WebSoji

Student Story: Soji

Seven years ago, I stepped into my first hot room.  Back then, if someone had told me my future, I might have responded with an eye roll.  Dear inquirer, one day you will greatly enjoy walking half-naked into an obscenely hot room to spend 90 minutes twisting, bending and dripping with sweat among strangers.  And one day, you will teach others to do the same.  An eye roll and some choice words.

A few weeks ago, a friend asked me to explain the appeal of Bikram yoga.  I gave her the usual reasons: a great work out, an increase in strength and flexibility, an awesome form of stress relief, and so on.  And then, after a beat, I came clean.  I told her that the real reason that I keep coming back is that the lessons that I learn in class have made life better outside the studio.  In the hot room, lessons, like sweat, have a way of sneaking up on you and sticking.  Here are my favorite three:

1) You can do anything in the world if you learn to master your breath…

My first few yoga classes were humbling in part because they showed me that I didn’t know the first thing about breathing.  My lungs were the lazy guy at the office that does just enough work to not be fired.  They got enough oxygen into my body to keep me among the living but they were hardly standout performers.  Eventually though, I learned to use my breath during class for extra endurance in a posture, to steady my heart beat, or to access muscle flexibility.  Then one day I found my breath coming to my aid when I needed it.  I could use it to diffuse road rage on the BQE, rub out stage fright before a speaking engagement, steady my nerves during a difficult conversation, or focus my mind before the planning phase of a new project.  All due respect to the folks at Red Bull, but it’s breath mastery that really gives you wings.

2) Being a warrior isn’t about force but about balance…

Once I laid my mat down behind a trio of yogis that taught me something in the most beautiful way.  One of these yogis was a young guy with the build of a professional athlete.  In a past career, he might have been a football player or body builder.  We’ll call him “Ahnold”. Next to Ahnold was a petite woman who looked like she walked into the studio directly off the set of Cirque du Soleil.  Before class I watched her warm up by twisting her body into shapes that made me nauseous to behold.  We’ll call her “The Contortionist”.  The last of the trio was a middle aged woman with a lean but unremarkable build.

As class went on, I watched Ahnold go in and out of the poses that require a lot of muscle strength, e.g. Awkward Pose, with ease but grow frustrated and angry during the asanas that develop flexibility like Standing Bow.  The Contortionist’s standing back bend was the most beautiful that I had ever seen but her legs wobbled during the second part of Awkward like a baby giraffe first learning to walk.  The last yogi, however, was inspiring to watch from start to finish.  She came in and out of the most difficult of postures like a pro.  When she landed a full split in Standing Bow, she looked at herself in the mirror and winked.  She was kicking ass and having fun.  And it was because unlike Ahnold or The Contortionist she had equal parts strength and flexibility.  She was a warrior.

I left class that day thinking about all the places in my life where I might be favoring one thing at the expense of another—work vs play, wake vs sleep, etc.—and how the unbalance was preventing me from being a warrior.

3) The things that are the most uncomfortable are exactly what you need…

An early yoga instructor once noticed an unhealthy and uncourageous habit of mine during class.  He called me out immediately and said something that I’ve never forgotten: You can chase the pain in your life or you can let it chase you. We all have an instinctive reaction to retreat from discomfort.  That instinct keeps us protected in the short term but it also lets that discomfort live to fight us another day.  Showing up to class every day and coming face to face with the points of resistance in my body has slowly built up a skill and a tolerance that I find myself able to tap into outside the studio.  Crossing paths with challenges or difficult situations is now a much different experience for me.  I’m better able to welcome the challenge in, offer it a cup of tea and listen to what it wants to say.  Nine times out of ten once it is heard, it lets itself be dealt with and quietly exits stage left.

In a few weeks, I head out to Bikram’s “torture chamber” for the spring 2015 Bikram Yoga Teacher Training.  I can’t wait for all the new lessons to stick.

By the way, that friend of mine—she now has a membership at her local studio.

WebAlessandra4

Testimonial: Alessandra De Almeida

Why did you start practicing Bikram yoga and how long have you been practicing?

I started practicing Bikram because I was interested in going a bit further with my practice. I love all different kinds of yoga and believe that they each serve beautiful purpose. I was looking for something that would push me physically further. I started doing Bikram yoga 11 years ago.

How has your practice affected your life?

The greatest thing that this practice has taught me is patience, both with myself and my body. If you push too far beyond your limits in a Bikram class, you get dizzy/sick or uncomfortable. However, finding that beautiful balance of challenging yourself while being kind and acknowledging when and where you should stop or slow down is wonderful. It has given me insight into how to self-care in other aspects of my life.

What keeps you coming back for more?

The heat and community. I love warmth and sweat, and it makes me feel like I have worked out. Our community at the Bikram Yoga Park Slope studios is so awesome, I love all the ages, peoples, and bodies that practice there. Its not a competitive place.

Do you have any advice/insight for new yogis?

Be gentle on yourself, this isn’t a competition. Enjoy the postures and find grace in them. HYDRATE!!!!!!

Kangen_Water

Introducing Kangen Water

Have you discovered the water and technology being used by the most forward thinking, heath aware people in the world?

Introducing Kangen Water. It’s better than any other water or drink. It goes deeply into the fluid surrounding the cells and bathes and feeds those cells thus giving them more hydration that allows for quicker recovery, increased stamina and extended energy. A far more superior approach to healthy athletics and rapid reduction of lactic acid rather than the sugar, unhealthy alternatives. Beat that, Gatorade.

Here’s what you need to know:

• Kangen Water has been used in Japanese Hospitals for 40 years

• Kangen Water hydrates 4 to 6 times more effectively than other drinks

• Kangen Water can help flush built up toxins and impurities from the body

• Kangen Water can help our planet and environment by stopping plastic bottle waste

• Kangen Water can lead to an increase in energy, improved digestion and better sleep

“A person cannot eat enough fruits and vegetables in a day to come anywhere near the antioxidant power of one glass of Kangen Water.”
–Dr. Horst Filtzer, MD, Vascular Surgeon, Educated at Harvard University

Next time you come into our studio, try Kangen Water for yourself! Also, check out this incredible story about how Kangen Water changed the lives of one particular athlete.

And, if you have questions about hydration, connect with us on Twitter or Facebook to find out more!

Cheers to your health!

Peter.Web

Teacher of the month: Peter Finlon

BYPS teacher Peter Finlon shares about his practice and why he keeps coming back for more.

I started practicing on New Years Day in 2009, which makes 6.5 years of practice.  I was (poorly) recovering from a surgery and unable to go to the gym, and a coworker recommended that I try Bikram.  I was frustrated and desperate at that point, bought one month unlimited, and honestly had very low expectations for myself. I was surprised to notice a dramatic change in my mobility, stamina, ability to sleep, and mood. I ended up going nearly every day that month, and started a 30 day challange immediately thereafter.  In fall 2010, I completed teacher training.

The biggest changes occured in the muscular adhesions that resulted from improper wound healing, and the emotional issues connected to the places in which I was physically stuck.  I started out barely able to lift my arms over my head for half moon and completely incapable of keeping them straight!  Illness, injury, and immobility can have an immense psychological impact, and I know that first hand.  My body felt broken and alien.  Doing something athletic to address and and even reverse physical limitations in a fun and supportive environment made me feel strong again.  This experience lead me to become a massage therapist, a teacher, and recently, to finish my degree and pursue a career in public health. 

I keep coming back because my body is in constant flux and the practice helps keep me aware of that.  Especially living in New York, it is easy to be overwhelmed with outside stimuli and that can take focus away from what is going on physically, mentally, emotionally with myself.  Bikram yoga guarantees that for 90 minutes, I have no escape, no “out”, no distractions, no choice but to tune in.

My advice to new yogis ties into the above.  Don’t be afraid to tune in!  It is normal to try to create special personal rituals and distractions to avoid being with yourself and the practice for 90 minutes.  We all try to escape at some point.  Go to that scary place in which you don’t have that extra sweat-wiper towel, the cell phone,  that different version of triangle that makes you feel stronger and more capable, or that mental to-do list in savasana that keeps your mind busy.  If we get rid of these road blocks and directly face whatever is scaring us in the room, we’re building useful neural pathways that will allow us to do the same when faced with fears and challenges outside of the hot room.     

Nancy Cuervo

Give it time, keep coming, don’t push too hard all at once, drop your ego.

What inspired you to compete?
In 2010 I met a teacher from Amsterdam who competed and made it seem like a great way to expand my practice. I’d never known about competing before and the concept was strange to me. But her quiet seriousness combined with her beautiful practice made it seem like a mystery to unlock, a potential to tap into through training for competition.

How long have you been practicing bikram…and how long have you been prepping for competition?
I’ve been practicing Bikram exclusively since 2009. My first competition was in January 2011. I went to training in April 2011. My second competition was in 2013.

What is the most important thing you have learned about yourself in the training process?
I can change my mind. Postures that were impossible one day seemed to materialize miraculously the next. Some of these postures happened through consistent grunt work, but many others seemed to happen by just relaxing my brain from its immediate “No, I can’t do that” response and just trying.

That has been the biggest lesson to apply to every aspect of my life. Trying to enter any challenge in my life with fresh eyes, a relaxed state and a willingness to work.

Would you do anything differently if you were to start again?
I consider myself lucky that I started training with strong mentors and examples around me. If I were to do it all over again I would have started meditation or relaxation exercises right away for preparing to get on stage.

I would tell anyone considering competition to really adopt a beginner’s attitude to the intermediate/advanced classes. It will seem “impossible” at first. But just give it time, keep coming, don’t push too hard all at once, drop your ego. The intermediate and advanced classes are a wonderful way to learn more about the beginners series which I still love with all my heart. Just try. It will change you.