Tag Archives: focus

sitting in bikram yoga

To Sit or Not to Sit? What Sitting in Bikram Yoga Says About You

sitting in bikram yoga

Every day your practice is different.

Ok, you are no longer a beginner to this yoga thing.

Or, maybe you are, but you struggle every day to continue pushing through every posture.  

My question to you is, “Why are you struggling?”

The second you begin to struggle, you are forgetting the first step of every posture, which is normal breathing.  Yes, this breathing rate might be faster, but you should never feel like you can’t breathe.

Sitting in Bikram Yoga can actually deepen your practice.

“Bikram says to to ‘kill you self”” 

  • Killing your “self” means to kill the ego telling you to have the best posture.
  • Killing your “self” means you don’t care if you are the only one sitting.  Your body needs the break today.
  • Killing your “self” means to avoid reaching for the security blanket of your water.  Do you really need it?  (If you do, you should have drank more water before you came.  I know–it’s not always easy.  I reach for my water bottle too, but it’s always my goal not to!)
  • Killing your “self” means accepting the body you brought today.  You may be getting sick. You may not have drank enough water.  You may have drunk too much wine the night before.  Whatever the reason, listen to your body.
  • Killing your “self” means you can look into your own eyes for 90 minutes.  You spend the rest of your life trying to live up to the expectations and demands of others.  Take the time in yoga to see what you need.

Part of learning to kill the self is learning to focus only on yourself.

I realize it can be tempting to sneak a peak at the girl in front’s standing bow, to grab some water, to make faces to your friend.  (And there are days where this is part of my practice, but it isn’t what my practice should be.)

This is not being present.  There is so much going on within your own body that you are missing when you focus on anything other than yourself in the mirror.  In fact, you may be struggling because of your lack of focus.  Days when I am actually able to stay fully present I find that I work harder than I have ever worked, have a larger pool of sweat on my mat than normal, and yet I find I was able to keep my heart rate lower and a smile on my face.  

I am relaxed while also killing myself and my self!


Next time you start to feel uncomfortable in class, don’t reach for water.  Don’t wipe your sweat.  Don’t look to your feet.  Don’t make a face to friend asking if it’s hotter than normal.  If fact, don’t even ask yourself that question.  It doesn’t matter.  What you should do instead is look to yourself for answers.

sitting in bikram yoga

  • Stare into your own eyes.
  • Take a long slow inhale.
  • Take a longer slower exhale.
  • Give yourself a smile.  It’s hard to have negative or anxious thoughts with a smile on your face.
  • Repeat this process as much as you need.

Some days you may have to take it to the floor from here, but still work to look into your own eyes.

Part of the practice and part of the yoga is getting in touch and accepting yourself.  Your body.  Your thoughts.  Your actions.  Your Present.

Today’s present and practice might be harder than yesterdays   You don’t know what tomorrows will bring, but today you will get more out of your practice remaining calm.


Yoga Mantras: Tips to Improve Your Yoga Practice

Yoga Mantras

We have heard over and over again that having a mantra can help you, making your performance stronger.  Often times, positive affirmation allows us to do things we didn’t believe were possible.  Mantras can also help us do something as simple as clearing the mind.   We as humans are great multi-taskers.  We are constantly thinking of multiple things at once:  our job, how we don’t want to be at our job, what to make for dinner, worrying about a family member, ect, ect, ect.  You name it, at one time our brains could be juggling 10+ different topics!


Yoga Mantras

If you have ever taken a yoga class, you have probably heard your instructor say in some shape or form, “Quiet your mind.”  “Let go of your thoughts and be present with your body.”  It seems like it would be so easy to clear your mind, but we fight it so much.  A good way to let go of your thoughts is to have a yoga mantra and to exercise some power yoga at Hot Yoga of East Nashville.

I would keep it short and simple.  A Mantra *Lisa Johnson recommended to me that I love to use is, “I am.”  I am, can mean so many things.

  • I am present.
  • I am love.
  • I am grateful.
  • I am happy.
  • I am strong.
  • I am a fighter.
By itself, it means whatever you are in the moment, helping you be strong and present in your practice!
Another great simple yoga mantra is to repeat the focus of each asana (posture) you are in.
For example:
  • Half moon : “Push, Push, Push!”
  • Awkward pose : “Spine Straight Spine Straight Spine Straight.
  • Standing Bow : “Kick, Kick, Kick”
Whatever you feel you should focus on, say that word over and over throughout the posture.  You will be amazed at how quickly your postures improve and how clear your mind will be using a mantra!  It is when you clear your mind that the real yoga starts!


*Lisa Johnson has been a Bikram Yoga Instructor since Fall 2002.  She found Bikram yoga when her Chiropractor referred her to a class to help her recover from extreme whiplash caused from a car crash.  Lisa opened 2 yoga studios in Las Vegas and now spends most of her time teaching at Bikram Headquarters and serving as a judge for the National and International Bishnu Ghosh Yoga Championships.  “Lisa believes that helping others change their lives, and learning to create peace within, will create a domino effect so that ultimately through yoga we can attain world peace.”-Lisa Johnson Bio



Focus.  Focus is a very small word with a large implication.  The meaning isn’t really that heavy.  Focus (cognitive process), as defined by wikipedia means, “Attention…The cognitive process of selectively concentrating on one aspect of the environment while ignoring other things.”  The action of focus though is much harder than the definition would make it out to be.  When was the last time you were able to focus on one task for 15 minutes?–Not do a task for 15 minutes, but give that task your FULL attention.  This is one reason I love Bikram yoga.  It trains you to focus.  Yogis talk about the art of being present.  That is really just a poetic way of saying, “focus.”  Focus on you, your breathe, your body for 90 minutes!  That is much longer than 15 minutes.  You might be saying, “I don’t have time to “focus” on just me for 90 minutes, I have a kid’s soccer game, a proposal to write, a presentation to plan, dry-cleaning to pick up, and a dog to feed.”  My question to you, is what if you made time?


Al Ries, author of “The 22-Immutable Laws of Branding“ writes, “focus” is a long-term concept that can eliminate the short term issues, but you need to start for it to work.  The result of focus is the more you focus the stronger your brand becomes, because you can stand for something.”  Seth Godin another entrepreneur/writer often writes about the need to focus on great element rather than spreading your energy.  In our ADD world of smart phones and constant stimuli we can not accomplish half our tasks efficiently (or effectively for that matter).


We as a society need to learn to focus.  We need to learn that it is ok to let go of the constant connection to email, texts, and facebook.  The problem is we aren’t disciplined enough as a culture to let go of these things on our own.  Yoga creates an environment where you have no choice but to let go.   There is nothing else there on that mat, but your body, your thoughts, and your water.  Maybe you don’t have the time to go every day, but you can make the commitment to try to go once a week.  I bet you will find, the to-do list gets easier to tackle when you have practiced having a little more focus.