5 Best Things about Bikram Yoga: Fitness Friday

Summer is in full swing, and while you have undoubtedly already made a few trips to the beach or the pool, it’s not too late to get into gear and get the body and tone you want.  Fitness expert, Bikram yoga instructor and owner of Bikram Yoga Andersonville in Chicago., Jessica Rask, says that Bikram yoga can put you on the fast-track to bikini body bliss. “Because Bikram is done in a 105-degree room with approximately 40% humidity, you sweat a great deal more than you would with other exercises, allowing the body to detoxify on a cellular level, ensuring all of your organs are working in optimal condition” she says. “Over time Bikram yoga can really help take inches off your waist, hips and thighs, while building muscle tone all over. Photo (above) via Pure Bikram Hot Yoga
Here are the 5 best things about Bikram Yoga via Jessica:
  1. All you need for yoga is a spine!  Bikram Yoga is an all levels class. Everyone can practice and feel comfortable doing so.  No matter what is happening with your body, you can come to class.  Bikram says you are never too old, too sick, or too injured to start from scratch again.  And it’s true!  The saddest moment for me, as a teacher, is hearing someone say they cannot come to class because of a broken toe, wrist, leg, etc.  Yoga is therapy!  It is so wonderful to watch our students practice ESPECIALLY when they are working through a physical ailment.  I have taught class to a young woman in a half leg cast, a first time student who had torn her ACL two weeks prior, broken wrists, herniated discs, MS, RA, you name it!  This specific style of yoga can be pivotal in the healing process for bodily injuries.
  2. In Bikram Yoga, it is not the teacher’s decision what to teach.  We perform the same 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises every class.  There is beauty in repetition.  Due to this stipulation in the Bikram Yoga class, you are assured your entire body is worked from top to bottom (i.e., the teacher cannot focus on forward bends or arm balancing, just because it is what they like)!  Over time, this repetition becomes your constant in an ever changing life.  You always know you can come to class and meditate in this beautiful dance that is the 26 and 2.
  3. Although we practice the same 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises, the body is always different so no class is ever the same!  Many times, I will hear students walk in and say they expect to have a hard time in class, only to have the best class ever on the mat!
  4. Over time, as one becomes more in tune with his or her body, it is easier to identify if something is off.  Because we do not provide hands on adjustments or demonstrate the postures, the student becomes very in tune with what is happening inside.  This is so important to a person’s well-being!  I have had students come to me and say they credit this yoga to knowing something was wrong inside and gone on to identify cancer in its very early stages….life saving!
  5. SWEATING…no need to extrapolate.

picture (above) is Jessica and thank you Jessica for contribution on this post.

10 Reasons Why to Love Yoga

I have been taking yoga classes for about 10 years, and I’m a fan. Bikram yoga is my yoga of choice. Bikram yoga was designed by Bikram Choudhury, who learned yoga at the age of 3, and after a crippling accident, he found that 26 certain postures restored his health. All 26 postures are done in the same exact order every class in a heated room up to 105 degrees, and they are said to work every part of the body. The heat improves and enhances flexibility, flushes the toxins from the body, improves your overall fitness and increases your immune system (not to mentions helps to reduce your weight). Many forms of yoga exist, and you have to find what is right for you. Whichever type you choose, here is why you should love yoga:


1. It gives you energy-Hatha yoga is one of the only types of exercise that actually increases your energy levels. It works the body from the inside out and strengthens the organs getting everything to function normally. One specific pose in Bikram yoga is said to be equivalent to 8 hours of sleep. I don’t know if I believe this, but I do know that I have more energy after a class. On the nights I do yoga, I have this incredible energy buzz, and I always wake up early feeling extra rested.

2. It takes your mind off everything. Yoga is meditative. It also enhances concentration and focus while teaching you how to stay in the present moment.

3. It puts me in a better mood. Yoga increases oxygen to the brain which makes you feel better and is said by medical experts to even help fight depression.

4. Yoga gives you strength. Yoga helps elongate muscles and creates great looking tone to the muscles in the body.

5. It relieves stress. It helps me be mindful of breathing so when I am in stressful situations, I can deal with them even better. It truly gives me peace.

6. Increases balance, clears the mind and the soul. Balance postures really help you strengthen your body such as standing on one leg.

7. Improves your posture.

8. Yoga reduces your risk of sports injury-Yoga is a great way to gain flexibility which helps reduce risks of injury from other sports.

9. Yoga strengthens your back. When I first started doing yoga, a few friends asked me what type of strength training I was doing for my back. Yoga is the answer.

10. It’s a a great workout. I love doing yoga because it’s a wonderful workout. I honestly feel like I have worked every bone and muscle in my body. I think it only enhances my other sport activities and also enhances my work, my relationships and mood.

Note: The yoga tank above is from 59 Splits.

 

How to Choose a Yoga Mat

I am so lucky to have Jennifer Berman, Owner of Jennifer Berman Corporate Yoga, as a friend. She is always there to answer all of my yoga questions. I was in desperate need for a yoga mat, and she was a wealth of knowledge. I thought I would share my interview with her recently. If you’re considering a new yoga mat or curious about the differences, read on. For more information on Jennifer, see  Jennifer Berman Corporate Yoga.

1. Why is a yoga mat important?

A good  yoga mat will provide you with cushioning and traction for your yoga practice.

2. What should you look for in a yoga mat?

Just like most things, the type of mat people prefer is a personal preference. I have tried just about every type of mat, and my preference is a basic, no frills mat. The basic mats are lightweight, easy to carry and provide enough cushion for most people. The more expensive mats, like “Manduka“, are thicker, have extra cushioning and provide more of a textured non-slip surface. If you have knee issues, you might choose a thicker mat. Also, when you choose a mat, you might select an eco-friendly mat that is free from PVC or latex. If you do Bikram or Hot Vinyasa Flow, then a Yogitoes Skidless towel is helpful for slipping and to absorb sweat.

3. What is your favorite brand?

I like Gaim and Hugger Mugger.

4. How do you clean yoga mats?

The thinner mats can be put in the washing machine on gentle cycle with a mild detergent. In fact, when I first get my mat, I put it in the wash to get rid of slickness and any rubbery odor. You can also make a simple water/vinegar spray that is a natural antibacterial spray using 1 part warm water and 3 parts white vinegar. Spray the mat, wipe it down with a sponge or towel, and hang your mat outside to dry.

5. How should you store a yoga mat? hung up? rolled? why?

If your mat is dry, then it’s fine rolled up. However if you sweat a lot, make sure you wipe it down each time you practice yoga and then hang it to dry.

6. What is your favorite thing about teaching corporate yoga?

I love bringing health and wellness to people that normally would not have time to get to a yoga class. It is so rewarding to watch my students transform their overall well-being.

7. If you could purchase any yoga mat, which would it be?

I like the Gaim Eco Reversible Yoga Mat (pictured below). It’s not too thick, it’s versatile and it’s made from nontoxic TPE, which contains no PVC or latex.

From Alison: The Breathe mat (pictured above) is my new favorite a mat and towel all-in-one which is so easy to wash.