FAQ

Please read our FAQ section to find answers to common questions regarding Bikram Yoga. If you do not find your answer here, please email us at: info@bikramyoga.com

About Bikram Yoga

Should I still practice Bikram Yoga...

Other Questions

About Bikram Yoga

1. Why is it important to learn from a Bikram Yoga Certified Instructor?

It takes more than a hot room and a list of postures to make your Bikram Method Yoga practice a safe, rewarding experience. Bikram Method Yoga is a specialized form of yoga, requiring appropriate training and knowledge to teach it effectively.

Bikram Choudhury, the creator of Bikram Yoga, personally trains and certifies his instructors to ensure that his methods and philosophy are preserved and properly taught. To be certified as an instructor in the Bikram Method of Yoga, an instructor must complete an intensive nine-week training session requiring over 500 hours of study. A studio guided by a certified Instructor provides the best possible instruction in the Bikram Method. Certified instructors have a continuing connection to Bikram Choudhury and his training staff, allowing the Certified Studio to draw from all of the resources Bikram's training center has to offer. This includes special seminars, posture clinics, guest instructors, and answers to questions which may arise in a practitioner's Bikram Yoga practice.

Many can claim that they teach "Bikram Yoga", but unless there is a Certified Instructor supervising how and what is taught at that studio, you are not getting the authentic Bikram Yoga experience.

credit--Bonnie Kuykendall

Official Bikram Yoga Studio ClassFinder

2. How does Bikram Yoga work?

By the tourniquet effect: stretching, balancing (using gravity), and creating pressure all at the same time. The blood supply in arteries and veins is being cut off, creating pressure.

When released, a lock gate effect is created, causing blood to rush through veins and arteries, flushing them out. Also, pressure is applied to the heart by its relative position to the rest of the body.

3. What is happening in my body during Bikram Yoga?

Muscles are contracted and stretched at a cellular, biochemical level. Lipids and proteins reorganize optimally in such stretching, allowing for better circulation. Joint mobility and range of motion is increased, and strength is built by the use of gravity. Muscles and joints are balanced.

Blood and calcium are brought to the bones. Working against gravity strengthens the bones. The organs of the immune system within the bones (red marrow) are boosted.

The lymph nodes are massaged, lymph is pumped throughout the body, and white blood cells are distributed throughout the body as the lymphatic system works more efficiently.

There is compression and extension to the thymus, spleen, appendix and intestines; lungs are stretched and flushed out by increased blood circulation. The endocrine glands are encouraged to secrete appropriate hormones, and the communication between hormones and various glands and systems of the body is perfected. Toxins and waste are eliminated through the organs of elimination.

The nerves are stimulated by compression and extension, improving communication within the systems of the body and supplying fresh blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout. The brain is stimulated by improved circulation and by varying blood pressure.

4. I feel nauseous, dizzy during class and very tired after my first class. Is this normal?

It is not unusual to feel nauseous or dizzy during your first class. Practicing yoga in a heated room reveals to us our present condition, and inspires us take much better care of ourselves.
Usually the problem is that we do not drink enough water for daily living, let alone for exercising in a heated room. Nutritionists tell us that we need 64-80 ounces of water a day to help the body function properly.
In the heated yoga room, your body needs adequate fund of water to allow perspiration to release heat from the body as you practice. So we estimate you need another 64-80 ounces (sometime during the day) to allow for your 90 minutes in the room. Once you are drinking enough water your body will tolerate the heat better and you will actually enjoy the heat.
If you feel disoriented or like you need a good nap after your first few classes, this is likely because your body has begun to cleanse itself as a result of the yoga practice. Don't be scared. After the first few classes this sensation will pass. The more you can relax as you give your 110% honest effort during class, the more energized you will feel throughout the class and throughout the rest of your day.

Natasha Lee, one of our readers, also suggested:
"Hello, I am the executive director of a nutrition company. I was reading on your website that some students can feel sick to their stomach and dizzy during the class. The recommendation is to drink water.

This is incomplete. Those are specific symptoms of salt and potassium depletion and can easily be remedied by taking salt and potassium tablets before class.
The centers should have this available. The uncomfortable feelings one experiences in a sauna or heated room can be avoided completely by simply taking these minerals.

Sea salt and potassium, are the least expensive of all minerals and can be obtained anywhere. Nausea, headaches, all of this can be avoided with these 2 minerals."

5. What should I do about it?

Preparation for your first class

  • Since most studios are heated to 105° you need to have a large towel, a washcloth (sometimes two), a yoga mat, and a water bottle for class.
  • Most studios sell mats and water. Some studios rent mats and towels. Call the studio you plan to attend to find out if mats and towels are available.
  • Dress as light as possible. Men wear shorts or bathing suit. Women wear exercise top and shorts or a swimsuit. T-shirts are bulky; tank tops are better.
  • Come on an empty stomach. No food 1 to 3 hours before class. A small quantity of simple, easily digestible food is recommended for the meal prior to class.
  • Drink lots of water for several days before your first class if you're not in the habit of drinking water. Doctors estimate you need at least 2 liters per day for normal body maintenance. Double that for doing Bikram yoga. If you drink large quantities of caffeine drinks or eat mostly processed foods it can affect your body's ability to tolerate the heat, so please cut down on these items in preparation for class.

What to expect after your first class

  • You might feel very tired after class. This is absolutely normal and a good sign that your body is cleansing. Your energy levels should be restored to normal within several classes.
  • You might find yourself feeling extremely energetic and experience difficulty sleeping. Don't worry--this is a good sign that the yoga is truly filling you up with energy. You don't have insomnia. You just have more time to do the things you enjoy.
  • You might feel sore or stiff the day after your first class. Come back to class as soon as possible! Your body is waking up and coming alive and you want to keep the process going!
  • You might feel nauseous, dizzy or have a headache after class. This could be a sign that you are dehydrated. Please drink lots of water before returning to class. Or it could be a sign that you were trying so hard that you weren't breathing normally. Please breathe normally during every posture.
  • You might experience some skin irritation. This too is normal, it means that the skin is releasing toxins. Showering directly after class will wash the toxins away. It will also help normalize the body temperature.
  • You might feel very hungry after class for a while, or you might lose your appetite completely. Both reactions are normal. If you are concerned about your weight, don't worry too much either way. Once you get into a regular practice pattern, your appetite and your weight will normalize. You'll find yourself feeling and looking leaner and younger.

6. How many times a week is it recommended to practice?

In the beginning, do the full class religiously each day for two months until you are performing all but the very difficult poses such as the Standing Bow Pulling and Stretching Pose eighty percent correctly. If you are restricted by any medical condition or have any chronic disease, you should continue daily until your condition is resolved.
Even when your progress is measured in fractions of inches that add excellence to what is already good, rather than in bold strokes, like being able to balance on one leg for ten seconds, you should continue your Yoga practice daily.
When you are performing ninety percent of the postures ninety percent correctly, you should still not feel complacent about doing your Yoga. Doing this Hatha Yoga class every day is like everything else you do in your life that is good for maintaining life. You don't plan to give up doing those things because of the daily benefit you receive.
Practice while following Bikram's Beginning Yoga Class CD or cassette tape is an ideal method to practice the postures, as best as possible without being in an actual Bikram Yoga class.
Some tips: Set aside a special time of the day to create a regular daily practice. Set aside a regular practice area in your home, and if possible, equip it with a mirror and an extra heater or two. Wear clothing that does not restrict your movement. Do not eat within 2-3 hours of practice.
How good is this Yoga habit? Look at someone who has been doing this yoga for over twenty or thirty years. Don't ask their ages. They have become timeless.

The recommended temperature is minimum 105F degrees and about 40% humidity.

The room is kept at this temperature or more for the following:

  • Keeping the body from overheating (contrary to popular misconception)
  • Protecting the muscles to allow for deeper stretching
  • Detoxing the body (open pores to let toxins out)
  • Thinning the blood to clear the circulatory system
  • Increasing heart rate for better cardiovascular workout
  • Improving strength by putting muscle tissue in optimal state for reorganization
  • Reorganize the lipids (fat) in the muscular structure

8. If I can't get to a studio to practice in class, will I get any benefit from practicing at home in a normally heated room?

You must heat the area where you do your yoga. If you can, you should try to heat it to at least 100 degrees F. You should sweat a lot when you do your hatha yoga. If your bathroom is large enough, you can preheat the room with a space heater, and by running the shower with hot water, leave the water in the tub as this will keep the room hot. If you have difficulty heating an area to 100 degrees, then you must wear warm up clothing while you do your yoga. This will keep the heat from escaping the body.
I cannot overstate the importance of doing your hatha yoga in heat. Doing your yoga in a cold environment can bring harm to your body. Remember you are changing the construction of your body as you perform these postures. Suppose you are going to make a sword. You start with a piece of fine steel and the first thing you do is put the steel in the fire and heat it up. When the steel is hot it becomes soft. Then you can hammer it and slowly you make it change shape to the sword you want. This is the natural way. Now if you don't heat it up and start hammering the cold steel nothing is going to happen to the steel but you'll break your hand, the hammer, your arm and all the connecting joints. The same thing happens when you do any exercise, even hatha yoga, in a cold environment. When you do your hatha yoga in the heat, your body is malleable.
If this is completely impossible to arrange, then move more slowly and carefully, and breathe more deeply into the postures.

9. There is not a Bikram Yoga studio in my area. What is the best way to learn the postures at home?

It is recommended one should have a copy of Bikram's book on hand, and begin by reading the book all the way through to get a clear idea of the postures, their benefits, and the proper approach to each posture.
Then begin by teaching yourself one new posture at a time, starting with the first posture, and adding the next one, and so on and so on. This will build your strength and help you to remember the postures in order.
Practice while following Bikram's Beginning Yoga Class CD or cassette tape is an ideal method to practice the postures, as best as possible without being in an actual Bikram Yoga class.
Some tips: Set aside a special time of the day to create a regular daily practice. Set aside a regular practice area in your home, and if possible, equip it with a mirror and an extra heater or two. Wear clothing that does not restrict your movement. Do not eat within 2-3 hours of practice.
If you get discouraged, be patient, keep trying with "bulldog determination" and don't give up! When you see yourself progressing, you will become encouraged, and want to continue practicing all the more.

10. Can you please explain 80-20 breathing and exhalation breathing?

80-20: In this method of breathing, you take in a full breath. Go to the posture and continuously let out 20 percent of the air through your nose with your mouth closed. In postures that require 80-20 breathing, you need oxygen in the lungs to do the posture, so you will be able to maintain proper strength while performing the posture.
Exhalation: In exhalation breathing, you take in a full breath and exhale the breath completely when you achieve the posture. While you are doing the posture you should continue exhaling.
With either breathing technique, you should not strain. In the beginning, your lung capacity will not be large enough for you to sustain yourself with the above breathing methods. To prevent straining your lungs, take another breath as needed and continue with the breathing method. As your lung capacity improves and you improve doing your Yoga postures, you will find that following these breathing methods becomes as natural as doing the Yoga postures themselves.

11. Why are inversions not included in Bikram's series?

Bikram feels it is more important to do the postures outlined in his method first because it safely builds all the strength the body needs to be totally healthy--throughout all the systems. Most beginners do not have the strength to do traditional inverted postures safely.
Some of the benefits of inversions (blood flow to the brain, reduction of blood pressure, compression of the thyroid gland) are provided by separate leg stretching, separate leg forehead to knee, rabbit pose, and the whole series in general.
After several years of steady dedicated practice, your Bikram instructor may invite you to an advanced class in which inverted postures and more are practiced.

12. Is Bikram Yoga aerobic?

The word aerobic literally means "with oxygen" or "in the presence of oxygen, involving or improving oxygen consumption by the body ." Aerobic activity trains the heart, lungs and cardiovascular system to process and deliver oxygen more quickly and efficiently to every part of the body by elevating the heart rate during exercise to its target level. As the heart muscle becomes stronger and more efficient, a larger amount of blood can be pumped with each stroke. Fewer strokes are then required to rapidly transport oxygen to all parts of the body.
You can derive these benefits from practicing Bikram yoga. Use this formula to find your target heart rate.
220 minus your age times 60% and times 90%
For example, a 30-year old would calculate his target zone using the above formula: 220-30=190. 190x.60=114 and 190x.90=171.
This individual would try to keep his heart rate between 114 (low end) and 171 (high end) beats per minute.
You can take your pulse during class and see that due to the nature of the asanas, your heart rate and respiration become elevated to your target level. This can help you determine how intensely to work during class.

13. Does Bikram Yoga help with balancing the emotions?

Bikram Yoga helps balance the emotions in several ways.
Physiologically, regular practice harmonizes the nervous and endocrine systems, two systems which figure heavily in emotional well-being.
In addition, practicing Bikram Yoga cultivates the mental faculties of faith, self-control, concentration, determination, and patience. As we become more aware of our inner life, we notice how events, interactions, and even the atmospheric pressure affect us. When we are aware, we can exercise choice in our response. This helps us balance our emotional life.

Should I still practice Bikram Yoga...

14. When Menstruating?

It is perfectly safe to do Bikram's yoga when menstruating. Inverted postures are normally the postures contraindicated for menstruation. But there are no inverted postures in Bikram yoga.
So in fact, Bikram's yoga is very good for toning the reproductive system as it directly affects the reproductive organs and the endocrine glands--pituitary, pineal and thyroid gland in particular. The women's cycle becomes regular; complaints of irregularity and PMS decrease.

15. When Pregnant?

As soon as you know you are pregnant please seek the advice of your doctor and follow it accordingly.

You can practice Pregnancy Yoga after the 1st Trimester.

After the 1st Trimester and up until you are comfortable exercising, you may practice Pregnancy Yoga.

Pregnancy Yoga can be practiced in a Bikram Yoga Class with moderate heat at your own discretion.

If you are a regular Bikram Yoga Practitioner for more than a year, you can continue your practice with Pregnancy Yoga.

If you are a student (including teachers) and at high risk, follow your doctor's advice.

16. With High Blood Pressure?

Unstable high blood pressure responds so quickly to diligent Yoga practice that doctors sometimes doubt their instruments. (This quick response of the blood pressure is one of the most telling demonstrations of Yoga's ability to regulate and synchronize body systems.) If you are tested about a week after starting Yoga, you may see a slight rise in pressure. Don't be alarmed. By the second week, that pressure will be normal or close to normal and will stay there as long as you maintain your yoga regimen.

Consult your doctor, use common sense, and don't push hard in any of the poses the first three days. The poses in which high blood pressure patients must continue to exercise caution until their blood pressure checks out normally are these: the backward bending portion of Half Moon, the Standing Bow Pulling, Balancing Stick, Cobra, the third part of Locust, Full Locust and the Camel.

Depending on the severity of your condition, the above should be done for a count of no more than five at first, building to ten counts only after two weeks. If you are supple enough to do the Fixed Firm fully the first few days, limit that to five counts as well. Be absolutely sure to rest between each set. It is also essential for heart patients to breathe normally during the postures. As for the Bow Pose, (on the floor) a beginner with high blood pressure must never perform the pose without a qualified teacher present.

It is because these backward bending positions create pressure in the chest, and so on the heart, that high blood pressure patients must use caution. Do not eliminate them though--with the exception of Bow Pose. They are the very friends you need to control your ailment.

17. With Asthma, Emphysema

Without knowing the cause of your asthma, we can tell you that Bikram Yoga will be good for you in several ways. It is done in a warm room which promotes relaxation of the muscles and nerves, and is the type of exercise that you can do with as little or as much intensity as appropriate for your needs.

In other words, you can do each posture with less effort if you're concerned about overexertion triggering an attack, or you can sit down and rest whenever you need to during the class.

It will relax your mind and help let go of tensions, toxins and negativity. It also strengthens your heart and lungs, improving your lung function. You will breathe easier and deeper than you ever have before.

18. Chronic Bronchitis?

Without knowing the cause of your asthma, we can tell you that Bikram Yoga will be good for you in several ways.  It is done in a warm room which promotes relaxation of the muscles and nerves, and is the type of exercise that you can do with as little or as much intensity as appropriate for your needs.

In other words, you can do each posture with less effort if you're concerned about overexertion triggering an attack, or you can sit down and rest whenever you need to during the class.

It will relax your mind and help let go of tensions, toxins and negativity. It also strengthens your heart and lungs, improving your lung function.  You will breathe easier and deeper than you ever have before.

19. With Arthritis?

Is it safe to practice Bikram Yoga with Arthritis?

Hopeless-type maladies? Yoga can help arthritis conditions. That is, it can relieve symptoms. This is not a miracle; it is common sense.

Many people think arthritis occurs because of an overabundance of calcium in the body. But there is really no overabundance. The problem is that the calcium is deposited as a form of calcium phosphate in the joint-tissue, including the spine. At that point, the calcium phosphate deposit begins to build layers in the joint--spiky crystal formations like a cactus--until no room is left for the joint to pivot smoothly in its socket. And these spiny needly irritate the surrounding muscles and nerves, and the agony of arthritis begins.

Rheumatism? It is closely related to arthritis. You have only to do your Yoga and you may be free of rheumatism.

Gout is also a problem that attacks the joints. And again and again in my series of exercises, you find me addressing myself specifically to exercising the joints. If I seem to be reducing some of the oldest, most painful, and perplexing diseases to lack of exercise, you're right. But that is what they often seem to boil down to.

Sadly, the theory seems to be that with advancing "age" one should "slow down," "take it easy," don't exert oneself or do too much exercise. And if you get something like arthritis, take it even easier, don't move, except to open your mouth to swallow the latest pill being offered as a cure. This advice is simply more nails for an earlier coffin.

Exercise, meaning daily Yoga practice, maybe the answer you are seeking for your condition.

20. With Back Problems?

Picture your spine as a series of ball bearings (vertebrae) one on top of the other, each separated from the next by a cushion (a cartilage disc). When the spine is shiny and new, all the ball bearings are smooth and round, moving freely in all directions, and the cushions are strong and thick. Now picture your daily activities. In one position after another, probably ninety-five percent of the time, that spine is leaning forward. What is happening, then, is that each vertebra of your back is compressing its cushion in a front wise direction. This goes on year after year until there is no resiliency left in the front of the cushions, while the two sides and back have grown weak and slack from disuse. In addition, lack of movement has made the bearings rusty and barnacles have developed. The result: backache, stiff neck, headache, and countless other complaints.

The cure: exercise! Make the spine work so that resiliency and strength are restored to each cushion, so that the rust and barnacles are worn off the ball bearings, so that an X ray would show them smooth and round, sitting snugly on their fat, renewed cushions.

Beginning with Half Moon, my series of exercises is designed to make your shocked and shriveled spine work to both sides, to the back, and then to the front. Only by exercising in all directions can your spine be healthy; and only with a healthy spine can you have a healthy nervous system.

If your chronic problem is something such as sciatic pain, lumbago, sore back muscles, whiplash, vertebrae out of line, shoulder trouble, radiating pains down the arms, tension headaches, swayback, spinal curvature, pinched nerves, or "something not quite right that the doctor said I ought to watch," stop watching. Act! Get to work on these exercises. Even those who have had spinal surgery should get to work--with their doctor's okay and a qualified teacher who can lead them in my particular series of exercises.

People with slipped disc are often in such pain that Yoga seems further torture. However, in numerous slipped disc cases, determined Yoga can save the day. So endure the pain. But please note that those with slipped disc should also work under the supervision of a qualified instructor using my exact series of exercises and the safety rules laid down in the body of this book.

As you can see, the best thing is to adopt a Yoga regimen before any of these troubles develop--for if you do, they probably won't develop.

Other Questions

21. Can I still lift weights (running, biking, doing aerobics) once I start Bikram Yoga practice?

Bikram Yoga indeed does promote stretching and elasticity of muscles. It does so much more, though. It also promotes strength and balance, balanced strength, and balanced flexibility.

If you find in your practice for example, that your abdominals need strengthening or your hips or shoulders need stabilizing, you could do weight training that accomplishes those goals. The more your hips and shoulders are stabilized by balanced strength around the joints, the more in alignment your postures and your body will be.

It is also possible to only do Bikram Yoga and accomplish these goals, as the practice itself deepens your awareness of your body's needs.

22. I've been experiencing tremendous pain in my hamstrings since I've started Bikram Yoga. What should I Do?

Bikram says, "It's not what you do, but how you do." So don't let the mind wander during practice. Don't be too aggressive or impatient, either. The only time you will hurt yourself (create a sprain or pull) is if you overuse your strength or do postures mindlessly. Think of alignment.

Bio-mechanically you are very safe if you do postures in alignment.

Muscle imbalance creates a lot of problems. Check to make sure there is good alignment with the left and right side of the quads. Balance with the foot in alignment and the weight in alignment. Remember, the body follows the eyes. Be careful to do the postures correctly, because you are creating an imprint that is hard to undo.

Breath is the only way to affect the involuntary systems. Oxygen deprivation is a major cause of spasms, other muscle pains, and sciatica. Use breath to break through fear of pain-- sigh a relaxed sigh. Deep diaphragmatic breathing is best when dealing with lots of resistance. Send the breath there--breathe through the nose.

And finally, honor your boundaries, but expect them to expand. Have faith!

23. With a proper diet is Bikram Yoga good for weight loss?

A minimum of 10 classes per month is recommended to get the benefits of Bikram Yoga, among which is weight normalization. As a beginner, It takes three classes for your body to understand the proper approach to the posture, and ten classes for your body to begin to work with postures. You will realize optimization of all your body systems.

Digestion and respiration, as well as endocrine, lymphatic and elimination systems will begin to work harmoniously. Your appetite will normalize, and your unhealthy cravings will diminish. All of these results will help to normalize your weight if you devote yourself to regular practice, at least, but preferably more than 3 times per week.

24. I have kidney failure due to adult onset polycystic disease and am on dialysis three times a week. How does Bikram Yoga practice help?

Bikram recommends performing the whole series religiously, working extra hard and long on those poses listed below as being excellent for kidney function and abdominal organs. Your body can and will right itself.

  • Half moon
  • Eagle
  • Standing Bow and Bow
  • Standing separate leg stretching, and standing separate leg stretching forehead to knee
  • Triangle
  • Wind Removing Pose
  • Half Tortoise
  • Camel
  • Rabbit
  • Seated Head to Knee with Stretching Pose
  • Spinal Twist

25. My back hurts after I practice Bikram Yoga. Do you have any suggestions?

Please follow the instructions carefully when you are doing forward bends. For example, in the half moon--padahastasana series, the instructions are to bring your torso on your thighs, chest to the knees, no light space anywhere between the torso and the thighs. If you try to straighten your legs without having this first part accomplished, you can create pain in your lower back. Also keep in mind the instruction "360 degrees stretching." What that means is to make the stretch even throughout the whole back side of the body. (See previous question for more details).

You also want to follow these guidelines in separate leg stretching. Bikram says, "Suck in your stomach and bend your upper body down from your lower spine towards the floor." It is difficult to suck in your stomach unless you exhale, so make sure to exhale as you fold forward. When you suck in your stomach, it supports the whole pelvis to roll forwards with the rest of your spine--this eliminates strain in the lower back.

Working carefully, mindfully, allowing your breath to flow with your movement will help you to gradually deepen your experience of the postures.

26. I have degenerative disc disease (or bulging or herniated discs). Can I still do forward bends?

Generally, doctors recommend not doing forward bends with such conditions. With degenerative disc disease, improper forward bends can cause slippage of the vertebrae. With herniated or bulging discs, in forward bends, the bulge can press onto the spinal nerves creating pain.

Backward bends are recommended for building strength in the spine and spinal muscles, and they have the added advantage of taking the bulge away from the spinal nerves, relieving pain as well as toning the digestive system and strengthening the breathing.

However, it is important to learn to bend forward properly. At the beginning, learn to fold forward safely. Experiment gradually increasing the strength of your pulling on your heels in forward bends. Do not cause pain with this pulling--you must back away from pain. Also, don't do sit ups while in the acute stage of your condition--roll over onto your side to sit up.

Your practice of what you can do will gradually enable you to do more and more of the series as your back strengthens. You will get relief from pain and it is not impossible to regenerate the herniated or bulging discs. Expect to practice regularly for the best results.

27. I have bad knees. I experience knee pain. Can Bikram Yoga help me?

Whether the knees are arthritic or injured, Bikram Yoga will definitely help. Bikram actually healed his knee, which was crushed by a 300 pound weight, with his guru's help doing yoga. You must move the knees to get circulation to them, and Bikram's Yoga helps you do both.

So how should you proceed? Make sure to listen carefully to the alignment instructions in each posture. When you are told to keep your feet parallel in standing postures, please do so. A half inch in either direction away from parallel has its effects all the way up the knees and into the hips.

In standing balancing postures, it is also important to keep the standing foot straight and the standing knee pointing straight ahead. If your knee bows back (hyperextension) you should bring the weight forwards towards the toes so as to engage the quadriceps muscle ("lock the knee") and lift the knee cap upwards. This action brings the leg into one line and brings true strength to the knees.

When you are bending your knees in any of the standing postures, keep the knees pointed over the toes. This will ensure that the knees and hips are strengthened evenly inside and out.

In triangle, when you are told to push your hips forward as you bend your front knee, this will keep your hip in line with your knee in line with your foot. This is also good for even strengthening of hip and knee joints.

In some of the standing postures, it might be very difficult to bend your knee to a 90 degree angle. So do the best you can without creating pain. Better to keep proper alignment bending 1% than to go 100% in poor alignment.

In the floor poses, notably fixed firm, half tortoise and perhaps rabbit, it might be difficult for you to bend your knees enough that the hips sit on the heels. To test your knee flexibility, keep lots of weight in your hands and bend the knees gradually to the point (but not past) of pain. You must be able to relax and breathe in the posture, holding it steady, for anything to happen. As the pain decreases and you start feeling more comfortable, you can gradually take the weight out of your hands and allow more pressure on the knees. Eventually you'll be able to go all the way into the posture, and you won't even remember the time when you couldn't even sit down!

You'll find that little by little your knee pain goes away and soon you'll realize that you can walk, climb up and go down stairs, even run a little without pain!

28. What precautions are necessary when practicing with a hip replacement?

THE PRACTICE OF YOGA: POST OPERATIVE TOTAL HIP REPLACEMENT SURGERY
by Morton D. Hurt

Introduction

When I prepared the following instructions to perform Yoga, I first of all addressed the various poses as I modified for the right hip total hip replacement surgery I had on March 28, 2000. You’ll notice in most cases I only address that part of a pose I had to modify for my surgery. Any pose or part of a pose not mentioned means I was able to perform, perhaps not to the same level prior to my surgery but at least to a level that in my opinion merits no comment. Except where I have specifically commented there is no change to any of the steps in a pose detailed in the instructions I received at Bikram’s College of Yoga in Seattle, Washington.

Common Thread

If there is a thread that runs through all the modified poses is the sense of moving into a pose until "resistance" is felt. It is at this point I feel someone recovering from total hip replacement hip surgery can gain the greatest benefit in his or her recovery process. This is not a point to simply "hang out" it is a point where through proper breathing techniques one is able to move deeper into a pose to eventually reach the same level of the pose that one might have enjoyed prior to surgery.

History

As I previously mentioned I practiced my Yoga from December 12, 1999 (when it was confirmed I had lost some 75% + of the cartilage in my right hip) through March 27, 2000 (the night before my surgery). I credit the continuation of Yoga as a significant factor in the success of the surgery and the speed of my recovery. I was back to work in 6 weeks, walking without the aid of either crutches or a cane at 7 weeks and back to Yoga in 8 weeks post op.

For the most part I have not attempted to include any caveats as part of these instructions. Anyone who has had total hip replacement surgery should have been fully instructed as to what physical movements can or cannot be performed.

The ability of one to return to the practice of Yoga will be affected by a number of factors not to mention at least their level of fitness and level of skill prior to the operation. I was 54 when I had my operation and would say I was in very good shape and was proficient in most of the various poses having practiced for some 3 1/2 years. In the final analysis I knew the "risks" when I returned to the practice of Yoga. What I also knew and firmly believe is that no matter how one modifies the various poses there is benefit in the pose. You simply have to allow your body to be the messenger and use some common sense. If one first thinks through the movements involved with each pose it’s rather simple to determine where one has to be especially careful.

Lastly and most importantly anyone should be told there is life after a total hip replacement surgery. The Chinese say , "a journey of 1000 miles begins with the first step". So to with the practice of Yoga.

Ardha-Chandrasana with Pada-Hastasana

Bend slowly to the right move your left hip to the to the left until you feel resistance. Similarly on the opposite side bend slowly to the left and move your right hip to the right until you feel resistance. Slowly bend arms and body backwards until you feel resistance. In Pada-Hastasana bend forward slowly from the hip joints until you feel resistance. My first objective in Pada-Hastasana was simply to place my hands on the shins of my legs.

 Utkatasana

1. Sit down only as far as one feels resistance. In the beginning I never went further than 45 degrees.

2. In the second part of awkward I simply tried to move as high up on my toes as possible. No attempt was made to sit down.

3. In the third part of awkward I would repeat the first part of the pose. Putting the knees together for at least the first 12 weeks post op should be avoided. Your orthopedic surgeon should have made this point many times.

Garursana

In the Eagle Pose bending the knees about 6 inches is OK. I would transfer my weight to my left foot and slowly lift my right leg as high as comfortable bringing it as high as possible over the left thigh. I would not attempt to wrap the calf and foot totally around like a rope. I would merely hold the calf and foot just to the left side of the left leg with the top of right foot facing the mirrors. I would not attempt to sink down.

Dandayamana-Janushirasana

I would interlace my fingers firmly just below my right knee. I would then pull my right knee toward my chest until I met resistance.

Dandayamana-Dhanurasa

Standing on my right leg in Standing Bow Pulling Pose I only kicked until I met resistance in my right hip. As with all the poses what the student will find is that it is the muscles of the operative hip that will restrict the depth that one is able to achieve in the pose.

Tuladandasana

One of the most challenging of the poses. In the beginning all I would do is to step forward with my right foot in a modified salutation to the sun.

Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Paschimotthanasana

I would bend forward from the lower back until I met resistance. In the beginning I would grasp just behind my legs. Keeping the back straight and the eyes up is very beneficial in this modified pose.

Trikanasa

Keeping my left knee locked I would turn my right foot and leg to the right until I met resistance. I would bend my right knee to the right again until I met resistance. I would then go down slowly until I met resistance in my right thigh. I would not attempt to move m right thigh parallel to the ground. Keeping my arms straight I would bend my torso directly to the right and would go no further into the pose than having my hand approximately 8 to 10 inches above my big toe.

Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Janusirasana

Bending my right knee as much as necessary was essential for me to progress in the Standing Separate Leg Hand to Knee Pose. It was also helpful for my balance to keep my hands facing each other but apart rather than together. I would then bend forward until I met resistance.

Tadasana

Standing on my left foot I would merely raise my right foot as high as possible on the inner thigh on my left leg with my goal being to have my right thigh parallel to the ground.

Padangustana

Did not do prior to my operation.

Pavanamuktasana

I would merely pull my right knee down toward my chest until I met resistance. Similarly I would make the same motion when performing Wind Removing Pose with both legs.

Salabhasana

I would lift my right leg until I met resistance. When raising both legs I would likewise go until I met resistance.

Poorna-Salabhasana and Dhanursana

Both the Full Locust and the Bow Pulling Poses can be performed. Just merely go until resistance is felt.

Supta-Vajrasana

In the beginning I would merely sit Japanese style with the aid of a small wooden bench, holding my hands in prayer and simply use this moment to meditate.

Ardha-Kurmasana

I would use the small wooden bench as an aid in performing the Half Tortoise Pose.

Ustrasana

In the beginning I would do no more than stand up on my knees and bend back slowly until I met resistance.

Sasangasana

Once again I would use the small bench as an aid in performing the Rabbit Pose bending forward until I met resistance.

Janushirasana with Paschimotthanasana

I would bend my extended leg until I could grasp my toes and bring my forehead in contact with my knee then slowly push down with my forehead until resistance was felt.

In the Stretching Pose I would grasp my ankles slowly bending forward at the waste until resistance was met.

Ardha-Matsyendrasana

Again this is one of those poses where crossing my right leg over my left knee had to be avoided for at least the first 12 weeks post op. So to modify this pose I would simply bend my right knee keeping my right foot flat on the floor and position it on the right side of my left knee rather than the left side. Rather than bringing my left arm to the right and over my right knee I would simply keep it on the left side with palm down on the carpet. I would then twist my body to the right until resistance was met.

Kapalbhati in Vajrasana

With the aid of the small wooden bench the Blowing in Firm Pose can easily be performed.

FOLLOW-UP
THE PRACTICE OF YOGA
20 MONTHS POST OPERATIVE - TOTAL HIP REPLACEMENT SURGERY
by Morton D. Hurt  November 16, 2001

It's been some 15 months since I wrote my article of August 10, 2000 entitled The Practice of Yoga Post Operative Total Hip Replacement Surgery. In September of this year I had my one year post operative physical.  My orthopedic surgeon indicated everything looked great.   I continue with my practice at least two times per week at Bikram's Yoga College of India located in the Freemont district of Seattle, Washington.  I am very pleased  to say that I am now able to perform all the poses for the most part without modification.  I still adhere to listening to my body and moving into a pose until "resistance" is met, except now with the strength I've gained over the past 20 months I am even more willing to move deeper into each pose.  For any one who read the article I just want them to know I am still practicing and that there truly is life after a total hip replacement surgery.

FOLLOW-UP: Feb 13, 2002
Will be 2 years post op end of March. Am still practicing 2-3 times per week and feel great.


Namaste
Mort Hurt
EMail: sallyandmort@attbi.com

29. I have been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. My doctor tells me to wear arch supports. Can I wear them when I do Bikram Yoga?

It sounds like you're in pain and concerned about doing the right thing for yourself. Without knowing the details of your condition you should know that we've had students diagnosed with plantar fascias who have gotten relief and healing by practicing Bikram Yoga -- Without shoes; Without supportive arches; All the postures.

However, if your plantar fascia is actually torn, you may need to take the doctor's advice and hold off on some of the postures till at least the ligament knits back together. Of course if there's a bone spur involved, you will definitely want arch support to prevent the nerve pressing on it.

Generally we recommend If it is difficult to do a posture completely, do it partially providing that it does not cause injury. You can usually tell if it is simply the pain of stretching (which is a good pain) or the pain of injury (which is to be avoided). It will be the increased circulation from Bikram yoga practice that will help improve the condition, possibly even washing out the calcification if there is any, but for sure helping to strengthen the ligaments, tendons, bones, and muscles of the feet.

As always, it is your body, so therefore it is your decision whether to wear support or not; whether to do all the postures or not. But certainly attending class and gradually doing more will be to your advantage.

Yoga Glossary of Terms

Abhyanga:
A specialized oil application and massage.
Agni:
Digestive and metabolic fire.
Ama:
Poorly digested food material that accumulates in the body.
Ama Visha:
An especially harmful, disease-promoting type of ama that contains highly reactive toxins.
Amrit kalash:
literally means "container of immortality".
Ananda:
Bliss or joy. In Indian philosophy of the Upanishads, Ananda was an important attribute of the supreme being, Brahman. "Bliss" was used to define Brahman and was also considered to be the highest state of the individual self. Ananda Yoga: Ananda Yoga focuses on gentle postures designed to move the body's energy to different organs and muscles, but primarily to the brain to prepare for meditation.
Antahkarana:
The mind.
Antaratma:
The inner self, residing in the heart.
Ardha Chandrasana:
In Hatha Yoga, the Half-Moon posture.
Ardha Padmasana:
in Hatha Yoga, the Half-Lotus posture.
Arjuna:
The hero of the Indian epic Mahabharata, he was the friend and devotee of Lord Krishna, who revealed the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita to him on the eve of the battle.
Artha:
Worldly wealth, the pursuit of wealth and social status.
Artharya Veda:
"Knowledge of Incantations", the fourth Veda.
Aryans:
The migrant invaders of India from approximately 1500 b.c; people of spiritual values.
Asampranjata:
The highest super-conscious state where the mind is completely stilled and Reality is experienced.
Asana:
Originally an immobile body posture; a seat or sitting posture that was used for meditation and to help facilitate perfect concentration. Hatha yoga developed this practice into a series of asanas or postures.
Ashram:
A spiritual settlement or community, a peaceful retreat. A place to meditate or study the philosophy of Yoga.
Ashramas:
Nearly 2,000 years ago, the dharma texts described the four ashramas (stages of life). It taught that a man should first be a chaste student, then become a married householder who honors his ancestors by begetting sons, then devote himself to spiritual contemplation, and finally, become a homeless wandering ascetic.
Ashtanga:
The eight parts or stages into which the sage Patanjali divided Yoga. He wrote a structural and functional analysis of the techniques, called the "Yoga Sutras" which to this day are still considered to be the single most definitive treatise on the subject.
Ashtanga Yoga:
A Yoga regimen commonly know as "Power Yoga", Ashtanga is a flowing practice in which the postures are linked together and are always done in the exact same sequence.
Asthi:
One of the seven bodily constituents, mainly bone and bone metabolism.
Asthi Soshirya:
Porous or brittle bones; osteoporosis.
Atmajnana:
Knowledge of the Self.
Atman:
The self as Spirit which is eternal and super-conscious; our true nature or identity, or spiritual essence. Sometimes a distinction is made between the atman as the individual self and the Parame-Atman, as the transcendental self
Atmiyata:
The feeling of oneness.
Avadhuta:
An enlightened being who lives in a state beyond body-consciousness.
Avatar:
A divine incarnation of God, usually incarnations of Vishnu and his wife Laksmi. Krishna and Rama are the two principal ones, while Buddha is considered the ninth avatar of Vishnu.
Ayurveda:
A division of the Vedic literature that deals with health, literally "knowledge of the totality of life". Originated in India approximately 3,000 years ago. It is still a favored form of health care in India. Ayurvedic medicine is both preventive and curative. The preventive part emphasizes the need for a strict code of personal and social hygiene. The curative aspect of Ayurvedic medicine involves the use of herbal medicines, Yoga, and diet.
Baba:
A term of affection and respect for a saint or holy man.
Bala:
Strength or immunity.
Bandha:
Binding, a muscular lock.
Bandha Padmasana:
The bound lotus posture.
Basti:
An herbal enema.
Bhagavad-Gîtâ:
meaning "Song of God", The epic poem Bhagavad Gita was spoken by Krishna, part of the 2000-year-old Sanskrit epic Mahabharata, is considered by many to be the most important text in the Hindu religion. The poem takes the form of a dialogue in which the god Krishna advises the human hero Prince Arjuna before a great battle. Krishna also talks about Sankhya and Yoga, two of the six orthodox Hindu schools of thought.
Bhagwan:
One endowed with spiritual power, righteousness, knowledge, and renunciation. A term and title of great honor.
Bhakt:
The path of devotion; an intense love of God. When a man gets it, he loves all, hates none; and becomes satisfied forever.
Bhakti Yoga:
Bhakti Yoga is the practice of devotional disciplines. It is union through devotion.
Bhastra:
Breath control. Hatha Yoga uses eight different kinds of breath control. Bhastra is one of them. Bhranti Darshana: A delusion.
Bhuja:
Arm or shoulder.
Bhujangasana:
The cobra posture.
Bikram Yoga:
A rigorous form of Yoga performed in a room heated to at least 95 degrees. Each posture in the sequence is designed to safely stretch and open the body, in preparation for the next posture.
Bindi:
A mark (usually round and red), worn on the centre of the forehead to show that a woman is married, typically now a days it is worn as makeup.
Bodhi:
Enlightenment; the pursuit of pure truth without any attachment. Prince Gautama, the Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree (actually a fig tree), determined to stay there until he experienced supreme enlightenment.
Bodhisattva:
A being who has developed the aspiration to attain the state of Buddhahood and devotes his life to the task of achieving it for the sake of all sentient beings.
Brahma:
As part of the Hindu Trinity of Vishnu and Shiva, Brahma is the creator of the Universe.
Brahmacharya:
Literally means practicing conduct that leads one to God. Mostly it is used to describe self-restraint, especially over sexual desire, the first stage in the fourfold Hindu life cycle.
Brahmadvara:
The opening where kundalini enters the spine.
Brahmanda Prana:
Cosmic breath.
Brahmin:
A priest or scholar; a member of the most privileged of the four social classes of Hinduism.
Brihaspati:
The Hindu Deity of Wisdom; the chief of all the priests. Buddha: The Awakened One - The honorary title of Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism who lived in the sixth century B.C. The name is also given to those who achieve true enlightenment and as a result, inner freedom.
Buddhi:
Wisdom, the higher mind or intellect.
Chakra:
Literally, the wheel of a wagon; it is a term used to represent the energetic centers of the body. In Hindu Yoga there are seven such centers that store and release life force (prana): the base of the spine, the genitals, the naval, the heart, the middle of the forehead, and the top of the head.
Chela:
A pupil, as student who studies spirituality.
Chiti:
The power of universal Consciousness; the creative aspect of God.
Chaitanya:
The fundamental, all-pervasive, divine Consciousness. When used in reference to a mantra, the capacity to draw one's mind spontaneously into meditative stillness.
Charaka Samhita:
A classical text of Ayurveda.
Dahl:
A small lentil.
Dakshina:
An offering or gift to God or the Guru. Traditionally, when one seeks the teachings or blessings of a saint, one brings an offering; this act of giving invites grace. The practice of giving dakshina is an expression of gratitude and love for what has been received on the spiritual path.
Dalit:
A person outside the class system of Hinduism who was formerly termed as Untouchable.
Dandayamana-Dhanurasana:
Standing bow pulling posture, This posture frims the abdominal wall and upper thighs, and tightens upper arms, hips and buttocks.
Darshama:
A visit to a great person, viewpoint or vision.
Darshana:
Visionary states or insight experienced during or after meditation. Literally "vision" or "sight".
Daya:
Compassion for all creatures.
Deva:
Male deity; literally 'shining one'.
Devi:
Female deity.
Dharma:
A term of many meanings, including "law", "virtue", and "righteousness". In general, dharma means the religious discipline for the four orders of life: maintaining celibacy and studying, family life, a devout and renounced life (but living with the spouse), and total renunciation for God realization.
Dharana:
Concentration. The sixth limb of the Ashtanga or Raja Yoga system.
Dharma Sastra:
Law Books forming part of the scriptures of Hinduism.
Dhatu:
One of seven divisions of the body, it correlates with the modern scientific concept of "tissue".
Dhi:
The mind's ability to learn or acquire knowledge.
Dhriti:
The mind's ability to process and store what it has learned.
Dhyana:
Meditation. The seventh limb of the Ashtanga or Raja Yoga system.
Dirgha Svasam:
A comprehensive breathing technique in yoga.
Doshas:
Three governing principles in nature that guide the functioning of the mind and body.
Dravidians:
The oldest known inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent. Archeological remains of their civilization have been found in the Indus River Valley dating back to 2700 BCE. In some areas, the Dravidians were conquered by the Aryans when they migrated from the West around 1500 BC.
Durga:
One of the wives of Shiva. She is the goddess of retribution and justice. She is both beautiful and fierce, and usually appears with eight arms carrying weapons and riding upon a tiger or a lion.
Eka:
or Ek, meaning One, single.
Eka Pada Hastasana:
The one leg posture.
Eka Pada Kakasana:
The one leg crow posture.
Flow Yoga:
Flow Yoga is about linking the breath with the pose. One moves from pose to pose in a smooth, easy manner, like Meditation in Motion and on a deeper level, as resistance is released and tension is shed, you flow with the present moment.
Gautama:
Siddhartha Gautama abandoned a life of comfort as the son of a. local king and dedicated himself to finding a way to end human suffering. At first he was an extreme ascetic, but eventually found a "middle way" and finally, after meditating intensely under the bodhi tree, he had a vision of the entire cycle of birth and rebirth and with it a path of non-attachment that showed the way out of sorrow and suffering. With perfect enlightenment he became the Buddha.
Ganesha:
An elephant-headed God, son of Shiva who takes away all obstacles and is the God of good fortune.
Ghee:
Clarified butter.
Govinda:
Another name for Krishna, who is also referred to as Gopala.
Granthi:
Blockages of energy within the body. Literally, a "knot". In order to experience self-realization, the knots must be released.
Grihastha:
A person at the second of the four stages of life, the stage of the householder.
Gunam:
Inner beauty.
Gunas:
The three (raja, tamas, sattva) basic qualities of nature that determine the inherent characteristics of all created things. They are: purity, light, harmony and intelligence, activity and passion, and dullness, inertia and ignorance.
Guru:
A personal spiritual teacher or guide who has himself achieved spiritual insight. From at least the time of the Upanisads, India has stressed the importance of the tutorial method in religious instruction. Classically, the pupil lived at the home of his guru and served him with obedience and devotion.
Guru Gita:
A sacred text consisting of mantras that describe the nature of the Guru, and the Guru-disciple relationship.
Gurukul:
Traditional Hindu residential schools of learning; typically the teacher's house or a monastery.
Hanuman:
The monkey king, and one of the heroes of the Ramayana. He was devoted to Lord Rama, for whom he performed many acts of magic and daring.
Hatha:
Force or overcoming will.
Hatha Yoga:
A branch of Yoga, perhaps the most practiced style of Yoga, emphasizing the physical aspects of the spiritual path, with postures and breath control.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika:
The oldest significant manuscript devoted specifically to the exposition of Hatha Yoga, which was not established as a separate form until sometime around 700 - 1000 B.C.
Hinduism:
It is both a civilization and a community of religions; it has no beginning or founder, nor a central authority, hierarchy, or organization. Every attempt to define Hinduism has proved to be unsatisfactory in one way or another. It embraces one god and many gods, it is unique, but acknowledges many paths to one truth.
Hridayam:
That which is especially nourishing and healing for the heart.
Indra:
Vedic God of being or life.
Ishvara:
Ishvara literally means "Lord of the Universe". It is used to refer to a god who is seen as the personalization of the Creator Brahman.
Iyengar Yoga:
This is probably the best known and widely practiced system of Hatha Yoga today. Iyengar is unique for its use of props such as cushions, straps, blankets and blocks to assist in doing the postures.
Jainism:
Non-orthodox form of Vedic/Aryan teaching, emphasizing non-violence.
Japa:
Reciting sacred texts, practiced verbally and mentally.
Jiva:
Life. The individual soul; at one with the universal soul.
Jiva-mukta:
Spiritual liberation. A combination of Jiva "life," and mukta "liberation." meaning to be spiritually liberated, while still living in a mortal body.
Jiva-mukti:
A person who lives in the flesh, but has found spiritual freedom. A Yoga practice that is intellectual and physically rigorous.
Jnana Yoga:
The yoga of wisdom; the path to liberation based on wisdom, through the ability to distinguish between the Real and the unreal, and rejecting what is unreal.
Kama:
Pursuit of desire. Also, the Hindu God of desire.
Kama Sutra:
An epic tale of love and desire infused with all the pageantry, passion and vibrant color of 16th century India. An ancient Sanskrit text giving instruction on the art of lovemaking.
Kapalabhati:
A breathing technique designed to stimulate and energize the body and the brain.
Kapha:
The dosha governing all strength, substance, and structure of the body.
Karma:
One of the central ideas of Hindu philosophy, Karma is literally action of any kind, including ritual acts. But Karma also includes the concept of cause and effect, the spiritual equivalent of Newton's law that every action has an equal an opposite reaction. Karma itself is the action and bad or good karma refers to past actions.
Karma Yoga:
Yoga of service or work.
Kichari:
A nourishing, easily digested porridge made of rice and dahl.
Knjee:
A nourishing, easily digested rice-water drink.
Kirtan:
Mantras that are sung to music. Chanting and singing devotional songs.
Kosa:
Literally, "Covering" or "Sheath". There are five sheaths protecting the soul, the deepest reality or "Jiva", and that soul is not affected by the sheaths.
Krishna:
An incarnation of God Vishnu, the God-man whose teachings can be found in the Bhagavad-Gita and the Bhagavata-Purana.
Kriya:
Religious action designed to purify and cleanse the mind (rites or ceremonies). "Undertaking", "process" or "activity".
Kriya Yoga:
Technique of Yoga.
Kshaya:
Reduction of the body, whether through purification and weight-loss measures, inadequate nutrition, or poor assimilation.
Kundalini:
The body's energy that is found at the base of the spine; symbolized by a coiled female serpent. Kundalini yoga uses breath, sound, and meditation as its major resources - specifically, moving the breath along the spine to stimulate different energy centers.
Laya:
"Dissolution" or "absorption" of the mind.
Laya Yoga:
The goal of Laya Yoga is to quiet the conscious mind and give birth to the ecstatic state of Samadhi. Related to Kundalini Yoga, Laya Yoga stimulates the latent power of Kundalini, making it travel from the spine to the head.
Lassi:
A drink made of organic plain yogurt blended with water, cardamom powder, organic sugar, and rosewater.
Lotus Position:
Padmasana, or Lotus Pose, named so because the position puts the souls of the feet up, reminiscent of a lotus flower. The prime position for meditation, it is the most renowned of all Hatha Yoga postures.
Maha:
meaning Great.
Mahabharata:
One of India's two great ancient epics telling of the great war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas and serving as a repository for many spiritual and moral teachings.
Maharishi:
Maha means great, rishi means 'seer', A Great sage. A Great soul.
Maharishi Amrit Kalash (MAK):
Proprietary name for a traditional herbal formula of MAV for health and longevity.
Maharishi Ayurveda (MAV):
The complete, consciousness-based system of natural medicine from the Vedic civilization of ancient India.
Majja:
One of the seven bodily constituents, mainly the bone marrow and its metabolism.
Malas:
Bodily wastes; includes urine, feces, sweat, and others.
Mamsa:
One of the seven bodily constituents, mainly muscle and its metabolism.
Manas:
The instinctive mind, ruler of motor and sensory organs. The seat of desire, Manas is termed the undisciplined mind. Manas is fraught with contradictions: doubt, faith, lack of faith, shame, desire, fear, steadfastness, lack of steadfastness.
Mandala:
A circular geometric design that represents the cosmos and the spirit's journey. It is a tool in the pilgrimage to enlightenment. One of the most famous mandalas appears on the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France.
Mantra:
"Man" means "mind" or thinking, and "tra" means to "release or free". Mantras are sacred sound vibrations, that asist in freeing the mind and to bring clarity, peace and well being. They can be used in rituals, whispered, or chanted. Hindus believe that god, good health, fortune, and victory over enemies can all be attained by chanting the right mantra.
Mantra Yoga:
The yogic path utilizing mantras as the primary means of liberation.
Mara:
From the root "mri", meaning killing or destroying (cf. English "'murder"). Hence the Evil One, the Destroyer, who tempts men to indulge their passions and is seen as the great enemy of Buddha and of his religion.
Marga:
A path or way often used to indicate a particular spiritual path, as in "bhakti marga" means the "path of devotion".
Maya:
The illusion by which the world is seen as separate from the ultimate Reality.
Meda:
One of the seven bodily constituents, mainly fat and metabolism of fat, carbohydrates, and hormones.
Medhya:
That which is especially nourishing and supportive to the mind and brain.
Meditation:
The emptying of the mind of thoughts, or concentration of the mind on just one thing in order to aid mental or spiritual development, contemplation, or relaxation. Although the practice originated in India, it is common to many religions. Hatha yoga is a form of meditation.
Moksha:
Freedom from birth and death liberation from the bondage of worldly action based on detachment and freedom within oneself. The nearest English equivalent is salvation.
MRT:
Maharishi Rejuvenation Therapy; traditional cleansing and balancing treatments (panchakarma), specifically prescribed for each individual by a medical doctor trained in Maharishi Ayurveda.
Mudra:
Hand movement mainly of the fingers, capable of expressing ideas and emotions. In yoga these sacred hand positions relate to a particular meditation, enhancing the effect of the posture.
Muladhara:
The sanskrit name given for the first chakra located at the base of the spine, near the coccyx. It is a major energy center.
Murti:
A representation of God or deity that has been sanctified by worship. A murti can be symbolic; a recognizable human figure, as in the image of a saint.
Nada:
Inner sounds that may be heard during advanced stages of meditation; nada may take the form of sounds such as bells, the blowing of a conch, and thunder.
Nadi:
A channel in the subtle body through which prana and kundalini flow. The channels loosely correspond to the central, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Nadi also refers to the normal veins and arteries of the physical body.
Namaste:
A tradtional Indian greeting. Two hands pressed together and held near the heart with the head gently bowed. Namaste means "I bow and honor the divine presence in you." Namaskar is another variation of Namaste.
Nirvana:
Characterized by bliss and freedom. Letting go of ego, passion and desire. Liberation.
Niyama:
The second step in Raja Yoga, observance, purity and contentment.
Ojas:
The subtle, health-promoting substance through which consciousness and Nature's intelligence are connected the body.
Om:
also written as 'AUM' according the Yogi's and Rishi's OM (AUM) is considered to be the sound that represents the Ultimate Reality, the primordial vibration, which is prefixed to many mantras. Om shares many of the same meanings with its Semitic counterparts: the Hebrew "Amen" and the Arabic "Amin." All three are used to open or close prayers.
Om Yoga:
A practice that combines Buddhist meditation with an emphasis on alignment and fluidity.
Padma:
Lotus; lotus flower. Another name for the chakras, because sometimes they are visualized as spoked wheels, and at other times as lotus flowers.
Padukhas:
The Guru's sandals, objects of the highest veneration and a figurative term for the Guru's teachings.
Panchakarma:
A series of traditional cleansing and balancing treatments.
Panir:
A type of soft, fresh cheese.
Paramahansa:
Parama meaning 'supreme', hansa - meaing soul. This was the name give to Yogananda by his guru. Who wrote the famous - "Autobiography of a Yogi"
Patanjali:
The author of Yoga Sutras, the foremost scripture on Raja Yoga, The Yoga of meditation and mind control.He lived around the time of Christ and brilliantly summarized and synthesized the yoga practices of his time.
Phalam:
The fruit of Karma, the results, outcome or consequences of our actions.
Pitta:
The dosha governing all digestion, metabolism, and transformation in the body.
Pradakshina:
The act of worshipful walking around a holy temple, shrine or place. Always done clockwise.
Prajapati:
A name for the father of creation and protector of life.
Prana:
Prana is the energy that animates everything and is a fundamental concept of Hatha Yoga. Prana is also breath, the life force sustaining the body.
Pranayama:
Breath control, consisting of conscious inhalation, retention and exhalation. Breathing is the essential element of all yoga.
Prana Vata:
The chief subdivision of vata, it governs the mind, the heart, respiration, and life itself.
Prem:
Prem is Love, the highest form of Love.
Puja:
Hindu Worship; flower offerings.
Raga:
In Indian music, a series of five or more notes upon which a melody is based; a particular melody. Ragas evoke particular moods in the listener and are often performed to resonate with a season or time of day.
Raja:
meaning royal; a king.
Raja Yoga:
Royal Yoga. The Yoga path of meditation. Hatha Yoga is actually a branch of Raja Yoga.
Rajas Ajas:
One of the three Gunas which generates passion and restlessness.
Rakta:
One of the seven bodily constituents, mainly the red blood cells.
Rama:
A very popular hero god who is an avatar of Vishnu, whose story is told in one of the most famous in India - The Ramayana. His wife is Sita.
Ramayana:
For the past two thousand years the Ramayana has been among the most important literary and oral texts of South Asia. Telling the story of the banishment, wandering and eventual return of Prince Rama, this epic poem continues to influence the politics, religion and art of modern India.
Rasa:
One of the seven bodily constituents, mainly the plasma (clear part of the blood).
Rasa Vaha Srotas:
Those channels or blood vessels that carry the plasma throughout the body; includes the coronary arteries in the heart.
Rasayana:
Herbs, foods, or behaviors that support immunity, good health, and long life; that which causes ojas to be produced.
Restorative Yoga:
Designed to relieve stress; this is a very slow and relaxing kind of Yoga.
Rig Veda:
The oldest of the four sections of the Vedas.
Rishi:
Literally "seer"; refers to one who sees the reality of life as described in the Veda and Vedic literature. Roopam: Outer beauty.
Sadhaka Pitta:
A subdivision of pitta dosha that governs how we process our experiences, it coordinates thinking, feeling, and emotions and is responsible for the fulfillment of our desires.
Sadhu:
Pious man; Sannyasin.
Samadhi:
Ecstasy, total absorption, or a thoughtless state of the mind. It is the highest state of being.
Samsara:
The world of change and becoming; the relative world.
Sannyasa:
A person in the fourth ashrama, or stage of life when one lives as a wandering hermit, owning nothing save the clothes one is wearing and a small wooden bowl for food.
Sanskrit:
The classical literary language of India. All the words relating to Yoga come from Sanskrit, the ancient Indo European language of Hinduism, the Vedas and other sacred texts.
Satsanga:
The practice of being in the presence of the wise, in whose company it is easier to learn and practice.
Satya:
also Sat - meaning Truth.
Shakti:
Energy Force, feminine in nature, In Yoga, the muladhara chakra at the base of the spine houses the Shakti, or the feminine part of divine creative expression.
Shanti:
Peace.
Shirodhara:
A treatment of warm oil poured gently on the forehead to balance the mind and nervous system.
Shiva:
The Divine; a deity that has served yogis as an archetypal model throughout the ages. Also, in the Sahasrara chakra at the crown of the head, according to Yogic thinking, lives the yang or masculine aspect of divine creative expression. As the third member of the Hindu Trinity, Shiva is the Destroyer God, joining Brahma and Vishnu.
Shukra:
One of the seven bodily constituents, mainly the ova and their supportive tissue
Siddhi:
Spiritual perfection, being at one with reality. Siddhi often involves paranormal ability.
Sivananda:
A form of Yoga integrating movement, breathing and meditation.
Smriti:
Memory.
Srotas:
Channels or spaces through which flow occurs.
Sthapatya Veda:
the Vedic science of architecture.
Subdosha:
A subdivision of a dosha; each dosha has five subdoshas that carry out different functions in the body.
Subhanga Karanam:
True beauty, in which every aspect of the body is radiantly healthy.
Sushruta Samhita:
A classical text of Ayurveda.
Surya:
the sun, also the Vedic Sun God or god of the enlightened mind.
Surya Namakara:
Sun salutations - a series of Yoga postures honoring the sun.
Sutra:
The Sanskrit word sutra literally means "thread" but it also means an idea expressed as a concise, clear statement. The sutra texts, express a variety of world views. The Yoga Sutra, written by Patanjali is the wellspring of modern yoga practices.
Svadhyaya:
Self-study. The process of inquiring into your own nature, the nature of your beliefs, and the nature of the world's spiritual journey.
Swami:
Title given to a monk; a swami is a monk who has taken vows of renunciation and of service to God and humanity.
Tantra:
Literally a loom or warp. Tantra refers to a group of religious writings written over a period of 300 years, starting in the eighth century. The texts deal mainly with folk magic and rituals. The Tantras are in the form of a dialogue between Shiva and Shatki, and are best known for their blending of sensuality and religious practice.
Tapas:
Sacred heat generated by certain physical or spiritual practices; ritual self-purification.
Trikanasana:
The triangle posture is the only posture that improves every muscle. joint, tendon. and internal organ in the body
Tripti:
A feeling of being deeply nourished and satisfied by your food.
Tuladandasana:
The balancing stick posture that increases the circulation, and strengthens the heart muscle.
Upanishads:
The second great collection of ancient sacred Hindu texts, the Upanishads followed the Vedas and set forth doctrines such as Self-realization, Yoga, meditation, karma and reincarnation, which were kept veiled under the symbols of the older texts.
Ustrasana:
Known as the Camel posture. it stretches the abdominal organs to the maximum firming and slimming the abdomen and waistline, opens the rib cage to give more space to the lungs, produces maximum compression of the neck and spine.
Vanaprastha:
The third ashrama, or stage of life in Classical India.
Varna:
The Hindu term for caste, a social division into which a person is born. There are four major castes in Hindu society: Brahmin, kshatriya, vaishya, and shudra. Each varna can be divided into a number of jatis. Below these four varnas are the untouchables.
Vaidya:
An Ayurvedic physician.
Vastu Vidya:
The precise rules of construction and design of Vedic architecture.
Vata:
The dosha governing all motion and flow in the body.
Vayastyag:
Lasting, ageless beauty.
Veda:
The Veda, meaning "Knowledge," is a collective term for the sacred scriptures of the Hindus. There are four volumes or collections, written from about 1500 to 1000 BC including the Rig, Yajur and Sama Vedas.
Vedanta:
The system of Indian philosophy that forms the basis of most modern forms of Hinduism. The term Vedanta in Sanskrit means the "conclusion". Its source is the Upanishads which are the conclusion of the Veda.
Vishnu:
Vishnu is one of divine trinity in Hinduism, also known as the preserver, Vishnu has had nine incarnations, including Rama and Krishna. Vyana Vata: A subdivision of vata dosha that governs all circulation and is associated with moisture balance and sensation in the skin.
Yama:
Moral precepts that have universal application. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali defined five yamas of moral conduct. They are: nonviolence, truth and honesty; not stealing, moderation and non-possessiveness.
Vinyasa:
The liquid movement from one posture to another.
Yoga:
meaning Union, A broad range of disciplined forms of meditation, which share the goal of freeing the mind from attachment, and distraction and opening the way for an experience of oneness with everything. Recent discovery of 5000 year old medals illustrating classic yoga poses, have confirmed the ancient origins of Yoga. Yoga is also an integral part of Buddhism, Jainism and other offshoots of Hinduism.
Yoga Sutras:
The classical text from the yoga school of Indian philosophy. Written by Patanjali around the time of Christ, it remains a primary source of guidance about yoga.
Yogi:
Literally, one who practices Yoga. In common usage it refers to one who has mastered the practice of yoga, and teaches it to others.
Yogini:
A female Yogi.

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