The forward tilt of your torso sends high-speed blood pouring into the heart, especially the neglected lower region, cleaning out the veins and all the arteries, strengthening the heart muscle.  The same rejuvenating flood rushes into the brain as well.  It is also one of the best exercises for bad posture.  By perfecting body control and balance it strengthens physical, psychological, and mental powers.

3 Tips for Balancing Stick:

  1. The hardest part about balancing stick pose it to take with you some of the things you worked on in the previous posture. Specifically focus on your standing locked knee. You will notice your thigh muscle will want to remain loose but you have to work hard to contract your thigh muscle.

  2. In order to keep your arms with your ears try thinking about your upper back muscles activating to make it a little easier.

  3. Before you bring your body down and leg up parallel to the floor transfer your weight to your standing foot and strong solid leg to stabilize your self and the proceed from there.

Born in New York raised in the Bronx, Dionne took her first bikram class in the summer of 2008 at Flatiron. It took her a couple of months to take her second class and now she plans her entire day around yoga. She can’t go a day with out practicing. She fell in love with the yoga’s physical challenges and mental relaxation. She graduated in the fall of 2011. She loves to see students achieve things in that room that they never before thought was possible. She has passion for what she does and believes that everyone can live a healthy and happy life.

Dionne wanted us to pass along this quote she enjoys:

” All great achievements require time. ” ~ Maya Angelou

 You can follow Dionne on Instagram under the handle @spiritualmsd

Standing Head to Knee Pose helps develop concentration, patience, and determination. Physically, it tightens abdominal and thigh muscles, improves flexibility of the sciatic nerves, and strengthens the tendons, biceps of the thigh muscles, and hamstrings in the legs, as well as the deltoid, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, scapula, biceps, and triceps.  When you touch your forehead to your knee, you create front-side compression, so you are also squeezing and flushing out the internal abdominal organs, such as the gall bladder, pancreas and spleen as well as the uterus and ovaries.

3 Tips for Standing Head to Knee Pose

  1. Standing Head to knee is a very difficult posture for most people. We like to think of this pose as 4 stages in 1 posture. If you are having trouble grabbing your foot, try to lift your thigh up as high as you need to to grab your foot. You do not have to have your thigh parallel to the floor to grab your foot.
  2. Think about keeping your weight more towards your toes to prevent you from putting too much pressure on the back of your knee.
  3. If you have any pain in your lower back you are probably doing it wrong. Come out of the pose and start again. Don’t forget to use your abdominal muscles as much as possible to support your back.

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Craig Villani is a highly experienced Bikram Yoga teacher and the former Director of Bikram Teacher Training. He is also the co-founder of LUX Yoga in France gives Bikram Yoga seminars and workshops worldwide. We are thrilled to welcome Craig back to Bikram Yoga NYC for a Master Class/Clinic on November 21st!

Whether you are a beginner at yoga or have been practicing with us for years, this is your chance to learn a lot more about Bikram Yoga and to take your practice to the next level. If you have questions about certain postures and/or your own practice, this is the perfect opportunity to get them answered.

Craig will take time to explain postures, give demonstrations and share information about the yoga during class. During class you will have the opportunity to ask questions as well. This will be an interactive session.

To learn more about Craig, please visit

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Master Class/Clinic with Craig Villani
Saturday, November 21st
10am to 12:30pm at Flatiron
$50 in advance – $60 at the door
Limited to first 50 Students

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Craig Villani is a passionate student of life. He began speaking publicly at age six and won national awards for writing before graduating high school. After earning his Bachelor of Science degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology, he entered into the developing field of health and fitness as a wellness consultant.

Craig has been teaching yoga since 1999 and served for nearly a decade as International Director of Education and Teacher Training for the Yoga College of India. Throughout his tenure, he guided thousands of yoga instructors and facilitators through what was widely considered one of the most challenging and successful hatha yoga training programs in the world.

He has led thousands of classes and hundreds of seminars, workshops, lectures, conferences, and retreats throughout the world, focusing on yoga therapy, mindfulness, and integrative health. Internationally recognized for his expertise in professional development and leadership, Craig’s practical and accessible teaching style is grounded in efficacy, precision, and a somewhat irreverent sense of humor.

Eagle Pose is the only pose that opens up the 14 largest joints in the skeletal system.  Eagle also supplies fresh blood to the reproductive organs and the kidneys, increasing sexual power and helping to clear up reproductive problems. It helps firm calves, thighs, hips, abdomen, and upper arms.  It also improves the flexibility of the hip, knee, and ankle joints and strengthens the latissimus dorsi, trapezius and deltoid muscles.  This posture is very good for varicose veins.

  • This posture can be really easy for some people and really difficult for others. Don’t force yourself into the pose.
  • Use a little momentum When you bring one leg over the other to help hook your foot around your calf muscle.
  • If you have trouble getting your foot under your calf muscle practice it in a seated position.
  • Try to get into the posture as quick as possible so you can stay in it longer and get the cardiovascular benefits.

After the class gratefully exited locust the other night, the teacher chastised us all for kerploping our four limbs to the ground. Lower them slowly instead, she said. Make the motion weight-bearing. Don’t give in to gravity.  Instead of taking that moment to be lazy, to let your legs and arms drop fruitlessly, exert muscle against gravity, lower them slowly, like barbells, using the opportunity given by gravity to grow strong.

“Don’t give in to gravity,” is a strategy that maxs out your postures. In triangle, for example, holding the torso aloft, so that the spine is a straight diagonal with the back leg, is far harder work than letting it curl down. Half the point of balancing stick is to resist the torso’s inclination to succumb to gravity and topple to the floor. Indeed every one-legged posture doubles the exertion against gravity, and the point is to bear that doubled weight and not give in.

Along with conquering gravity with muscular force, yoga also conquers gravity by toning the body, enabling it to resist gravity’s downward drag.  After age 40, the spine shrinks half an inch per decade. But this is not biology, not inevitable. It is caused by gravity compounded by laziness. Stretch the spine with yoga—and Bikram yoga focusses on the spine—and gravity will literally not lower you.  (And if you do headstands, those spongy discs in your spine get a chance to decompress and plump up, keeping your height.) And every teacher or blogger who extols yoga as the fountain of youth mentions the sag it reverses,  how it prevents the drooping and pebbling that gravity inflicts on thighs and arms.

If yogis don’t give in to gravity in our postures, and our bodies don’t give in to gravity because of years we commit to our practices, yogis also don’t give in to gravity in our hearts and spirits. As our teachers advice us over and over, “don’t let anyone steal your peace.”

The choice to emotionally or psychologically not crumble or rage at the grave is a choice to not give in to gravity.  Crumbling or raging will not change gravity nor the grave. Not giving in is the first step toward thinking, now what, what is the next step given this serious pickle? Thinking, not buckling to the weight or the downward force, while standing straight, feeling tall, and, well, defying gravity.

Score: Gravity, 0; Yoga, 3.


Yoga Lily

On a freezing winter day, Debbie accidentally walked into a Bikram NYC studio. She was looking for a wellness center located on the same city block, but—by fluke or fate—she ended up in the hot room. Debbie describes the benefits of her early yoga practice as “almost like magic”. As her practice deepened, it became a passion. Debbie traveled to Thailand for Teaching Training in Fall 2014. She is also a licensed Social Worker—and feels empathy and compassion to be essential when up on the podium.

Debbie’s inspiration:

At Teacher Training, I heard this great quote – “The darkest place in the world is under the brightest lamp.”  Bikram yoga is an incredibly honest practice – 90 minutes in the hot room.  Alone on your mat.  No distractions—no music, candles, Buddha statues. Not even any variation in the posture sequence!  It’s just you and your reflection—and, I think, that’s part of what makes the yoga so challenging.  But also so rich!  It’s a real opportunity to learn about yourself.  As your practice develops, you’ll notice changes in the way you think about yourself and treat the people around you.  I showed up to my first class with self-esteem that was seriously lacking. It took a couple years before I finally began to accept and appreciate myself.  It’s a tough journey–but stay the course.  This yoga really can change your life!

Awkward Pose will tone and shape your legs. The definition and strength you gain here are among yogas’ fastest results. It opens the pelvis and makes the hip joints more flexible and also firms the upper arms. This posture will increases blood circulation in the knees and ankle joints and will help to relieve rheumatism, arthritis, and gout in the legs, and helps to cure slipped disc and lumbago in the lower spine. Awkward Pose also promotes concentration.

3 Tips for the 3 parts of Awkward Pose:

Part 1
Most beginners don’t sit down low enough because they feel funny sticking their buttocks out behind them. It will feel very strange the first time you sit down all the way but it will help to increase flexibility in your hips.

Part 2
It is difficult to balance when you are standing on the balls of your feet. Think about locking your ankles in place as if you had ski boots on. This image will help you not wiggle your ankles in or out and just concentrate on bending your knees. Nothing else moves. Engaging your core muscles will help as well.

Part 3
If you are having trouble sitting all the way down because of knee issues, you may help yourself down by putting putting your hands on the floor to lower yourself down. Once you are all the way down, then lean back to get your spine straight and use your core strength to sit up a little off your heels.

Hands to feet pose increases the flexibility of the spine, the sciatic nerves and of most of the tendons and ligaments of the legs and strengthens the biceps of thighs and calves. It also greatly improves blood circulation in the legs and to the brain and strengthens the rectus abdominus, gluteus maximus, oblique, deltoid, and trapezius muscles.

  • As a beginner if you are not able to get your hands under your feet with your elbows behind your calf muscles don’t worry. Just grab wherever you can to make sure you can rest your belly on your thighs and eventually with practice you will be able to do this.
  • Don’t forget to use your bicep muscles as much as possible when you pull on your heel which will help to tone your arm muscles.
  • When you start pushing your knees back to stretch your hamstrings listen to your body so that you don’t overstretch. You should feel a good stretching sensation but nothing that you should feel alarmed about.

It’s in the stillness that we find peace, that we find magic. Savasana gives us that stillness.

Among a plethora of other benefits (calming the central nervous system, relieving stress, relaxing the body, reducing insomnia, reducing headaches and fatigue, helping relieve depression, and helping lower blood pressure) savasana also allows us the space to go inside and to heal– emotionally, physically and mentally. Often we are so consumed by our lives that we rush out of the room after class, on to the next thing, the next place, the next activity, the next one. We are all busy. We rush and run and schedule our lives down to the minute, but taking time for savasana, even scheduling it into our day is so important.

It is in savasana that we heal and learn to listen to our inner guide. Much of our suffering in life is caused by not listening to our intuition. When we are still, calm and quiet our inner voice becomes clear. Everything in the modern world is designed to squash that inner voice–our phones, our jobs, our families, friends, technology, social media, the list goes on and on.  When you come to yoga, you have a chance to turn it all off, to go inside and let the external world go. You get the chance to be with yourself.

For many of us it’s scary to go inside. We’ve never been there before. It’s like a new land, a place that we have to get familiar with. And it might be one that we are afraid to face. What if when we explore inside we discover that our external life doesn’t match our internal life? But, that’s the exciting part, that’s when change occurs. As a girl who used to take pride in being scared of change I can understand how scary that might be. CHANGE! It’s so uncomfortable, right? But on the other side of discomfort is freedom. And, we all want to be free.

It took me many years of practice and thousands of hours of going inside before I was able to easily embrace change, and still, I have to keep my worry in check on a daily basis. Though, as Esther Hicks says, “Worry is using your imagination to create what you do not want.” This is a quote I say to myself daily. I was, also, a student who could never be still. My first group of yoga teachers called me Ms. Fidgets. I was so nervous, so filled with anxiety, and so uncertain about who I was and what I was doing. But, it was by settling into that stillness, first in the poses, then in savasana, then, finally, in my meditation practice that I truly went inside and extracted the pieces of me that were hiding, covered in a layer of anxiety and fear.

Bikram yoga burned through my anxiety; it helped me to heal it and allowed me to be still. The physical postures enable us to sit in stillness and it is in that stillness that we let our magic unfold. It is in the stillness that we know the truth. Savasana will reveal your truth. Be in it, revel in it and come away from it with a whole new understanding of who you are and what your purpose is. Or, maybe you’ll just get some peace along with a whole range of physical benefits, which is equally as amazing! Probably though, if you practice it with right intention, you will get all of the above.

Yarrow is a yoga teacher, meditation teacher and a writer with teaching certificates from both Bikram Choudhury and Dharma Mittra. Through her writing and teaching she aims to help people heal so that they are able to uncover their unique poetry the way she has uncovered hers.