Let me say that I realize this post may cause dislike, disagreement, possibly anger … But this is my opinion and my feelings on hot yoga. And you are allowed to disagree.
I don’t believe Bikram yoga (hot yoga) is real yoga.
After experiencing it I will say it is some form of exercise? … yoga poses where you are in a super hot room and sweat like crazy.
If you like doing it I am not saying you shouldn’t do it. I’m just saying … it ain’t real yoga.
Over the past year or so I believe I have become a self-proclaimed yoga snob. In terms of the type of yoga classes I take, the teachers I study under and even the way I am trying to develop my skills as a teacher.
When I first started taking yoga in 2007 it was solely for exercise. And there is nothing wrong with that.
About four years ago I started taking yoga at a yoga studio. I found different styles of yoga and different teachers I enjoyed studying under. And I found styles of yoga and teachers I didn’t enjoy.
My normal practice consisted of Hatha Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga.
Once I started my teacher training, which was Iyengar-influenced, alignment-based Hatha Yoga, I started to focus my practice on Hatha Yoga classes. (If you want to understand Hatha Yoga better, click on this link on Yoga Journal and scroll to No. 2.)
The original intention of asana practice (just one of eight limbs [parts] of the yoga practice) was to get your body and mind ready for meditation.
So how does hot yoga do that?
The heat loosens and stretches muscles, which means you could go too deep into a pose or do a pose that isn’t appropriate for your body and you could hurt yourself. (Now, someone can hurt themselves in any yoga class or exercise class. The heat can emphasize this.)
Friends have told me they feel like they are going to pass out, throw up and/or die during a hot yoga class. I had one friend who actually passed out.
I understand that a Bikram class consists of the same 26 poses every class and there is a script that the teacher must follow. According to an article titled, What is the Bikram script?, Bikram yoga teachers learn the Bikram script word for word and are taught never to deviate from it.
Last week I took a class to really experience a hot yoga, Bikram class.
When I walked in the room to set down my mat I thought I was gonna die. It was so hot and humid in the room. Bikram classrooms are heated to 105 degrees.
I wasn’t sure if I could make it through the whole 90-minute class. But I stayed in the room the whole time taking breaks when I needed.
According to the Bikram website, Bikram calls the heated studios “Torture Chambers.” My comment to this is that yoga is not about torture or pain.
I have taken heated classes before (about 80-85 degrees). I understand the need to loosen muscles and detox. But I feel like 105 is rather extreme.
I am not clear on what the point is to have the classroom that hot.
Throughout the class I had some concerns about the instructions for alignment. Such as the teacher telling us to lock our knees in certain standing poses. As someone who hyperextends that is exactly what I am trying to not do. In some of the reclined poses we were instructed to have our neck flat on the floor. Eeek! You can really hurt your neck that way. Keeping your natural curve seems so much safer to me.
In certain poses we were instructed to push or pull. The way I have studied and practiced yoga (and teach it) is that you find your edge and maybe take a step back. You never want to push or pull your body into a pose that could be unsafe for your body.
Because of the strict script there really aren’t any modifications. There were no props.
The teacher had a thick accent so it was difficult for me to understand her at times. And some of the names of the poses were different than what I am used to. Bikram tree is different than the tree (Vrksasana) I am familiar with. Half Moon is one pose in Bikram and another in every other yoga class I have been in.
I was surprised to see that the studio had a mirror and we were encouraged to utilize it. Yoga isn’t about the perfect pose. It is about how it feels in your body at that moment.
A few months ago I found a blog post in which the author gave her own opinions on hot yoga. I agree with a lot of what she has to say. And as a fellow yoga teacher I respect her opinion.
I like attending yoga classes with some sort of theme or focus (which is how I have been trying to teach my classes lately). Besides the awful heat I think I would get bored doing the same 26 poses every single time. I need variety. And to hear the teacher say the same thing every single time … I need some jokes and humor thrown in there as well and some personality.
According to B.K.S. Iyengar, who recently died at the age of 95: There are many new yoga names like flow yoga, hot yoga, etc. But I think the core of them is the same. In my personal view, hot yoga is only a way of making money. (You can read the full interview here.)
If you like practicing hot yoga, go for it. I would just ask that you be aware of alignment issues and what your edge really is. Make sure you take care of yourself and honor your body. If something hurts don’t do it.
There are lots of types of yoga and lots of types of teachers for a reason.
(If you are a beginner to any type of yoga I would recommend a gentle class and/or alignment based. I personally don’t think Bikram would benefit a beginning yoga student.)
I was not a fan of hot yoga and will likely not be going back.
Most weeks I try to explore at least one “new” recipe.
I was looking at Hungry Girl’s website and found spicy Thai-style no-cook stir-fry.
It sounded yummy so I decided to give it a try.
I added the ingredients I didn’t already have to my grocery list. I decided to add a few other ingredients to it as well.
When I got home I realized I forgot to write a few things down.
I modified the recipe a bit and had it for lunch three times last week. Yup, I thought it was really yummy. I really enjoyed it. It’s filling and fairly healthy.
The HG version is fine. I just made some adjustments because of what I had on hand.
I didn’t buy broccoli coleslaw and decided to add rice to make it more substantial. As I was grabbing veggies out of the fridge I realized I did have some broccoli coleslaw. So that got thrown in as well. HG’s version is cold and mine is hot.
Here’s my spicy Thai-style stir fry:
- 2-3 oz. of chicken (I cut up a chicken breast and cooked it up in a skillet.)
- 1/2 cup of brown rice
- 1/2 cup to 1 cup broccoli coleslaw
- 1/4 cup of onion
- 1/4 cup of bell pepper of your choice (My favorite are red peppers.)
- 1/4 cup mushrooms
- 1/8 cup of water chestnuts
- 1 tbsp of garlic
- 1-2 tbsp of peanut sauce
- Dash of rice vinegar
- Red peppers flakes if you want to make it spicy
Use cooking spray in your skillet. Throw the garlic in and get it heated and then add the chicken. Cook the chicken. (You can always add a little salt and pepper to the chicken as it is cooking.) Add all of your cut up veggies and cook until they are soft. I threw my 1/2 cup of rice in the skillet and got it warmed up. (It was already cooked. I like using the Trader Joe’s organic brown rice.) Add red pepper flakes (add as much or as little as you want).
Once everything was cooked and heated I removed the skillet from the heat and added the peanut sauce and rice vinegar.
Throw it all into a bowl and enjoy!
Since I was making this for myself for lunch my recipe is for one serving. Double things up for two servings, triple for three … You get the idea.
You can, of course, add or take out any veggies as you see fit. If you don’t eat chicken you could do shrimp or even tofu.
Cheesy-good cornbread muffins
I love cornbread.
And Jiffy has created easy access to make and eat cornbread pretty much whenever you want.
But Hungry Girl has her own version, which she calls cheesy-good cornbread muffins.
And yes, these are cheesy and good.
I love to have them with my dinner or just as a snack.
They can get moldy pretty quick. So I like to keep them in the fridge or you could even freeze them.
A quick zap in the microwave and you have a warm and yummy snack.
Check out the Recipes tab with these recipes and many more.
I got my flu shot on Friday.
Over the weekend it occurred to me that I should write a post about it. Mostly because there are so many myths about getting the flu shot.
I have gotten the flu shot for at least the past 10 years in a row (and got it while I was a kid and part of the time I was in college) and the shot has NEVER made me sick or get the flu.
I know a lot of people don’t want to get the flu shot for a variety of reasons. And that’s your right.
But if you aren’t going to get the vaccine there are other things you can do to prevent the spread of the flu (and other illnesses).
You should also do these things if you get the flu vaccine.
Regularly wash your hands. If you can’t wash your hands, use hand sanitizer (I keep some in my purse and I used to keep it on my desk at work).
Clean your work/home desk, cell phone, keys, door knobs, light switches, anything you touch and are in contact with regularly with Clorox or Lysol wipes.
If you are sick, stay home. Don’t share your germs. You will get healthier quicker if you let your body rest and stay at home.
If your kid is sick and sent home from school or daycare DON’T bring them to work with you. If they are too sick to be at school or daycare then they need to be at home and not spreading their cooties and germs in an office.
Here’s the CDC’s list of things you can do to stop the spread of germs at home, work and school:
- Get vaccinated.
- Good health habits.
- Avoid close contact.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough/sneeze.
- Clean your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Stop the spread of germs.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces or objects.
For more details, read here.
Last year I did a post on the many myths of the flu vaccine along with a little Q&A. You can read the full post here.
The one I would like to repeat this year is:
Myth: The flu vaccine can give you the flu
According to WebMD, injected flu vaccines only contain dead virus, and a dead virus is, well, dead: it can’t infect you. There is one type of live virus flu vaccine, the nasal vaccine, FluMist. But in this case, the virus is specially engineered to remove the parts of the virus that make people sick.
Despite the scientific impossibility of getting the flu from the flu vaccines, this widespread flu myth won’t die. Experts suspect two reasons for its persistence. One, people mistake the side effects of the vaccine for flu. While side effects to the vaccine these days tend to be a sore arm, in the past, side effects often felt like mild symptoms of the flu. Two, flu season coincides with a time of year when bugs causing colds and other respiratory illnesses are in the air. Many people get the vaccine and then, within a few days, get sick with an unrelated cold virus. However, they blame the innocent flu vaccine, rather than their co-worker with a runny nose and cough.
And remember the vaccine can’t possibly protect us from every strain of flu. But it is important to protect ourselves and others from illnesses.
Let’s stay healthy this flu season.
As expected, the class was packed even though it was 9 on a Wednesday morning.
It was a 2-hour class. But it didn’t feel like two hours.
Rodney started the class by chatting with us for a bit. I love when teachers start class like that. Sometimes they just want to chat. Other times it is a way to introduce the theme of the class.
What I took from the class was to listen and notice …
As we were listening and noticing what our bodies were telling us Rodney also reminded us to check our breath. If the breath wasn’t free and flowing then the pose our body was in was not benefiting our bodies.
We need to listen and notice in yoga but also in life. Listen and notice what is going on in your body. And check your breath.
There are so many styles of yoga and styles of teachers out there. Some of the lineages of yoga are quite long and some are much shorter. The lineage of yoga I mainly study and practice and the lineage I was taught under comes from BKS Iyengar.
Some of my teachers were formally trained in Iyengar Yoga or were taught how to become a teacher by those trained in Iyengar Yoga. The way the program I studied under (to become a yoga teacher) was described by one of my teachers as Iyengar influenced, alignment based.
When I write about pretty much anything I do some research. So I did some on both Rodney and Colleen.
According to Yoga with Rodney Yee, in 1987, after becoming a certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher, Rodney opened the Piedmont Yoga Studio in Oakland with Richard Rosen (one of my yoga teachers and one of the teachers who taught me how to be a yoga teacher) and Claire Finn. Rodney teaches occasionally at Piedmont Yoga Studio, but he is now based in New York, and teaches regular classes at his wife Colleen’s studio, Yoga Shanti, in New York.
I love learning more about yoga, the lineage I studied under, interesting and amazing teachers, my own body and breath and whatever else comes my way in this continuous journey.
About a year ago I stopped chewing gum. I haven’t chewed a piece of gum in more than a year! Me, the chronic gum chewer!
Last June I was having excruciating pain on the left side of my jaw. I was under a tremendous amount of emotion and stress.
When I had braces as a teenager I developed TMJ disorder. Not uncommon when you have braces.
Occasionally my jaw would pop, grind, feel “unhinged” and sometimes hurt. But it usually didn’t last long.
My pain last year didn’t go away. My dentist referred me to an oral surgeon.
The oral surgeon unofficially diagnosed me with osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the “wear and tear” arthritis.
Eight months later (long story why it took so long) I saw a specialist dentist.
He ordered scans, pictures, etc.
In June I was diagnosed with Degenerative Joint Disease, a fancy way to say osteoarthritis (of the jaw).
What I found rather interesting at my first appointment when filling out the new patient questionnaire was all the questions about my sleep, which is poor. There is a link between jaw issues and sleep issues. Wow, who knew?
My doctor and I decided to deal with my jaw issues first and if I felt the need to do a sleep study later on I could.
I wear a bottom appliance during the day and at night I wear the bottom and a top appliance with rubber bands. Looks sexy!
Basically this appliance is helping to relax my jaw muscles so that my jaw can move down and forward slightly.
I have been wearing this thing for about three months and things are shifting and moving.
Osteoarthritis is much more common in the knees or hips.
According to Practical Pain Management article titled osteoarthritis of the temporomandibular joint, an unusually large percentage of those diagnosed are women around the age of 35, which is attributed to Gremillion H, Bates R, and Stewart C. Degenerative Joint Disease. Part II: Symptoms and Examination Findings. 1994. 12(2):88-90.
According to WebMD, the cartilage gradually breaks down with osteoarthritis. Cartilage is a slippery material that covers the ends of bones and serves as the body’s shock absorber. As more damage occurs, the cartilage starts to wear away, or it doesn’t work as well as it once did to cushion the joint. … The result is pain when the joint is moved. Along with the pain, sometimes you may hear a grating sound when the roughened cartilage on the surface of the bones rubs together.
Once you lose cartilage you can’t get it back. So the best thing for me is to alleviate the symptoms causing the pain.
I’ve gotten used to wearing my appliance (kinda like a retainer). I have even gotten so used to it that I wear it while teaching yoga classes. Occasionally it alters my speech.
But for the most part it just blends in. And it is just something that is part of my life now.
Here’s to happy jaws!
Wow, we are now entering November. Can you believe how quickly this year has gone by?
Since it is November (and Halloween has passed) it means we are thrown into the holiday season.
I love the holidays.
But there is also a part of me that is glad when the holidays are over. This time can be so stressful and overwhelming.
And then there are all the temptations of overeating, so much sugar, lots of alcohol, parties, potlucks, etc.
At the beginning of this year I started a the jar project challenge for myself and shared it with all of you.
I did OK with adding slips of paper in the jar until sometime in April. Though I sometimes felt like I was playing catch up.
I went on vacation and never picked it up again.
We should be grateful all year around of what we have (instead of focusing on what we don’t).
But since it is November and the month most of us celebrate Thanksgiving, let’s do the jar project for the month of November as part of the GFG! Monthly Challenge.
Throughout the month let’s plan to fill the mason jar (or whatever you use) with little pieces of paper with positive things you experience.
The positive experiences you are grateful for can be HUGE or simple.
Such as: I cooked a meal and it was delicious; someone I don’t know gave me a great compliment; I went to the dentist and no cavities; I got a new job; I got a fun text message from a friend; I watched a great movie; I became an auntie; I read a beautiful poem; I finished a great book; I went on a fabulous vacation; I had a delicious cup of hot cocoa; I am a godparent; I ate an amazing meal; I moved to a new amazing city; I heard something funny and had a great laugh; I saw a friend I haven’t seen in a long time …
You get the idea.
As long as it is positive it can go in the jar, hat, bucket, basket or whatever you are holding your positive notes in.
As we get into this crazy, hectic time we tend to let our healthy habits go.
During the hectic, crazy times we need to maintain our healthy habits as much as possible.
Let’s not wait until January to get our healthy habits going.
Exercise: Let’s keep that exercise in check. If you are already a regular exerciser, try to keep it up this month (and next) at least three times a week. If you aren’t, maybe start off with trying to walk three times a week.
When I first started regularly exercising almost eight years ago I started walking three times a week. I built that up and got into a regular exercise routine.
Get creative to keep it in your routine.
Here are some ideas: Walk 15 minutes before you leave for work. Walk another 15 minutes during a break at work. Walk 15 minutes when you get home from work. Maybe do squats and lunges while making dinner and/or watching TV. Do jumping jacks for 1 minute five times during the day.
Nutrition: I know food will be challenging this month. Be mindful of what you are eating and drinking.
When I make a meal and it is less than healthy I try to counter-act it somewhat with veggies. My vegetables tend to take up 1/2-3/4 of my plate.
I actually do this with healthy meals as well. The other day I made chicken breast and also had green beans and a homemade cornbread muffin, which is delicious and low calorie. It was a good-balanced meal.
Be creative with your veggies this month. And make sure you are getting them in. Remember 5 fruits and vegetables a day is the recommended amount for a well-balanced day.
Post below on how the challenge is going for you this month. You can also post on the GFG! Monthly Challenge Facebook page.
So twice a year I write about time change. And we are upon that time once again.
For most of us in the U.S. we will Fall Back on Sunday at 2 a.m.
Many of my readers are from Arizona, so this post doesn’t apply to you as much. But I think the suggestions I am going to make are great whenever you cross time zones.
I am not a great sleeper. And time change for me is pretty difficult.
When you Spring Forward, you lose an hour. The light is different. It is more difficult to get to bed on time for your workweek.
When you Fall Back, you “gain” an hour. But that gain can still really mess you up. If you normally get up at 5 a.m. then you are likely gonna start rousing at 4 a.m. Ugh! And the evenings get darker earlier, which has already been happening lately.
That “gained” hour can throw your day (or even the following week) off.
This time should be a little easier for me as I don’t have to get up at 5 a.m.
But lately I have been having trouble with my sleep. I finally feel like I have a better routine this past week.
I am sure this will throw my sleep schedule off again and I will have to readjust things. But it’s less stressful since I don’t have to get up so early anymore and feel stressed and anxious about being super tired at work all day.
There are ways to help your body adapt to time change, whether it is an hour (or several hours when traveling over time zones).
My advice to all who need some extra help Monday morning or all next week:
- Don’t go to bed too late Sunday night.
- Make sure you have breakfast Sunday and Monday morning (and every morning).
- Try not to eat a lot of crap. Stick to fruits and veggies as snacks instead of sugary or salty foods.
- Drink lots of water Sunday (but also today and always).
- Exercise. (I will be teaching a yoga class Sunday late morning. But I plan to do a home yoga practice before I teach.) Even going for a walk will be helpful.
- Keep up the exercise throughout the week, especially on Monday. Find that motivation. It will be tough, but well worth it.
- If you do nap Sunday (I love my weekend naps), don’t nap too late.
- If caffeine really affects you (doesn’t really for me) maybe cut back Sunday and definitely don’t have it too late in the day.
- Don’t drink too much alcohol, especially too late in the day/evening.
- Melatonin is a natural hormone found in our bodies. You can buy it over the counter to help with sleep. My doctor advised me at one point to try melatonin to help with my sleep issues. It helps me sleep. But I wouldn’t advise trying it for the first time Sunday night, especially the day before you have to go to work. Talk to your doctor about it. Try it a night before you don’t have to go to work.
- Try to start winding your day down an hour before you go to bed. If you normally go to bed around 10, then at 9 make sure you are done for the day and ready for Monday’s workday. I know it is hard for all of us, myself included, but no screen time an hour before bed. Do something relaxing for that hour: read a book, knit, lounge, take a bath. Even practice a Restorative Yoga pose or two. A few poses I like are: Legs Up the Wall; Instant Maui; and Savasana are just a few you can do. Hold these poses for at least 10 minutes each or longer. You can also try Supported Child’s Pose; Supported Twist. These poses can be held for 5-7 minutes. This video shows some poses.
Happy sleep and awake this coming week!
Have you seen the 40-year-old Virgin?
Remember FRENCH TOAST? (Here’s a clip of that scene. Swearing is involved. So you’ve been warned.)
Anyway, years ago Curt and I were watching some diner or cooking show and someone made peanut butter and banana French toast.
It sounded amazing. The version they made was super unhealthy.
I decided to take a stab at it with a healthy spin to it.
I don’t make a lot of breakfast. But I made this recipe recently and thought it would be a good idea to share.
Here’s my version of peanut butter and banana French toast:
- 2 slices Sara Lee Delightful wheat bread
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter (I prefer creamy, but for this recipe crunchy works better)
- 1/2-1 banana
- 2 tablespoons egg whites
- 1 tablespoon fat free milk
The ingredients listed are for one serving. Double or triple ingredients for extra servings.
I like to smoosh the banana onto my bread. Other slice I spread the peanut butter.
Dip “sandwich” into the egg whites/milk.
Use cooking spray oil in the pan. Grill it up and enjoy!
You get some protein and a fruit. It’s yummy. And melty heated up peanut butter is delish!
Peanut butter energy balls
Since I shared a peanut butter recipe above I thought I would share a second one, a yummy and easy snack.
Sometime back I wrote about the peanut butter energy balls I made and shared at work.
Here’s the recipe again, in case you want to try it yourself:
1 cup regular oatmeal
1/2 cup peanut butter (I added about 3/4 cup.)
1/3 cup pure, unfiltered honey
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or craisins or raisins or another sweetness of your choice)
1 or 2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Using your hands, mix all the ingredients well in a bowl.
Let it chill for at least 1/2 hour in the fridge.
After the mixture is chilled, use a teaspoon to size out scoops of the mixture and roll into balls.
They will keep in Tupperware in the fridge for seven days.
Check out the Recipes tab for more on the two recipes above and on many others.
I read articles regularly about yoga and about what being a good yoga teacher looks like and means. Some of the articles I agree with and some I don’t.
There are tons of articles out there. Some say what I learned in my teacher training program and other articles completely contradict what I believe to be correct and true.
One thing I recently read talked about how it is important to know your students’ names.
This was definitely discussed in my teacher training program. And the teachers’ classes I regularly attend know all of their regular students’ names and make an effort to learn new student names.
In the classes I have been subbing at Alameda Athletic Club there are, of course, the regulars. There are new people regularly and the not so quite regulars.
Last week I saw a student who I hadn’t seen in about a month. I said, Hi, Sharon.* How are you?
Sharon kinda stared at me. I got nervous that I got her name wrong. She said, You remembered my name? I said, yea, that’s part of my job.
I ran into a similar situation after I had only subbed one class and a student came back a few classes later. I said, Hi Joe. And he said the same thing as Sharon, you remember my name?
A friend attended one of my yoga classes last week and afterward told me how impressed she was that I knew the students’ names.
It’s important to know your students’ names and even something about them. If they tell you their shoulder hurts, maybe next time ask how the shoulder is doing.
Being a yoga teacher is not just about teaching yoga. It’s about knowing and caring about people, your students.
When you notice someone doing something awesome it gives you the opportunity to recognize that. It also gives you the opportunity to give someone attention they might need with their alignment or anything else.
If people feel cared about and welcome and sometimes even a little special that can make a world of a difference for that person.
I have a long way to go and so much to learn. But with the basics I know that I can be a great yoga teacher.
Don’t forget to check the My Yoga Classes tab on GFG! to see my current teaching schedule.
*Names have been changed.