With Dog Days upon us, don’t forget to hydrate before class

By Byron McCauley

If you are like me, you’ve stumbled Photo by betsyweber via Flickrinto Bikram Yoga class after a busy day at the office with your water, mat and towel in hand ready for 90 minutes of bliss. Then, around the time to shift to floor exercises you hit the wall. Your mind is writing a big, fat check that your body can’t cash. You may feel lightheaded, hotter than usual and maybe even a bit disoriented. The culprit can be a lack of hydration. At least, that’s usually my problem.

As we move into the final leg of the dog days of summer — the hottest and most humid days of the season – it’s important to drink plenty of water before coming to class. With high temperatures and humidity that makes the air feel as heavy as pea soup, the hot room seems to feel even hotter. And, dehydration can occur more frequently. Scientists tell us that dehydration happens when a person has lost 2 percent of his or her body weight in fluid.

You might have had refreshing glasses of iced tea or coffee or other sugary drinks during the day thinking you are OK. However, caffeinated and sugary drinks do little for you when it comes to hydration. In fact, sugary drinks take longer for the body to absorb, which makes the body work harder.

In a Bikram Yoga Class, we can lose 1 to 3 pounds of fluids. As a general rule, we should be drinking at least a quart of water about two hours before class and replacing those fluids after class to prevent dehydration.

While water remains the No. 1 means of hydration, sports drinks like Powerade and Gatorade have proven to be effective in helping to replenish fluids lost during strenuous exercise. Coconut water contains naturally occurring electrolytes, is high in potassium, and you can find it on sale in the studio fridge. You can also dissolve a pack of Ultima Replenisher into your water to replace electrolytes. You can find them for sale in the corner of the studio as well.

Summer heat zaps more of our energy than any other time of the year – even before we come into the hot room. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you get the hydration you need, so you can have the best experience possible for your 90 minute yoga practice.

Rest, Relax & Enjoy food again! Thanks Team J+A!

Rest, Relax & Enjoy Food! Those are my three take away’s  from this July’s Whole Food Detox with Team J+A.

The number one reason I joined this detox was to rid myself of caffeine, could I do it even? Yes, yes I did and what it taught me was my body needed rest and my body was finally able to feel ‘tired’. I was constantly on the go since my baby girl was born last November and as soon as she was born I remember asking my Mom to bring me the biggest, best coffee she could get a hold of! So eight months with 30+ ounces of coffee a day I was a little nervous to go without. I prepped and surprising enough no headaches, no withdrawals but actual body awareness happened. My body was able to tell me to rest, both midafternoon most days and at a respectable time at night. I felt refreshed, renewed and motivated to see how I would feel after 14 days. I’m not sure I missed the caffeine but I missed the ritual for sure. Hot water, lemon and ginger were the new staple and I loved it! The food also pumped me up to get back into creative food mode. There are so many great recipes out there with WHOLE foods and all it takes is a quick search on google or Team J+A’s recipe list to get inspired. Are you bogged down in a haze of caffeine and don’t know it? I would definitely recommend Team J+A’s restart Whole Food Detox. In just 14 days I have been re-inspired and re-gained creativity in the kitchen. I also was able to realize my body needed rest and relaxation in order to re-boot, not caffeine.

Please ask me about the program, it is something I love to come back to a couple of times a year to allow the body to rest and restart.

-Chelsea

14-Day Detox helped me reset my life

By Byron McCauley

A few days after my 49th birthday, Chelsea casually mentioned that she was about to do the Team J+A 14-day Whole Food detox to help her get back on track after returning from vacation. “It would be great to have a buddy to do it with,” she said.

Months earlier, I had launched a new business, and – like many of us – running on fumes. I practice yoga. I run. I eat right – or so I thought. Yet, my stubborn gut persisted, I drank too much coffee, I didn’t get enough sleep and I worked too much.

So, we began.

Our initial call with Jody and Ashley felt a little like fraternity rush in college. We were all excited, but those of us who were Detox rookies did not know what to expect.  Immediately, there was support and confidence-building. We all had goals, whether it was weight-loss, getting more energy, or desiring to simply eat better. It became much more for me. I had convinced myself that I ate well and that the exercise I was getting was sufficient. It was not. The Detox helped me bridge my relationship with “self”—not just food. I journaled about my feelings about food, my experiences with the Detox, and about how my relationship with food has ruled my life.

Having grown up in the South, my past eating was corrupted by a diet of fried and buttery-rich foods. As a busy Dad of three, it had become much too easy to shovel fast-food drive-through into my kids because time is so limited. This Detox made me plan better. I shopped for groceries with a purpose and cooked days in advance – with all this new food!

Here I was eating tons of delicious kale, spinach, organic eggs scrambled in coconut oil, leeks, beets, and drinking and cooking with almond and coconut milk.  I made tons of vegetables and brown rice and lentils and beans. I incorporated herbs and spices – many of which I had always passed over in the grocery store. I sipped Yerba Mate instead of inhaling four-plus cups of Starbucks every day. I went to bed earlier and awoke rested.

Most important, I was finally able hit reset on a body and mind that had been driving in cruise control for way too long.  I almost forgot to mention that I lost nine pounds and two inches in my waist. Somehow, that feels secondary.

Team J+A has an upcoming program in August. The program starts on August 17th and you can secure your seat in the program today at www.wholedetox.co. As a Bikram Yoga Cincinnati student, J+A offers 15% off.

Enter: AUGUSTBYC during checkout. If you have any hesitation – we encourage you to jump right in. J+A offers a money back guarantee, so if by day 7, you’re not satisfied with the program (and you’ve put in the work), J+A will refund your investment. It’s a win-win. And let’s be real, it’s truly life changing, so in the long run, $247 is a steal.

Student of the month: Sally

Sally SOMAugust’s student of the month is Sally!  Please make sure to give her a big congrats in the studio.  You are sure to see her bright and early and always with a big smile on her face.

Sally describes her journey with Bikram yoga in her very own words:

My history with exercise has involved more traditional sports, soccer, running marathons and weight training.  The toll on my knees resulted in having to stop running and for the past 8 years I really wasn’t very active.  I had replaced running with walking but felt like something was still missing.  Last summer, I began exploring several different types of yoga and found them relaxing and rejuvenating, but still not “intense”enough.  Well that changed last fall, when my dear friends, Cathi Lowry and Sharon Plummer, told me about Bikram Yoga.  They felt that it would be a yoga that I would “enjoy.”  I, like many first time students, entered the studio wearing a sleeved t-shirt, long pants, with my mat, towel and 1 small water bottle without ice  to “enjoy” the class.  As I signed in, I politely let Chelsea know that I would need to leave about 10 minutes early.  I laugh now, because Chelsea smiled and responded in kind, that it was a 90 minute practice and my challenge began before I even entered the studio, when she asked, “Can you commit for the entire time, today?”  Silly me, I said “yes”.  I next remember, how my breath was taken away when I walked into the studio.  My first class, and for several months, my challenges were learning how to breathe, keep my arms out in space during the standing series and get through the class without sitting down for 50% of the class.  In spite of all these challenges, I was hooked but I was suspicious that something was being pumped into the air, that made everyone, including me come back.  During these early months, when I would get home, I could barely walk through the door, and my husband would ask, “Are you okay?” or “Are you sure this yoga is for you?”.
Over time, my endurance increased and I was able to move through all the poses without a break . I recall how great I felt the first time I could sustain my arm position throughout the standing series.  Before Bikram Yoga, my blood pressure had been creeping up and nearing the level of needing medication.  Within two months after starting my practice, I noticed  my blood pressure returned to a healthier level.  In January 2014, I noticed changes in my practice in the studio and myself outside the studio.  Co-workers began asking me what I was doing, because I looked different.  I hadn’t really lost weight, but body parts were shifting (in a good way) and my clothes were fitting better.  My husband, Marty commented that I was calmer in general, so he was happy to have me commit to the monthly payment schedule!!  When I reflected, I noticed that I was now breathing deeper and slower during stressful moments and was more mindful of being present and focused throughout the day. In the studio, I am now scantily clad during my practice in large part due to the non judgmental environment but also because it is just so dang hot!
As many teachers have pointed out the postures we dislike the most, are the ones we need the most.  Initially, my goal was to master the bow pulling pose, I was able to make progress because I could “push through” but then I realized what I really needed was to learn to “let go”  and be present in the pose in order to move deeper.  This was especially true for backward bend or camel pose.   I am no where near mastery of either, but I am moving forward (or backward in this case).
My growth has been supported by the amazing teachers and community at ‘our’ studio.  I am grateful to all of the teachers that take time to help me with specific feedback during classes, as well as answering my questions outside of class time. After attending for only 8 months, I am impressed with how in sync, Chelsea and Morgan are with my normal practice and check in when it appears something is off kilter!  The dedication to all the teachers own practices is a constant motivation. The positive attitude and friendliness of other students has helped me get through tough classes and days.  I feel fortunate to get to practice with my best friends, but also with new friends. I am happy to say, I am glad I committed for the entire 90 minutes that first day and each day since.

Q&A with Wendii Brooks: Postures are important, but nobody’s perfect

By Byron McCauley

When I heard that the fabulous Wendii Brooks was coming to the Bikram Cincinnati studio for an all-day workshop on yoga postures, I was psyched.

Wendii has more than 18 years of experience in the yoga field, having practiced in New York and now in her own Louisville studio. She will be here on Saturday, July 26 from 9  a.m. to 4 p.m. The day includes a lecture, posture workshop and a class that starts at 2:30 p.m.

For me, posture is a big deal. I’m 6′ 2″  and a big, er, fluffy guy, so some postures are easier than others. I’m good with some (head to knee); awful with others (standing leg). I recently spent some time interviewing Wendii about posture and the health benefits of yoga. She shares her wisdom below.

Byron: Wendii, why is important for yogis to get the postures correct?

Wendii: Eh, well, “correct” is kind of a sticky word for me.  Yoga practice is about exploring the body and mind.   Exploration and experimentation: finding out what works and what doesn’t.  “Correct” could apply to alignment though, that is something that shouldn’t be messed with.  Correct alignment puts you in the best position (don’t mind the pun) for maximum medical benefit.  It also creates the safest position for your body.

Byron: What are some of the most difficult posture challenges for yogis, especially those starting out.

Wendii: The most common difficulties have to do more with the mind than the body.  Bikram yoga seems to attract driven personalilties.  They always feel like they need to push.  They push themselves to continue to practice even when they are exhausted and should take a break.  They push themselves out of alignment because they want to go deeper.  They muscle their way into a pose instead of relaxing.

It’s a product of our times.  We were raised in a competitive world.  We want to master everything in half a second.  We need to be doing three things at once in order to feel productive so coming into a yoga room and being asked to do less, to relax,  and be patient is a hard thing to swallow. It’s important to let the body unfold — it cannot be forced.  OK, it can but the outcome is usually unfortunate.

Byron: For me, the Standing Head to Knee pose is most difficult. How much benefit can yogis get if they are not doing the posture perfectly?

Wendii: Ooh, perfectly is another one of those sticky words for me.  What is perfect?  Is it even attainable?  Is it universal?

If Standing Head to Knee is your most difficult pose then you are in good company.  It is probably the most challenging pose because it puts a spotlight on the most common imbalances of today’s body: tight hamstrings, tight lower back, weak core.  These things didn’t happen overnight.  It’s a culmination of poor posture, poor gait, sitting in front of the computer, driving.

The good news is that just by picking up your foot you start to reverse those imbalances.  And maybe picking up your foot is all that you are capable of doing with the body that you have that day.  That is your best posture, not perfect but best for you.  One month from now, one year from now you will have a different body and your best posture will be something different.

Byron: What advice do you have for yogis who feel they may never “nail” a posture that’s particularly challenging to them?

Wendii: It’s good to want to try to nail a posture that is challenging.  It may happen, but then again it may not.  Part of yoga is being OK with both outcomes.  Having the drive to improve leads to further investigation of the body, you have to discern what the impediment is in the body that is keeping you from “nailing” it.  Sometimes it’s obvious sometimes it is surprising.

At the end of the day the actual “nailing” of the posture isn’t important.  You will not be less of a person if you do not attain a standing split before you die.  You will not find enlightment when you see your toes in floor bow.

Byron: Some yogis have seen amazing health improvements through Bikram. Why is this so common?

Wendi: There have been many studies done that can attest to the improvements of health through yoga.   Yoga has been shown to increase bone density, lower cholesterol, and lower blood pressure.  Of course this is not groundbreaking.  There are quite a few forms of exercise that attain similar outcomes when put under a microscope.  What makes yoga different is an overall improved sense of well-being that develops when practicing yoga.  There has been some speculation over what causes this sense of well-being.  Some attribute it to increased production of hormones and neurotransmitters.  Another popular hypothesis that is gaining traction is that yoga taps into our parasympathetic nervous system which helps to calm the mind and the body.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join Chelsea & Byron for a 14 day detox

Time for me to clean up my diet

By Byron McCauley

I grew up eating organic food. We largely raised our own vegetables on various patches of farmland using natural fertilizer from grass-fed cattle we raised. Our freezer was always stocked with good stuff. But the family also had a general store in our tiny town.  Hostess pastries, Snickers, soft drinks, candy – you name it — were my comfort.

Those schizophrenic habits – healthful eating and trashy eating –carried over into adulthood. It is an uneasy burden. So when Chelsea our yoga instructor told me she wanted a buddy to join her for a 14-day Whole Food Detox, I did not hesitate to say yes (not to mention I’m just a little bit afraid of her, anyway). This is going to be hard. For the next few weeks, I cannot have things I love:  wine, coffee, and a the occasional steak. And coffee. (Did I mention my open account at Starbucks?)

But I’m totally stoked to do this Detox!

I want more energy to keep up with my kids. I want to be more alert and less moody.  And, of course, I want to look better beside my smoking hot wife (I digress). I’ve been practicing Bikram Yoga since November, and I see great progress. That, coupled with changes I know will happen with this 14-day Whole Food Detox has me excited. Just as Chelsea challenged me to do this with her, I hope you guys will consider joining us. Nothing like collective success! The detox program is open for registration now until July 13th and the program runs from July 20th – August 3rd.  Secure your seat in the program atwww.wholedetox.co and use coupon code:  SUMMER15 to save 15%.

Time for me to eliminate caffeine and sugar

By Chelsea Young

After a long vacation and eating out and on the road it’s time to get back to real food and give my body a true break from the haze of caffeine… I gave birth at the end of November and still have not slept more than 4 hours at a time, so A LOT of coffee and Bikram yoga have been my energy staple…it’s time to cut the coffee and use natural, sustainable food for energy.

Ever since I started my Bikram yoga practice I have slowly tried new ideas for diet & nutrition, I love to learn different recipes to share with my friends & family and I am always interested in what foods work for MY BODY! I am a little scared about getting rid of sugar & caffeine 100%, I love my morning coffee and almost always look forward to something sweet after dinner. I cannot wait to see how these 14 days go, would love to do this with some buddies (I already snatched up Byron)!

I invite you to join me!  Secure your seat in the program at www.wholedetox.co and use coupon code:  SUMMER15 to save 15%.   – Chelsea

Student of the Month: Dianne

Dianne SOMJuly’s student of the month is Dianne!  Please make sure to give her a big congrats in the studio.  You are sure to see her there because she practices just about EVERY day!

Dianne describes her journey with Bikram yoga in her own words:

“I was first introduced to Bikram yoga in June 2013 while vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard.  I had never heard of it before but was willing to try it because I saw a change in my sister, both mentally and physically.  The experience was awesome.  I am not sure if it was the group energy from my sisters, but I knew I wanted more from that very first session.   Unfortunately for me, at the time I resided on St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, and did not have access to Bikram yoga because it is not offered there.

After relocating to Cincinnati, I got back into practicing Bikram yoga because my initial thought was that I wanted to lose weight.  I am big in counting my calories and losing it too, so when I read about how many calories you can burn at one session, I was hooked.  I knew about the Cincinnati Bikram Yoga location from my sister, Dawn, from her experience at the studio.

Bikram yoga has surpassed my expectations on what I want to achieve, for me.  I am now driven to attending the classes, and if my schedule allowed it, I would attend every day, because of the mental and physical transformation I have gained.  I am more conscious of what I eat, patient with my kids and my overall health and wellness has improved.  I find that one of the best things I have given myself is that 90-minutes of self-indulgence where it’s all about me.  Of the twenty-six postures my favorite postures are the standing series.  The ones that are most challenging are the ones I have not mastered or simply cannot do because I am not as flexible as your typical yoga person…..at least for now.  However, I am determined to get to a point where I am comfortable with all the postures.  I know the more sessions I attend that phase will pass and like everything else I will get to a point where I will enhance my postures and improve my strength.

I do have my days where I feel overwhelmed but the instructors are great.  Each instructor has their own individual way of teaching that pushes me beyond my capability.  I love how I am able to improve on my postures with the guidance from the instructors.  The overall results have been one of the best things I have experienced and achieved in my life.  For anyone wanting to try Bikram yoga, please know that you have to go at your own pace while pushing yourself a little extra every day, and eventually you will get to a point where you will only want to keep going.  At the end of the day I feel great and I am starting to love my body again all thanks to the staff at Cincinnati Bikram Yoga who make the classes worth my time.”

Thank you to Dianne for sharing your experience and being a great part of our studio community!

Student of the Month: Phil

photo (2)With the turn of the calendar page, or the scrolling down on the screen to the next month, we find ourselves in need of a new student of the month at the studio. It’s Phil! And Phil wrote a great piece all on his own, so this month the student speaks for himself.

In January of 2012, my daughter-in-law told Sue and I about a “kind of yoga” that is done in a hot room (98–100 degrees). “It’s yoga the way they do it in India” she said. In the middle of a Cincinnati winter, the thought of doing gentle stretching to sound of soft music, in a warm room sounded like the perfect workout. Sue and I agreed that we’d check out “hot” yoga and committed to “trying it” in May when our schedules would be freeing up. As I drove up Red Bank Expressway later that week I saw a new sign up on a familiar building. “Bikram Yoga” it said, with a little flame on it. Hey! I thought to myself, that must be one of them “hot yoga” places Elle was telling us about.

I turned around, pulled in, and as luck would have it I showed up right after a 9:30 class. Chelsea was kind enough to let me in and tell me about Bikram. “Ninety minutes” she said, “thirty of which is resting on your back or stomach”.  The temp would be 105 not 100; but, hey how much difference can 5 degrees make? I told her I’d never done yoga before and she said, “No worries! All of our postures are basic beginner’s postures.” I swear she said that with a straight face. I told her my wife and I would be back in 4 months to get started and I’m sure that’s the last she thought she’d ever see of me.

Well, it’s been two years now and well over 400 classes and I can say that this is a practice that works to fix the things that you didn’t even know were broken. I remember the first day I came in wearing basketball shorts and a cotton t-shirt and somehow made it through what felt like a form of water boarding. In the locker room I asked David how many days it would be before I would feel well enough to come back and try it again.  He said “the best thing you can do is come back tomorrow;” so I did. The next day I heard that the best thing you can do is come for 30 days straight. So we did that too. Along the way I discovered that I was in far far worse shape than I imagined and that slowly, if I came back every day, things would start to straighten themselves out. They have and they continue to do so.

My favorite posture is and always will be the one I just finished and the most challenging is the one I’m currently in.

Thank you so much Phil, for sharing your amazing practice with us. As Chelsea says, he takes “pride in his practice and does something many of us don’t do: he takes care of his body in the hot room, pushing himself to his limits and not beyond. He is a great part of our community and we are so thankful to have him and his wife in our Bikram family!”

Namaste!

Formatted only by Liz Alfano

Bikram Postures: Locust Pose – Salabhasana

http://www.bikramyoga.com/BikramYoga/TwentySixPosturesDetails.php?pos=17Oh your elbows! Locust Pose is here to solve all the problems of the desk job, the computer job, the job that makes you sit there typing all day no matter how ergonomically designed your work space is.

After the sit up, lie down on your stomach, and get your arms under your body, gripping the floor with open hands. Your elbows need to be as close to each other as possible and they are probably going to hurt. It’s one of those kinds of pain that feels really good when it’s over. But for now…it hurts.

First, chin on the floor,  one leg lifts up, 45 degrees, you know, half of ninety? Lift your leg up higher! Then the other. Just use your back strength, no help from other leg. And after that kiss the floor and zip up both legs, like a cobra tail. One leg and no knee. Lift up, gripping the floor, all the way up! And here’s why:

Slipped discs and sciatica? Be gone!
Tennis elbow? Outta here.
Varicose veins in the legs? I don’t think so.
Tight rump? Uh, hello!
And your core…oh your core. Try it and see…a plank is like a juice pouch compared to locust!

So get your arms under there, kiss the floor and get those legs up. Because you’re just getting ready to take flight! See you next posture.

 

Posted by Liz Alfano

Breath Before Posture

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/07/yoga-taught-me-how-to-breathe-kris-lord/Full disclosure from the start: I struggle with this; most recently today at 5pm when I was about freak the flip out in class. For about 5 minutes I was positive I couldn’t breathe. Until I realized that I’d been thinking I wasn’t breathing for longer than I can actually go without breathing. And that’s when I had to tune in to the first instruction: breath before posture.

So what does that mean, and is it still yoga is we concentrate on the breath first? I mean, come on. Being in a hot room and breathing….that doesn’t sound like Bikram yoga to me. Well except that breathing is really the most fundamental thing we do all day and without it everything else becomes largely irrelevant. So when we focus on controlling our breath first, and being mindful of the way the breath is moving through our bodies, then we really are doing some of the most beneficial work possible.

In the beginning of class, we practice “pranayama” breathing, which comes from two words: “prana” meaning breath, and “ayama” meaning to extend or draw out. As class begins and we start by drawing out our breath, the goal is to maintain that level of pranayama through the rest of our 90-minute practice. If we have paid attention to our breathing, and to the depth and control of our breath, then the posture turns out to be a bonus.

So listen to the instructors when they say to “return to the breath” or “focus on your breathing.” Because breath comes before the posture. And that’s Bikram yoga.

 

Posted by Liz Alfano