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Posture of the Week: Pranayama

Because of sedentary habits, most people use only ten percent of their lungs, never allowing the lungs too reach their maximum expansion capacity. As a result, they are susceptible to bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, shortness of breath, and dozens of other breathing problems. Standing Deep Breathing teaches you to use the other ninety percent of your lungs. This exercise should be done before any kind of physical activity because it expands the lungs to their full capacity, it increases circulation to the whole body, waking everything up and preparing the muscles for action.

Posture Tips:

  • Concentrate more on breathing through the throat than on what your arms and head are doing.
  • Be gentle when you push your head back, especially if you have any neck or shoulder pain. As you practice more, your neck will get more flexible but don’t rush the process.
  • As a beginner you may not be able to breathe in for 6 seconds. Don’t be discouraged. It takes time to learn how to control your breathing but with consistent practice not only will you be able to breathe in for 6 seconds, you will soon be able to breathe in even longer and you will notice a tremendous affect on your ability to focus and concentrate.
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Test Your Bikram Yoga Knowledge

Think you know the practice? Take our quiz below!

Please Note – The results of this quiz do not reflect on your yoga capability, only your knowledge of the practice. Also, this quiz is only for fun!

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Posture of the Week: Final Savasana

Class is now over and your body is absorbing the effects of the practice and beginning to change – refreshing, revitalizing and reorganizing itself in every cell and molecule.

3 Tips for Final Savasana

  • TAKE IT! This is where your body, mind and sprit can relax and fully assimilate the benefits of your practice. As busy New Yorkers this may be your most challenging posture. Learn to embrace it. While teachers  allow students to leave after a two minute Savasana, it is recommended to stay 10-15 minutes to calm the nervous system and promote equanimity in the entire body. 
  • Scan your body for tension. Mentally run through all the parts of your body and allow them to sink into the floor. Be cognizant of tension that often accumulates in your jaw, shoulders, forehead and hips.
  • Breathe normally, find a comfortable position on your back (there’s no real form here, unlike the Savasana between standing and floor series) and close your eyes. While your body might be fatigued and amenable to relaxation, your mind can get in the way. Focus on your inhalation and exhalation to calm your mind. Avoid thinking about outside factors and future plans (what’s for dinner?). We know, we know, easier said than done!  
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Posture of the Week: Final Breathing

This last breathing exercise strengthens all the abdominal organs, increases the circulation and stimulates the digestive system. It makes the abdominal wall strong and trims the waistline. It also allows the body to release toxins through the respiratory system.

4 Tips for Final Breathing:

  • Keep your stomach relaxed and draw your belly in on the exhale. The inhale happens automatically.
  • Your spine should be straight; think of your arms like brackets holding you up (more than your abdomen and back). Elbows locked.
  • Avoid bouncing or any movement in the chest, shoulders, head. Just your belly moves on the exhale. 
  • Your mouth should be open, jaw relaxed. Avoid pursing your lips or tensing your face.
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Posture of the Week: Spine Twisting Pose

The only exercise that twists the spine from top to bottom at the same time. As a result, it increases circulation and nutrition to spinal nerves, veins, and tissues, and improves spinal elasticity and flexibility and the flexibility of the hip joints. It helps cure lumbago, rheumatism of the spine, improves digestion, removes flatulence from the intestines, and firms the abdomen, thighs, and buttocks.

  • Avoid sitting on your heel of the knee that is bent on the floor. Both sit-bones should be equally distributed on the floor. 
  • When you bring your arm up over your knee make sure that all three parts (hand, knee and heel) are touching on the same spot of the floor. 
  • Your buttocks, hips, sacrum and pelvis remain square to the side you are facing (left side in most cases); they are not involved in the twisting motion. The twist comes from the waist through the top of the head. Prior to turning it is important to lift your body up toward the ceiling and then twist. 
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Posture of the Week: Separate Head to Knee and Stretching Pose

This posture helps to balance the blood sugar level. It improves the flexibility of the sciatic nerves, ankles, knees and hip joints; improves digestion; enhances the proper functioning of the kidneys; and expands the solar plexus. Increases the flexibility of the trapezius, deltoid, erectus femoris, and bicep muscles, sciatic nerves, tendons, hip joints, and the last five vertebrae of the spine. Relieves chronic diarrhea by improving the circulation of the bowels. It also increases circulation to the liver and spleen and improves digestion.

4 Tips for this posture:

  • Keep in mind that with legs to either side your knee can be bent. The forehead-to-knee compression is paramount rather than having your leg straight. Furthermore, whether your knee is bent or straight your foot should always be flexed. 
  • During the compression portion of the posture, your shoulders and elbows are equally aligned over the leg that is out (i.e. leg facing the corner of the room). On the right side, think left elbow and shoulder down toward the floor, and the opposite for the left side.
  • With both legs forward it is important to contract your quadriceps BEFORE you begin to pull on your toes. If you’re unable to keep your knees locked avoid pulling and work on hamstring flexibility first.
  • As always, breath is key. Inhale while lifting and lengthening the spine, exhale as you stretch forward and work toward touching your forehead to your toes.
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Posture of the Week: Rabbit Pose

Produces the opposite effect of the Camel, giving maximum longitudinal extension of the spine. As a result, it stretches the spine to permit the nervous system to receive proper nutrition. It also maintains the mobility and elasticity of the spine and back muscles. The Rabbit improves digestion and helps cure colds, sinus problems and chronic tonsilitis. And it has a wonderful effect on thyroid and parathyroid glands. The pose improves the flexibility of the scapula and trapezius and helps children reach their full growth potential.

3 Tips for this Posture:

  • A proper, tight grip is important. Place the towel over your heels, grab your heels over the towel (thumbs outside). Without a firm grip, extra pressure will be placed on the head and cervical spine. This grip is continuous from the postures’s start to finish. 
  • Avoid executing the posture with a flat back (different from Half Tortoise pose). Tuck chin to chest, round shoulders down and forward and suck your belly in!
  • While in maximum expression of the posture, engage your feet with the heels together, drawn your navel to your spine and bring your shoulder back away from your ears. This will allow for a better stretch from coccyx to the neck.
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Name that Pose!

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Posture of the Week: Camel Pose

Produces maximum compression of the spine, which stimulates the nervous system. Improves the flexibility of the neck and spine and relieves backache. The peak of the floor series. This posture stretches the abdominal organs to the maximum and cures constipation. It stretches the throat, thyroid gland, and parathyroid gland. Like the Bow Pose, it opens a narrow rib cage to give more space to the lungs. It also firms and slims the abdomen and the waistline. In addition, this posture allows release of emotional tension held in the body as stress, anxiety, anger and depression.

3 Tips for Camel Pose:

  • When you drop your head back try your best to relax your neck so the weight of your head will bring you closer to being able to grab your heels. 
  • Visualize your entire spine in the back bend. You want to access each part of your spine. You don’t want to give in to any part of your spine that may be more flexible than another.
  • This posture helps to strip away layers of emotional stress. By focusing on the middle of your chest and breathing deeply you might experience thoughts and feelings surfacing. This is a good thing so let your emotions surface and then let them go.  You will feel much better.
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Posture of the Week: Half Tortoise Pose

In terms of relaxation, it’s said that thirty seconds of this posture is the equivalent of eight hours of sleep. It also cures indigestion and stretches the lower part of the lungs, increasing blood circulation to the brain. It firms the abdomen and thighs. It also increases the flexibility of the hip joints, scapula, deltoids, triceps, and latissimus dorsi muscles.

4 Tips for this posture:

The slower you can move into this posture the more abdominal strength and lower back flexibility you will build. Think about the same initial movement as balancing stick:

  • Chin away from the chest to keep your spine long – focus on the floor in front of your mat as you come down. If you are in the front row, you should focus on yourself in the mirror as you come down.
  • Come down with a flat back (no curve or arch in spine)
  • Try to touch your fingertips to the floor first before your forehead – this will force you to keep stretching forward
  • This is an easy posture to get lazy in so stay active in the pose! Push the heels of your palms together and lift wrists off the floor to create more stretching in the whole spin.