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!

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.

Shari Eberts is a dedicated student, and regular practitioner, at Bikram Yoga NYC.

To wipe or not to wipe, that is the question. Now, don’t panic, I am talking about sweat! In Bikram yoga class! Sheesh. I am a closet wiper, but only on my face at a few key moments in class, otherwise I leave the sweat alone, letting it do its job to cool my body naturally, which is the recommended method. I would prefer to leave the sweat alone on my face as well, but sometimes self-care take precedence.

It’s hard to argue with the science of it. Sweat is the body’s primary method of cooling off in warm environments, but in order for the cooling effect to work, the water must evaporate. If it drips off or if you wipe it off, you will not benefit from the cooling action of the evaporation. I also enjoy the feel of the sweat on my body during class. It helps lubricate things when trying to wrap my leg in Eagle pose and gives me a visible sign of my hard work as the sweat drips from my fingertips between standing series postures. I even like the occasional drip of sweat on my lips, which lets me sneak a tiny sip of water (read “sweat”) before party time. The level of saltiness gives me a sense of how healthily I have eaten or not in the past few days.

Despite all that, I do dry my eyes and ears a couple of times during class. Teachers ask us to push ourselves, but only to the point that it is productive. If you can, you must, but if you have lost control of your breath, it is time to back out of a posture a little bit. Or if you are dizzy, it probably makes sense to sit out a posture or two. Self-care during class is important and that is why I wipe the sweat on my face. Let me explain.

I wear contact lenses and not only does the sweat sting my eyes, it can sometimes dislodge a lens. I would rather keep the sweat out of my eyes than be distracted by a roving contact lens during class. And I wear hearing aids deep inside my ears. I need to keep these as dry as possible so they don’t short out. That would make it hard for me to hear the dialogue during class, let alone all the other important sounds I need to hear throughout the day once class is over. I just can’t risk it.

Yoga isn’t perfect, and neither is my practice, but maybe that is what keeps me coming back. In so many ways, yoga is like life, and I believe in both, it is only through self-care that we can stay safe and grounded, while we continue to push ourselves forward, to enjoy, and to grow.

Half-Moon pose gives quick energy and vitality; improves and strengthens every muscle in the body’s core, especially in the abdomen; increases the flexibility of the spine; corrects bad posture; promotes proper kidney function; and helps to cure enlargement of the liver and spleen. It increases the flexibility and strength of the rectus abdominus, latissmus dorsi, oblique, deltoid and trapezius muscles. Half-Moon also firms and trims the waistline, hips, abdomen, buttocks and thighs.

Posture Tips:

  • Remember that when you do the Half-Hoon pose your body is not warmed up yet. You might not be able to bend sideways as much as you would like, so don’t be discouraged.
  • Keep your leg muscles and torso as engaged as much as possible when you bend sideways.
  • Keep your tailbone tucked under slightly when bending backwards. You should feel a lift in the chest not just in the lower back.

We all sweat in class, but let’s face it, some of us sweat a lot more than others.

To understand sweating, we should first understand why humans naturally sweat. Your body contains about two to five million sweat glands embedded into your skin and located all over your body. These glands secrete different amounts of sweat depending on your physiological characteristics. For example, it’s well known that men’s sweat glands tend to secrete more sweat than women’s. But besides that, how much you sweat depends on some other things, too, like the temperature of the place you’re in, how hard you’re exercising, your level of anxiety and your weight. These are all natural differences in the human body. Our bodies, which are inherently different, react to temperature or exercise in different ways.[1]

With that out of the way, what are some of the ways you can be respectful to others, and the studio, while creating a small lake under your feet?

  • In Eagle pose, after bringing your arms above your head, bring them down slowly as you cross them and put your palms together. This will prevent you from splattering your neighbors from the sweat dripping down your arms as you spin them into place.
  • Keep all your towels on your mat, including your hand towel. Sometimes in full classes, students’ mats end up close to one another, be respectful to your neighbor by keeping your sweaty towels squarely on your mat.
  • After class, fold your towels into the center of your mat and use the mat to transport your wet towels directly to the used towels bin to prevent dripping on the flooring or any other students on your way out.

[1] Medical Daily

How to get your sweaty towels in the bin without dripping