Monday, May 24, 2010

Field Trip: Bikram Yoga

After a few months of researching and debating I finally made the time to try Bikram Yoga. A few clients of mine have taken classes and other friends have raved about the intense experience of this form of "hot yoga" so I decided to test it out as a personal experiment. First class is free so why not?

I have experienced a variety of yoga types before and was familiar with most of the poses, however it adds a whole new layer to the practice when you step into a 105 degree room. We were told from the start by the instructor, it is common, especially in your first session to feel dizzy or vomit at some point within the 90 minutes. Luckily for me I didn't experience the latter. The warmth is meant to help your muscles stretch and clear out toxins...and let me tell you I was drenched in "toxins" within the first breathing exercise.

Moving through the instructed sequence of 26 poses (shown at right) in a room with full length mirrors I was glad I chose to wear black to hide the sweat cascading down my appendages. I also now fully understood why the web site had told me to dress like I was going to the beach and arrive on an empty stomach. Once we moved through the standing sequence I was looking forward to the floor work, but I found the second half the the class almost more challenging.

Each pose is done twice in the series. I noticed that repeating the movement allowed me to get deeper into the position which made me feel accomplished. When it was all over it was refreshing to take in a breath of air outside. I even felt a little lighter (probably because I lost about 3lbs in water weight). Even my muscles were looser, almost as if I'd had a massage. I was mostly just glad to go home and take a much necessary shower.

Part of me feels this isn't a safe workout to do on a weekly let alone daily basis because of the heat making it difficult to breath, but maybe one day I'll go back again. For now I'm glad I have the experience and will take some insights I gained to my Pilates teaching.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sexy Swimsuit Legs

The side leg series is one of the best to tone your legs for the summer swimsuit season ahead. Typically during a class your instructor will teach you 3-4 different versions for each side (this prevents overworking the muscles for a more toned look).

You can do this series lying all the way down on your forearm, propped on your elbow or kneeling on your side for an extra challenge. Throughout make sure your hips stay stacked on one another in line with your shoulders. Focus on working your bottom oblique and lengthening through your top hip. Legs should be slightly in front of your hips in a banana like shape with your torso.

A traditional series would include Side Leg Kick, Lower/Lift and Circles. Other variations to try adding in are Bicycle, Ronde de Jambe, Scissors, Banana (double leg lifts), or Hot Potato. Use of a resistance band, ball or circle can be used for an extra challenge.

Click here to see a video to start getting the booty you deserve!