Breathing into the Present Moment – Sarah’s Hot Yoga Journey

Breathing into the Present Moment – Sarah’s Hot Yoga Journey

Before I starting working at Bikram Southside, Yoga was an unexplored world for me.  Having recently graduated from Glasgow University with a degree in Philosophy, and feeling a deep curiosity for spirituality and consciousness, I was naturally drawn towards the world of Yoga and meditation. However, I had always felt intimidated by Yoga classes, imagining a room full of beautiful, contortionist gurus who would have me looking like an unenlightened couch potato in comparison.

During my first class, all these preconceived ideas – literally – melted away. The heat and intensity of the class made entering a meditative state not only more accessible, but necessary! Everyone was so beautifully focused on their own practice, and I soon realised that nobody gave a sh**t what I looked like. Suddenly, I found myself welcomed into a wonderful new community, with an incredible focus on healing, transformation and growth (and lots of great banter too!).

The intimidation and insecurities I had associated with Yoga turned out to be nonsense. This taught me an important lesson: that by changing the stories that we tell ourselves about the world, we can transform the world we live in. We make up so many narratives about ourselves, about how others see us, about what will happen in the future. It’s all fantasy, until we can slip into the power of the present, and really embody life.

Yoga has helped me understand this on so many levels and has opened me up to new ways of relating to myself and those around me.  During the two years that I have been working at Bikram Southside, I have strengthened both my body and my mind. By physically pushing myself beyond the limits of what I believed I could achieve, I have brought resilience, determination and confidence into all aspects of my life.

The emphasis placed on bringing attention to the breath in Hot Yoga and Pilates has for me opened a kind of portal into the self.  Breathing occupies a special place, as it can be both a conscious and unconscious process. By bringing awareness and attention to this process, we can bridge the gap between the conscious and unconscious mind. Working in this way with movement and breath, both in the Hot Room and in my daily life, has allowed me to uncover and reprogram negative thought patterns and beliefs about myself and the world, and has given me the power to reshape my life.

Bringing awareness to the breath can carry peace, calm, focus and energy into each moment of our day, helping us dwell more in the present. Yoga has for me in this way facilitated a kind of re-birth into a new way of being.

Through this journey, I have now become a certified Breathwork Practitioner, with the hope to share the simple, but incredibly powerful practice of Conscious Breathing with others. I feel so much gratitude and joy for being a part of such a beautiful community and for the impact this has had on my life. I can’t wait to see where the journey takes me next!

5 More Benefits To Working Out In The Heat

5 More Benefits To Working Out In The Heat

There are so many amazing benefits to working out in the heat that we needed to write two blog posts! In our previous post we covered muscle strength, endurance, brain development, longevity and improved mood. Here are yet another five awesome reasons to work out in the heat!

Insulin resistance/blood sugar

Insulin is a vital hormone in the body that regulates healthy blood sugar levels. A recent study found that heat acclimation three times a week over 12 weeks created a decrease in blood sugar and insulin levels by 30%, which can have amazing results for those with type 2 diabetes and related conditions.

Balancing your blood sugar is also a great way to reduce those pesky sugar cravings and binge eating habits, which is always a welcomed bonus!

Injury Rehabilitation

Increasingly doctors and chiropractors are recommending Hot Yoga and Pilates to their patients. High temperatures increase the release of anti-inflammatory hormones and healing white blood cells and are great healers of everything from arthritis to injuries caused by high impact sport’s.

Endorphins (A.K.A ‘happy hormones’) are also produced and act as natural pain-killers – we all <3 those endorphins! 😀

Detoxification

Many people don’t sweat enough, but this is such a powerful way for the body to release and eliminate toxins, chemicals and waste products stored in the skin, and cleanse and purify vital organs in the body.

As you sweat, your pores are opened and cleaned allowing for natural lanolin production, which softens and preserves your skin’s elasticity, giving you that beautiful ‘Bikram Glow’. You’ll leave class looking and feeling like a sparkling unicorn, we promise!

Weight loss

Exercising in the heat is also excellent for shedding a few pounds or toning and shaping your body.

A 90-minute Hot Yoga class is a great workout that can burn up to 1000 calories! Combine this with Heat Shock Protein’s ability to reduce the amount of stored fat by oxidizing fatty acids, regulate blood sugar, and strengthening the metabolism, and you’re going to start seeing great results in no time! Woohoo!

“I’m not interested in getting in better shape” said nobody, ever.

Improves Immune System

Heat Shock Proteins are also great at fighting off diseases and improving the immune system. When the body is exposed to high temperatures, they act by going into a kind of ‘Super Hero Mode’ and quickly target damaged areas. White blood cells and antibodies are created to fight viruses and increase the functioning of the entire body.

All in all, Heat Shock Proteins sound like pretty great guys to have around!

If, on the other hand, you’re looking for reasons NOT to exercise in the heat:

We would NOT recommend Hot Yoga/Pilates for anyone who loves spotty skin, colds, flus, sluggish bodies with pains and aches, and who doesn’t want to feel and look FREAKIN AMAZING!

For everyone else: sign up for our intro offer, £20 for 20 days unlimited access.

10 Yoga Benefits that will Inspire You to Get Back on Your Mat

10 Yoga Benefits that will Inspire You to Get Back on Your Mat

A lot of people know how great yoga is for the mind and the body. This is why they try really hard to fit the exercise into their daily routine. If you are someone who’s planning on doing the same thing, it’s important that you know exactly what yoga’s benefits are all about.

Below is a list to give you a clearer idea.

1. It makes you feel better

Like most exercise, yoga has this ability to increase the happy hormones in your body. Also known as serotonin, this happy hormone regulates mood, happiness, and anxiety. Getting low levels of it can predispose you to depression, poor sleep, impaired social behavior, and even memory loss.

So, the next time you’re feeling low and sad, get your mat and start doing your poses. The Camel pose, Head to Knee pose, and the Pigeon pose can make you feel fantastic in just minutes.

2. It teaches you to focus

When you have so many things going on in your life, it’s hard to stay focused. And when you can’t think straight, you’ll find it difficult to come up with the best decisions.

Consistent yoga practice can help you with that. A study found out and suggested that a brief yoga program can do a lot when it comes to enhancing attentive mindfulness and strengthening cognitive functioning.

3. It can help you lose weight

Yoga can help lose weight through a number of ways. For one, it can make you be more mindful of what you eat. It can also make you stronger in resisting cravings for unhealthy foods.

Physically, yoga can help you shed your unwanted fats. The results may not happen that fast but with consistent practice, you’ll see changes in your weight and how your body looks.

4. It helps detoxify your system

Performing poses after poses stimulate the lymphatic vessels which are designed to help get rid of waste, toxins, and other unwanted materials.

Additionally, performing yoga in a hot environment, such as what you do during a hot yoga class can help speed up the detoxification process.

5. It gives you a time to pamper yourself

With so many tasks at work and so many chores to finish at home, getting a “me time” isn’t as easy as it sounds. Doing yoga gives you the opportunity to catch up with your body and give it the time and attention it needs.

6. It teaches acceptance

Yoga encourages you to discover more about yourself and to be fine with what you learn. It teaches you to get to know your flaws and be friends with them.

7. It makes your skin look glowing

When you exercise, you boost your heart rate and blood circulation. With better circulation, more blood cells and oxygen get to your skin which leaves you with a natural glow after. And when you add heat to your routine, you get even more than that.

8. It makes you more flexible

Practicing yoga daily builds muscle memory which increases your flexibility. Now, this doesn’t mean that doing yoga today can make you instantly flexible tomorrow.

The process requires both time and patience. Stick to a routine and you’ll be able to see results soon.

9. It helps make you breathe better

One of the things you’ll learn with yoga is mindful breathing. The more you become comfortable with it, the easier it’ll get for you. And once you’re used to mindful breathing, you’ll be able to relax easily even during stressful times. You’ll be able to connect your mind with your body with ease and to let go of any negativity.

How To Survive That Dreaded First Class Back

How To Survive That Dreaded First Class Back

Let’s face it, on your first class back after the X-Mas break, your practice is probably going to suck.  Who the heck cares! Don’t let your ego get hung up on this and hold you back.  If you fall out of postures, have a laugh about it after class.  Let go of all that judgement, follow the words, let the yoga do its magic, try the right way and you will get 100% of what you need from that class that day.  If you feel good at the end of class then you did good.  You don’t have to be a super yogi every day.  After two weeks of over indulgence, of course you won’t be at your personal best, but you’ll sure all hell need a good hot yoga class.

The key is to be kind to yourself.  If you beat yourself up, you will lose motivation and alienate yourself from your practice.   If you got absolutely hell for leather straight away, it will be a nightmare and you will dread the next class.  After your first new year class, that post-yoga-buzz should be doubled as you realise how much you’ve missed this feeling.  Let time off be an opportunity to fall in in love with your practice all over again.  The sky is not going to fall down if you don’t touch your forehead on the knee today!

Allowing yourself to have easy classes when you need to, will help you avoid ‘falling off the wagon’ when life gets busy or you are not feeling strong.  Remember, its not about how far you get into the posture, it about how much you get out of doing it.   If you are a Type A personality, this might be a real challenge for you.  Realise that sometimes you will get further by pulling back a little, even if it goes against ever fibre in your being to do so.  This is especially important when you are going through hard times and needing your yoga more than ever.  You may be surprised to put that “Just stay in the room” mantra to use again. Whatever happens, you always have your breath, and one of the great things about having a tough class, is that it takes you right back to that breath which is your meditation.

The most important thing to remember is that it’s not really about the journey or the destination, its about you. It’s about self-empowerment, healing and growth- you making yourself the best version of you that you can be.

=> Judge the merits of your class on the benefits you experience afterwards.  This small shift in your perspective will completely transform your relationship with your yoga practice, which will in turn completely transform your relationship with yourself.

How Yoga Changes Your Brain

How Yoga Changes Your Brain

Check out these dramatic images of how electrical activity in the brain changes after just ten mins of meditation. Imagine the effect of 90 minutes of yoga, which is a moving meditation. Then imagine the effect of regular yoga classes!

Using MRI scans like these, studies have found more brain cells in certain brain areas in people who regularly practiced yoga, as compared with control subjects.

Yogis have been found to have larger brain volume in the areas relating to body awareness, directing attention, and vision. The hippocampus, a region critical to dampening stress, has also been show to be enlarged in yoga practitioners, as were areas key to our concept of self.

Many studies have show changes like this happening to the brain from yoga and meditation but a new study shows for the first time that gene activity changes too. Herbert Benson of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston found that after practicing a 20 minute meditation daily for eight weeks, volunteers showed changes in their gene profiles with beneficial genes boosted and harmful genes deactivated.

Clusters of genes that became less active were related to high blood pressure, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease and some cancers. The boosted Genes he boosted genes had beneficial effects including boosting insulin production, which improves control of blood sugar and helping to keep DNA stable and so prevent cells wearing out and ageing.

Check out the links below to find out more;

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23480-meditation-boosts-genes-that-promote-good-health/
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-yoga-changes-the-brain/
https://www.galaxyofyoga.in/pranayama-and-brain-waves/

Why “The Secret” Is A Lot Of Sh#@t And How The Law Of Attraction Really Works

Why “The Secret” Is A Lot Of Sh#@t And How The Law Of Attraction Really Works

“Its like having the universe as your catalogue. You flip through and say, “I’d like to have this experience and I’d like to have this product and I’d like to have a person like that.” It is you placing your order with the universe. Its’ really that easy.”

Dr John Vitale

“Why do you think that 1% of the population earns around 96% of the money that’s being earned. Do you think that’s an accident?… They understand something. They understand the secret and now you are being introduced to the secret.”

Bob Proctor

Yes these are quotes from the book. Great job grabbing people’s attention but aye nae bother Bob. And John, that sounds great, please sign me up. I suppose that people living in famine just lost their order form. People who pray for rain to come every day so their crops won’t fail actually just feel deep down that they deserve to be mal-nourished or they would be attracting more abundance?

The law of attraction states that we attract into your lives what we focus our thoughts on. The is based on the idea that people and their thoughts are made from “pure energy”, and that through the process of “like energy attracting like energy” our thoughts manifest into realities in our experience.

Recently I saw Will Smith in a Video saying: “You just put it out there and the universe will go on, open up and make it happen for you.” I was like sure, if you happen to be a world famous multi-millionaire then yeah, why not, you can probably manifest just about anything you want. If you are living in a slum in Haiti or a camp in North Korea on the other hand, all the positive thinking in the world is not likely to get you a Bentley. Why not? because for some, people, poverty and a million other physical circumstances are acting as blocks against the workings of the Law of Attraction.

The Secret makes out that all these blocks are in our minds: if we are not getting what we want it’s because we are preventing “abundance” from coming through. If we just believe that things are possible, they will become possible. Nice bedtime reading for middle class America, but if this was true we’d all be teleporting from our yacht to the moon every Saturday night.

There must be more to this story though, because we know that some of the greatest thinkers in the world have told us, and some have also proven, that we CAN make things happen by focusing on them, believing that they can happen and directing our energy towards them. This is exactly what religious people are doing in prayer, and we have all heard amazing stories of triumphs over adversity achieved by people with immense faith and vision. I would personally go as far as to say that SOMETIMES, with enough faith and desire projected towards something, miracles can happen.

There is a spanner in the works somewhere, which is that the Law of Attraction is not the only law by which the universe is governed. There are things that can stop our desires and intentions from manifesting beyond the strength of our belief and the depths of our desires. The Secret kinda forgot to mention these.

Imagine the Law of Attraction as a force like gravity: if you drop an empty can of Iron Bru from a tenement window, the law of gravity will pull it towards the ground. This does not necessarily mean that it will hit the floor. If there is a tree beside your flat it may land in the tree and get stuck, this is because something physical has blocked the force of gravity from working so that it hasn’t pulled the can down to land in the street.

If there is a giant super-powered magnet attached to the wall of a building in some crazy sci-fi world (work with me here people), the can will stick to the magnetic wall: Another force has interfered and redirected the course of action in this case. Finally, if someone who has great hand eye co-ordination and a grip of steel catches the can, it will not hit the ground: Another person has interacted with the situation and changed the fate of the can.
Taking this to an energetic level, someone else’s vibration could interfere with yours if you both want different things, thus creating a vibrational battle with sub- atomic particles bouncing off each other into parallel universes. Like a kind of firework display for quantum physicists, but my head is about to explode so lets’ not go there.

So is that it? The game’s a bogy and we are all screwed, as we have no way to ensure that the Law of Attraction will work, even if we are manifesting like absolute juggernauts and sending out the most spectacular vibrations the universe has ever seen. This would be a pretty un-motivating blog if that was my conclusion. Keep the faith! Our ability to manifest our desires is the strongest power that we have in this world. The laws of the universe are something we are guaranteed never to understand. We will never know what obstacles our vibrations may meet on their way to the fruition of our deepest desires. What we do know, is that they will never be a waste of energy.

They may manifest instantly, they may manifest in ways we did not expect, or they may never materialise, but at least we gave it a shot. At least we did every single thing, with the strength of our entire being, that we could physically, mentally and spiritually to make things happen. If there are obstacles in our lives preventing us from getting what we want, let’s make damn sure they’re not coming from ourselves or our fears. Let’s be dream catchers; let’s be absolute magnets for magnificence. By believing things we are allowing and helping them to happen, so dream big, attract everything good that is in any way available to you and be open to as many possible possibilities as you can imagine!

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