Bikram yoga

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    MY YOGA STORY: MORE LOVE, LESS FEAR, MORE OF WHAT YOU WANT IN YOUR LIFE

MY YOGA STORY: MORE LOVE, LESS FEAR, MORE OF WHAT YOU WANT IN YOUR LIFE

From: Allison Fallon
I started going to yoga about six weeks before everything fell apart. My husband-at-the-time and I had been trying to have a baby for almost two years at that point, and I was starting to lose hope that it would ever happen for us. But I heard a story about a woman who struggled with fertility for years, and when she started a regular yoga practice, she became pregnant within six months.
That was enough to convince me.
I walked down the street and signed up.
It had been a few years since I’d been in a regular routine of moving my body, but it didn’t seem like all that long since I’d been a distance runner. I had completed several half-marathons and a full marathon. So when the instructor suggested that for my first few classes I should focus on simply staying in the room, I balked a little.
I mean, how hard could it be to stay in a room?
That was before the class started and the heat pressed in and I realized how far you can get from yourself without even knowing it; how long you can go without paying any attention to the fact that you have been barely breathing.
Those first few classes were miserable.
I felt like I might be dying—and I was barely doing anything. Just sitting there on my mat. The only reason I kept coming back was that the instructor said yoga would help us to get three things, and I wanted each of those three things:
1. More love
2. Less fear
3. More of what we want in our lives.
I hoped she was right. I hoped yoga would help me get what I wanted.
Six weeks later, everything fell apart.
It was a normal Thursday afternoon when I uncovered the truth of my marriage, and suddenly the fact that we hadn’t been able to become pregnant wasn’t the problem anymore. The day I found what I found, a friend asked me if I was surprised, and I told a her to imagine she had been in a fist fight for years with a blindfold on.
Then today, someone took the blindfold off.
No, I was not surprised.
We hold truths in our bodies that are too big for our minds.
The irony is not lost on me that I went to yoga to get pregnant and instead ended up getting a divorce. But I am learning the hard and beautiful truth that sometimes what we think we want is not what we actually want, and that the process of getting what we want usually involves several things we did not want at all.
 So I kept going to yoga.
One of the things I have loved most about yoga is that there is nowhere to hide.
In life we hide behind make-up or name brands or job titles or relationship statuses. In yoga, in that hot room with all those smelly, sweaty not-so-covered-up bodies, there is nowhere to go except… right there.
In the truth.
The fleshy, terrible, magical, beautiful truth of you.
It’s a terrifying and beautiful thing to to see yourself so completely.
To look at where you are weak or soft or grieving or heartbroken and let love go there.
What a strange and petrifying feeling to find that all the pieces of the puzzle you had been fighting to hold together weren’t even your puzzle pieces in the first place, and that all that love you were dying to have had always been right there in front of you.
All you have to do is get soft enough to receive it.
All you had to do was stop trying so hard, and relax enough to let it in. That winter, I filed for divorce.
I walked into the attorney’s office and did the thing I swore to myself I would never do, the thing I had judged others for doing, the thing I had wanted to do for longer than I could even allow myself to admit. The truth does this to you, I guess. Humbles you. Makes you human again. Gets you back into alignment with yourself.
Yoga does this to you.
More love.
Less fear.
More of what you want in your life.
And after signing all of those terrible, beautiful, life-altering papers, I went to yoga again. I fought and cried and melted into my mat again, and again and again.
It was all I had. My offering. It was all it took.
What I’m learning from yoga is the same thing I’m learning from the rest of my life—which is that we are entitled to our efforts, but not to our outcomes; that we can either be in control, or be in love, but not both.
I’m learning to be in love. I’m choosing to be in love.
 Several things have changed in my life since those early days of yoga—beyond the fact that I am finally breathing again. I feel more comfortable in my own skin. I sleep better. I have better tools to calm my own anxiety. I’m more focused and productive. I feel more confident, more capable.
I’m stronger and also softer. I’ve even fallen in love.
And although in those early days yoga seemed like the hardest thing I had ever done, I’m learning now that it is also the easiest—the easiest and the best and the most life-changing thing you could ever do, showing up. Getting on your mat. Starting where you are.
Giving it all you have.
Slowly, without even knowing it, we are all getting where we’re trying to go.

MARCH 21-DAY CHALLENGE: CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN!

I didn’t grow up in a church that practiced Lent but I’ve always liked the idea of Lenten Season. 1) Because I like a good challenge or maybe I like the opportunity or excuse to try something new or clean up my routine. 2) Because I value the concept of shaking up routine, taking something away that I depend on, making myself a little uncomfortable in order to grow. I believe that one of the original concepts of giving something up for Lent (40 days) or any fasting is that when you miss, crave, or think about that thing you’ve given up (which will probably be many times a day), you use the opportunity to turn your mind to the thing you’re remembering and trying to meditate on more deeply. There are many things we can notice as we give something up that we are used to having or doing, when we simply shake up our routine – our emotional and physical patterns, our reliances, our habits around that thing that may not even be about the thing. Do I need the thing for the thing or to quiet some other desire or unrest that arises during my day?
Let’s be honest, I also like the idea of Lent or Cleanses or Challenges because it gives me a recipe for self-restraint – clear instructions, boundaries. But do I really need more self-restraint, more self-harm in my life, and isn’t that really more of a self-serving motive when look at my intentions? What can I do that will help me to grow and do better as a friend, a wife, a business owner, a dog-mama, a yoga teacher? For this challenge, I’m choosing to give up sugar – yes, because it contains empty calories but also because it is my comfort food, my go-to distraction from stillness and mindfulness, my craving that comes up most often that I actually need the least. I’m adding something to make me a more present, mindful wife and partner – giving positive affirmations each day to Clay… you know, being nicer and all that!  The hardest one, the habit I’m working on is not offering or giving my opinion on things when I’m not asked. You get it. It’s hard. I want to help but am I helping? Let’s try something new. Shake things up. Spring Challenge!
 
Get ready for your Choose-Your-Own-Challenge if you would like to join me!  You choose 3 ways to challenge yourself over the first 21 days of March:
1) Something you’re giving up
2) Something you’re adding
3) A habit your want to create or cultivate

I’m also providing daily guide for yoga/mindful challenges to keep you motivated and to inspire your sharing on social media (you’ll want to follow the challenge #hyespringchallenge on Instagram and post your challenges and inspirations): 

Day 1) Warrior
– choose your warrior posture, standing firm and ready for whatever comes your way!
Day 2) Breath Work
– demonstrate a breathing exercise that you are practicing, Pranyama – breathwork to still and focus the mind; to improve lungs and respiratory system.
Day 3) Backbend
– choose a backbend to send nourishing blood and oxygen to the vertebrae and cartilage. Healthy spine for a happy life!
Day 4) Nourish
– how are you nourishing yourself differently today and during this challenge? Try a new recipe or new way of cooking or preparing your favorite dish!
Day 5) Twist
– find a twist to squeeze out the internal organs and the spine – detoxify and stimulate the organs and glands.
Day 6) Hydrate
– drink water! Today try drinking – not 64 ounces but 132 ounces (16 glasses) of water. Maybe do it again tomorrow and the next day and for all 21 days.
Day 7) Shoulder Strength
– use a shoulder strengthening exercise to build strength for a stronger practice or maybe building your inversion practice
Day 8) Meditate
– practice a meditation exercise today… We will provide an exercise you can try!
 
Day 9) Dancer
– find grace and focus in your variation of dancer. Just like in our daily lives, in Dancer Posture, you have to find what to engage and what to soften – where to work and where to relax.
Day 10) Cleanse
– take something out of your routine/your body that isn’t serving you or something you don’t need today.
Day 11) Spiral Movement
– use a spiral movement to move energy, strengthen the inner and outer core, and to awaken your mind and body
Day 12) Balance
– find a balancing posture to develop your concentration – focus your mind on one thing only. You will find that you have no choice but to be present, in the moment, when you are balancing on one leg
Day 13) Inspiration
– Share who or what has been an inspiration lately or throughout your life. What words or example do you come back to as a reminder of what you are working towards or what is important to you.
Day 14) Heart Opener
– Open your heart with physical asana (posture) and follow it with internal reflection – what came up? Use meditation, prayer, intention or journalling to respond to what you saw or noticed
Day 15) Inversion
– Try an inversion today to change your perspective. Need support? No problem! Use a friend, a tree, your dog or another object!
Day 16) Hip Opener
– practice a hip-opening posture AND for extra credit – stay in the posture for 5 minutes (this means 5 minutes on each side if it is a single-sided posture)
Day 17) Free Movement
– find your free movement, dance or flow! Can you step to this? We want to see a video and don’t hold back… extra bonus points for yogis who get creative, have fun and let go of inhibitions!
Day 18) Core Strength
– practice an abdominal strengthening exercise. We strengthen our core so we can support the rest of our body and support the dreams we are building.
Day 19) Chakra Opener
– try a chakra opening movement to move energy through an area in your body that may feel “stuck” … We will give you some examples to try!
Day 20) Spine Lengthener / Back-body Opener
– find a forward fold or a seated stretch to decompress your spine, sending fresh blood flow to the space between the vertebrae. Lengthen the back sides of the legs, even the souls of the feet to allow your body to be at ease – not just to do more yoga postures but to do more life!
Day 21) Salutation
– Practice a salute to the sun, the moon, the gods and goddesses, your choice. Namasakara – means to bow to, to honor, to adore… in closing this challenge, we bow in honor to each of you, in gratitude for the world created around us.
Lastly, we have prizes! Sponsored Prizes include:
~ Aveda Hair + Skin Gift Sets
~ Lululemon – Professional Mat
~ Chelsea Young – Pantry Makeover & Grocery Trip | Meal Prep Class for you + 3 friends!
~ The Raw Deal – Gift Certificate for delivered raw meals!
~ Free Massage from Claire Wallace – Safe Camp Massage
~ Free Tuition for a Buti Yoga Teacher Training ($725 value)
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    BIKRAM + KUNDALINI PAIRING – YOUR SUN AND YOUR MOON PRACTICE

BIKRAM + KUNDALINI PAIRING – YOUR SUN AND YOUR MOON PRACTICE

Submitted by Annie Peterson, currently on her way to Nashville to teach Kundalini paired with an Advanced Bikram Yoga Class.
As this workshop came together, I really thought about how these two practices fit together for me.  The expressive hatha practice feels amazing in my body – the physicality, the process of alchemy that you undergo in the room, the confrontation of self and ego in the mirror.  It still works for me and I’ve been practicing consistently for 10 years.
5 years ago I found Kundalini yoga and added it to my Bikram practice.  As they say “All Roads Lead to Rome” and so the union, energy balance, mental clarity, meditation and awakening of the body’s systems are all present in both, as well as other yogic and non-yogic practices.  Anything humans do with mindfulness and intention can lead to self-realization, self-mastery and growth.
That said, to get to Rome (i.e. the self, potential, realization, to “come home”) you must choose one road, or a few, as the case may be.
The road to Rome for me has been a balancing of the hot and unheated practices of Bikram and Kundalini yoga – Kundalini mirrors the hatha practice: the room isn’t (intentionally) heated, often we close our eyes, and so it invites an experience of the self, body and consciousness from a different, yet equal, angle.
When I’ve stacked these practices back-to-back, the combined effect for me has been profoundly positive — that is, on the rare occasions I can do three hours of yoga in one day!
So, as Bre and I continued talking and brainstorming what we wanted this to be, we continued on our own paths and this concept emerged as an offering to students to experience a deeper hatha practice & learn about another set of tools to compliment whatever practice you already have…
I can only speak for myself, but I find these two lineages to be fascinating, and they’ve each brought so much to my life.  I’m looking forward to serving and engaging with this community this weekend!

BIKRAM YOGIS ANONYMOUS

Step 1 – Admittance: I am a Bikram yogi. I am continually in love with, healed by, and captivated with this addiction. It is an incessant influence, a time-consuming preoccupation, but predominantly worthwhile addiction. If it weren’t, I wouldn’t be here now, having the gift of a yoga studio where I get to share my passion for yoga with others and, hopefully, give them something that will also change their lives. But the journey has had its ups and downs. In fact, I’ve come full circle with the practice.

Myself and most anyone who has practiced the 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises that were taught to us Americans by the now-notorious Bikram Choudhury and his guru, Bishnu Ghosh, has likely experienced both love and hatred for this practice, and skepticism about its founder. But I’m not interested in talking about the man today; I want to talk about the practice. That journey through being broken down, built up, humbled, empowered, opened, closed off, stretched, compressed, emptied out, filled up, never-the-same-again yoga revelation. Bikram was the first and only kind of yoga I knew for the first 8 years of practicing.

My feelings about this style over more than a decade range from “I can barely get through a class” to “I can still barely get through a class.” The challenge never changes. It is always hard, physically and mentally. Yes, over 10 years or longer, it never gets easier. But it does become different.

My original teacher was explaining how a posture works and said, “when you’re a beginner – you know, the first 10 years of practice…” Wait, WHAT? …. You’re a beginner for the first TEN years? I laughed in my head when I heard him say that because I considered myself at least intermediate-level by that point – but now, after 10 years, I’m beginning to understand.

There have been, and will be, many seasons of my Bikram journey – times when I hated Pranayama breathing (the first breathing exercise), another when I was tediously impatient in Half Moon, periods when I am in love with Standing Bow, and seasons when I deeply dreaded Camel. There are times when I fall from a posture and an unexplainable flood of tears comes to my eyes, and there are times when I laugh out loud. There are times when the postures hurt and times when the postures heal.

Step 2 – Faith: It was this last part of the journey that has really challenged me over the last four years. I had an injury. An un-diagnosable pain in my right hip. I went to all the doctors, physical therapists, Rolfers, acupuncturists and chiropractors. Finally, I took a break. I took a break from yoga for two months. It was something I thought I would never do. I had practiced for nine years, at least five to seven times a week. I rarely missed a day; sometimes I would even do two classes a day. Then I remember the day, as I was laying in savasana, feeling defeated from the pain and the lack of mobility that I once had, I realized that it wasn’t fun anymore, so I decided right at that moment, I would let it go… for a while anyway.

When I came back to the mat, I approached everything very carefully. Every posture. I made sure to really keep my core engaged and not overdo it in postures just to look a certain way. It felt a lot better but the hip was still not fully recovered. I started back in just a couple times a week and eventually added different yoga disciplines – vinyasa power flow and eventually Buti yoga. The new practices and new postures opened up certain areas and strengthened others. It turned out to be the perfect complement to my Bikram yoga practice, and I began to realize that the answer was, as Bikram himself would prescribe, “more yoga.” Well, not exactly… first I needed a break and then I needed more yoga, and different kinds of yoga. The thing about the 26 postures is that it is a lot of repetition, and if you are not careful or practicing with proper form with muscular support, then the repetition can be hard on certain joints. The bikram dialogue is designed to ensure that you do practice the postures correctly but, depending on your skeletal structure, your joints and the stress your life may have brought them thus far, there is the potential for repeated stress to occur and even potential injury.

Although I now have a love and appreciation for many different styles of yoga, I have an even stronger faith in Bikram yoga and a deeper appreciation for it. For all my ups and downs with the practice, I have always admired this elegant series – these 26 postures and the brilliance of their sequencing. The heat, the mirrors, the dialogue, they are added tools, which all work together to force out any opportunity for outside distraction. We are truly forced to concentrate and given the opportunity to be fully present. There’s really nothing else we can do. Just yesterday during a class, the dialogue made more sense than it ever had. Same words I’ve heard a thousand times but they were once again new to me. The words were all I heard… my mind was blank but for these words: “PUSH your stomach, hips thighs forward!” I did so, and it worked. Another layer stripped away. In final savasana, I had peace in my mind about something I’d been worried about all day. It wasn’t the first time these things had happened. They can happen any and every time we practice this series. No matter how many years we’ve practiced this yoga series, there is always something to learn, and it will always be a great accomplishment to finish the class.

So far, in my first 10 years as a beginner of bikram yogi, I have learned some of the greatest lessons and habits of my life. Habits that have helped me through every scenario – heartbreak, anxiety, worry, opening businesses, friendships, and marriage. I wanted to share just a few of these with you:

  • If you can, you must (Bikram Choudhury).
  • Don’t react or attach to the pain or the victory. Calmly observe it and let it pass by so you can give your full energy to the present.
  • Let nothing steal your peace. (Bikram Choudhury)
  • Don’t waste your energy on the things you cannot change.
  • Transcend discomfort by sitting with it, allowing it to be part of you as you move with it until it is no longer there.
  • If you are trying correctly, even if only able to do just a small step of the full posture, you will receive 100% of the benefits.