’ll be better acclimated to the heat and humidity of the season. You’ll feel more comfortable and may not feel the need to turn the thermostat down as low, possibly even saving you money on the electric bill.

•    Your practice will improve over the summer because you’ll enter the room already warm allowing you to get into postures more easily and deeper.

•    Your hydration will improve because you’ll be consciously replenishing electrolytes and fluids regularly. You’ll be more in tuned with your body’s signals telling you want it needs. This includes a healthy diet. 

•    You’ll already be in great shape for summer activities and have a leg up on staying fit through the fall and start of the winter holidays. 


 

Detox Through the Breath

 

In class we learned that we release toxins through our breath and researchers discovered, when we lose weight, the fat is expelled through exhalation. When fat is metabolized it converts into mostly carbon dioxide, which is the product of outgoing breathe. While a healthy diet is important, the instructor said it’s not what we put into our body, rather what we take out. 

There are two breathing exercises in the Bikram practice, pranayama to bring oxygen into the body to prepare for class, and cleans Kapalabhati, or blowing in firm, at the end of class to release toxins from the mind and body, cleanse the lungs and respiratory system, improve digestion, and energize. 

Breathing not only detoxifies the body, it also detoxifies the mind. During some yoga poses, you may be asked, “Are you breathing?” Oftentimes, we hold our breathe without even realizing it both inside the studio and outside in everyday stressful situations. When this happens, stop and ask yourself if you’re breathing. Pay attention to the breath and get control of it with mindful inhales and exhales. Instantaneously, whatever stress that was present gently subsides and a sense of clarity and calmness occurs. 

If you can control your breath, you can have control in any situation. Use your breath as a tool for a healthier mind and body
 

A Delicious Way to Hydrate This Summer

With  the temperatures and humidity rising, it more important than ever to make sure to properly hydrate. While water is the optimal way to replenish fluids, sometimes the body craves something a bit more flavorful. Watermelon agua fresca is a delicious, easy way to rehydrate and it has additional health benefits including electrolytes. 

No fancy equipment is necessary to make agua fresca; all you need is a blender and a sieve.


•    Simply cut a ripened watermelon into cubes
•    Toss into a blender
•    Add one cup of cold water
•    Blend on high speed
•    Strain liquid through a sieve to remove any pulp
•    and enjoy! 

You may see some agua frescas made with sugar and recipes calling for some variation of sweetener, but the natural sweetness of watermelons makes it unnecessary to add any more. You can get creative by adding mint leaves, lime, or any other flavors you wish. 

Watermelon juice is an excellent alternative to coconut water or sugar-laden sports drinks like Gatorade. It’s rich in beta-carotene, folate, vitamin C, and vitamin B5. The red carotenoid pigment that gives it the red color is lycopene, an antioxidant that is powerful in neutralizing harmful free radicals in our body. It also contains essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium to replenish lost electrolytes through sweating. 

Watermelon juice is easily digestible allowing its minerals and wealth of nutrients to be absorbed in the body. Enjoy!
 

The power of peppermint

As the temperatures rise and the hot sticky summer months just around the corner, there are proactive ways to beat the heat. Hydration is always key, but did you know you can add peppermint essential oil to the mix to help cool you down? There’s even more this power plant can do. Along with its cooling properties, there are other benefits of peppermint you may not have known about and different ways to use the oils, whether topically, by inhalation, and ingestion. See below for specific uses and benefits of this multipurpose essential oil:

Add a drop or two to water and reap these benefits :
    Freshens breath
    Aids in digestion
    Fights bloating and gas

When used in a diffuser or with a whiff from the bottle:
    Relieves headaches
    Unclogs sinuses
    Promotes mental alertness
    Has a calming effect on the body

When applied topically (mixed into a carrier oil like coconut, jojoba, grape seed, etc):
    Soothes aching muscles
    Soothes itches when mixed with lavender essential oil
    Natural bug repellent
    Relieves sunburn
    Reduces fever 

There are dozens more useful benefits to peppermint. Essential oils are a wonderful to incorporate natural medicine into your lifestyle, and as always, with any essential oil use, consult your physician first. 

Spring celery recipe

Did you know celery’s high percentage of water and electrolytes can prevent dehydration, an important factor when performing any workout, sport, or activity that induces sweating. Some other surprising benefits of this tall skinny vegetable are: it lowers inflammation; helps prevent or treat high blood pressure; boosts digestion and reduces bloating; contains microbial properties that fight infections; and the list goes on.

In season now, Worden Farm, has an abundance of local, organic celery at the Saturday downtown Sarasota Farmers Market. You can also use those lush, aromatic leaves to liven up soup stock and add another layer of life to salad greens. Below is a recipe using celery leaves in an interesting way, to create an almond-based pate.

CELERY LEAF ALMOND PATE

•        1 cup almonds

•        2 cups celery leaves, lightly packed into cup

•        ½ - 1 medium tomato coarsely chopped

•        1 scallion, coarsely chopped

•        1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste

•        1 tablespoon tamari, or to taste

•        1-2 cloves, garlic, coarsely chopped

 

1. Soak the almonds overnight, or at least for 4 hours.

2. Place the almonds in a food processor with the remaining

ingredients, using about ½ of the tomato, and blend until pâté is a

spreadable consistency, adding a more tomato if it is too dry, and more

almonds if it is too wet.

3. To serve, spread over bread or crackers.

 

For a nice hors d’oeuvre, spread over crackers, or thinly sliced white

turnips and top with some minced parsley and a sliver of cherry

tomato, or roll up in a lettuce leaf and secure with a toothpick.

 

Recipe provided by Vicki Chelf

Yoga is a Practice

 

Often after class, you may hear a new student put themselves down saying they are not “good” at yoga, that they’re not flexible. They compare themselves to others, saying, “you’re so good at this.” There is no “good” or “bad” in yoga, it is a practice. Someone may demonstrate the postures in a more refined way, but rest assured they did not walk into the studio the first time doing so. They are students, implementing instruction, and putting them into use on a regular basis.

Just like meditation, it’s not a performance, it is something you work at to improve yourself. You wouldn’t say someone is really good at oral hygiene, rather they have a good behavior of flossing daily and brushing after meals.  In the Bikram Yoga practice, there is no pretense, no judgement, and no comparing oneself to others. There is a reason you are taught to focus on yourself, and yourself only, in the mirror. There is no ego, just you, the instructor’s dialogue and a deep concentrative, meditative practice.

These are beginner postures designed for everyone–no matter what age, shape, size, or physical ability. You get into the posture as best you can, with a focused, relaxed mind and body. Every day and every body is different. There may be one day where you can get deep into a posture, relaxing and breathing into it, and another day where you may have to take a moment or two sitting out a set to regain composure and regulate heart rate. Remember these words and carry them with you into the room with you each time and more importantly, outside of the studio, in your daily life where you can execute these teachings into a daily exercise.

Savasana

How can laying still virtually doing nothing be the hardest pose in yoga, and perhaps the most important? Savasana is also known as corpse pose, or dead body pose, and although it sounds morbid, it is actually a posture that provides so many benefits, both inside and outside of class. In the pose, you lay flat on your back chin slightly down to flatten the neck a bit, heels touching feet falling open to keep hips in alignment, and palms up. Stay there for a couple of minutes without moving, with your eyes open fully aware of your breath and practicing letting go of any distractions. For some, and many new yogis, this is the most difficult thing to do, not moving, not scratching, wiping sweat away, readjusting, whatever it is that keeps our mind running and causing a reaction.

This pose calms the body, allowing it to soak in all the hard work that was completed in the first part of class. It slows the heart rate down and gets you prepared for the second part of class. It also works to calm the mind even after class has ended and in a prolonged way if practiced often. During this posture, you are not just laying there doing nothing, you are training your mind to stay in the moment, focus, draw the mind way from distractions, and back to the breath. By practicing this pose in the studio, you may notice you become less reactive outside of the studio. There’s a change in how you handle stress and unfavorable moments because you have been practicing letting go of the distractions, disturbing nuances, or whatever it may be that comes our way in life daily. Make a point to improve your Savasana, your mind and body will thank you.

Did you know…Bikram Yoga is Beneficial to Athletes of All Kinds

You may already be familiar with the benefits of Bikram Yoga–how it works every part of the body, the internal organs, the veins, the ligaments, and all of the muscles creating a strong core and flexible spine. Not to mention the mental benefits of creating a sense of calm and clarity that is extended far beyond the yoga studio–it’s a benefit we learn to utilize in everyday life and how we handle situations. Life is still going to come at you, so to speak, but it’s the way we respond and handle these situations that is learned within the Bikram practice. What is learned is patience, kindness, tolerance, and intellect.

Did you also know that Bikram is beneficial to 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; Wimbledon winner Andy Murray; and many more–for its injury-healing and preventative properties and also to prepare the body to perform better at sports. Share these benefits with an athlete you may know and we look forward to seeing you both in the studio.

Coffee alternative - yerba mate

As we begin the second month of the new year and continue on a journey to a lifestyle of health and wellness, we may ask, is it time to turn in some of out vices for healthier alternatives? One being a daily coffee habit. While there have been proven studies about the benefits of coffee–everything from providing powerful antioxidants to helping prevent Parkinson’s disease, depression, and even boosting physical performance. It can also lead to dehydration, cause insomnia and restless sleep, and sometimes it's not the coffee itself, but the high-sugar and fat-laden additives. Do the benefits outweigh the disadvantages and are there better alternatives out there? 

Say hello to yerba mate! It’s a tea from South American dried leaves of an evergreen holly plant providing the same mental alertness, clarity, and focus of coffee without interfering with sleep, while providing similar physical performance boosts. There’s no caffeine crash and it’s nonaddictive–ever go a day without that morning cup(s) of coffee to experience a throbbing headache like no other? Back to those nutrient-dense attributes, it has a high concentration of the following vitamins and minerals: vitamin A; vitamin C; vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B5; vitamin E; calcium; iron; potassium; selenium; zinc; among others.

What’s not to love about yerba mate? Well, maybe the taste, some say it’s an acquired taste, earthy and herbaceous. Brew it just like tea, in teabags, or loose, and if loose you can brew it in a French press. It's optional to add a little sweetener and cream to it, but be mindful to keep it healthy to enjoy the natural benefits of this powerhouse of a beverage.

MAPLE NUT GRANOLA

We all know (or should know) by now that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and a great way to nourish and replenish the body after yoga practice. This recipe is by Sigrid Olsen–you may recognize her as a well-known fashion designer with stores throughout Canada and the U.S. bearing her name.

Some granola, even those found at health food stores like Whole Foods Market, are laden with sugar. This recipe keeps things healthy–no sugar, no wheat, and lots of great toasted nuts. She likes lots of nuts and no fruit in her version, but if you keep the basic proportions, feel free to adapt the recipe to your liking.

 

 

MAPLE NUT GRANOLA

Recipe by Sigrid Olsen

 

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup real maple syrup

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup whole almonds

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds

1/2 cup hemp seeds

Also can add: pecans, cashews, coconut flakes (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat the maple syrup and oil in saucepan, blend thoroughly, and add vanilla extract. Combine oats, nuts, and seeds in a large bowl and pour the maple syrup mixture over the oat/nut mixture. Toss and blend well. Spread the mixture out on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. It needs to be one layer, about 1-2 inches thick to toast evenly. Bake for about 45 minutes or until it turns golden brown and smells sweet. You can turn off the oven and leave it in until oven cools if you want to be sure it cooks thoroughly. I like it when it sticks together in large clumps and crumbles easily into smaller bits. Cool thoroughly on the sheet and then transfer to an airtight storage container where it will keep for weeks.

CAMEL POSE

I saw a shirt an instructor wore that read, I’ve got 99 problems and camel isn’t one of them. Yogis may have a love/hate relationship with the Camel posture–somedays you ease into this kneeling-style backbend and gently come out of it feeling fantastic, other days you are in it and emerge feeling dizzy, nauseous, and with all sorts of “funky” feelings going on, stirring up emotions some happy, some sad. It opens up your chest and heart inviting energy flow, at the same time vulnerability. We tend to hunch over, whether in a car or at a desk, “protecting” the heart’s center. Camel pose invites openness and by relaxing into it and breathing during, you can turn those feelings into happy ones. While practicing, think about how the posture is improving so many internal and external body/mind functions. Below explains a little bit more about the posture and why you may want to turn it into a posture that you love:

Ustrasana – Camel Pose

*Camel Pose creates maximum compression of the spine, which stimulates the nervous system. It also improves flexibility of the neck and spine, relieves backache, and helps degenerative spinal problems such as kyphoscoliotic deformities and cervical spondylosis. By stretching the abdominal organs, Camel helps constipation, and it also stretches the throat and thyroid and parathyroid glands.

*Source BikramYoga.com

Some other benefits include:

  • Relieves back problems while strengthening back and shoulder muscles

  • Opens rib cage, lungs, and digestive system

  • Stimulates the nervous system

  • Great for the lungs and helps relieve many bronchial problems

  • Improves flexion of the neck

  • Stretches the throat

  • Flushes blood through the kidneys

Keep Your Energy Levels Up with Maca

What is maca? It’s a turnip-like Peruvian root eaten in South America and found in the U.S. in the form of a powder and used as a supplement. It’s numerous health benefits make it worthwhile to look into adding to your regular diet*. It can be found in capsules or in power form which can be be added to smoothies, sprinkled on chai-lattes, or yogurt and hot cereals. It has a slightly malt-like mild flavor.

It’s a adaptogen, a natural supplement to help the body adapt to stress. Adaptogens naturally work to control stress and fatigue by regulating hormones. Balanced hormones, in turn, also boost energy levels, fertility, and libido. It also contains essential vitamins, minerals, and good-for-you fatty acids. Maca can be found at health food stores and Whole Foods Market near the downtown studio carries it as well. One brand there in the form of a powder is Gaia Herbs and is vegan, organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO.

It’s important to know that more does not equal more with maca, a teaspoon is sufficient.

*Please note as with any supplement, consult your physician before using.This information is solely for casual reading and has not been medically evaluated or proven.

Don’t Take Our Word For It, Take Theirs

 

 

We could tell you about the benefits of Bikram Yoga and about our studios all day long, instead we thought we’d share what the people who practice have to say:

“Learning from people who understand the body so well has helped me to heal from scoliosis and I have far less pain than in the past. They pay very careful attention to students’ progress and I always feel they are going to help me learn in the healthiest possible way. Now that I've experienced good instruction, I'm not going anywhere else.“ 

“I started Bikram Yoga with Timi and Farky. The studio is tastefully renovated, clean, and everything is brand new (floor, showers etc). What is even superior to the facility are the instructors. All of them are professional and you can feel they have a devoted lifestyle to Bikram Yoga, hence they know a lot about it. I highly recommend this place to new and old Bikram Yoga fans.”

“My best experience at Bikram at this renewed studio. I have practiced Bikram for six years. Then stopped when my son was born. Back again! I have just realized how much I missed. BUT not just that. Bikram on 2nd Street has new owners. The place is totally changed. Bright, clean (carpet is OUT), and with some construction magic, it is now comfortable to change clothing, shower, etc. The new instructors are great. Really devoted, and paying close attention to each student. You will see me every week.”

“Excellent! Love it! Challenging and brings it to the next level. Awesome instructors, beautiful couple/owners. Thank you for the experience. Great prices, super clean and lovely studio...sweat my brains out! Totally awesome! Can't wait to come back for more.”

“In the past week I have attended classes at the remodeled downtown Sarasota studio with Timi and at the Blue Roof location with Farky. Both yoga studios are very tastefully decorated and have a calming charm. The rubber-like like flooring they have at each studio is excellent. Most importantly, Timi and Farky provided a focused yet relaxing Bikram 90 minutes of moving meditation. Although Bikram Sarasota is not my primary Florida studio, I look forward to taking many, many more classes at their locations.”

90 minutes

In an age of instant gratification, it seems like almost everything we need is accessible at record speeds, including workouts–not to say science hasn’t proved that short workouts can’t be beneficial. When it comes to Bikram yoga, it is important, rather make that essential, to practice the full 90-minute session. Bikram yoga isn’t a “workout” so to speak. Yes, you get physiological benefits including a toned body and incredible strength and cardio benefits, but yoga is a total mind, body, spirit practice–not something that can be achieved in an abbreviated 45-60 minute “power” yoga practice.

There’s a reason it is practiced in 90-minute sessions–what used to be an hour and 45 minutes–to allow for full Savasanas. A full 15 minute Savasana was practiced and now students rarely stay for the full two full minutes recommended after class. This is a posture as important as any other including those that get your heart rate up and those requiring the most strength.

 

In a “gym culture” day and age yoga has gone from an educational experience into a service, like using a trainer to be guided through reps. Yoga is a practice that goes far beyond the physical attribute. With these abbreviated classes, the purity of the practice becomes dissolved. It is up to the student to seek and out and take advantage of the true teaching of yoga; to be interested in, and benefit from, its complete practice and not just practice it as an exercise regimen.

Its essential for the student to take the time for themselves and allow instructors who are willing and interested in teaching true yoga. This is “you” time to calm your mind, let go of thoughts of pressing to-do lists, and to become a kinder person to yourself and others. If you can’t allow for the full 90-minute experience, it is best to save your practice for when time is available to do so. Not implying to skip out on taking care of your body all together, but rather passing on the abbreviated “yoga workouts.”  You’re not enjoying or even allowing for the benefits of what emerges from a complete practice – a clear, calm mind, more controlled deeper breathing, a relaxed overall physical and mental state, and so much more!

 

Mat and towel service

Be sure to add yourself to your holiday shopping list this year. Because you make the conscious decision to practice Bikram Yoga, you already know that taking care of your body is top priority and as one of our yoga instructors Curt, says, “take care of your body, so your body can take care of you.”  Why not give yourself a little gift and indulge in the convenience and practicality of mat and towel service at Bikram Yoga Sarasota? For a mere $30 per month, this service provides you with a high-quality yoga mat rental to practice on and two fresh towels. That’s approximately a dollar a day, way less than that specialty coffee habit–did someone say pumpkin spiced latte?

Come in, pick up your mat and fresh towels, practice, and let us take care of cleaning your mat and towel–no more lugging home sweat-soaked mats and towels and running the washing machine daily. This service is good for you and the environment– it allows you to focus on your practice, adds an extra layer of stress relief, and cuts down on individual water and energy usage. An added bonus, this service is complimentary when you purchase the yearly membership package, yet another smart move for your wallet and a commitment to your health.

 

Why Meditation?

 

Meditation is a practice, like yoga, to reduce stress, make you happier, and actually make you smarter. It allows you to think more clearly and calmly yet focused on one task, thought, movement at a time – you accomplish more in a state of calm clarity. Things seem to flow. Many people say, “I don’t know to meditate, I can’t clear my mind.” Did you know you can meditate with your eyes open while in the presence of others like in a meeting, sitting in traffic, walking, etc.? In meditation you don’t have to clear your mind, rather allow thoughts to pass through like they normally do, recognize those thoughts, and then let go of them. The way to do is to focus on your breathe. You can practice meditation anywhere, for any amount of time you choose from 1 minute (seriously), 4, 10, 20 minutes, an hour, etc.

There are many different types. Silent, guided, and moving meditation like in the Bikram Yoga practice where you are moving your body, while focusing on your breathe and staying in the moment of each pose.

Some key points on how to meditate:

Sit in a comfortable position with a straight spine, hands relaxed, close your eyes, and take 4-6 deep breathes in and 4-6 exhales through your nose. Most guided meditations have you start with concentrating on your breath and if your mind wanders bring it back to a focus on your breathing. Allow thoughts to pass through but don’t fixate on them, recognize them, and then let them go. You’ll notice a sense of calmness and clarity.

Further reading:

The New York Times  recently published an article on meditation, breaking it down even more. You can read about more through this link.

What's In Season Now

You’ve probably seen those little green pumpkin-shaped squash nestled in with the other squash varietals bountifully on display this time of year. This “little green pumpkin” is called kabocha squash, it’s a Japanese winter squash and is also referred to as Japanese pumpkin. They are sweeter than pumpkin and can be steamed, roasted, and pureed into soup. In Asian cuisine, it is friedinto tempura and used in desserts. Their small size make them the perfect single-serve snack or meal accompaniment. They’re nutrient dense and loaded with betacarotene and iron. What’s more, you get two for one goodness out of them–the seeds are perfect for roasting on the baking sheet simultaneously and make the perfect snack. A light sprinkling of salt or maple syrup and spices give them a savory or sweet kick. Kabocha squash are grown locally at Worden Farms and may be found at the Saturday Sarasota Farmers Market near the downtown studio. 

Superfood - Sacha Inchi Seeds

New on the shelves of Trader Joe’s – conveniently located a stone’s throw from the Blue Roof Bikram Yoga studio – are sacha inchi seeds. They are new to Trader Joe’s, but not a new product; they’ve been around for centuries and are packed with good for you things! They are from Peru – good things are coming out of Peru, like maca, more on that later. This superfood snack is rich in omega fatty acids: 3, 6, and 9, in the form of Alpha Lineoleic Acid (ALA). Their nut-like savory flavor can be compared to pistachios and almonds, yet different, and they pack a powerful crunch. Because this is an excellent source of plant-based protein, they are very suitable to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. One of the proteins sacha inchi seeds are rich in is tryptophan, a protein that produces that “feel good” feeling and helps with insomnia. We could literally write a book on this wonderful “new” superfood, but we suggest you stop by Trader Joe’s on your way to/from a Bikram Yoga or Inferno Pilates class at the Blue Roof Studio.

The Importance of Breathing Properly

Do you ever find yourself holding your breath or taking short gasps of air during stressful situations? How often do you notice your breathe and are you actually mindful of taking slow deep inhales and slow steady exhales? The breath controls heart rate, pulse, and even has an effect on the digestive system.

In the Bikram yoga practice, you start and end with two breathing exercises and are reminded to breath while holding strenuous poses. One instructor says, “Remember your breathe, this is your yoga.” “Breathing in gives you energy, breathing out relaxes you.” Not just in yoga, but other sports such as running and swimming – are all centered around the breath giving the body the energy it needs to move.

You can practice pranayama breathing – breathing exercises that have the ability to quickly increase our energy, release stress, improve our mental clarity, and improve our physical health – outside of the yoga studio. To practice this breathing, take a deep inhale through the nose for six counts and a deep exhale through the mouth for another six counts.

Pranayama breathing and simply being mindful to take five to six deep inhales and five to six exhales during stressful times and throughout the day can have such a positive effect on your overall health.

Pretty powerful stuff how something that comes naturally without any thought can have such a beneficial effect on our overall health. Think about how much better you will feel - mind and body – if you are mindful of this one small practice.