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.

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

I finally went to training in the fall of 2008.  I started practicing Bikram in 2002 and knew after a few short months of practicing that I wanted to go to training.  I loved the yoga so much and as teachers would talk about the training I knew that it was something I had to experience.  The thought of practicing this yoga 2 times a day and learning from senior teachers that have been a part of the series since as early as the 70s sounded so exciting.  I did NOT know however that I wanted to be a teacher.  I had a full time job that I really enjoyed but I thought it would be a great adventure and learning experience.  After going through 9 weeks of the intensive training I was so inspired that I knew I wanted to share this yoga with the world.  When I returned to NY I taught full time for a few months.  It was an amazing experience however I eventually returned to my job in the medical field and balanced my time between that and teaching 4 classes a week.  I luckily still maintain a daily practice which I know helps motivate me to inspire others the way I was first inspired!

 What is your favorite thing about being a Bikram Instructor?

My favorite thing about being a Bikram instructor is seeing the positive changes it brings to so many people’s lives.  Whether is curing chronic back and knee pains, changing bodies and weight loss, healing old injuries (both mental and physical), or simply helping people feel better it always still makes me so happy when I see a student first realize that change.  It is an amazing feeling when a student comes up to me and tells me how Bikram has helped them.  Over the past 8 years of teaching at BYNYC I have witnessed countless examples of this change.  I love being just a small part of this amazing community.

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

The most challenging part of class for me is definitely the spine strengthening series.  Physically, it is not that bad… but mentally, I really struggle with it.  I know it is an integral part of class and a healthy strong spine is imperative but those 5 to 10 minutes seem to last forever.  I used to skip a set of one of those postures here and there, or even tune out, but that only seemed to make it worse.  What has helped me tremendously is focusing on just the task at hand.  Listening very carefully to the set up and hyper focusing on everything I am doing allowed me to “tune in” to the posture even if I was exhausted.  I would tell myself, ‘just set it up and see what you can do’.  When I focused this way, I realized that my spine strengthening postures greatly improved and the entire series was over in no time at all.  My best advice to anyone struggling with any part of class is to take away the pressure of doing it “perfectly” and tackle it head on by focusing on the set up, the alignment, and even the benefits.  When you start approaching a posture or part of class this way, not only does it go by much faster, but before you know it, it may be your favorite part of class!

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

Anyone who knows me well knows that one of my favorite things to do (no matter where I am) is start my day with Bikram.  Outside of yoga however, I love all sports and activities.  I still love to run every week.  I love to snowboard (despite how much I detest being cold).  I also love the beach and the ocean (which is why it is hard to find me anywhere else in the summer). 

As far as special projects go, one of the things I am most proud of is my volunteer work at the VA and with nursing homes.  There, I teach yoga to veterans and senior citizens.   Although the series is obviously modified it is inspiring to see what this community can do and extremely rewarding to be a part of! 

Any final words? 

Just get to class!  It does not matter how long you have taken off, how “out of shape” you think you might be, how much you have going on, or how badly you may feel… Just get here!  You always feel better after the 90 minutes.  I have been fortunate enough to have been practicing for almost 15 years.  Although I have practiced all around the world I could not imagine my life without Bikram Yoga NYC!  Not only are the classes amazing, the teachers the best, and the facilities great, but the community at the studios is inspiring.  Miracles certainly do not happen overnight, but if you can just get to class you will be well on your way!   

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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.

The ancient Ayurveda medicine from India dictates that majority of our food should be chewed for optimal health. In a perfect world, we would all be eating perfectly balanced, nutrient-dense meals that we chew, not drink, and there would be no need for concocting elaborate green drinks mixed in expensive blenders. I don’t know about you but my world is far from perfect and eating the recommended amount of vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, feels like a herculean effort.

So why drink green smoothies?

  • it makes the transition to a plant based diet easier and more enjoyable

  • eating drinking  green leafy vegetables is the easiest, most natural way to reduce your biological age (do I have your attention now?!)

Besides the fact that you are getting raw greens into your diet that you normally wouldn’t, greens do fantastic things for your body. They are cleansing, promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, have anti-inflammatory properties and protect against certain cancers. Green veggies are an excellent source of minerals such as calcium, iron and magnesium (which most people lack and then get it in the form of synthetic supplements). Got Kale?

Leafy greens contain large amounts of Vitamin K, which plays a super important role in bone health. While bone loss and osteoporosis are a major health concern for western women, countries like Japan with mostly vegetarian diets have a much lower incidence of fractures. For years, we have glorified dairy as a prescription for strong bones, but studies failed to find a link between dairy consumption and lower risk of fractures. The Nurses’ Health Study, a long term study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health following thousands of nurses, found that individuals who drank one glass of milk (or less) per week were at no greater risk of fractures than were those who drank two or more glasses per week, debunking the hypothesis that high dairy consumption protects against fractures. Confusing right? The little known Vitamin K (not found in dairy!) may very well be the missing link to nourishing our bones (along with magnesium, Vitamin D and weight bearing exercise, but that’s a whole other post)!

To me, a green smoothie is a whole food supplement. Instead of popping pills, make a batch of this alive food, brimming with nutrients, to ensure you are getting several servings of vegetables that otherwise may be hard to squeeze in your daily meals.

 Are green smoothies for everyone? Almost! Although if you are prone to kidney stones or have thyroid problems, please consider this:

  • Rotate your greens in your daily smoothies for variety and maximum calcium absorption. Some greens (spinach and chard top the list) are high in oxalates, compounds that bind to calcium in the body and decrease its absorption. Traditional guidance for people with kidney stones was to limit foods high in oxalates, however, the evidence that this prevents kidney stones is inconclusive.  Read about it here. While some people might benefit from reducing high oxalate foods, more recent research indicates that an alkaline diet high in fruits and vegetables and drinking lemon water is a far more effective kidney stones prevention strategy.
  • If you have thyroid problems, listen up. Cruciferous veggies such as kale, broccoli or cauliflower are goitrogenic, meaning they can interfere with thyroid function. Does it mean you should avoid them entirely? No! They are full of micronutrients and anti-cancer antioxidants.  Instead of eating them raw, just steam, cook, or ferment them to reduce the goitrogenic properties.

Finally, here is my favorite green smoothie recipe.

My Flat Belly Green Smoothie will replenish your body with missing nutrients, leave you re-energized and ready to tackle the day with a new sense of self-care. If you are using this recipe as a meal replacement, consider adding a clean plant protein powder (like pea or pumpkin or a couple of tablespoons of hemp seeds) or simply follow with a couple of hard boiled eggs to give yourself a protein boost. Otherwise, you will be hungry by midmorning and reaching for snacks.

I make a big batch and store leftovers in glass mason jars in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, so I can have breakfast or snack ready to grab. Having prepared food that is ready to go is the secret to effortless clean eating.

Now go make a green smoothie and congratulate yourself for doing something amazing. You took care of YOU!

To your health!

Ingredients
  • 1 banana
  • 1 green apple
  • ½ avocado
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 1 handful of kale
  • 1 handful of cilantro
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • juice from ½ lime
  • 2 cups water or coconut water
  • 1 cup ice
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric (or small piece of fresh turmeric) – optional
Instructions
  1. Blend in a powerful blender like the Vitamix. Add more water if the smoothie is too thick. Pour into mason jars, store leftovers in a refrigerators for up to two days.

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.

Fixed Firm Pose helps cure sciatica, gout and rheumatism in the legs. It slims thighs, firms calf muscles, and strengthens the abdomen. It also strengthens and improves flexibility of lower spine, hips, knees and ankle joints.

Here are 4 tips for this posture:

  • In the set-up, make sure you feet are pointed directly back, not turned out to the sides. This posture opens up the ankles so you want to make sure to get the alignment right!  If you have tight ankles, this might be a challenge. If you have really tight ankles, you may have to place more of your weight on your hands out in front of you or to your sides until the ankles start to open up.
  • Don’t be afraid to open up your knees as wide as you need to help you get your hips on the floor. You do not have to have your hips perfectly touching the floor before you start to go back. Just make sure your knees don’t pop up in the air beause then you went too far.
  • If you struggle with knee or ankle pain/injuries place your body-weight forward and gently guide your hips in between your heals using your hands and arms. This is a snug fit, hips and heals in contact. If a student’s bum is nowhere close to touching the floor it’s advised to avoid going further (i.e. hands on feet or elbows touching the floor).
  • YOU HAVE TO MOVE AT YOUR OWN PACE. If you do, the benefits for your knees and ankles can be more helpful than any other physical therapy or surgery you can do for these delicate but crucial parts of your body.

Improves the functioning of the large and small intestines, the liver, kidneys, and spleen. It helps straighten rounded spines, relieves backaches, and improves pigeonchest by opening the rib cage, permitting maximum expansion of lungs and increased oxygen intake.

Bow also revitalizes all spinal nerves by increasing circulation to the spine. It improves digestion and strengthens abdominal muscles, upper arms, thighs and hips (it is especially good for increasing the flexibility of dancers’ hip joints). It also improves the flexibility of the scapula, latissimus dorsi, deltoid, and trapezius muscles.

3 Tips for Bow Pose:

  • When grabbing your feet, make sure that you place your hands over the center of the foot between the toes and the ankle. Also be sure to keep your wrists strait.
  • Before you start to kick be sure to bring your knees together so that while you’re kicking your knees stay in alignment with your hips.
  • The kicking action is in two directions, both back and up. When you are kicking in both directions equally, the body weight will be in the soft part of your abdomen.

This posture firms the abdominal wall and upper thighs, tightens upper arms, hips, and buttocks. It increases the size and elasticity of the rib cage and the lungs, improves the flexibility and strength of the lower spine and most of the body’s muscles.

Three Tips for Full Locust:

  • The stronger you can make your arms and legs, the lighter the body actually feels as you lift up off the floor. Also try squeezing your fingers together to lengthen and strengthen the arms even more.
  • This posture is the perfect asana to practice  the 80/20 breathing exercise. Exhale all of the air out of your lungs as you are lying flat on the floor and inhale fully as you lift your body up off the floor. When you reach your maximum, exhale 20% of air out of lungs and then inhale as you lift up a little higher. Try this one or two more times until you reach your full expression.
  • Think about lengthening the crown of your head up towards the ceiling while lifting your chest up. Many students tend to drop their head back too far which inhibits their ability to left up higher and open the chest up.