Namaste

photo copyright Dancing Mind Yoga

The following post is by guest blogger, Kia Guarino.

Yesterday morning I woke up pleasantly sore, feeling it in muscles I had forgotten about, and thanked our newest discovery, a local hot yoga studio! On Tuesday, we tried out a Baptiste Power Vinyasa yoga studio located in downtown Falls Church and were thoroughly impressed. Dancing Mind Yoga uses a heated (90-95 degrees) yoga studio and the Baptiste style of flow yoga, a relatively fast-paced class that works to create stamina and improve overall health and wellbeing. The high temperatures are designed to increase the benefits of yoga, and to improve circulation and eliminate toxins from the body. It also reduces the chance of injury during the class by keeping your muscles loose. The difference is undeniable – I have found that practicing power vinyasa without heat does not leave me feeling as strengthened and healthy.

I really enjoyed the class, and the studio itself was very pretty and relaxing. The walls are a beautiful, serene turquoise color and their lotus flower symbol captures the feeling that yoga inspires. The instructor was attentive about correcting mistakes, which I enjoyed. There are a lot of benefits lost if the poses are done incorrectly, and she was very good about making sure my arms, legs, and back were positioned for the best results. I really felt good in the morning, enjoying the soreness in my lower back from the Locust pose. We bought an unlimited pass for this month so I will be going as much as possible!

Bikram yoga is a different form of hot yoga in temperature and in structure. Bikram yoga is a series of 26 poses that are very demanding, the first half standing and the rest on the ground, in an intensely heated studio. Bikram yoga was designed for the Western yogi and aims to release stress and help with chronic diseases and injuries. It helps increase focus, stamina and clarity while adding the benefits of exercising (weight loss, increased energy, etc.).

In Connecticut, about 6 years ago, we discovered a Bikram studio in South Norwalk and regularly took classes. Our favorite teacher was Dan Markowitz, who would sing James Taylor songs to us during savasana 🙂 I have attended a number of classes over the years, including in New Haven, Norwalk, and Danbury, CT, as well as in the Boston area. I have learned that the temperature ranges from about 100-105 (usually) to 115 at one studio (which was VERY intense). When I was able to take Bikram classes a few times a week, I felt great overall and found that I had toned muscles that would have been very difficult to get even with strenuous gym workouts. However, if you are not prepared, it can leave you with a pretty intense headache. As they mention online, it is very important to drink a lot of water before entering a Bikram studio and not to eat for a few hours prior.

While the poses and flow of the classes differ, I find that hot vinyasa does have many similar benefits. There is something extremely relaxing about yoga, even in high temperatures. I am very excited to be getting back into it.

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Update on NIH Mind-Body Week: The Science and Practice of Stress Management Modalities

Image ©NIH Mind-Body Week

Image ©NIH Mind-Body Week

Heart disease and cancer may be our top killers, but it’s a lack of stress management that is really hurting our nation’s health. In response to this epidemic, the National Institutes of Health will be holding the first annual Mind-Body Week from September 8-11, 2009. This event is dedicated to the science and exploration of stress management topic, and all events are FREE and open to the public.

There will be four days of stimulating lectures, workshops and classes covering topics such as Interpersonal Neurobiology, Mindful Parenting, the Science of Yoga and Yoga Therapy, Meditation for Stress Management and much more.

There will be over 100 featured teachers and lecturers (details will be on the official website in July 2009!). Some of the keynote speakers include Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., Myla Kabat-Zinn, James S. Gordon, M.D., Tara Brach, Ph.D., Timothy McCall, M.D., Roger Jahnke, Ph.D., Sat Bir Khalsa, Ph.D, Dan Siegel, M.D. and Josie Briggs, M.D. And yours truly will be presenting a talk on “Striving Toward that Elusive Work-Life Balance” on September 9.

Besides my talk :), I’m especially looking forward to talks by Jon Kabat-Zinn’s on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Karen Soltes and Robin Carnes on how the iRest® Yoga Nidra protocol is being used to help US Military personnel suffering from combat stress, and Esther Sternberg on how stress makes you sick.

The program will be held at the Natcher Building and other buildings around the NIH Main Campus (Building 45), 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892.