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Healthy Living: Hydrate with Food

Summer may be coming to an end, but it’s still hot and steamy outside (and inside!) the studio. While you are working on your flexibility, hydration becomes a key component of your wellness. Are you drinking plenty of water, but still find yourself parched? This is your body’s way of telling you that you need to eat, not just drink your water. According to the Institute of Medicine, 20% of your daily water consumption needs to come from food.

Foods to Eat

There are many foods that contain water, but there are a few standouts that you need to eat right now. These include cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, celery, tomatoes and zucchini. Each has at least 90% water weight and also carry a nutrient punch that doesn’t come from water or sports drinks alone.

Yes, water is crucial for survival and healthy functioning of your body, but without the nutrients found in the following hydrating foods, you are missing out on important vitamins, minerals and amino acids. The great news is that these fruit and veggies are in season, so hit a farmers market and stock up:

  • Cucumbers provide fiber and Vitamin C. Blend them in a smoothie, add to salads or soup or if you enjoy snacking on them alone, try dipping them in hummus for an extra satisfying snack.
  • Watermelon not only contains Vitamin C, it also contains lycopene, an antioxidant that helps fight cancer. Watermelon contains some of the highest levels of this antioxidant, providing around 12 milligrams per standard size wedge.
  • Cantaloupe has been called a ‘beauty fruit” for a good reason, it provides 100% daily requirement for Vitamin A and C, both crucial for healthy skin. There are endless way to eat it, but I like to blend it in smoothies, add it to salads or dip it in yogurt.
  • Celery is chock full of water and fiber, two things that help keeping you healthy and full. A great electrolyte food, just a couple stalks of celery can restore the lost sodium, potassium and magnesium levels in athletes.
  • Tomatoes are versatile and incredibly hydrating! They contain Vitamins A and C, folic acid, and lycopene. Chop them up and add them to your salad, eat them with satisfying mozzarella cheese or make a gazpacho.
  • Zucchini are a great weight loss food because they are low in calories but provide a feeling of lasting fullness. While zucchini is 95% water, some of it is lost when cooked, which is how most people eat this fruit (yes fruit!). My favorite way to enjoy zucchini is to make raw zoodles. So take out your spiralizer, make zucchini pasta, mix it with pesto, top with clean protein and you have a meal that takes no time to make.

Hydrate the Right Way

The next time you have worked up a sweat and are feeling great, keep that feeling going by heading home and making my Watermelon Cooler smoothie. It will restore you with electrolytes for that well-nourished and well-hydrated feeling.

Watermelon Cooler recipe

  • 3 cups watermelon
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • juice from 1/2 lemon

Blend all ingredients together and enjoy feeling instantly hydrated!

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Teacher Feature: Justine Kay

I plunged into the hot room and committed to my first 30 day challenge at a time in my life when I had let my guilt of things past and fear of moving ahead keep me running in circles with severe back pain and a job that paid my bills but did not fulfill my passions.

On the surface everything was fine. I was a hard-working artist in a loving , healthy relationship and I felt lucky to be living in one of the most diverse and forward-thinking cities in the world. But I felt stuck in my chosen career path and finally my body forced me to pay attention to what was happening deep inside.

Sciatica had reared its ugly head in my lower spine and with it came crippling hip pain that forced me to pay closer attention to how I was treating my body, mind and spirit. I knew there had to be a way to heal that was natural and addressed the root of my condition, not just its symptoms.

I didn’t have health insurance so I had to find another way outside of the traditional medical system here in the US. I found some relief with community acupuncture & a compassionate chiropractor, but those were just temporary fixes. I knew I needed to do something more proactive. Something that would not only heal the pain temporarily, but prevent it from recurring repeatedly.

For years I had flirted with all different kinds of yoga, including Bikram yoga, but never maintained a frequent practice. It was at this time that I knew I had to make a commitment, and I knew it had to be Bikram because no other class had ever made me feel as good, mentally, emotionally and physically. In fact, I found I often aggravated my back in other classes. So after I took the plunge with that first 30 day challenge, I maintained a regular practice, 3-4 times a week.

It was never easy, but I was determined. I asked my instructors a lot of questions. I came to class even when I really didn’t feel like it and was still feeling some pain. I took it easy when I had to, but I continued to practice regularly. After one year of dedicated practice, I didn’t have to visit the chiropractor or receive acupuncture anymore. I was truly healing and truly amazed.

However, just as I was starting to experience some long term benefits and was ready to celebrate my one year anniversary with another 30 day challenge, it became very difficult for me to afford classes. Fortunately my home studio offered a work study program in exchange for classes. I enrolled and the studio owner quickly recognized my diligence and strong practice. She invited me to attend their advanced classes and I began practicing postures that only a year earlier would have brought me pain just thinking about them. It blew my mind.

As I was practicing and healing in the studio, I also found the courage and confidence within myself to pursue an artistic project of my own in India and Nepal. I created a Kickstarter fundraiser and received full support for the project, which combined photography and meditation with travel and the art of observation. In order to see the project through from beginning to end, it took enduring patience, determination and faith in my ability to persevere and succeed against the odds. All things I had improved with my Bikram Yoga practice.

justinecamelAfter one year of advanced practice I competed in the USA Yoga Regional Championship in New York City. I choose to perform a posture that had me bend my spine so far back that I was able to grab my heels with my hands, elbows on the floor, while touching my face in between the soles of my feet. I was convinced. This amazing, healing practice, was something I needed to share with others. So I made another commitment to myself to make it to teacher training, however possible, as soon as possible.

It took quite a bit of sacrifice, but six months later, in Fall of 2013, I made it happen. I could never have done it without the support of my family and the advice and encouragement of my many teachers and mentors. Two and a half years after making that first serious commitment to healing and growing with Bikram yoga I became certified to teach it. Now after over two years of teaching, I can say for certain that it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.

The transformational power of this practice is evident to me, not only in my personal life, but also as I witness it improve my students’ lives and from the multitude of stories I’ve heard from other practitioners. Over time, the extraordinary physical results are accompanied by genuine mental and spiritual growth. A dedicated, consistent Bikram Yoga practice can truly help build the foundation for a healthy mind, body and spirit.

Justine is also a photographer.

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Holiday Charity Challenge Winners

On December 21st, 2015 Bikram Yoga NYC wrapped up our first ever Holiday Charity Challenge. The concept was simple, take 30 classes in 40 days and we will donate $50 to your favorite charity. We asked, you delivered! We had nearly 60 people enroll in the challenge ready to commit to their own well-being in both mind and body. In addition to the $50 for our challengers’ charities, we sweetened the pot with half a dozen prizes from Susan Ciminelli Spa, Kulae, Core Natural, Sylvia on Broadway and our own rewards as vouchers from Bikram Yoga NYC and credits for our Rewards program.

Today, we’re thrilled to announce that just a few days ago we donated $850 to the charities dear to our challengers hearts. Below, we’ve listed the challengers who won the raffle would like to give everyone who participated a whole-hearty congratulations and well done!

Zandra S (The Chamber Music Center of New York) – Susan Ciminelli Gift Bag
Noriko N (Charity Coming Soon) – Kulae Gift Pack (Mat + Bag)
Michelle C (UNICEF) – One Case Core Natural Water
Annabella E (Team for Kids) – Bikram Yoga NYC $100 credit
Linden B (Circles of Support) – Bikram Yoga NYC 1,000 Rewards points

Congratulations winners! Please check your email for a message from us if you haven’t already.

We would like to acknowledge each person who took the challenge, successfully or otherwise. Whether you completed the challenge or not in no way takes away from the moment you decided to commit. And it’s that kind of moment, that we salute here at Bikram Yoga NYC. Commitment strengthens over time, but begins with a single decision: Commit to your practice.

Below is the list of charities to whom we made a donation in our students name. Take a moment to click through a few, or all, of these great charities.

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Holiday Charity Challenge Update

In early November we announced our first annual “Holiday Charity Challenge.” The idea is simple, complete 30 classes in 40 days and we will donate $50 to the charity of your choice.

The response was overwhelming!

Today, on day 28 of the challenge, we wanted to add an update. With many of our challengers successfully on their way to the 30 class minimum, we wanted to shine the spotlight on a few of of the charities our students told us about. In an effort to support your fellow yogis, please consider a small donation to them listed below.

Listed in no particular order:

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Student Stories: Tracy Perlman

Tracy Perlman is one busy lady. As vice president of entertainment and marketing for the NFL, she’s got an extremely tight schedule. But no matter how crazy her day, Tracy finds the time to take a 90-minute Bikram Yoga class.

Traveling an average of 165 days a year complicates that task, but Tracy seeks out studios in all corners of the United States and beyond. In a New York Times feature article about her, “Staking Our Her Place Among Men Atop The N.F.L.,” Tracy notes:

Through the years, Perlman said, she felt burdened by her job, and when she saw a photo of herself at 39, she thought she looked unhealthy and unhappy. A friend steered her to a Bikram Yoga class and, Perlman said, she has been obsessed with it ever since. She attends one 90-minute class every day — even amid the Super Bowl craziness.

That’s right, even on Super Bowl Sunday Tracy takes an early morning class to prepare her mentally and physically for the day.

At a recent Pro Bowl event, Perlman said, she had a heated discussion with the fellow yogis Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals and Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints that included demonstrating postures and ribbing Graham for saying he had left a class early.

Perlman said she had never left a class early. Perseverance, after all, has been part of her job.

Click here to read the New York Times article about Tracy.

Above photo by Kevin Gregor for Bikram Yoga NYC during Solstice in Times Square 2014 when Tracy demonstrated on stage for Bikram Yoga NYC.

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December Annual: 365 Days of Yoga

Every December we discount our Annual package for the entire month. This year take 15% off the retail price and pick up 365 days of yoga for just $1,350. Available only through December 31st. Remember the package does not activate until you take your first class using it, not the date of purchase.

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5 things you can do to stay slim and sane during the holidays

Sausage filled stuffing, buttery mashed potatoes, pecan pie, oh my! The holidays are a time for family, celebration and comfort food, but sadly for many also a source of anxiety about overeating and, consequently, weight gain. While attending family gatherings, work parties and social events is fun, those extra glasses of wine interfere with our appetite control and suddenly every high calorie food around us starts to look extremely appetizing. After all, we don’t want to be rude to our hosts… But when a one day celebration (Thanksgiving is not a four day feast!) turns into a month long libation, it’s time to set some rules that will keep you slim and healthy without feeling deprived.

Here are some things that you can do to counteract the dreaded holiday weight gain:

1. Change your mindset. 

Healthy living is a lifelong adventure rather than an inconvenient diet. There is nothing sinful about having a big Thanksgiving meal. So put on your finest and tightest outfit (overeating will be seriously unappealing in a skin tight dress or pants), leave your anxieties at the door and enjoy food and drink for this one day. The point is not to overindulge and use the holidays as an excuse to have cheesecake every day in December. If you do overeat, make Friday a detox day, complete with a green juice, lots of veggies and lean protein. This mini detox will rebalance your palate and stabilize your sugar cravings. Being able to self-regulate is the secret to a lifetime of steady weight.

2. Eat (lightly) before parties. 

Don’t “save” your calories! Keep your appetite in check and blood sugar steady by eating light meals and protein-rich snacks to avoid arriving at a party starving and devouring everything in sight. I find that eating a healthy breakfast is key to making good choices later in the day. A protein shake or a veggie egg scramble in the morning is all you need to keep you energized before the festivities.

3. Eat mindfully. 

Many of us eat in a rush, absentminded, distracted by our thoughts or conversation. Choose only the foods you actually like to eat. Don’t load your plate with aunt Mary’s stuffing only out of politeness. Next time you sit down to a meal, smell your food, chew it slowly and savor the texture and flavor. Put down your fork in between bites to ensure your brain has enough time to receive a signal of satiety (this takes about 20 minutes). If you have a sweet tooth, it helps to have a 3 bite rule when it comes to desserts. You will get to taste your favorite treat without the risk of overeating and regret later.

4. Keep up you fitness routine. 

Just because your in laws are visiting doesn’t mean you should skip your yoga class. Sure, the holidays are a busy time, so planning your exercise a week in advance is essential. When traveling, pack your runners, take advantage of hotel gyms or just head outside for a run. Thirty minutes of moderate jogging will burn off those two glasses of wine that you had last night. Plan ahead and make your commitment to exercise non-negotiable.

5. Consider intermittent fasting.

If the holidays left you with a few extra pounds and raging sugar cravings, rebalance with a gentle cleanse (think no wheat, dairy, sugar or alcohol for 5 days) coupled with intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting doesn’t mean severe calorie restriction; it’s simply eating within a specific time window of the day. For example, you may choose to eat between 10am and 7pm, essentially fasting for 15 hours. Alternatively, you may decide to restrict your calories to 500 per day for a couple of days a week and eat normally the rest of the week. This mimics the eating patterns of our ancestors, who did not have access to 24 hour grocery stores. The great news is that intermittent fasting can help you lose weight, eliminate sugar cravings and normalize ghrelin, your hunger hormone. This may be the easiest path to wellness you’ve been looking for.

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Teacher Feature: Emily Faurholt

Emily found yoga in college while she was playing basketball for the university of Idaho.  However, it was when she finished her career overseas that she was looking for something to fill the void that yoga became a part of her daily life.

Emily fell in love with yoga as an expression of her love of dance and her love of sports.  Her meditative nature found a home in the quiet movements and focus of practicing the physical exercises of yoga.

As Emily pushed herself to excel in yoga the teacher and nurturer in her person desired to share with those around her.  In Fall of 2008 Emily completed her first training in Acapulco, Mexico with Bikram Yoga.  Since then she has completed trainings with Pure Yoga NYC, the Prenatal Yoga Center and Karma Kids Yoga as well as completing a mentorship with Kay Kay Clivio and a continuing education course with Forrest Yoga Guardian, Erica Mather.

Emily currently lives and teaches yoga in New York City.

Favorite quotes:

Get fascinated with your breath, it is what keeps you alive. – Tanya Boulton

Take a moment of gratitude for this incredible vessel that walks you through life. – KK Clivio

Favorite songs (Follow ‘Emily Faurholt’ on spotify for more great playlists).

Iron & Wine -- The Trapeze Swinger

East Forest - 10 Laws

Currently reading: “Anatomy of the Spirit” by Carolyn Myss

Favorite Prayer/Meditation:

May I be safe
May I be healthy
May I be free from all suffering
May I be truly happy

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Student Stories: Thomas Jackson

Thomas attended his first yoga class at age 50. Now 55, he reports having the energy of a 25 year old, takes no medication and after having years of difficulty trying to fall asleep, now does so effortlessly.