Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bad Habits

Last week a friend of mine suggested I write a blog about bad habits in postures and how bad habits should be knocked out as early as possible in your practice. This was a good idea and I decided to expand on this a bit. I’ll cover a little bit about postures, but frankly, I could devote an entire blog to things you can do wrong on postures!

So below I’ve listed out five bad habits to avoid that will help anyone’s practice:

1) Breathing incorrectly – I’ve been asked many times for advice by people just starting out in Bikram and I always tell them to improve their breathing and do what the dialogue says for the breathing. It’s not just breathing in and out through your nose, but controlling your breath, breathing slower, doing things like “inhale breathing come up one more time!” when the dialogue calls for it, etc. The teachers at my studio do a good job hammering these points home. Breathing correctly actually makes it possible to do the class and helps with the other four points below.

2) Unnecessary movements – This covers all kinds of things, from fidgeting between postures to wiping sweat off to pouring water on your head. Recently we’ve had some teachers crack down on students getting up to grab a Kleenex in the middle of class, and this was a welcome improvement. This also includes leaving the room during class, something my studio tries to enforce as much as possible.

3) Screw loose brain – This is a tricky one and often the hardest one for me. If you’re all dispersed all over the place mentally, thinking about work, kids, shopping, whatever it makes your class much harder. This can also include blocking out distractions in the room, too hot, too cold, annoying people near you, drama, bad teachers, whatever.

4) Sitting out postures – This is a bit controversial because there are plenty of people with a good practice who regularly sit out postures. Look, I understand needing to sit out postures sometimes. I’ve sat out postures plenty of times, but it’s pretty rare now. I get it if there are physical situations or injuries or you’re just exhausted. The problem is when it becomes a habit. For example I know some people that have been practicing a while who always sit out the first set of Triangle. That’s a bad habit.

5) Incorrect posture form– My advice on this is to listen to the dialogue. Most of your questions about postures can be answered with the dialogue. I’d also suggest getting with teachers before and after class to go over postures, ask questions, etc. I’ve spent a lot of time with teachers looking at my postures one on one. There’s a lot going on in class and the teachers won’t always be able to make corrections, but even if you don’t ask teachers individually, if you pay close attention to the dialogue you’ll be able to fix a number of things. The sooner in your practice you can get the set-up and form right the better. I’m still trying to fix a few (minor) bad habits that I picked up from the beginning.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bikram Yoga Green Valley and Details Magazine

The following was published a few months ago but I never put the link up here on my blog. I'm finally just getting to it now. One of the top ten studios listed here is the one I go to and the one with the little logo on my blog - Bikram Yoga Green Valley.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Posture Discussion Part VIII - Standing Separate Leg Stretching

Ahh yes, Standing Separate Leg Stretching. This is the hardest posture in the entire series for me. It's not my least favorite posture, since I know my body obviously needs it, but it's very hard for me.

One of the most difficult parts of my body to deal with in Bikram are my hamstrings. They tighten up very easily (one reason I need the room really hot) and they will tend to hurt quickly any time I lock my knee. Obviously I work through the pain, but it's certainly not easy.

I can actually do this posture correctly, with the proper grip of my hands around my heels and head touching the floor, but I spend most of the time concentrating on locking my knees. This is what ultimately helps my hamstrings. Most of the time I don't even worry about getting my head on the floor, and just focus on locking the knees. I'm not saying this is what everyone should do, it just helps me in particular. The dialogue is pretty clear about touching the forehead to the floor, so by all means listen to the dialogue.

There are a few common points I see people omit in this posture which if corrected help increase the gains from it.

1) Not locking the knees. This seems to be the most common thing to fix, including and especially with me. It's hard to keep your knees locked, especially since you're doing an inversion posture, which by itself can be uncomfortable.

2) Doing the proper grip of the heels. This gets messed up quite often, with people grabbing for their ankles or lower legs. The problem with not grabbing the heels (or at least the outside of the feet) is that you have nothing to pull against. And as we know, pulling is the object of stretching!

Another point which seems to have differing opinions is whether or not to put one or both feet on the mat and towel. My studio strongly encourages everyone to stradle their mat, but I know some people and studios are fine putting one foot on the mat, and in some places even turning sideways and doing the whole posture on the mat. I personally hate putting one foot on the mat in this posture because I think it makes it too easy. If you don't use the mat or towel, you really build up leg strength on this one (and Triangle).

Next up...everyone's favorite, Triangle. I may have some other posts before I get to that one, so stay tuned!


Monday, March 21, 2011

Posture Discussion Part VII - Balancing Stick

Ok, I started doing this a few months ago, so I'll try and finish my posts about the different postures. Remember, these are just my experiences and data with the postures. If you have detailed questions ask your teachers!

Balancing Stick is "only" 10 seconds, but try timing it sometime and I bet you'll come up with more than 10 seconds. Some of my teachers like to joke that it's "10 Bikram Yoga seconds." For me, this posture is a great example of a posture that is much harder due to the sequence it's in. It comes after Standing Head to Knee and Standing Bow, which if you're working hard take a lot out of you. Especially if the room is hot, because you'll be nice and warm by the time you get to Balancing Stick.

First off, this is another posture where you have to put your hands above your head and interlock the fingers, palms flat. I feel like this doesn't get enough attention, as it provides a much better stretch if you get your palms flat against each other.

The second point is locking the knee. This often gets neglected (including by me) yet it's just as important in this posture as it is in Standing Head to Knee and Standing Bow. In fact, I've noticed that concentrating on locking the knee in this posture has helped me quite a bit in other postures where you have to lock the knee.

The other points of "T as in Tom" and "No broken umbrella" get hammered home pretty well by the dialogue, the key is maintain it for the whole time. This is one of the postures where you can't really see what you're doing too well, so it's nice if you can get someone to take a picture of you so you can see if you're a broken umbrella or not!

Next up...Standing Separate Leg Stretching.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Charlie Sheen and Yoga

Say what you will about Charlie Sheen, but he certainly provides some interesting quotes. I rounded up a few of these which I thought were applicable to Bikram Yoga. Below are some actual quotes with a few comments from me.

“If you try it once, your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body.” (This is what some of my friends think about trying Bikram.)

“I have Tiger blood, man.” (Bengal tiger strength.)

“Know that I’m better solo. I invented solo.” (Look at your own eyes in the mirror.)

“Plan better.” (Get to class on time!)

“We beg for nothing. Beggars beg. Winners win. Period. The end. Suck it. Didn’t make the rules.” (Wait, didn’t one of my teachers say this once?)

“You’re either down or you’re up.” (Floor Series, Standing Series…)

“I don’t believe in panicking.” (Stay in the room! Breathe!)

“Bring me a challenge. Somebody.” (30 days, 60 days…)

“I’ve got mad energy for days. That’s what people can’t get their minds around.”

“Winning? 24/7.” (Absolutely!)


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

First Timer Class

My studio offers a "Free at Three" class every Monday which is where people coming for the first time can come for free. It's not open to the general public, just first timers and a few experienced people up front so the new people can see good examples of the postures.

Yesterday due to some scheduling reasons, I took this class. I went up in the front row. Our studio owner, Stacey taught. She is absolutely fantastic dealing with new people, answering their questions, calming them down, etc.

It's a very unique class for an experienced person and I really enjoyed it. There were about 8 first timers and four experienced people. I definitely could tell the people behind me were paying attention to my postures and of course this gave me extra incentive to do a good job. It was a very low key atmosphere which I think is great for first timers. I survived my first class, but I was certainly intimidated walking into a room with 40-50 people who all done this before. I would have loved to do a first time class like this.

Hopefully I can do this again, it was definitely an enjoyable class.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

National Competition

I haven't posted in a few weeks, but I'm still here, still practicing, but very busy. I have a few posts I want to get to in the near future. Just a reminder to everyone that the U.S. national competition is this weekend in L.A. Three people from Vegas will be there competing, two guys and a girl. You can check out for details on the event. Apparently they are going to stream it live on line too, so check it out!