Fit Chic NYC’s Blog


Life Lessons I Learned In The Bikram Studio

Balancing Stick Pose

Despite my initial whining, during my 25 days at Bikram Yoga NYC (I had guests in town the last five days of my month Groupon pass) I was able to take a total of 15 classes.

Obsessed doesn’t begin to describe my passion for the practice. Here’s why:

1. I believe sweat is a strong indicator of a good workout. In Bikram, you’ll start sweating before class even begins.

2. In other forms of yoga there can be a lot of down time while holding poses; and, being the competitive person I am I like to look around at other people. That isn’t great for my meditation nor is it polite when they awkwardly catch me starring at them. In Bikram, moving your eyeballs is energy you can’t afford to waste.

3. The group mentality of the class is incredible. Yogis in general tend to foster a sense of comradeship with each other but there’s just something about dripping sweat in front of each other in as little clothes as possible for an hour and a half that makes you feel so…. Connected.

4. Bikram is a moving mediation. While I’ve never been able to fully “zone out” in other forms of yoga (see number 2) in Bikram I find that I’m completely concentrated on my practice.

5. I like to control my schedule and plan it out to the very last details so if you’re like me (very Type A) Bikram is the yoga style for you. Every class is performed exactly the same way and while you might think that performing the 26 postures in the same sequence every time would become monotonous, each class feels entirely different

6. The first class or two is miserable. But that moment when it all just clicks makes the initial suffering entirely worth it.

7. I get bored when I hold a posture for too long – even if it’s tough. In Bikram, no posture is held for more than a minute and I know exactly what’s coming next (see number 5). Knowing when it’s going to end allows me to judge my effort level.

8. I semi-jokingly told my friend that I’d consider a breast reduction so my practice would be better. Personally, I feel that a having a naturally (or unnaturally if that’s your style) large chest hinders some of the postures because they just get in the way.

9. Bikram has a strong cardio component. I wanted to wear my heart monitor during class but I couldn’t get it to stay completely silent so I left it at home. One instructor said that the Balancing Stick Pose pose was comparable to 30 minutes on the treadmill. While that might be a stretch, it gets your heart rate up.

10. You can do anything for 10 seconds. Suck it up and push through.

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Weekend Fitness Round-Up : July 18-19

Spin, Skate and Dance Around NYC This Weekend!

Saturday, July 18th

What: Project ALS Charity Spin Event
Where: Sportime in Amagansett, East Hampton, NY
When: 4-7pm
Why: It’s Fitness For A Cause! Workup a sweat on a two-hour outdoor spin class on the RealRyder bikes with beats from a live DJ while raising money for Project ALS. And there’s a BBQ at the end!
More info: www.ridethezone.com

What: Equinox Dance Marathon
Where: 44th Street and Lexington location
When: 10:30am-4pm
Why: It’s Fitness For A Cause! Four and a half hours of back-to-back classes like Masala Bhangra and Rockette Kickline, followed by food, drink and a special performance by some of the teachers. Proceeds will benefit Dancers Responding to AIDS.
More info: Minimum suggested donation for members is $20/class or $60/day, and $25/class or $75/day for non-members. Register at the 44th Street Location or call 212.953.9492

What: Central Park Roller Disco
Where: Enter the park at 72nd street and walking along the 72nd street transverse toward the center of the park. Follow your ears – listen for the dance music.
When: 2:30-6:30pm (weather permitting) Saturday AND Sunday
Why: The Central Park Dance Skaters Association presents roller skating at the skate circle with hypnotic beats from DJ Bennie DiConstanzo & DJ Albert Crespo (Saturday) and DJ Rob Scott (Sunday).
More info: The event is free. If you have questions or want to become a CPDSA member contact CPDSA@earthlink.net or visit their blog.

What: Stilettos and Self Defense Class
Where: Lululemon in East Hampton
When: 9-10:30am
Why: Kick off your Saturday in the Hamptons by learning how to kick a$$! In this free class you’ll learn how to master the ABC’s of self defense, tap into your inner power, make weapons out of everyday items and save your life with basic techniques – hopefully you’ll never need to use your new skill set!
More info: The class is free, RSVP to jennifer@healthandthecity.net

Sunday, July 19th

What: Summer Salutations Workshop
Where: Lululemon Union Square
When: 9:30am
Why: Join Chrissy Carter – Senior Teacher at YogaWorks – for an exploration into Sun Salutations. This workshop with dissect each posture to help you better understand proper alignment and create an easier flow – with a healthy breakfast to follow!
More info: RSVP: unionsquarenyc-store@lululemon.com



Weekend Fitness Round-Up : May 15-17

No matter what you prefer, spin, walk or run for charity this weekend in NYC!

Friday, May 15th

Saturday, May 16th
What: Ride the Zone Soho location opening
Where: 441 Broadway
When: 9am-1pm
Why: Remember my post about how to “Take your Spin Class to the Next Level?” Well now you can do it in Soho! For their grand opening, Ride the Zone is offering free classes plus gift bags and healthy treats! Plus they are hosting a Cyko Challenge where participants will ride during all four classes (that’s four hours of cycling) to win a pack of fifty rides! I’ll be there taking the 11am class!
More info: Sadly all of the free classes are already full, but stop by to check it out, click here

What: Extreme Dance Party Parade
Where: Starts at Broadway and 28th  and continues along St. Marks.
When: 1pm
Why: An impromptu dance-fest kicks off in the middle of New York’s city streets. The third annual Dance Parade will feature a slew of different styles. Look for ballet, samba, hip-hop, and more. Dance along and burn some calories!
More info: click here

What: Walk to Defeat ALS, 3.1 miles
Where: Hudson River Park
When: Check-in starts at 9:30am, Walk at 11am
Why: Fitness for a cause!! The walk program funds important services and programs for people with ALS and their families, as well as leading, cutting-edge research.
More info: click here

What: Inversion Adventure: Learning to Fly
Where: lululemon athletica, East 66th Street location
When: 8:30-9:45am
Why: Learn to fly with Kay Kay Clivio and Loren Bassett. Lululemon says you can experience the thrill of flying in arm balances that are both fun and challenging. Using a strong Vinyasa flow as a warm up, they’ll play with the alignment and art of arm balancing! This class is open to all levels
More info: RSVP at east66th-store@lululemon.com

Sunday, May 17th
What: SPIN ‘N BARE, A benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Where: Club H Fitness, Hell’s Kitchen location
When: Classes from 10am-2pm
Why: Fitness for a cause!! ALSO very exciting news! I’m signed up to take the 11am class with John Nobile. He’s the incredible spin instructor I mentioned here and I can’t wait to finally take another class of his!
More info: Each class is $25 per class and limited to 75 participates. Click here to register and learn more!

What: AIDS Walk New York
Where: Central Park, enter the park at East 59th Street and Fifth Avenue
When: Sign-in starts at 8:30am, opening ceremony at 9:15am, walk at 10am
Why: Fitness for a cause!! Since 1986, AIDS Walk New York has raised more than $100 million for HIV programs and services in the tri-state area, and has grown into the largest AIDS fund-raising event in the entire world.
More info: click here

What: Yoga for Athletes
Where: lululemon athletica, Union Square location
When: TBD
Why: Yoga is for everyone!
More info: The website says details are TBD. Try calling the store at 212.675.5286.



Think of it as fierce yoga
February 19, 2009, 11:56 AM
Filed under: Fitness, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , ,

Great question Lynne. Through both my experiences, and research, I find Bikram Yoga to be fundamentally different than other yoga styles. While I’m by no means a yoga expert, I do enjoy the practice and try to take classes at least once a week and experiment with the different styles.

Typically I practice Vinyasa Yoga which utilizes a flowing movement, and at the core of its practice are the Sun Salutations – a series of poses done in a flowing succession. Hatha Yoga is the more popular practice, and is what people usually mean when the refer to “yoga.”  This style has a slower, calmer pace and is about establishing a balance. Both of these styles utilize a variety of poses allowing each practice to vary depending on instructor. There are lots of other styles and if you’re interested, I found a great yoga style guide here.

Bikram Yoga was developed separately by yoga master Bikram Choudhury and is practiced by performing a strict sequence of 26 postures, each performed twice during a 90 minute class. The studio whose class I took, Bikram Yoga Lower East Side, compiled this fun description of the different postures. According to the official Bikram Yoga College of India Headquarter’s website, this sequence is effective because of it’s tourniquet effect. Unlike other yoga practices such as Vinyasa which is designed to create flowing movement and Hatha which incorporates stretching, Bikram poses are designed to stretch, constrict and compress the body to create pressure. This sequenced stretching and compression of various internal organs was designed to help improve circulation, increase joint mobility, boost the immune system, release toxins and stimulate the nervous system.

For example, during my previous yoga training, if I wasn’t flexible enough to have my forehead touch my leg during a pose, it was a stretch for me to work towards. However during the Bikram class, students are encouraged to bend their knees in order to force the forehead to touch the leg in order to create that constriction and compression that the pose was created for. A yoga instructor telling me to bend my knee? This was oddly exciting, until I moved fully into the pose and felt the constriction, ugh!

Oh and that brings up a good point, during the classes I took (which happened to be taught by the same instructor), we were told, not shown, how to move into the designated poses. Unlike the other yoga classes I’ve taken where I could watch and follow the instructor to move into the pose, the Bikram class I took was lead entirely through verbal visualization and encouragement. The 90-minute performance my instructor gave – and I say performance between her description and motivational encouragement and pure stamina to talk for 90-minutes straight in the heated room –  deserves an Oscar. It was very easy to follow and I was able to model my positions after the obvious Bikram experts in the class.

Another main difference I’ve found is in the basic nature and atmosphere of the class. In my other yoga classes, during the practice you are free to move around and readjust. But I found Bikram to be strict. It’s fierce and intense. You follow a precise order of poses and move from pose to the designated neutral stance with precision. Each class is exactly the same and was designed in a precise order and extraneous movement is discouraged. I’ll admit, I felt a little naughty for grabbing my towel to wipe the sweat off my face or readjusting the shorts that were riding up my thighs but after the warm-up, you are encouraged to have water between poses and take breaks when needed.

Although designed for anyone, at any fitness level, in my opinion, Bikram Yoga probably isn’t for the modest or faint-hearted. You’re going to be hot and uncomfortable on top of trying to be as flexible as possible and take each pose to its full potential. You’re going to be disgustingly sweaty. You’re going to want to be as minimally dressed as possible. It’s a challenge, and the first class isn’t going to be fun. But give it that second chance, it is an incredibly rewarding and empowering experience.

Still up for the challenge and interested in trying a Bikram class near you? Here are my tips:

1. Bring multiple water bottles. Better to have extra, trust me, I ran out and was miserable.

2. Start hydrating well before the class.

3. Bring multiple towels. A large bath towel to cover your mat and a wash cloth to wipe yourself down with.

4. Don’t me modest, strip to the essentials. But please, wear the essentials! I saw way more than I signed up for during one of the classes.

5. Be humbled by the experience. Unless you regularly spend and hour and a half in the sauna, the heat will take getting used to. You will be increasing your heart rate, stretching and working towards a total body detoxification. Embrace it.