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March Student of the Month: Malar Sathasivam

11 Mar


Malar has been practicing Bikram Yoga for 3 years now and was first told about Bikram Yoga from a friend but was actually motivated to stick with it by her mom! She says, “a friend of mine mentioned the name and I looked it up online and came in for a trial class. My Mom motivated me to stick through the trial period.” Malar eventually enjoyed the yoga and studio so much that she even moved in order to be closer to the studio and her work!

Before Bikram Yoga Malar says she used to be sluggish, achy, and lazy all the time. She says, “my energy levels were low and working out at the gym left me achy and sore.” One of the biggest benefits that Malar finds to doing this yoga is that it helps with her achiness and soreness, stating “the health benefits are innumerable and very subtle I believe. The one thing I did discover that is not touted is the ability to bounce back quicker and better after a bout of illness or injury. Every time I have a injury or ache and I take couple of yoga classes and they go away. I haven’t taken any pain reliever in a long time. Anytime I feel achy n sore I just head to yoga.”

Malar also contributes this yoga to making her a better dancer saying, “I want to keep dancing even after all my friends are done!” On a more serious note, she says it is a personality trait, “I have never in the past stuck to any activity this long. I have learned endurance for life. I will carry the lesson of not giving up everywhere with me.”

When asked what her favorite posture is, Malar says Standing Bow Pose! Over time she has been able to see her leg come up higher and higher above her head in the mirror. “Only yogi’s know this feeling”, she says.

As for her advice for new students, Malar says, “Keep coming in . When I first started and was about to give up after my trial period, Steve made me sign up for 3 months. He said commit to it for 4 months and if you still want to quit after that it should be okay. Well here I am 3 years later.”

Top 5 things I love about our studio

1) The community – such a wonderful people you practice with and awesome teachers

2) Evolution- I love the way the studio has evolved with new classes and still holding onto the roots

3) Fun parties – love meeting and talking with everyone outside the studio

4) Schedule – I’m so grateful for the number of classes you have in a day or during holidays no excuse for missing any

5) Challenge/training – I love the challenge series and training the studio provides for competition, enabling us to reach the next level



December Student of the Month: Katie VanderVelde

20 Dec

img_5996-2Katie has just celebrated her 10-year anniversary of practicing Bikram yoga! She started her practice at a small studio in Lawrence, KS (the only studio in the whole state!) and it has traveled with her to all of the cities she has lived in since – San Francisco, Aspen, Kansas City, and now Phoenix for the past 2 years.

Katie found Bikram Yoga when she was looking for an exercise where she could sweat and get a good workout in. She has since stuck with the practice because “I found something that taught me how to breathe, to cultivate peace of mind, and to let go just enough to unveil my own physical, mental, and spiritual potential”, she says.

Although she does enjoy other types of yoga and exercise classes, she has not found one that has made her feel quite like Bikram Yoga does. “The ‘feeling’ is hard to describe”, she says. She goes on to say, “I enjoy the sweat and the challenge, but I also love the hour and a half of silence. It’s my meditation, exercise, detoxification, and therapy session all rolled into one – and there is no other way to get that all in 90 minutes!”

Katie has just recently given birth to a beautiful baby girl, Anna, on September 26th and practiced Bikram Yoga regularly (at least 3 times a week) throughout her entire pregnancy! She says, “Yoga helped me through all the aches and pains (both musculoskeletal and mental) from hormonal changes and a growing baby.”

Katie recently returned to Bikram yoga after taking 2 months off following the birth of her daughter. She says that her first class back after her birth was more challenging than her first ever Bikram yoga class stating, “my legs shook in every posture and my mind was racing the entire time… but as always, I left feeling better then I did before I got there!”

When asked what advice she would give to a new student, Katie says, “Follow the words. The words are designed for everyone. If you ever fall out of a posture or your mind falls of track, just listen and try to follow the words! You never know what your body is capable of.”

5 Benefits of Bikram Yoga:

5) You learn to love water – you will have a moment when you think “this water is the best tasting water I have ever had in my life!”

4) You don’t get bothered by a little sweat (great benefit when you live in the desert)
3) Your muscles and joints are more mobile… and you can do more of the other things you love like hiking, running, biking, etc.

2) You learn to love yourself… when you spend 90 minutes staring at yourself in a mirror.

1) People want to be around you (after class). You always leave the room a better person, calmer with a clearer mind.

November Student of the month Christine Haryasz

15 Nov


Christine has been practicing Bikram Yoga for three years! She used to be an avid runner but got a stress fracture in her hip and needed something more low impact but that still gave her a good workout, so she decided to try Bikram Yoga. It was the first kind of yoga she had ever done! She says, “I remember calling the studio and Steve answered and offered some kind of 30 day challenge or deal so I signed up. I came as much as I could in those 30 days and by the end I was hooked!” Christine said she ended up loving the classes and has been hooked ever since.

Before her yoga journey began, Christine used to have a lot more stressful and chaotic life. She attributes her newfound sense of calm and centeredness to her consistent Bikram Yoga practice. If she takes time off of yoga, a week or a month, she can feel it! She says, “I not only feel it physically, but I feel it in how I react to situations, how I eat- it affects everything!”

Christine’s favorite posture is Pranayama Breathing because “it gets my mind set and ready for class. It gets me focused. Most of my day is going and going, so it gets me really focused to start my class.”

When asked what Bikram Yoga has done for her, Christine says, “It has completely changed my life! I know people say that and you think- no it didn’t- but it really did! I had never done any form of meditation ever in my life, it changes you a lot.”

Top tips for new yogis:

  1. Listen to the instructors/teachers. Really. They are a fountain of knowledge.
  2. Your mindset is the difference between a good and bad class. But, if that fails, just think about the ice cream you will eat afterwards (this always gets me through a tough class/challenging posture)
  3. This yoga will change all aspects of your life (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual). Be consistent and stick with it!
  4. It will be the best 90 minutes of your day and nothing compares to the feeling you have when you are finished with a class.
  5. Relax!!  It’s just yoga 🙂

September Student of the Month: Lynne Feilbach

23 Sep

lynneLynne has been practicing Bikram Yoga for an incredible 14 years now.  Before Lynn began practicing, she would work out at the gym and take yoga classes that they offered there.  She says, “I have always been a small person but with almost no muscle definition and strength. I never achieved that until I started at Bikram.”  Then came Bikram Yoga! She became interested in Bikram Yoga because her roommate at the time took her along to class one day. She stuck with it because she finds it to be the most rewarding of any yoga that she has tried.  “It is like the Mount Everest of yoga”, she says, “I feel if I am going to take the time to come I should get the biggest rewards.”

And rewards it gives!  Lynne attributes her focus to Bikram Yoga, stating that it gives her a plan instead of just having random workouts. Her mind tends to wander very easily, but it has kept her healthy and strong.  She used to suffer from asthma and sinus infections and with regular practice she no longer suffers from either ailment in the past 10 years!  Lynne has been a hair stylist for many years and she also suffers from having “horribly tight shoulders” due to her job, but Bikram Yoga keeps her functional at work and her back and feet strong.  She says, “I had broken my leg 2 years before and wore a cast for 10 months. I had a lot of atrophy in my foot and ankle from that. My foot use to swell and ache if I tied my shoe to tight or it rained. BY has broken all that scar tissue up over the coarse of maybe the 1st year and it hasn’t bothered me since.”

When asked what the most important pose to her was, Lynne says, “The most important pose to me is half moon. It wasn’t always but just a few years ago during class the teacher said the harder you work in this pose the better and easier class will be. As soon as I heard that I started to actually work harder during that pose, not just get through it and I really excelled after that. It really was true.”

As for new students, Lynne offers, “stay focused and listen to the teacher’s words and don’t rush to the end result without doing the setup properly. Also don’t be afraid of the front row.”

Lastly, Lynne leaves us with this beautiful statement that her mom would always say, “Love Light and Peace”.  She says, “it has always stayed with me and I have it tattooed on my foot. It’s my mantra in life.”

The History of Pilates

11 Aug


What is Pilates?

If you were like me the first time you heard about this Pilates thing (pronounced like “pirates”), the first thing you realized was that you needed to say it correctly!

Pilates (pi-LAH-teez) is a form of body conditioning developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. The method encompasses more than 500 exercises performed on various pieces of equipment that simultaneously stretch and strengthen muscles. Pilates focuses primarily on the ‘Powerhouse,’ or deepest abdominal muscles, and works the rest of the body from this core connection. In essence, Pilates is more than just the core; it’s a total body workout!

Joseph Pilates, born in Germany, developed his system while rehabilitating German nationalists during WWI. Pilates was a sickly child himself who physically conditioned himself to become a skilled boxer, gymnast, circus performer, skier and diver; he also practiced yoga and Zen meditation. While at the camp, he was instructed to exercise his patients, but only if they remained in their beds. Within these guidelines, he was able to construct a series of exercises using pulleys, straps, and springs. Pilates patients rehabilitated faster than other soldiers and he continued to develop his system of original exercises that he later called ‘Contrology.’

In 1925 he left for New York City and opened a gym side by side with several dance studios and rehearsal spaces. ‘Contrology’ – today known simply as Pilates – soon became a staple for dancers, used to strengthen, balance and rehabilitate them.

Joe had several protégé students who after his death at the age of 87 began teaching the works of Pilates. Pilates is quoted as saying “I’m fifty years ahead of my time.” Perhaps he was true as 50 years after his death, Pilates now is more than just a dancer’s supplemental program. Pilates has now entered mainstream fitness and athletics and is used as therapeutic modalities for physical therapists and chiropractors.

Bikram Yoga Az is so excited to be offering Hot Pilates classes to students!  Check out our schedule at our Paradise Valley Studio and at our Old Town Scottsdale Studio for our Hot Pilates classes available and experience firsthand the amazing benefits of Pilates!

Four Ways to Maximize Your Yoga Practice

18 Jul


Bikram Yoga-31

By: Nicole Deacon

Yoga helps us gain strength and flexibility, but more than that it helps us to improve our health, connect to our bodies, to breathe more, to stay calm in stressful situations, to be more patient, to be more kind. Mostly we do yoga for who we get to BE after class. There are many ways that we can improve our yoga practice to get the most out of it. Here are four simple things that you can do:


  • Breathe – The postures in Sanskrit are called Asana. My teachers have defined the word asana as “posture holding still, breathing always normal”. The moment we hold the breath we are no longer practicing yoga. The breath connects us to our body, allows the body to relax, and to safely go deeper in the postures. Conscious breathing connects us to our parasympathetic nervous system so instead of going into fight or flight response we can stay calm and relaxed even in a stressful situation. If we do nothing but learn to breathe it would be time well spent.


  • Take a private Lesson. Group lessons are extremely beneficial. We are able to meditate more deeply and be supported by the amazing group energy. However, private lessons allow you to fine tune your alignment maximizing benefit and preventing injury of each of the postures. How often do you want to do yoga? “Everyday. Just like brushing your teeth.” How often do you want to take a private lesson? At least twice a year, just like going to the dentist.


  • Strengthen your core. The core is a collection of muscles that stabilize and move the spine.   Strong core muscles make it easier to do many physical activities including yoga poses. You can absolutely strengthen your core during yoga class, but a pilates or a strength class can target these muscles increasing your mind body connection to the area making it easier to engage these muscles during yoga poses. To quote Niki Fillmore, “every time I do a pilates class, I feel stronger in my yoga class the next day.”


  • Stay 5 extra minutes in Savasana. We live in a fast paced world and if you can consciously create space to slow down and be still you will maximize the healing benefits of your yoga practice. When the body is stressed out, in fight or flight response, it is pumping the body full of adrenaline and cortisol to survive whatever threat it is dealing with. When the body is in a resting state the body’s natural healing abilities take place. We spend class calming the body and getting into a state of rest and relaxation. If you give your body just a few extra minutes in this state you will leave feeling more peaceful, calm, and focused for your day.


We have recently increased our offerings at BYAZ to support students get the most out of their yoga practice. You can upgrade your membership for just $20 to include all of our strength, pilates, and high intensity interval training classes. We also offer add-ons for kids under 17 for all classes and kids club, four private coaching sessions for nutrition, yoga, or goal coaching, and mat and towel service. Start maximizing your practice. Click Here to Upgrade.

July Student of the Month: Dan Barkosky

14 Jul
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Dan Barkosky has been practicing yoga consistently for about a year and can feel so many benefits from his practice that help him not only in the hot room, but benefits that translate to his everyday life.  Dan says that his job can sometimes be stressful and he often feels very rushed from one thing to the next, he seldom gets the chance to take time for himself.  The yoga helps Dan to relax more and focus from within.  It has also improved his flexibility substantially, he says.  Dan played college hockey back in the day and developed bad scar tissue from several knee injuries, he credits Bikram Yoga to breaking down that scar tissue and substantially improving his range of mobility.
When asked why he chose Bikram Yoga, Dan says, “I had tried other yoga classes but really liked the heat and the holds in Bikram Yoga”.  Dan’s wife is a certified yoga instructor teaching traditional yoga and he has often thought about taking classes.  A friend finally invited him a few years back to try Bikram Yoga.  Dan says “I enjoyed the hot room but due to several knee injuries from sports I didn’t feel flexible enough to continue.  Took me a year to try it again then I was hooked.”
Although it is his most challenging posture, Standing Head to Knee Pose is also his favorite because it gives him a great stretch.  If he had any advice for new beginners Dan says, “hang in there, it becomes much easier as your flexibility improves which can happen in a few short weeks.”
Top 5 benefits of Bikram Yoga:
1)      Reduces Stress
2)      Improving your flexibility really helps reduce you everyday pain from tight muscles old injuries etc.
3)      Helps you stay mentally sharp
4)      Improves your overall help by shedding pounds and overall improving your core strength.
5)      Team environment – Great group of people involved from the instructors to the students.  Also, easier to get to class knowing there will be other people doing the same class with you.
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