Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Standing Deep Breathing: Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga is a structured series of 26 postures (asanas) and 2 breathing exercises (pranayamas) completed in a specific sequence each time. The room is heated to approximately 105 degrees with humidity around 40 – 50%. Is it hot? Yes! And oh, how great it is too for your muscles! The heat can be hard to take at first, once you allow yourself to take it all in, you notice the heat helps the muscles to prevent injuries.  Bikram Yoga is suitable for all ages and all levels of skill. Whether you have never taken yoga or are a seasoned yogi, you will find benefits practicing Bikram Yoga.

The first posture is really a breathing exercise, Standing Deep Breathing. The breathing exercise is done by clasping your hands together under the chin, inhaling as you extend your arms up and exhaling as you bend your head back and the arms come together at the elbows. This exercise is done in a very methodical and consistent manner, giving the students plenty of time to work on the posture and focus on breathing. In my own practice I find it to be difficult to clear my mind enough to breathe consistently and pay attention to the instructor. Part of yoga is to clear your mind and focus on the task at hand, letting go of the other forces. This is perhaps the hardest part about Bikram Yoga for me, my mind seems to always be jumping from thought to thought and this leads me to a very sporadic practice.

Standing Deep Breathing has many health benefits. The repetitive expansion and contraction is good for the lungs and respiratory system. The consistent and deep breathing, which expands and contracts the lungs, help the lungs reach maximum capacity. This exercise is very good for those with asthma and helps increase overall body circulation. For myself, I have noticed I have the ability to calm my breath during other workout programs and even at work just by incorporating the deep and slow breathing of Standing Deep Breathing.

All of that from just one exercise! Just think what doing the 26 postures and ending breathing exercise would do for you! Stay tuned all of September for a review of each posture.

Try it yourself: You have wonderful opportunity to try Bikram Yoga for FREE on September 7th. Check your local Bikram studio for details. Namaste

If you want to come meet me, I’ll be at the Bikram Yoga Dallas studio on September 7th, taking the morning class and hanging out for the afternoon classes. Come say hi! 

photo courtesy of Bikram Yoga Dallas

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