yoga practice

Student Spotlight: Karen

Karen started going to BYPV in January of 2005. "My daughter Tamara had started doing yoga at BY Paradise Valley in November 2004. She would come home exhausted and tell me how wonderful Bikram Yoga was - it became her mind, body, and spiritual workout. She said it was hot yoga and you really sweat.

When I worked out - running or hiking - I already sweat more than anyone else so I figured why not give Bikram Yoga a try. Also, I did yoga at the gym and really liked the stretching and mediation." She says even though it has been 8 years, she will always remember her first class. That first class seemed to go on FOREVER but when I was done I was hooked; I have been coming ever since.

Karen says there are so many reasons why she loves Bikram Yoga. Here are just a few: It is a "practice" and not a "perfect" - just need to do my best each time, builds strength, core workout, meditation, sweat, improves flexibility (my husband likes this too), all I need to do is show up (not so hard) and set aside everything else that is going on in my life (that can be hard) for 90 minutes. I deserve 90 minutes just for me.

Karen says she loves Bikram Yoga Paradise Valley because it is a beautiful, big studio with the best teachers anywhere! Other things that keep her coming back are:my fellow yogis, support and encouragement from the teachers - I am always learning more about the postures, opportunities to take special classes (like Niki's intensive class), and guest teachers!

Karen says, "this May I will be 63 years old. By my age my mother had osteoporosis. Knowing I have a number of risk factors for osteoporosis, I have taken steps to keep my bones strong. Before I stared BY my bone density tests showed signs of osteopenia (pre-osteoporosis) but after I did yoga for 2 years my bone density tests improved and have stayed at the same level since. Prior to BY I ran 20 plus miles a week and hiked but my bone density was steadily getting worse.

In the past I never thought I could do a challenge - between family and work I had too much going on to consistently do yoga everyday. Then in October 2011 I was part of a "reduction in force" and figured if there was one good thing about not having a job it was more time to do yoga so I started my first challenge, the Olympic Challenge. As it turned out I started a new job the day after the challenge ended. I even did a few doubles (2 classes in one day), another first for me. To keep my practice consistent, I look at my work schedule each week and plan the class I will be taking.

My favorite posture - hands down - it is the half tortoise. The stretch through my shoulders feels so good (my daughter, Danielle, who is a physical therapist tells me shoulder problems are common as you get older), stretch through my back feels great, and improving the blood flow to the brain cannot hurt.

My personal goal - do Bikram Yoga when I am 72, 82, 92 and beyond. My teachers tell me it is doable; I just need to keep coming. This is one of the reasons I always do the 1-year unlimited package. One of my favorite quotes: "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass - it is about dancing in the rain."

Arizona Yogis to Contend for 2013 National Asana Championship

By P.J. Stuart

USA Yoga Federation Judges from Across the Nation Come to Scottsdale for Qualifications

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Jan. 26, 2013) – Strength, balance and flexibility are among the criteria for Arizona’s most dedicated yogis as they vie for national attention at the Arizona Regional USA Yoga Asana Championship this month in Scottsdale. Each participant will perform a total of five compulsory postures and two optional postures to earn their spot at the National USA Yoga Asana championship in New York, happening this March.

Set for January 26, 2013 at the ASU Kerr Cultural Center from three until seven p.m., the regional competition will bring out 20-30 of the state’s top yogis for a grueling, yet graceful series of posture demonstrations before judges from across the nation. This is the 10th annual contest of its kind in the United States.

While yoga championships have been practiced for hundreds of years in India, the concept of yoga as a sport is less familiar in the United States. The USA Yoga Federation, the non-profit organization which governs the championships, encourages competitive yoga as a means of inspiring participants to sharpen their skills and step up their dedication to the practice. The increase in training also fosters an overall healthier and happier life, by improving mental and physical health.

“While preparing for the championships, I found myself focused very deeply on details of my physical practice that previously went unattended,” said Mark Trinitapoli of Bikram Yoga Paradise Valley, who placed at last year’s event and is set to participate once again this year. “This deeper concentration in my physical practice has seeped further and further into my daily yoga practice off the mat.”

Championship participants will be judged according to their category – adult male, adult female, youth male and youth female. The Arizona Regional Asana Championship Event runs entirely on donations and ticket sales. The title sponsors of this year’s event are Roaring Fork and Breastnet. Sponsor booths ranging from yoga wear to artwork will showcase their products and services at the event.

To find out more about the Arizona Regional USA Yoga Asana Championship, visit

To learn about the United States Yoga Federation, visit

Ditching Your ‘Yoga Drama’

By P.J. Stuart

It’s not what you think. But it’s real. And it’s hurting you.

No, this is not Junior High School, and there are no stories after class about who-pushed-whom out of Standing Bow pose. There’s no gossip in the locker room over how poorly someone dressed for class that day; and we’re more than likely to thank the teachers who “picked on us” during class rather than harbor grudges toward them afterwards.

This is a different kind of drama.

The 90 minutes we spend sweating through 26 postures, time after time, can be grueling. Physically as well as mentally, we are pushed to our limits and learn to operate well outside our comfort zone. Some days, the heat and the intensity are so taxing we can hardly bear it. We think we might rather die than persevere.   And yet, in bona fide test of character, we go on.

Here’s where the Yoga Drama kicks in.

For me, on an especially dehydrated or overly-tired kind of day, it usually hits me right around the time of Poorna-Salabhasana (aka Full Locust Pose – “the 747 taking off”).  Substitute whichever posture you prefer, the internal dialogue leading up to Yoga Drama usually goes a little something like this:

Oh no. Not this one. I hate this one. Shouldn’t class be over by now?  Seriously it’s awful today. The room is like 1,000 degrees hotter than usual. I don’t think I can do it. Maybe I should just keep my head on the floor and sit this one out. Ugh. Here goes nothing. Hands up. Legs up. Higher. Higher. Seriously?? Are you #%@& kidding me?? How long are they forcing me to hold this one today. I can’t breathe … this hurts … I’m dying!

And then it happens.  As you release yourself from the posture, it comes out …


The loudest, most deflating sound effect a human can make as they exhale. That’s Yoga Drama.

Maybe sometimes we have the desire to surrender to our own struggles. Or sometimes, we’re just so desperate to let others know we are suffering. Maybe we want the teacher to hear it, as if to say, “Hey! Quit pushing me so hard.”

How it Hurts:

Fair enough.  But Yoga Drama creates a real handicap, not only for you but also for your fellow yogi classmates and the overall energy of the room.

By affirming your inner pain and discomfort in such an extroverted manner, you are giving power to the nasty voices inside your head that say “I can’t.” It pushes you further away from your own strength.  Underlining your discomfort in such a fashion makes it more tangible, adding negative momentum to what is already a punishing battle of the spirit.

Furthermore, once your inner pain is externalized, it moves into the space between you and your neighbors. It serves as an audible reminder to everyone near you of how tough this practice really gets.  Anyone else struggling to keep up may be susceptible to your moans and decide to start commiserating with you.  Suddenly, the whole class is in rough shape.  (Ok - now I’m being dramatic, I know).

“My biggest concern when I hear the gasps is that it signals the student is probably holding their breath,” says BYPV teacher Mark Trinitapoli.

How to Let it Go:

Just as negative emotion is contagious, so is positive emotion.

  1.  Look around you at the amazing will power of those you share the room with. People of all ages and backgrounds are sweating through the yoga with you, enduring their own inner battles of mind over matter. Let them serve as an inspiration to propel you forward with greater strength. Together we thrive.
  2.  Give yourself credit for being in the room and don’t be upset or discouraged.  Fight the good fight. Take rest where you need to.
  3. Remember, the pain and discomforts you experience are temporary, fleeting feelings. Best of all, they can be vanquished with the simple power of your own deep, steady breathing. (As in Bikram Yoga, as in life itself!)

From one “Yoga Drama victim” to another,

Namaste my friends!