Yoga is a Practice


Here are a few things that I know, in this moment.

Yoga is a practice.

And my practice is in a constant state of flux, just like me.

Postures will come and go.

Inversions? Fancy transitions? They do not define me.

Today I practiced yoga for the first time in a week, and my body felt stiff and tight. My joints ached. I tried for binds in Goddess pose and Extended Side Angle, and felt as though I was in a different body than my own.

I felt uncomfortable. I kept going. And, in Shavasana, I felt relieved and a little proud of myself for sticking through the discomfort.



I've heard other teachers and students talk about 'taking a break' from their practice. It has been years since I've done that with mine, but in the last few months there have been moments when I'd rather do anything than yoga.

I know I've spent a lot of time comparing myself to other yogis, teachers and students, deciding who has a 'stronger' practice, who knows more, who is capable, who is worthy.

I'd love to let all of that go.

I journaled about it today, actually. How I'm tired of letting my practice define me, rather than support me.

I don't live to do yoga; I do yoga in order to live a more balanced, happy, peaceful life.

Let that be my mantra. Let the comparisons and judgments fall away.

I want to be remembered as a yogi who loved wholeheartedly.

I want to be remembered as someone who cared, who took care of herself with grace and kindness, and who refused to let fear get the best of her. If handstand is in that picture, OK. If not, OK.

How do you practice ahimsa in your yoga routine? How do you let go of a fear of failure, of not being good enough?

Namaste, loves.


When You Notice Resistance

Photo by Respiro Photography.

When you meet resistance, you have a choice: gripping, or surrendering.

Can you soften? Allow? Intuit?

Rather than force anything, you can notice the resistance and move toward it.

This happens on the mat (in any yoga pose), and in our lives (in any given situation).

Simply by noticing, breathing more, and surrendering to the moment, you start to dissolve the resistance.

Badass Women: Summer

Photos courtesy of Summer Ward. Photo above by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

Certain yoga teachers have a way of effortlessly guiding you inward, allowing you to release any worries or expectations so that you can show up fully on your mat and be present.

Every class I've ever taken with Summer, that's the feeling I have... true awareness. Everything else fades away. I'm able to truly be present in my body, with my breath, in each pose. As a teacher, I'm incredibly grateful for this. Often as a teacher I find myself analyzing a class as it unfolds, thinking about the sequencing or the music or the cues that are being used to get in and out of the poses. It can be challenging to let go, and simply be a student. I'm grateful for Summer's calm, wise presence when she teaches, and the way she stands in her power when she speaks. Plus, she tells the best stories! :)

Summer is truly a gifted teacher, and she has dedicated over 10 years to sharing yoga here in the Sacramento area community. This month, she's leading a Standup Paddle Board Yoga teacher training and she also runs a successful doTerra oils business.

Summer is truly a badass woman of the local northern California yoga world, and I am grateful to call her a friend and to be able to share a bit of her yoga journey here on Alive in the Fire.

What does it mean to be badass?
For me being a badass has everything to do with truth and courage.  When your intention is pure and integrity aligned, you MUST say, act and do what you know to be right.  It’s not that confident women don’t get scared, insecure or intimidated; it’s that they push forward despite those feelings because what lies on the other side of that is a sensation that far exceeds the security and complacency of stifling or censoring yourself.  

Photo above by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

What badass things do you love to do, or have you done? 
I love to challenge myself!  Through my many years of studying and teaching yoga, I’ve come to recognize the physical cues of following the heart or gut and overcoming the critic of the mind.  When I decided to quit my corporate job, become a yoga entrepreneur,  or move forward into the essential oils business, it wasn’t a logical decision at all… I felt it.  I’ve come to trust those feelings as a guide in life and even though there are struggles, I know I’m on the right path.


What advice have you been given by badass women in your life?
Rather than advice, I have been given unconditional support.  Beginning with the love of my badass mother and grandmother, I’ve continued to surround myself with people who truly love me for who I am and would be there for me even if I failed.  That is far more powerful than any words or advice.  


What advice would you share with others about how to live life to the fullest?
You already know what you need.  From ending that unhealthy relationship, to taking that job, or making that big move.  You already know the answers.  If it’s unclear, then you are either fooling yourself or not taking the time out of your life to listen.  Unplug, ignore what people want from you, get still and silent.  Whether it’s prayer, meditation, or a personal retreat, you have everything you need already contained within you - you just need to cultivate your connection to it.

What things do you do to take care of yourself and stay inspired?
The greatest thing I do to take care of myself is get into nature.  Whether it’s working in my garden, hiking a trail, camping under the stars, or a Stand Up Paddle Board adventure, being in the elements and a part of the greater whole fills me up.  There are so many lessons we can learn from the rhythms and cycles of our environment.  One of the biggest being that you plant seeds (intentions or thoughts) continuously and while the universe honors and supports that (so be mindful of what you wish for), nature works in it’s own time.  Be patient and trust the process.

Photo above by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

In the next year or two, what badass plans will you make a reality?
I plan to find more ways in which to serve people and our collective evolution through the teachings of yoga, the supportive benefits of essential oils, and through our connection to nature.  I will grow my Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) Yoga offerings through International retreats and teach others to connect to their own nature within.  I will encourage women to speak and honor their truth and bravely support them in what they discover!


Summer, thank you so much for being a part of the Badass Women series here on the blog! Sending you a heartfelt Namaste.

PS Meet more badass women here: Sam, a journalist, and Rose, a wellness blogger.
And thoughts on why we badass women must embrace all of our experiences, and all of the emotions that go along with them.

Clarity

Photos by Brynna Bryant.

There is a back door to the mind, and that is through the breath. The mind and the breath are like two fish in a school; when one moves, the other moves.

If our mind is agitated, our breath is short and choppy. If the breath is short and choppy, the mind becomes agitated. However, if we slow the breath down and breathe more deeply, the mind also slows down.
 

The sky is always with us. Clouds may block our view, but we know with certainty that, behind the clouds, the deep blue sky is there. The sky is a metaphor for our true nature. 

We rarely see who or what we are because many thoughts and distractions prevent us from seeing clearly what is really there. The vision of our true nature is possible only when the clouds of thoughts have drifted away; stillness of the mind is required for this clarity. Stillness cannot be forced; stillness here must arise spontaneously of its own accord.

We can, however, create the conditions for this arising.

Note: this post is excerpted from The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga, by Bernie Clark.

National Day of Yoga for Nepal

Photo via Yoga for Nepal.

Calling all Sacramento based yogis... next Tuesday will be a beautiful outpouring in our yoga community to send relief to Nepal. 

Many of my dear friends and fellow teachers are hosting awesome donation-based classes throughout the day, and I do hope you'll all come out and show your support.

If you are located anywhere other than Sacramento, I encourage you to check out www.yoga4nepal.com to learn more about the fundraisers that are going on. The efforts are nationwide. Read more info, below.


On Saturday, April 25th, a 7.8 earthquake hit Nepal, devastating the country, causing an avalanche on Mt. Everest, and killing thousands of people.  The mountainous terrain has made it difficult to get to rural areas to perform rescue, relief, and damage assessments. 

The immediate needs are food, water, clothing, medical care, and particularly, temporary shelters as the monsoon season approaches.  There is a worldwide relief effort underway to support Nepal’s people to survive and recover, to eventually begin rebuilding their beautiful nation.  
Photo via Yoga for Nepal.

We are calling upon the nationwide community of yogis to connect with the people of Nepal and raise funds for earthquake relief by leading a day of yoga practice to inspire giving to the earthquake relief through the Yoga 4 Nepal website.

Photo via Pinterest. 

We are mobilizing local and national media through publicists helping us in California, and we encourage all of you as yoga advocates and spokespeople to promote the National Day of Yoga for Nepal within your communities wherever you are. Our intention is that this massive outpouring of compassion inspires support of this cause through electronic donations, local and national media coverage, and support from entertainers, celebrities, and the yoga community throughout the United States - all to happen on Tuesday, May 19th!

We invite every studio, community, and yogi to join us on Tuesday, May 19th to create, lead or attend a special class, event or a day of classes dedicated to and called: “Yoga for Nepal”. This day will bring mindfulness to the suffering of these people, and these classes will encourage people to donate and help raise funds for relief organizations currently on the ground in Nepal.
Photo via Pinterest.
Donations are tax deductible and all donors can choose to contribute to the following international organizations: 
The Red Cross
Save the Children
And/Or any of these three local Nepalese organizations: 
Right4Children
Next Generation Nepal
The Ama Foundation

We are supporting these aid organizations because they:
Have secure and trustworthy funding transfer mechanisms already in place.
Are organizations that have existing long-term commitment and infrastructure in Nepal.
Have staff that are familiar with Nepalese culture, speak the language, and know the political and economic situation there and how to work within it successfully. 
Are experienced and have established track records of providing disaster relief.


Think globally, act locally! This fundraising event will grow from a micro to a macro level with your support.

Photo via Pinterest.

I am sending a heartfelt thank you and Namaste to the founders of this event, James Kapicka, a yoga teacher and founder of Sac Sierra Yoga, and Leslie Brown, a yoga student working in Nepal. You are both truly living your yoga and inspiring others to do the same, so thank you.

A heartfelt thanks, too, to all the teachers and yogis supporting this cause!

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu... may all beings everywhere be happy and free from suffering.

Real Men Do Yoga

Photos by Vince on Instagram as @af_yogi.

Coming soon to Alive in the Fire… yoga guys take over the blog!


Are you a dude with a strong practice and a story to share?

Are you a male yoga teacher?

Are you a guy who is new to yoga, or you've never tried it but you’d like to?


I’d love to include you (or your friends, family, or fellow yogis at the studio) in an upcoming series on the blog. Please email me at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com for more info. There will be unique opportunities and prizes for participating.

Thanks in advance, yogis!


PS Vincent, who is pictured here, is an incredible yogi who has been part of the Real Men Do Yoga series. I encourage you to check out his inspiring story!

Yin Yoga

Photo via Pinterest

Have you ever taken a yin yoga class?

Primarily I practice vinyasa, a style of yoga where you flow from posture to posture, using the breath to link them together in a sequence. The class builds to a peak, and is often a vigorous, sweaty workout, sometimes held in a heated room. (It's a 'yang' practice, since it's high-energy.)

Yin yoga, on the other hand, involves holding restorative poses for 3-5 minutes each, and settling in to sensation. Yin is more about being than it is about doing, and the idea is to let go, to surrender, and to be still.

When I was in yin class this week, I really struggled with the stillness. Quieting the mind can be such a challenge!

So often in my day-to-day routine, I'm moving quickly from task to task, from one place to the next. At work, I check emails constantly and often have to re-prioritize and task-switch throughout the day.

And besides work, there's the constant phone checking, conversations with family and friends, web browsing, driving, to-do list making, chores, errands... the list goes on!

Photo via 

Pinterest

.

Yin yoga can be challenging, but it is such a worthwhile practice.

The goal is to come to your mat, acknowledging where you are. Whether you are stressed or relaxed, comforted or tense, the most important part is being willing to show up and do the work.

If you've never tried yin yoga, I highly recommend trying out a class. Look for a teacher who's able to hold space and speak in a way that feels grounding and calm. Good music, a relaxing atmosphere and plenty of props also help.

Photo via

Pinterest

.

You can also add yin poses to your at-home yoga routine. Here are a few links to try:

25 minute

yin yoga sequence

for stress relief.

Yin yoga for

hips and hamstrings

Using props during yin yoga.

5 Tips for Vinyasa Yogis

Photos via Pinterest.

Do you practice a lot of vinyasa flow yoga? Here are some great tips for great alignment, and for deepening your practice!


Tip #1: In Downward Dog, try moving the hands a little wider apart on your mat. This will allow your shoulders to move more freely between downdog, high plank, Chaturanga, updog, and the transition back to downward dog. These poses should not make your shoulders hurt, so if you’re feeling pain, check in with your alignment! I made this adjustment to my posture recently, and have noticed a huge difference when transition between the poses! 


Tip #2: Spread your feet a little wider on your mat than you normally do in high lunge, Warrior I and Warrior II. Stability comes from taking up a lot of space on your mat. Picture your feet drawing in toward each other, so you engage the inner thighs.


Tip #3: In Triangle, soften the palm of your hand that’s reaching up. You do want to stretch and awaken the fingers, but you don’t have to grip. Instead of flexing so hard that your fingers are stiff, picture someone pressing on the center of your palm so that it gently relaxes. Notice how this allows energy to flow through your hand and whole arm, into the shoulder, extending downward. This way, prana does not get blocked anywhere in the pose; instead, the energy flows through you. Notice where you can do this in other poses: back off a little, instead of gripping, and notice the energetic difference it makes.



Tip #4: Remember mula bandha. Mula bandha helps you contain all of the powerful energy you create in the body during each pose, and it protects your spine.


Tip #5: Offer the poses. When you become tired or frustrated, give the pose away. Instead of clinging to your progress or telling yourself you’re ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at a certain posture, let it go. Surrender your attachment to the practice.

What tips do you have for vinyasa yogis?

Hip Openers

Photo by Justin Kral of Kral Studios.

Last night I worked on hip openers: frog, pigeon, low lunge, Hanumanasana.

I hold so much tension in my hips. A lot of the time I avoid going to these places of tension… it’s been so long, I think. It’s going to hurt.

Photo by Cait Loper of Cait Loper Photography.

Instead, I turn toward what’s comfortable, what’s easy. Sometimes it is easier to grip than to release—to draw the muscle toward the bone in Crescent Warrior, rather than place a block under the hip and settle in for Half Pigeon.

But when I go the easy route, there is some part lingering beneath the surface that says, You’re cheating yourself.

Photo by Cait Loper of Cait Loper Photography.

 Beneath the fear and hesitation and uncertainty lies your inner knowing.

I was proud of myself for being willing to move toward sensation in the poses last night.

A big part of yoga is allowing—allowing what is. Letting whatever comes up to come up. Not running from it.

Photo by Justin Kral of Kral Studios. 

Be willing to go there.

Effortless

Photo via Pinterest.

Perfect stillness, where the inhale gently becomes the exhale.

The relaxing of the palm in Triangle pose.

Photo via Pinterest.

Softness in the forehead, the jaw, the back of the neck.

Engaging mula bandha without strain, simply as an act of inviting prana to stay.

Witnessing as the body lights up, a graceful dance of breath swirling inside.

Photo via Pinterest. 
Photo by Michael Chichi.

Yoga does not require struggle. 

Yoga is an invitation to remember our natural state, one of effortlessness.

Wanderlust Festival at Squaw Valley

Photos by Ali Kaukas, via Wanderlust.

Are you Wanderlust-ing this year?

Wanderlust is my favorite yoga and music festival. I went to Squaw Valley last year and absolutely loved it.

I took classes with Dharma Mittra and MC Yogi, hula hooped with Shakti Sunfire, and had a blast wandering around seeing performers, eating delicious food, and listening to great music.


At night, the party came to life when Quixotic, Gramatik, and Moby played live.

This year’s lineup is amazing, too, and I’m really excited to go!


It’s crazy reflecting on the past year and how much has changed… and how much I’ve grown since I was at Wanderlust for my first time…


Since I took Dharma Mittra’s workshop last year, I’ve been eating vegetarian. (Well, pescetarian :)


Last year I attended the festival as a yoga student. Now, I’m a yoga teacher, too.

Then, I walked into the fest with one friend. I left for home with a handful of new friends from Tahoe who I’m still close to. This July, I’ll be attending among dozens of yogi friends, fellow teachers, and members of my local community. It is an amazing feeling to be so plugged in here in California!



I’m feeling very grateful and excited about Wanderlust this year. Will you be attending? XO


PS You can read about my experience at Wanderlust 2013 to get an idea of how it was... amazing!

Where to Find Good Yoga Videos Online

All photos via Pinterest.

Are you struggling to find good yoga videos online?

I often get asked for recommendations, so today I'd love to share some of my favorites:


Kathryn Budig. I love how down-to-earth Kathryn's approach is when it comes to learning difficult postures and taking inversions and arm balances. 
 

Maya Fiennes leads beautiful Kundalini kriyas, some of which you can find on YouTube and a lot of which are on GaiamTV. Her Detox and Destress DVD is one of my absolute favorite home practices.


Sadie Nardini. Sadie is badass, and a great teacher to watch if you're looking to build core strength from the inside out.
 

YogaDownload.com. The website is organized by yoga style and level of difficulty. You can find everything from Anusara to Ashtanga, from Baptiste to Bhakti, Iyengar to Kundalini... plus meditation, pilates, and prenatal, too. They're having a 50% off monthly membership sale this month so I highly recommend checking it out!
 

GaiamTV is another great streaming site for a variety of yoga videos. You can try a 10-day free trial to learn more about their yoga videos, plus their content on health and wellness, spirituality, nature and culture.


For inspiration, watch Briohny Smith flow through an incredibly graceful practice.

Also read this post about my favorite yoga DVDs for an at-home practice.

Happy at-home yoga-ing, loves!

Yoga at Home: My Favorite DVDs

Are you new to yoga and unsure where to start in the expansive, wild world of yoga DVDs? 

I'll admit: between Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all of the teacher blogs and websites out there, it's hard to know who's at-home practice routine is worth trying.

This post is for all of you yogis who want to keep your practice going at home, but don't know which DVDs are worthy of your time. This list includes all of the ones I'm a fan of, plus a few I've never tried but which look amazing. Hope it brings you many great hours at home on your mat!

Kundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress with Maya Fiennes

Rodney Yee: Yoga Burn

Seane Corn: Detox Flow Yoga or Vinyasa Flow

Morning Kundalini with Tommy Rosen via Gaiam TV

Fit Body Yoga with Gwen Lawrence via Gaiam TV

AM/PM Yoga for Beginners with Barbara Benagh

Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga Total Body Transformation (which I recently reviewed in detail)

As far as online resources/ subscription services go, I highly recommend GaiamTV.com. I want to try Yogis Anonymous  out sometime soon too. Any of you ever used it?

Here are three other DVDs on my must-try list:

Power Flow Yoga with Shiva Rea

Budokon  with Jason Olive

Yin Yoga  with Paul Grilley

Which yoga DVDs are your favorite? Please share your recommendations in the comments below. Happy living room yoga-ing! :)

Losing the Ego

Photo via Bikram Yoga Chaswick in London.


I came across an awesome article on Yoga Journal today about important lessons that will transform your yoga practice. It's inspired me to reflect on some of the same topics, especially what the place is for ego in the yoga room -- which is nowhere.


There is no place for the ego in the yoga room. The effort of yoga is to lose the ego, to experience motionless, to embody effortlessness... while exerting maximum effort.


Can you try harder? If you can, you must. Photo via the Bikram Women's Retreat on Facebook.

Once you learn to give up your own ego in the room, on your mat, and at your studio, then your heart opens to what yoga truly is.


Yoga is not about judging. It is about forgiving. And not just others around you, but forgiving yourself. For being imperfect. For sometimes judging yourself based on your ability to execute a posture rather than on your own personal character and true worth.


Yoga is about meeting your edge in class, not comparing yourself to others and risking injury.


Yoga is about taking care of yourself in the room, while also listening to your instructor's words to push, push, push you to do your best.


Yoga is about not being scared to fail and try again. Like if you fall out of a posture, you get right back in. Or if you fall on your face because you tried a ridiculously hard arm balance, you laugh it off and are proud of yourself for giving your best effort.


Photo via Yoga Dudes on Tumblr.

Yoga requires effort. Yes, we relax in savasana and in child's pose or half-tortoise pose, but a majority of our class is spent focusing our energies toward specific muscle groups. Flexing those muscles. Learning what power we have. Finding a perfect marriage of the heart and lungs. Or maybe even having a mini heart attack now, so we won't suffer one later!


If you're not sweating, concentrating hard, and challenging yourself, you're not making the most of your yoga experience. And this goes for both heated and non-heated classes :)


Now that's yoga that requires effort: Balancing Stick pose! Photo via Bikram Yoga Richmond.

In yoga, you learn to let go. Even if you're annoyed by the yogis around you, or the teacher at the podium, or the stuff that happened at work before you came to class.


Unless you allow yourself to clear your mind by engaging your body, your yoga gets you nowhere.

Photo via the Bikram Women's Retreat on Facebook.

Announcing the Sponsored Yogis for 2011!

 

The decision was hard. The applications were incredible. A big thanks to all who entered!

And now, Alive in the Fire would like to introduce the blog's sponsored yogis for this year...

Emily Berna,
Nicole Crist,
and
Hans Park!

along with an extraordinarily awesome guest post team: 

Dana Almdale
Richard Krzyzanowski
Beth Morey
Annie Sullivan
 Emily Taggart

This is me, shouting a much deserved: CONGRAAAAAAATS!

In the weeks and months to come, you'll be hearing from these yogis who are located all around the country and who practice a variety of yoga styles ranging from Bikram to Vinyasa to Anusara and Yin, and more.

They are teachers and students.

Men and women with compassion.

Brilliant writers, designers and thinkers who are ready to share their reflections on life as it's lived both on and off the mat.

I couldn't be more excited to have them on board!


I'd also like to send out a personal thank you to every blog reader who entered the sponsorship program. I hope the application process was fulfilling and helped you learn more about yourself and your yoga practice.


I couldn't be more stoked to share some of your stories in the weeks to come, too. I value and appreciate your feedback and your ideas about the blog.


Thanks to you and your honest input, you can expect to see some exciting changes around here at Alive in the Fire, including:
  • new design
  • more continuity 
  • a new series or two
  • some new personal posts
  • advice on specific postures, plus a comprehensive guide to every Bikram asana in the 26-posture series
  • more info for yogis who don't practice Bikram
  • more info for guys who yoga
Thanks to you, the blog is better and it's growing. I hope you'll stay tuned for some lovely input from the sponsored team, starting with their bios next week (plus the cutest bio video ever!).


And once again, a big fat congrats to the sponsored yogis, guest bloggers, and to every applicant who submitted. You are amazing!


A new day, a new dawn (on the blog). Beautiful! Photo via One Love Photography.

Run, Yoga, Run: The Bikram Athlete

Photo illustration via Blow Up Studios and their ad campaign for Pure Yoga

Hey yogis. How is your week going? Are you busy shoveling snow?


Perhaps you've had to mix up your workout this week because of inclement weather. By engaging in other core-building or stamina-enhancing exercise, we can improve our yoga practice. 


Sometimes we need to mix it up in order to improve not only our physical health, but our mental health, too. The repetitive nature of Bikram yoga (as a result of the dialogue and our familiarity with the 26-posture sequence) makes it tempting to zone out during class -- to disengage, stop listening, and go with what we know.


At those moments, we risk injury.


Often it can be great to mix up your work out routine by adding different styles of yoga or different cardio activities to your schedule.


Do any of you readers do Bikram on the side? Maybe you are into cross training, running, swimming, or biking -- but you find yoga to be a great complement to your other athletic endeavors.


No matter what your first fitness love is, Bikram can help you build the strength and flexibility you need to perform at your best, and live your healthiest life.


Photo illustration via Blow Up Studios.

One reader of the blog recently contacted me about her work as a personal trainer. Jeozette of MVP Personal Fitness Consulting recommends that athletes balance their cardio with Bikram, as the two can inform each other and provide awesome balance. The rest of this post is adapted from Joezette's article here.


You Gotta Have: Total-Body Conditioning 
(not simply strong quads) 
Consistent running can lead to a lot of tightness and strain in the spine, shoulders, hamstrings, and hips. This is why it is so important to condition and stretch those areas to develop more strength and movement to your body.


Try the following cross-training exercise to build arm strength and flexibility.


EXERCISE: Push-up; one of the best exercise for muscles of the chest (pectorals), arms (bicep and triceps) and core development.


Start face down on the floor with your feet together curled slightly so you rise on the ball of your feet. Place you hands close together so your thumbs and index fingers form a triangle on the floor. Keep your stomach contracted.
Inhale as you raise your body up till your arms are straight. Keep your head and neck level with your body and back straight. Exhale out as you lower your body back to the ground.


Photo via mewall82 on Flickr.

You Gotta Be: Pain Free!


Bikram Yoga will put an end to the tightness that leads to pain by opening up your joints and stretching all your ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Remember that running doesn't use ALL your muscles. You need a pose that will utilize your whole body.


Try the following Bikram Yoga pose to help straighten rounded spines and relieve backaches. This pose will also increase circulation to the spine and strengthen the abs, arms, thighs, and hips.It will improve the flexibility of the scapula, deltoids, and traps.


POSE: Bow Pose; Start lying on your stomach, bend your knees and bring your feet down towards your glutes. Reach back with your arms, take hold of each foot from the outside, grasping about two inches below the toes. Keep your feet and knees six inches apart throughout the pose. Take a deep breathe, look up towards the ceiling and lift thighs and upper body off the floor. Kick back lifting legs higher off the floor. The main goal is to balance on your abdomen. Hold pose for 20 seconds while breathing in and out through the nose.


Photo via creativENERGYoga on Flickr.


You Gotta Have: Agility, Coordination, and Balance


Agility, coordination, and balance are also important factors in day-to-day activities, such as standing and walking or (running). Try the following Cross-training exercise to improve these basic functions.


EXERCISE: Jump Rope; Holding the jump rope handles, one in each hand, the rope should be resting on the ground directly behind your feet. Your head should be up, eyes looking forward, not down at your feet. Your elbows should be positioned in close to your body. During the jump, your body should be erect. A basic jump is straight up and down and about 1 inch high. The rope gets its momentum with a basic swing of the wrist and forearms. The knees should flex and extend slightly with each jump. As you jump, try to develop a rhythm (the speed at which the rope turns).


Photo via kait.rich on Flickr.

Bottom line? Mix up your work out and balance it out with some hot yoga! You'll be happy you did when the winter storm hits and you don't have to pull any muscles while shoveling snow. 

Have any other advice on how to adapt to Bikram as an athlete? I'd love to hear from you, runners, swimmers, bikers, and tri-athletes! Leave a comment below.

Photo illustration via Blow Up Studios.