Student Story: Katie Wilt

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

I did a handful of classes a few years ago but came back to the practice in November 2014. As an avid runner, I was looking for ways to take care of and preserve my body so I could continue running in the most healthy manner possible.

Bikram also offered the challenge of practicing something that I was not an expert at with instructors who could help me improve my skill. It appealed to me that my mind and spirit would benefit as well, which is important to me.

How has your practice affected your life?

I am more flexible. I have a few more tricks up my sleeve when it comes to relaxing. I believe I walk a little taller; I haven’t measured myself, but perhaps more importantly, I feel taller.

What keeps you coming back for more?

Seeing progress is motivating! I value the practice of strength, concentration, and letting go. I find the work you do in class stays with your body and I love that feeling.

Do you have any advice/insight for new yogis?

They call it “practice” for a reason. Think of the teachers as coaches. They provide insight into things you can’t see or are not yet aware of in your body. Their voices serve as an anchor for your mind during class.

The teacher says, “Take the opportunity to focus your eyes on your own in the mirror.” Typically, when I look in a mirror it is in a more calm state for information and assurance. In this yoga, the mirror also can provide a source of power. It is not often we take the time to look directly at ourselves when our determination and concentration is so present on the surface and raw.

You are with people of different strengths and we are all doing the best we can and we do better together.


Running Yogis

Starting Thursday August 27th at 6 p.m. Bikram Yoga Park Slope will be hosting “Running Yogis,” a group of dedicated runners and yogis led by Bikram Yoga Park Slope instructor, Natalie Phelps. We will be meeting at the Lefferts Avenue studio at 6pm and running for about an hour around Prospect Park and the surrounding neighborhoods returning to the studio in time to take the 8pm class. Please come and join us regardless of your pace or running experience.

Why running and yoga?

Yoga is a wonderful activity to increase balance and flexibility for runners and help prevent injuries. While running is a great cardiovascular activity, it can lead to repetitive stress injuries (such as runners knee, IT band syndrome, tight hamstrings) if not properly balanced with strength and flexibility training. The repetitive movements of running contract the muscles over and over again which can result in shortened muscle fibers, imbalances in the musculoskeletal system, and reduced range of motion in related joints. A regular yoga practice can help runners create length in those shortened muscle fibers and increase strength in underused muscle groups that cause musculoskeletal imbalance.  Yoga can also reduce stiffness from post workout lactic acid buildup and improve breathing.

A little about Natalie

Natalie has been practicing at our studios since January 2012 and joined the Bikram Yoga Park Slope team this May after attending the Fall 2014 Teacher Training in Thailand and traveling as a visiting teacher for 6 months. She has taught in studios all over the world but is happy to be back at her home studio in Brooklyn.

Natalie has been an avid long distance runner since her teenage years on the track and cross-country teams. She has run 8 full marathons, at least 16 half marathons and countless shorter individual races and relays. Natalie tried Bikram Yoga for the first time after running her first marathon as a way to stretch and strengthen her muscles after pounding the pavement for 26.2 miles and was instantly hooked. She is currently training for the Detroit marathon and would love to share her running experiences with the yoga community.

David Ashkenazy

Student Story: David Ashkenazy

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

I was running at the time and I started having problems with my knees and feet. I had been hearing about Bikram for over 10 years but I was intimidated. I decided to go to a class when I couldn’t run one day. After my first class, I was hooked. I decided to do a 7-day challenge which turned into a 30-day challenge which turned into a 101-day challenge of nonstop yoga.

I wanted to see how Bikram Yoga would affect my body and mind and some great transformations come out of it.

How has your practice affected your life?

I think from very early on I felt so open and clean, my moods were greatly improved, my body felt strong, and my skin clean and cleansed. I’m a musician/drummer and I also noticed my creativity expanding; I was much less tense and able to access a creative state of mind more quickly. My eating habits began to change naturally. I have always loved to eat and still indulge when I want to, but I began craving much healthier foods and drinking a ton more water. After 5 years of doing Bikram it’s now just a part of my life. If I don’t go at least once a week, I feel off and I crave it.

What keeps you coming back for more?

THE HIGH! Nothing feels as good as Bikram yoga. My mind, body, and spirit feel clean, clear, and cleansed. I do other forms of exercise, but Bikram is the glue that holds it all together.

Do you have any advice for new yogis?

Start off strong. You don’t have to do a crazy challenge, but go as much as you can. Once you get adjusted to the heat and the practice, it becomes much easier to relax into and enjoy the process. It truly is a moving meditation, it just may take a little discipline to get more comfortable. Oh Yeah,  BREATHE!!!!  and sit or lie down if you need. No need to suffer through it right?

Training for the NY Marathon

Training for the Marathon?

BYPS instructor Frank King shares how Bikram Yoga supports and enhances his training for this year’s New York Marathon.

BYPS: How many marathons have your run?

FK: I have run two marathons to date: Philadelphia 2011 and Harrisburg PA 2012. I am currently training for NYC 2014.

BYPS: How have you integrated your yoga practice in the past with your cross training and how is that different today?

FK: In the past I dialed back my practice to only a few times a week. Working a full time job and managing a training schedule that included running five days a week made it tough to balance a yoga practice, as well. Now as a teacher I am able to create a better balance between practicing and running, which has made the training so much less grueling. I now have an easier time with the endurance of the long runs, and the stretching postures in our 90 minute practice decreases the amount of time I need for recovery between runs. In general, the thermal therapy and the deep stretching of Bikram Yoga alleviates a lot of the aches and pains from marathon training, making the process more manageable and less damaging.

BYPS: What are some of the greatest challenges in your Bikram Yoga practice as you train for the marathon?

FK: The other day I took a class and my flexibility had taken a step backwards. This continues to be my greatest challenge in class, although I feel the benefits of the practice and feel significantly better after the class. Like we say in Bikram, the more you need it, the more benefits you receive from the practice.

BYPS: What is the greatest challenge in your marathon training that Bikram Yoga supports?

FK: The greatest challenge that Bikram Yoga supports—aside from learning how to breathe more efficiently while running and the decompression I get on my ankles, knees, and spine from yoga—is the head noise or negative thinking that can make or break a run. Bikram Yoga teaches me how to quiet that noise and helps me to recognize my strength and ability to run long distances.

Before I started practicing Bikram I had not run more than 2 miles straight. After a while of practicing consistently and running a few 5k and 10k races, I thought if I do this yoga for 90 minutes in this heat, surely I can run for several hours. That was the turning point and the beginning of my growth with running.

BYPS: How do you want to grow in your training and can you recommend Bikram Yoga to other athletes?

FK: I have trained for two sprint triathlons. Next year I hope to extend the distances to Olympic, and half iron man lengths. I know that Bikram Yoga with be vital to the training process.

I can recommend Bikram Yoga as a cross training method for other runners and endurance athletes at any level because it

  • relieves joint pain pressure that training puts on the body
  • teaches you to breathe more efficiently
  • helps improve dexterity in movement
  • builds the mental fortitude to endure when your body is pushed for hours at a time

Frank teaches at all three Bikram Yoga Park Slope studios. Join one of his classes and be sure to ask him about his training (and perhaps his favorite ice cream) as we get closer to November’s marathon.