Running Yogis

Starting Thursday August 27th at 6 p.m. Bikram Yoga Park Slope will be hosting “Running Yogis,” a group of dedicated runners and yogis led by Bikram Yoga Park Slope instructor, Natalie Phelps. We will be meeting at the Lefferts Avenue studio at 6pm and running for about an hour around Prospect Park and the surrounding neighborhoods returning to the studio in time to take the 8pm class. Please come and join us regardless of your pace or running experience.

Why running and yoga?

Yoga is a wonderful activity to increase balance and flexibility for runners and help prevent injuries. While running is a great cardiovascular activity, it can lead to repetitive stress injuries (such as runners knee, IT band syndrome, tight hamstrings) if not properly balanced with strength and flexibility training. The repetitive movements of running contract the muscles over and over again which can result in shortened muscle fibers, imbalances in the musculoskeletal system, and reduced range of motion in related joints. A regular yoga practice can help runners create length in those shortened muscle fibers and increase strength in underused muscle groups that cause musculoskeletal imbalance.  Yoga can also reduce stiffness from post workout lactic acid buildup and improve breathing.

A little about Natalie

Natalie has been practicing at our studios since January 2012 and joined the Bikram Yoga Park Slope team this May after attending the Fall 2014 Teacher Training in Thailand and traveling as a visiting teacher for 6 months. She has taught in studios all over the world but is happy to be back at her home studio in Brooklyn.

Natalie has been an avid long distance runner since her teenage years on the track and cross-country teams. She has run 8 full marathons, at least 16 half marathons and countless shorter individual races and relays. Natalie tried Bikram Yoga for the first time after running her first marathon as a way to stretch and strengthen her muscles after pounding the pavement for 26.2 miles and was instantly hooked. She is currently training for the Detroit marathon and would love to share her running experiences with the yoga community.


Here we go! The next in the line up of our postures we are releasing once a week in the Bikram series. Use these videos to support your practice when you find yourself away from your home studio and remember to send us a shot of you in your favorite pose @bikramyogaparkslope #itsmyhotasana



Here are some benefits to Utkatasana:
  • Relieves sciatica, arthritis, rheumatism and gout in the legs
  • Firms all muscles of the thighs, calves and hips
  • Creates traction in the spine, increases strength in the weight-bearing joints
  • Improves blood circulation in the knee and ankle joints

Student Stories: Brittany Barton

My first Bikram class was October 2010 in St. Louis. A practitioner of other types of yoga for years, I’d avoided the Bikram studio because of a certain ex-boyfriend I was trying to stay away from. Then I met my now husband, Scott, who claimed that Bikram Yoga had changed his life. Of course I had to try it! My first class was great; I took to the heat immediately and began practicing at least three times per week. That was four and a half years ago and now I can’t stay away from the hot room for more than a day until I crave it again.

Yoga has affected my life in so many positive ways and in ways I can’t yet name. I know the regular practice is giving me gifts that will extend into all my future years. In the beginning, my practice was focused on fitness. The Type A in me wanted to “win” every class. A year into it my mind finally relaxed and the meditative benefits took hold, and so at that point the yoga community became a priority. Now I come to the studio to visit with my yoga family.  My husband and I practice together and the studios have become second homes where we feel loved and supported. Yoga is leading me to a more prosperous life.

The energy keeps me coming back. Each class has its own personality and that’s reflected in my practice, the same way my body responds to all environmental factors. I like that it’s a different class every time I walk through the door. I’m  guaranteed a mental and physical stretch every time. And being from the south, I crave the heat and humidity so I find comfort in the hot room.

My advice to new yogis is to keep coming back. Over time you’ll relax into the postures, understand the meditative quality of moving through the heat and learn to apply the lesson of listening to your body outside the yoga room.

David Ashkenazy

Student Story: David Ashkenazy

Why did you start practicing Bikram yoga and how long have you been practicing?

I was running at the time and I started having problems with my knees and feet. I had been hearing about Bikram for over 10 years but I was intimidated. I decided to go to a class when I couldn’t run one day. After my first class, I was hooked. I decided to do a 7-day challenge which turned into a 30-day challenge which turned into a 101-day challenge of nonstop yoga.

I wanted to see how Bikram Yoga would affect my body and mind and some great transformations come out of it.

How has your practice affected your life?

I think from very early on I felt so open and clean, my moods were greatly improved, my body felt strong, and my skin clean and cleansed. I’m a musician/drummer and I also noticed my creativity expanding; I was much less tense and able to access a creative state of mind more quickly. My eating habits began to change naturally. I have always loved to eat and still indulge when I want to, but I began craving much healthier foods and drinking a ton more water. After 5 years of doing Bikram it’s now just a part of my life. If I don’t go at least once a week, I feel off and I crave it.

What keeps you coming back for more?

THE HIGH! Nothing feels as good as Bikram yoga. My mind, body, and spirit feel clean, clear, and cleansed. I do other forms of exercise, but Bikram is the glue that holds it all together.

Do you have any advice for new yogis?

Start off strong. You don’t have to do a crazy challenge, but go as much as you can. Once you get adjusted to the heat and the practice, it becomes much easier to relax into and enjoy the process. It truly is a moving meditation, it just may take a little discipline to get more comfortable. Oh Yeah,  BREATHE!!!!  and sit or lie down if you need. No need to suffer through it right?

Erin & Rafael

Salsa Party: July 10

On July 10th we are bringing the salsa party to our Lefferts yoga studio. Take the 8 p.m. class with Roody to music and bust a move on the yoga dance floor afterwards! BYPS teacher Erin and her husband Rafael will be there to get the party started.

Rafael will be teaching the entire Beginner Class so please come even if you have no experience or a partner. Rafael owns a salsa dance school in his home town of Santiago de Cuba and he is very good at what he does…i.e. he’s totally used to teaching non-cubans how to dance! Read more of Erin’s story below about how she became a yoga teacher and met the love of her life on the dance floor.

What’s your yoga origin story?

I started practicing Bikram Yoga in Jan 1999 in San Francisco at Mary Jarvis’ Studio (which I randomly found in the yellow pages of the phone book.. when we still used phone books). I got into it as a way to stretch after long bike rides while I was training for the California AIDS Ride. I quickly started doing more yoga and less cycling. I expressed to Mary that I wanted to become a teacher. At the time I was working for a mental health clinic in SF and my goal was to incorporate yoga into the counseling and crisis work we were doing. She was very supportive. I went to training in December 2001 (thats where I met Roody). I taught for Mary for a year before moving to Brooklyn and teaching at various studios around NYC. I began teaching for Roody in May of 2003 and I’ve been with him since.

When I moved to New York, initially I was working as a social worker at a nursing facility for people with an AIDS, mental health and substance abuse issues. I also taught Yoga in this facility, while continuing to teach yoga at Roody’s studio. I went to nursing school 7 years ago and became an Oncology nurse. Now I teach various postures and breathing exercises to my patients while coaching them through the cancer treatment. Being a nurse also serves my yoga teaching. My knowledge of anatomy, physiology and disease process fuels my teaching and my drive to assist people in taking care of themselves…to practice preventative medicine.

Because I am in two caring professions, the yoga is vital to my own self-care. I HAVE to do it in order keep my body strong, my back healthy and my mind clear. It is impossible to care for others properly if we do not care for ourselves first. I would have burnt out long ago if not for my own practice.

When and why did you start dancing salsa?

I started dancing Salsa in 2013. I had been to Cuba once before and when I returned to Brooklyn I vowed to learn how to dance. I was fed up standing on the wall watching everyone else have fun. I started taking classes here in NYC and in 2013 I set up a “dance boot camp” trip for myself as a birthday gift. I met my husband on that trip at his salsa school in Santiago de Cuba.

What are the parallels between dance and yoga?

In yoga you have to focus on your self and build a better connection with your own body. In Salsa, you have to focus on your partner and build a connection with them. If you take your focus off your partner, the connection is broken and you can lose your step or balance. Same in yoga… if I break my focus in a balancing posture, I can break my connection and lose my balance. Salsa, like yoga, is a moving meditation that requires you to stay in the present moment. And of course, if you hold your breath in either activity, you will lose your endurance. I have to remind myself to breath while I am dancing just like in yoga.

Finally, both yoga and dance are challenging and it’s easy to get frustrated and give up in the beginning. We have to be patient as we stumble, trip, lose our balance or melt into a puddle on the floor, but step by step we learn, create a new muscle memory and then succeed.

There is no better feeling than accomplishing something we never thought we were capable of doing.