by Instructor Yarrow Kae

Bikram yoga has always been home to me. It makes me feel safe and loved and has allowed me to unearth the most beautiful inner pieces of me. I began practicing in 2002 with a sprained ankle. I was seeking a low impact form of exercise while my ankle healed. Very quickly, I found myself practicing 5-6 days a week, which turned into 6-7 days a week after I went to teacher training.

I was burning through so much anxiety, past emotional pain, uncertainty, and fear. The yoga kept me calm. It wrung out the demons and allowed me to be still. It led me to a regular meditation practice, which coupled with my Bikram yoga practice healed my debilitating anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder without ever having to take a single prescription drug.

A couple of years ago, I got antsy, I felt like I needed to switch up my yoga styles. My body felt stagnant and so did my mind. As I am an extremely loyal person, and had been devoutly Bikram for so long, this was a hard decision for me, but my body was asking for change. So, one Sunday morning, I went to a vinyasa class. It wasn’t my first vinyasa class, but it was the first vinyasa class I took that made me crave more vinyasa…

That class catapulted me into a world of new yoga asana discovery. I enjoyed the Om’s and the free flow of sequencing that came with this new style, two facets that would have made me cringe in my younger days of being a practitioner. As I got deeper into this new practice, I began cutting back on the number of times a week I was practicing Bikram. I was falling in love with a new style, which led to my attending Dharma Mittra’s teacher training. After training, I began teaching vinyasa.During the height of my love affair with vinyasa, I found myself rejecting taking a Bikram class. I went far longer than I ever had without taking a single Bikram class.

After a couple of weeks, I noticed that my fidgety, anxious ways were returning. My body felt stiff. My head felt cloudy. It was as though layers of tension were coiling around me. My body was now screaming at me to take a Bikram class. Always one to listen to the needs of my body, I went to class.

In the aftermath of my sweat bath that may have included some skin shedding, as I lay in savasana, I felt as though I had come home again. The dark anxious thoughts that had been creeping in had cleared away like fog making way for the sun to shine through. My body felt lighter, more flexible, cleaner. I felt stronger, more centered…happier. As I lay there, taking note of these details, I smiled to myself and promised my Bikram practice that I would never stay away so long again.

In the last two years, my yoga asana practice has evolved to include many other styles with a variety of teachers. I have a more committed meditation practice and a less rigid mind because of my expansion. However, despite my exploration, I always maintain my 3-4 day a week Bikram practice.  

This practice, it’s magical. It’s medicine. It truly heals the body, the mind, and the spirit. And it is for everyone. Whether you come to this practice to heal your body, your mind, your heart, or your spirit, or all of the above, you will find that healing.

We all have our own unique reasons for practicing this yoga, but we all have one thing in common, NOTHING replaces it. No other form of yoga. No other form of exercise. No other practice can replace your Bikram practice. It truly is a magical, healing practice. It is a gift, one that will keep you young, vibrant, healthy, grounded, and allow you to become meditative.

Bikram yoga is powerful medicine that when practiced with right intention will heal you.

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What year did you attend training? Why did you go?

I attended TT in Spring of 08 in Acapulco Mexico. I had been trying to attend for 6 years prior but was truly grateful in the end that I arrived when I did as it made me a much better teacher.

What is your favorite thing about being a Bikram Yoga instructor?

My favorite thing about being a Bikram yoga teacher is the ‘lil shorts of course lol. That – and it is the one kind of yoga that I truly believe reaches the widest spectrum of different students of all ages and abilities.

Tell us about your own practice. Which posture is most challenging for you and how do you get through it?

My practice? It is a huge source of comfort, therapy, and joy in my life. From my first class on the UWS in the Summer of 2002 as a 19 year old with incredibly bad knees, acne,  asthma, and anger (both from my rocky childhood as well as living through 9/11), I was hooked and not only knew I had found my practice but also that I would teach (which kinda terrified me honestly because I knew my life was changing in a beautiful but unexpected way).

I find all the postures challenging, some more than others at various times. These past few months I have been struggling with intence vertigo so it is Balancing Stick pose that is the bane of my existence. To get through it, I simply follow the instructions and CHARGE with intention and intensity. It has just recently started improving after many months so STICK with it ya’all
;-)

Outside of yoga, what projects are you involved with? What do you do for fun?

Outside of yoga you can find me either performing as a singer/songwriter  in a myriad of ways here in NYC and internationally as well as hanging from various industrial things for Greenpeace as an avid climber/activist. Or eating. I LOVE TO EAT! ;-)

Do you have a favorite inspirational quote or saying?

My favorite yoga quote is from one of my first teachers Aiko: “Try and have a little fun and lightness with your yoga”

What are you currently reading or listening to?

I am currently reading “The Mallorean” by David Eddings out loud to my husband. I LOVE “His Dark Materials” series by Phillip Pullman too, I think its brilliant and beautiful. I am currently obsessed with the new musical American Psycho as well, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Duncan Sheik.

You’re a performer, can you tell us what you’ve worked on lately or when your next gig is?

This past year I was a headliner in a new play at the Asian American Theater Festival in Philly called Chang(E). It then came to NYC this Fall at HERE ARTS. In addition to that I am currently recording my own album “Dreamscaping”. Stay tuned. Im ALWAYS looking for a rock musical to be a part of too ;-) so if you are casting… Check out some of my stuff on my backstage profile or my Youtube channel Daniel Luke and share share share ;-)

Any final words?

This yoga is life. Life is yoga. Come. Smile. Sweat. Look. Laugh. Love. Werk ;-)

What is it about Bikram Yoga that keeps you coming back?

Life is crazy in New York City.  Chaotic crazy.  And I’m a creature of habit. But I also crave a challenge, and as a child therapist, I need a way to begin my day at peace so I can bring peace to my clients or to exorcise my demons at the end of the day.  I love that Bikram Yoga is the same 26 postures every class and I know what I am going to get. 

But I also love that every single Bikram class I have taken for the last six and a half years has been different, and challenged me in different ways.  I won’t lie though, it is the heat and the intensity of the postures that has become almost addictive.  I love challenging my body in new ways, and I owe every advance I make in my practice to the incredible teachers who take the time to notice my postures and what I can improve on.

Has being a regular practitioner of yoga helped your work life?

Not only has being a yogi helped my work life, my work life has helped me reach a different level as a yogi.  I am licensed social worker and child therapist, and I have been able to use many aspects of yoga in order to treat my clients.  In fact, yoga has been proven very effective in treating Post traumatic stress disorder, and I have used aspects of yoga such as deep breathing, mindfulness, and the mindbody connection in treatment. 

On the flip side, anytime I feel like I am having a difficult class or am frustrated with myself or my body because my practice isn’t as “good” as it was the day before,  I think of the incredible obstacles my clients are working through or have overcome, and  it really lends perspective.

What would you say to someone new who’s unsure if Bikram is for them?

I would say you will never know if you don’t try.

Do you live by any inspirational quotes?

I don’t necessarily live by any quote, but I do make up a mantra for myself for each class I take and repeat it over and over.  Maybe I am dedicating my class to somebody else, maybe that mantra is a positive thought during a hard time I am having, or maybe it’s an intention I have to accomplish.  But it really helps focus my practice.

As far as my regular life, I just try to take every day as it comes.

What is the one thing you love about Bikram Yoga NYC?

Just one? Hahaha. Well, I LOVE the flexibility in class times because I work long, varied hours in the Bronx.  And I do have to give a shout out to those incredible teachers and staff who have gone above and beyond to showing me that they care about me, not only as a customer or yogi but as a person.    

When did you start practicing at Bikram Yoga NYC, and why? 

In the summer of 2015. I have knee, hip, shoulder and wrist injuries from accidents and I am on a journey of healing and Bikram Yoga is an important part to getting there. Also to stay focused, get stronger and and my biggest desire, to be flexible.

Who are your favorite teachers and why would you recommend their classes? 

Pamela Herron, Patrick Lynch, Natalia Maldonado and Georgia Balligian.
They are loving and inspirational with their teaching.

What is it about Bikram Yoga that keeps you coming back?  

The relief my body gets from the pain I have from lifting weight and injuries and an accident I had long ago. It helps me feel more energize, present and gives me great strength. It supports my healing journey and self love awareness. And one of my dreams today in life is to be flexible.

image4-1Favorite posture?  

Sit up and savasana.

Least favorite posture?  

Sasangasana/ Rabbit pose.

Has being a regular practioner of yoga helped your work life? 

Yes , I am a massage therapist and it helps by giving me strength and focus I need during my sessions.

What would you say to someone new who’s unsure if Bikram is for them? 

Listen to your body not your mind. Keep coming back until you are one with the class.

Do you live by any inspirational quotes? 

Let go, let God/The Universe in and just show up.

What is one thing you love about Bikram Yoga NYC? 

Is 2 blocks away from my home, the teachers are inspirational when they live by the words they use. Judgment free zone!

Final thoughts? 

At times when I am in class, I notice how what am feeling projects onto my practice. But the moment I focus and let go of my mind, and just breathe, I can do more than I think I can and become present. It’s like pressing a reset button. It’s a hardcore class but so worth it, I referred a few of my friends because I believe the beauty of life is sharing… so sharing such an amazing practice that helps heal people is a total pleasure.

Last week Bikram Yoga NYC owners Donna Rubin and Jen Lobo were interviewed for a story about 30 Day Challenges by the Wall Street Journal. Having started these challenges back in 2002, Bikram Yoga NYC was among the first, if not the very first boutique fitness studio in NYC offering these challenges.

See the live article here!

If you are blocked or encounter a paywall, or registration prompt, you can view the full article in PDF form by clicking here.

We’re also thrilled that the editors chose to lead the article with a feature image taken by our very own Marketing Director, Kevin Gregor!

Interested to know more about the challenge? Click here.

Pejman (PJ) Akbari began practicing Bikram Yoga in 2007 when he was suffering from back and neck pain due to years of office work, stress, and misalignment. At that time, he was a full-time professor of Aerospace Engineering in New York City.

After observing so many physical and psychological benefits, PJ quickly evolved his Yoga practice to a high degree and decided to switch his engineering career to become a Bikram Yoga teacher and share this unique practice with other people who are suffering from physical and mental discomfort.

When I am at work, I might not be the best one among my genius colleagues and sometimes I feel vulnerable, but when I am at my mat doing Bikram Yoga, I know I am the best because I am doing the hardest thing in the world!

Wind Removing post helps prevents flatulence, which is the source of most chronic abdominal discomforts. It improves the flexibility of the hip joints and firms the abdomen, thighs, and hips. Strengthens the bicep and tricep muscles of the upper arms and all the muscles of the forearm.

3 Tips for this Posture:

  • The tendency is to take your time to get into the posture, but students receive greater benefits when getting into this posture quickly and staying in it longer
  • Use your arm strength evenly so you don’t roll to one side. Do your best to get both shoulders on the ground
  • In order to keep the back of your neck on the floor look with your eyes down the center line of your body

Profile4-2-Edit-Edit-EditWe are incredibly thrilled to have Francisco Morales-Bermudez join us on Sunday, February 14th for a partners workshop at Bikram Yoga NYC Flatiron! Francisco travels the world bringing his workshop to countries like Japan, Peru, Denmark, Morocco and Mexico and this will be the first time it’s being offered in NYC!

Please note this is an all-levels class and no previous partners yoga experience is necessary. Don’t have a partner to come with? That’s OK! Francisco will team you up with someone at the studio. Have questions? Email us!

ABOUT THE WORKSHOP

synergypicAll partner stretching, massage, strengthening, and flying techniques have tremendous healing and therapeutic benefits; physically and emotionally. Synergy classes teach these methods and techniques for people of all levels of ability.

WHAT’S A CLASS LIKE?

Each class consists of group circles, creative movement and warm up exercises, flying, partner stretches, strengthening exercises and thai massage. It is a 90 minute class and a space for students to slowly but consistently build on:

  • the physical skills of partner yoga:
    flexibility, strength, massage techniques, balance, and partner-assisting skills
  • the energetic attributes of the practice:
    trust, communication, playfulness, connection, listening, healing touch

While always inspiring a sense of community and unity.

PHILOSOPHY

464160570_1280x720Our philosophy emphasizes listening, compassion and understanding as important and essential pieces of the Synergy practice. Francisco is trained to listen to the needs of his students in order to understand and move at their level. Classes will aim to challenge your strength, flexibility, and communication skills in a healing environment.

Valentine’s Day Partners Workshop
Sunday, February 14th – 1:30 to 4pm
182 5th Avenue, 3rd Floor
$50 Pre-Registration Only
Includes mat and towels

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About Francisco

Francisco Morales-Bermudez founded Synergy Partner Yoga in 2005. Since then his mission has been to share this practice in order to assist people in alleviating pain in their bodies, maintaining physical well-being and cultivating trust, connection and a playful vibration.

Francisco grew up in Lima, Peru where he spent time in the ocean, playing soccer and becoming intrigued with healing touch. His intrigue turned into a passion and for many years he studied and learned from different art forms and exercise systems.

Francisco studied: creative movement through afro-peruvian folkloric dances and performances & breakdancing yoga “School of Life” yoga ashram with Victor Landa, Bikram yoga, yoga with Dharma Mittra and Rusty Wells. He also studied capoeira angola (an afro-brazilian martial art) with Mestre Cobra Mansa healing touch & thai massage with Kam Thye Chow. These experiences contributed to the formation of Synergy Partner Yoga today.

Francisco discovered that by creating a practice that brought together aspects of the art forms he studied, cultivated the space for healing. A healing that affected people emotionally, physically and spiritually in a profoundly positive way. Seeing how this practice changed his life and how it built community, transformed the way people relate and interact with each other, he decided to make it his mission to share what he had learned with as many people as possible.

Today Synergy has traveled to homes, studios and families around the Globe. It continues to expand and touch peoples lives through the growing, dedicated Synergy Teacher family, supported and guided by Francisco. Francisco conducts workshops, classes, teacher trainings, and continues to learn, evolve and grow through developing Synergy Partner Yoga as well as from the people he meets and the places on his life journey.

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IMG_0605-(002)Almost 15 years ago, on Sunday, February 11th, 2001 I took a deep breath and walked up a flight of stairs to the original West 72nd  Street studio to attend my first Bikram Yoga class. A business colleague had raved about this hot yoga practice and told me it was life changing.  He said that it would not only alleviate my stress in the business of representing entertainers and athletes,  but I would lose weight, escape from my blackberry and cell phone for an hour and a half and possibly find myself again, after having been somewhat lost for years in the agony (and ecstasy) of living and working in NYC.

So there it began. And 90 minutes later, soaking wet, exhausted and out of breath (and overweight), I was hooked and knew I had found something special. Many of the people that stood near me in that first class are still at the Bikram Yoga NYC studios to this day and I smile each time I see them in class. My most memorable class was on September 12, 2001, the day after the terrorist attacks on NYC. The room was not only filled with sweat, but with heartache, tears, anger and trepidation but most of all there was genuine hope and love for each other, for NYC and for the unfortunate families who lost loved ones. To be embraced by this yoga community on this horrific day was indescribable and it will forever be etched in my mind.

Having Bikram Yoga in my life and being part of the Bikram Yoga NYC community has been rewarding beyond words, not to mention the cosmetic effects of a 30-40 pound weight loss and a daily 105 degree (or more !) facial. This practice has given me balance in my life, kept me on a daily healthy path and taught me spiritual and life lessons that I believe have made me a better human being.

There are too many teachers to thank for guiding me over the 15 years but I must thank my first teachers –  Emily Weinberg, Mike McArdle and the incomparable Georgia Ballagian for their inspiration and  Donna and Jen for providing this sanctuary for our Bikram practice. I have practiced around the world and it is always great to come home to my (almost) daily practice at Bikram Yoga NYC.

To conclude I must mention my friend and teacher, Kathryn Leary. In her spiritual Bikram class she quotes so eloquently various philosophers and I have taken many of these brilliant statements to heart and they have become personal mantras. I would like to share the following two which have resonated most in my life:

Rumi: “What matters is how quickly you do what your soul directs.”

Buddha: “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go  of things not meant for you.”

And as for my favorite posture…. that’s easy –  party time ! (or any posture when Angela is by my side?).

See you all soon in the hot room.

Namaste.
David

It’s common in January for regular students (and new students alike) to commit to making Bikram Yoga regular part of their lives in the New Year. While some of the items in our list below are obvious, others might not be.

Do you plan to make a habit of regular visits to Bikram Yoga NYC in 2016? We hope so!

1) DETOXIFICATION

The heated environment in which Bikram Yoga is practiced promotes detoxification through sweating, and sweating is great on so many levels. It clears pores, smoothes skin, removes bloating and water weight, promotes weight loss and eliminates toxins that have been ingested.

2) IMPROVED MENTAL CLARITY

Everyone knows Bikram Yoga is good for strength, flexibility and overall physical health, but the benefits extend far beyond that in terms of the mental benefits our students report seeing when making the yoga a regular part of their lives. Indeed the assertion is backed up by medical science!

3) INCREASED STRENGTH & FLEXIBILITY

Bikram Yoga is mainly comprised of 3 things: 1) Balance 2) Strength and 3) Flexibility. It’s often the case that students are strong in one area and have room for improvement in others. With a regular practice, stronger students become more flexible, those without much balance see increased strength and already bendy yogis are able to focus on improving balance.

4) DEAL WITH REAL LIFE ISSUES MORE CALMLY

Working though 26 postures in 100+ degree heat requires a lot of fortitude and concentration. It also requires that you think calmly about your decision making process. “Do I push through or should I take a break?” A lot of that thinking can translate to your work, love and family life. Incorporating Bikram Yoga in your life benefits you and everyone around you.

5) LOOK BETTER NAKED

Everyone knows that incorporating Bikram Yoga in your life is great for leading a healthy lifestyle. It has very real benefits for weight loss, detoxification, improved strength, balance and flexibility, which usually make for a better looking body. However maintaining a regular practice also provides practitioners confidence. Confidence in life, with work, in love and yes, when you are naked in front of the mirror.

6) WE OFFER 300 CLASSES A WEEK LED BY 50+ INCREDIBLE INSTRUCTORS

Bikram Yoga NYC is proud to offer a huge variety of classes at 4 Manhattan locations, in 7 yoga rooms, that are led by an amaing team of 50+ instructors. We offer state of the art booking through our website and mobile app, offer 60/75/90 minute classes, lots of workshop options and plenty of studio amenities. With all that variety, we hope that making us part of your life in 2016 is as easy as possible.