yoga for mental health

5 Ways Bikram Yoga Can Change Your World

By Nicole Deacon

Our new tag line at Bikram Yoga AZ is CHANGE YOUR WORLD! We believe in Gandhi's message… "be the change you wish to see." When you make changes in your life there is a ripple effect that goes out. You feel better, you treat people better, they feel better, they treat people better and on and on this cycle goes. There are so many things that go on that we have no control over, but we do have control over ourselves. As we change… the whole world can start to change.

Here are 5 ways that doing this yoga can CHANGE YOUR WORLD:

5. Meet Great People... You may even fall in love! -- There is an amazing community of people who do this yoga. By practicing and being around the studios you meet a variety of different people who are absolutely inspiring and incredible to be around. You meet people from all over the world and from all walks of life. We've had more than a couple of weddings happen from yoga studio romance. Maybe you are next. :)


4. Do the things you love!  -- Whether you love sewing, rugby, running or tennis... this yoga allows you to do the things that can be hard on your body.  We recently had someone with such bad arthritis they couldn't do the thing they loved, sewing... but after just one class could do the thing they loved again!  We have many athletes from all sports that can continue doing the thing they love even though it is hard on their body.  What do you love to do?  This yoga can keep you doing it even in to old old age!

3. Live Forever -- okay, okay not forever. But when you practice yoga, you keep your body young. You heal old injuries, prevent diseases, gain strength, become more flexible, have less stress, and overall just feel better. Click here for the article on how this yoga is the fountain of youth!

2. Belief in your self also known as Self-Confidence -- you lose weight, tone up and start to feel great! But even beyond that… this yoga is challenging and the more you do it, the more you feel like you can do anything. By overcoming the challenges in the hot room you realize how much you can do on and off the mat.

1. Peace -- When you practice yoga you start to develop a relationship with your self. You develop the power to connect within and external circumstances don't bother you as much. You can be in any situation, around any person, and nothing can steal your peace away from you. How can we have a more peaceful world? It starts with us. We start with peace in our own heart and in our soul.

Has Bikram Yoga changed your world? Leave a comment and tell us how! We would love to know your story. :)

Student Spotlight - Jody

If you have ever met Jody at the studios then you know, she is an absolute joy to be around and she loves the yoga! Here is her story of how she got to where she is now and how the yoga has helped get her here.


Before I began practicing Bikram Yoga, my life looked very different. I now live in a wondrous world of joy but back then that wasn't the case. I lived in Northern California and was in the middle of going through some very challenging and life changing times. In hindsight, I see these times were all tremendous blessings, but when I was going through them I experienced a taxing toll on my mind, body and soul. I moved to Fresno where a dear friend encouraged me to come with her to a Bikram yoga class. She knew what I was going through and knew it would help. Boy did it ever. Now, I must confess, it took me 2 years to go to my first class after my friend encouraged me. I was afraid of the heat and intimidated that I'd never done yoga. But when I finally went... It was my saving grace. I healed in a very profound way on many levels. I don't think I would have come through what I did, how I did, without my practice. Coincidentally, as I began practicing Bikram I also began studying to receive my M.A. in Spiritual Psychology at the University of Santa Monica. The two together brought me to new levels of awareness that we truly are spiritual beings having a human experience and that our body is a blessing to travel the journey.

Bikram Yoga has connected my mind, body and soul, and created deeply fulfilling change and growth on every level. From my Practice, I am discovering and getting to know myself and my body in ways I never imagined possible. Bikram is not simply a physical sport; it is a gift to bring balance and harmony while offering a great way to stay in shape. My Bikram practice has helped me to lose 53 pounds and bring my body more fully into balance. Even though Bikram Yoga can be challenging and there are times in the room that I am being pushed to my limit, I find NOT doing Bikram to be more of a challenge. In my off times from practicing, even though I was still working out in other ways, I have found my self out of sorts, off and feeling rather miserable. With my commitment to regular practice, I am able to clear my mind and connect with my heart in a way that flows into my everyday life and that brings me such joy.

Bikram yoga has healed my mind body and soul and continues to do so every time I practice. I have so much gratitude for my practice. It has given me back to myself. I have learned so much about who I am. I have become stronger, both physically and mentally. What happens for me at the studio is healing, releasing and growing in ways that impact me in every aspect of my life. From my Bikram practice I have cultivated gentleness, patience, kindness, clarity, devotion and dedication to myself. I have deepened my awareness of the body as a temple and treat my body and myself kindly with thoughts and actions. This is huge for me since I have a past of being REALLY hard on myself. I have awakened to a new way of being and for that I am thankful.

My encouragement to new students is: "You can do it! Give yourself one of the best gifts you ever could and begin your Bikram practice. When it gets challenging, keep coming! It's worth it! You're surrounded by a community of love and support. We're all in this together. "

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us."

Why Your Brain Loves Yoga

By Gabriel Axel for U.S. NewsI began my journey as an aspiring neuroscientist determined to understand the basis of what makes us human. What was our most fundamental essence that allowed us to be, express, and function in all the wondrous ways that we do? I knew the answer had to lie in the brain, the most complex and mysterious organ in the body and the one that held the most promise for unearthing the origin of our unique species. I toured universities in the U.S. and Europe, studying and conducting research looking for answers. I devoured every piece of knowledge I studied, mesmerized by the wonders of the brain.

I was looking for consciousness itself. I realized after some time, however, that consciousness itself was not to be limited to being found in the brain. All human endeavors that have ever reached greatness -- from elite athleticism and creative genius to humble expressions of grace through service -- have touched a deep strand of humanness, lodged within the metaphorical heart. As amazing as the brain was, I knew that consciousness -- this essence for which I was searching -- had to be lived and directly experienced.

I wanted some activity I could incorporate regularly that would help me develop physically, mentally, and emotionally, and also touch this ineffable essence itself. My busy schedule of study and research at the time did not allow for simultaneously doing various workouts and activities to these ends, so I set the intention of finding a single activity that would address these needs together. This was the pivotal moment when I found yoga. Yoga struck a deep chord in me. There were marked increases, both immediate and long-term, in physical strength and flexibility, mental calm and overall peace both inside and outside the actual practice. I was hooked.

Neuroscience has repeatedly demonstrated the capacity of the brain to rewire itself through experience, known as neuroplasticity. In a practical sense this means that every moment of experience creates grooves in the landscape of the brain, which then affects the way we relate to the minds and bodies of ourselves and others, as well as to the environment around us. The good news is that a changeable brain is a hackable brain -- in other words, by understanding some of the rules of brain function, it is possible to learn how to use its capacities more effectively in order to deliberately bring about positive change.

I discovered along the path that this deliberate act is part and parcel of yoga. Yoga is a scientific technology that harnesses the innate capability of the body as a vehicle for transformation. It is a technology, a human art, purposefully crafted to serve as a tool for maximizing the health and potential of the human being. Yoga has been popularized by its physical aspects, which are an integral component of the larger science of yoga. The system as a whole, which includes techniques that address many aspects of the human being, works the brain and nervous system in a synchronized and harmonious manner. The techniques are manifold, but they are based on core principles. These can be unpacked in a digestible manner using exercises that improve fitness and well-being if appropriately applied.

Yoga starts as the process of harnessing the brain's capacities and naturally evolves into the art of living well. As negative habits, patterns, and influences within ourselves and from the outside are progressively dropped in favor of more sustainable ones, yoga can become a way of life -- it becomes not about what we do, but how we do things. The principles of yogic science and brain science mesh together to create a blueprint for transformation. There is tremendous power in combining a technology that has stood the test of thousands of years of human evolution with a rigorous science of the most complex and fascinating organ in the human body.

These fascinating discoveries have moved me to the degree that I have felt compelled to share them. In this post we have focused on why we can and ought to be interested in this subject. In upcoming posts, you can look forward to exploring together principles that dovetail the insights of brain and yogic sciences into sets of techniques tailored for growth and that can be applied to your daily life and fitness routine. Together, we will practice with the brain in mind.

Prescription for a Healthy and Happy Life

By Jarka Kovarova Two years ago, I stepped into a yoga studio for the first time, knowing nothing about Bikram Yoga. The people I saw were sweaty and tired, but smiling. "Try it; you will like it,” one lady said to me. So, I took her advice and I tried it. She was right, I loved it!  I'm happily part of a 5:30 am group which consists of amazingly strong people who inspire me every day. The people I have come to know through yoga along with my beliefs about nutrition and exercise has proven to be a perfect match.

I was born in Prague, Czech Republic, where I lived for half of my life. I always believed in a healthy lifestyle and I am sure that is why I have never missed a day of work in over 20 years due to illness. I believe that proper nutrition is the best medication. As Hippocrates said, “If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, we would have found the safest way to health.” What we eat, together with exercise has a direct influence on our health and general well-being. I participate yoga for a couple of very important benefits that mean a lot to me. I have found that yoga has a positive impact on my physical body, strengthens my muscles, improve balance and posture, increase my flexibility and keep my body in good condition. In addition, yoga has also had a positive influence on my psyche, emotions, and assists with relaxing of my mind. As Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra states, “Yogash chita vritti nirodha,” or “Yoga is the cessation of turning of mind.” My mind becomes still and peaceful. I feel mentally more resilient, stronger, with positive thoughts, and more content feelings.

My favorite posture is the Standing Bow posture. It gives me a chance to learn how to have better balance and calm my breathing.  This posture is a challenge for my determination, which is to never give up. To me, it is more than posture; it is a challenge for my mind.

For me Bikram Yoga is a prescription for healthy and happy life. I love our enthusiastic team of teachers who welcome everybody like they are family. No one ever came to yoga without leaving a better person, more grateful, feeling happier, full of smiles and warm feelings in the heart. Yoga is a friend not only for my body, but also for my mind.

My Life as an Onion

Journey through Bikram Yoga By Karen Carnow

I have spent many years as a Vinyasa yogini, but due to injuries, my practice needed a change.  My friend, Amy, asked me to join her at Bikram, and I did; sporting a very negative attitude.  That particular class did not make me very happy.  The heat was gross, people were wearing bizarre outfits, the poses were boring, I wanted to leave early.  Where was the music, and the flow, and people doing cosmic headstands and arm balances?  What was this? And the worst part, the instructor wanted me to look in the mirror.  She must have been  kidding; for I had not really looked into a mirror in years.  All the yoga I had done previously,  was in a very dark room, preferably with my eyes closed.

But, understanding that I needed yoga in my life, I decided to go again the next day.  I hated that day even more. So hot, so uncomfortable, and no; I am not looking in the mirror.  As that morning wore on, I was amazed at how good I actually felt.  This could be an interesting concept; yoga without pain and competition.   “Fine,” I said to myself agreeing to give Bikram one more chance.

On this third day, an epiphany hit me. I decided  as I “glanced” up, that perhaps the reason I don’t want to look at myself was something very deep and very repressed.  So in final Savasana, I became an “Onion" determined to peel away some of my layers, to find some inner core.

The first layer I needed to attack was my night food binges.  Maybe if I curbed that, I could wake up feeling lighter and less angry. Done.  Layer magically peeled.

The second layer was to change my eating habits, and to replace bad carbohydrates with good ones.  Oh, snickers…how you will be missed.  Layer peeling.

The third layer would be the toughest and would be a work in progress; liking myself  again. Being patient with myself, and knowing that at 56 years old I am doing “pretty darn great.”

I am proud to tell you that I have been doing Bikram almost every day for 8 weeks, and I stopped my abusive food habits. The evolution has been transforming and my onion skins are really starting  to peel away. I am finding self acceptance, and a desire to peel away more layers to find the core with in.

I am amazed that the teachers all guide with a  scripted instruction; and how uniquely different they all are.  Sometimes, I feel like a pretzel, sometimes superman, and sometimes a tin man; it's always different.  Every day. Every instructor.   But, I am finding,  that it is all good.  And that I want more.  And to feel more.  And to peel more.

My goal is to stand in front, wear a cute skimpy outfit, and look in the mirror.  Really look.  And then, I will finally be at the base of my onion.