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  • Black Lotus Yoga

How breath work & meditation gave me a new outlook on life

Life has many stages, and I was entering a new phase of my life. We have a tendency in yoga to take a self-inventory and boy was I there. I raised 2 wonderful children, ben married for over 28 years and was a successful business owner, so I sat back and said what now? Hell, if I knew. My life is great, and I love my family, yoga practice, studio and teaching, but everyone keeps asking what will you do when you retire? I asked myself that question and the truth is, I want to keep practicing, traveling, and staying healthy. As we get older that is a big one- stay healthy!

About 9 months ago I just felt sad. I lost both my parents before COVID, and no one prepares you for the loss of that and I just felt stagnant. My children, now in their 20s had not returned after Uni, which was great for them, but I really missed them both. Then I went to Thailand running one of my retreats and it was there that I saw a bunch of crazy people sitting in ice. They seemed to be loving it and I became curious how they convinced themselves to do it and of course, why???

Upon my return I sought out information about ice baths and breathwork kept coming up, so I began to research the breath and the cold. I embarked on a FREE course led by a man called Wim Hoff and I was hooked. Being a hater of the cold I did not do the course to get in an ice bath, but to see what all the fuss was about. I am always curious about science and health benefits, so this was a great fit. I went on to do Wim’s 10-week course and I could not believe the results. I just felt better- mind and body. I have so many ailments – including rheumatoid arthritis, a hip replacement, knee surgery, back pain and the breathing just helped everything. The course is very scientific and helps breakdown the many benefits about oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange and the bodies PH balance. It just all made sense. There was a lot of physical challenges in the course, like taking cold showers and holding your hand in a bowl of ice for 1 min. and I challenged myself to participate in them all. Then it was time for the ice bath, could I do it? Using the breathwork and some physical practice before hand I was able to endure more than 3 min. in the ice bath and the challenge made me feel so good that I wanted more.

I am not going to lie, a lot came up during my 10 weeks and I laughed, cried, was angry and then found surrender followed by clarity. Clarity was what I was looking for, a new sense of purpose and empowerment. I took up cycling, I went cold water swimming, and I mean COLD! I truly loved it! I found that I don’t have to retire, I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to but live the life I desire. I continue a daily practice of my breathwork and meditation and really miss it if I skip a day. We have made some decisions and we are continuing to travel and cycle together, and I am so grateful for the peace of mind and newly gained empowerment this breathwork has given to me that I now share a monthly ice bath with others and teach bi-weekly breathwork and meditation classes at my studio. Breathwork is a great way to release fears and anxiety. It helps to build a new foundation for you at ANY age and is a great way to challenge yourself- physically and mentally. Anyone truly looking for change or healing just give it a try; you have nothing to lose.

Trasformational Breathwork Course will be held at Black Lotus Yoga on the weekend of 29 April 2023.

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  • Black Lotus Yoga

What is all the hype about anyway?

Ice baths have been around for quite some time and it has an abundance of benefits. Athletes do cold immersions to soothe tired muscles from strenuous workouts or trainings and many training rooms have had cold tubs and even cryotherapy chambers installed for their athletes.

The growing popularity has sparked the interest of many, and people are starting to do their own or join groups to experience it for themselves.

What can an ice bath do for you? Here are just a handful of benefits:

  • Soothes sore and aching muscles after a hard workout

  • Helps improve your sleep

  • Boosts your mood

  • Reduces swelling and inflammation

  • Cools your body down

  • Helps with stress management

  • Helps boost your immune system

  • Potentially improves performance

  • Can support weight loss

With all these benefits why not give it a try?

How Do I Prepare For an Ice Bath?

Cold plunging is a unique and challenging feat, but before you step into the bath, prepare yourself mentally and physically.

Getting used to cold showers first can help you understand the primary psychological responses you will experience. When your body is already tuned in to the cold water, you'll get better at managing your reactions.

Here are some ideas for getting ready for that first cold plunging:

Start deep breathing techniques. Alternate breathing with each nostril for 1-2 minutes each to help you relax. Do powerful inhales and exhales through your nose for 1-3 minutes then practice holding on the exhale for up to 2 min. Try 3 rounds starting with breathing hold for 1 min. then inhale hold for 15 seconds, then 1.5 min. up to 2min. or longer if you can... When you are ready, hold your breath on exhale to reduce the shock, and step into the tub.

How Long Do I Stay In an Ice Bath?

The first time you attempt an ice bath you may just take a plunge and get out- it is cold and you have to wrap your mind around it. In a workshop we try to encourage you to stay 1 to 3 min. on your first attempt and then you can start for a few minutes and work your tolerance toward the 10-minute mark. If you start shivering excessively or notice your skin changing color, get out of the ice bath.

How Do I Get the Most Out of My Ice Bath Experience?

Dip your whole body in the tub to get the most out of your ice bath experience. It will expose your body, thyroid, and the back of your neck to the cold water.

Cold plunging will regulate your body temperature and elicit a maximum hormonal response.

Consult your doctor before taking your first ice bath at home especially if you are sensitive to cold or have cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes.

More benefits explained:

The Vagus Nerve

Your cold soak is great for the mind. Coldwater therapy has been shown to stimulate the Vagus nerve which is the biggest factor in making you feel a sense of calm and well-being.

Coldwater therapy has been shown to stimulate the Vagus nerve indirectly by way of the parasympathetic nervous system. By introducing the stressor of icy water, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated which in turn leads to stimulation of the Vagus nerve and the release of feel-good hormones. The two methods have the same end goal of stimulation of the Vagus nerve by distinctly different means.

Bathing in Cold Water May Improve Your Sleep

Getting proper sleep is crucial to your everyday functioning whether recovering from a sport, workout, injury or simply recovering from a normal days’ activities. There is evidence that an ice bath aids in getting quality sleep. This again has to do with the manipulation of the parasympathetic nervous system to aid in training the body to go into a relaxed state.

Fat Loss

Losing fat is a goal for many people. Ice baths assist in this process by the activation of something called brown fat. Exposure to a cold stimulus activates brown fat. The function of brown fat is to assist with breaking down glucose and fat molecules to produce heat, thereby raising metabolism. It is the adaptive response of the human body due to exposure to repeated bouts of cold water that will manifest this benefit.

Ice Baths Make Yor Feel Stronger- Body & Mind

It has been shown that an ice bath may aid strength gains. Sitting in icy water will strengthen your mind as well. Overcoming the resistance in your mind to sit in that ice bath for up to 10 minutes will make you feel empowered, and strengthen your resolve to execute other things in life that you may have been hesitant about.

So, check with your Doctor if you have health issues first, then - Let's GO!

Start with the breathing daily and a cold shower for 1 min. working our way up to 2 or 3 min. Then try an ice bath or workshop to prepare you for an unforgettable experince in the cold.

Black Lotus will be holding these very special workshops on the 25 June and 30 July- let's get stronger together!

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  • Black Lotus Yoga

Hot yoga has become a popular exercise to many people across the globe. It offers many of the same benefits as traditional yoga, such as stress reduction, improved strength, and flexibility.But, with the heat turned up, hot yoga has the ability to give your heart, lungs, and muscles an even greater, more intense workout.

So, what is hot yoga?

You may hear the terms “hot yoga” and “Bikram yoga” used interchangeably, but they’re not exactly the same thing.

Bikram yoga, developed by a yogi named Bikram Choudhury, is done in a room heated to 105°F (41°C) with about 40 percent humidity. It consists of 26 poses and two breathing exercises that are done in the same order in every class. A Bikram yoga class usually lasts 90 minutes, but today many studios have adapted the series and offer one hour classes like our beloved Black Lotus Yoga in Mill Hill, London.

Hot yoga, in some studio just means they put the heat on above normal room temperature. The heat can be set to whatever the yoga instructor wants, though it’s typically between 80 and 100°F (27 and 38°C).

What are the benefits of hot yoga?

Regardless of the room temperature, both hot yoga and Bikram yoga aim to provide a physical workout, for the body and the mind- and boy does it work!

A heated environment can make the practice of yoga more challenging, but the benefits are wide and varied. We at BLY offer the best Far Infra-Red technology offered by science today and have the correct amount of humidity and air circulation per cubic meter as decribed in best Hot Yoga practices.

If done correctly and safely, hot yoga can provide the following benefits:

1. Improves flexibility

You may already know that stretching after you warm up your muscles is safer than stretching cold muscles.

By practicing yoga asanas in a room that is already heated you have the benefit of warm muscles and the heat allows you to stretch a little further and achieve a greater range of motion.

A 2013 studyTrusted Source of Bikram yoga found that after 8 weeks, yoga participants had greater flexibility in their low back, shoulders, and hamstrings than the control group.

2. Burns more calories

A 160-pound person can burn around 183 calories an hour with non heated yoga. Turning up the heat can help you burn even more calories.

According to researchers at Colorado State University, the calorie burn can be as high as 460 for men and 330 for women during a 90-minute hot yoga session.

3. Builds bone density

Supporting your weight during a yoga pose helps build bone density. This is especially important as we grow a bit older (though young at heart) as bone density declines as you age.

A 2014 study of women who participated in Bikram yoga over a 5-year period found that premenopausal women had increased bone density in their neck, hips, and lower back. This is awesome news for those of us who are trying to remain healthy and vital to much older ages as our parents.

4. Reduces stress

Many people turn to yoga as a natural way to deal with stress.

A 2018 studyTrusted Source of stressed, physically inactive adults found that a 16-week program of hot yoga significantly reduced the participants’ stress levels. Not to mention is gives you a much brighter prospcetive on life itself.

5. Eases depression

Yoga is well known as a technique to help you relax and improve your mood. According to the American Psychology Association, it may also be a helpful therapy for reducing the symptoms of depression.

Additionally, a 2017 reviewTrusted Source of 23 different studies that focused on yoga as a treatment for depression concluded that yoga is an effective way to reduce depressive symptoms. These facts are so uplifting as we are all in need of a boost now and then. And it really does just make you feel better even in the darkest time.

6. Provides a cardiovascular boost

Striking different yoga poses in high heat can give your heart, lungs, and muscles a more challenging workout than doing the same poses in a lower temperature. The heat increases your heart rate and according to a 2014 study, just one session of hot yoga is enough to get your heart pumping at the same rate as a brisk walk (3.5 miles per hour).

7. Reduces blood glucose levels

While any type of exercise can help burn energy and reduce circulating levels of glucose (sugar) in your bloodstream, hot yoga may be an especially helpful tool for people at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.

8. Nourishes the skin

Sweating, and a lot of it, is one of the main purposes of hot yoga.

The benefits of sweating in a warm environment is that it can improve circulation, bringing oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to skin cells. This, in turn, may help to nourish your skin from the inside.

Safety tips

If you’re in good health, hot yoga is generally safe. But, as with most types of exercise, there are some safety precautions to keep in mind.

Dehydration is a major concern with hot yoga. Drinking water before, during, and after a hot yoga class is essential.

Some pre-existing health conditions may make you more prone to passing out in a hot room. This includes heart disease, diabetes, arterial abnormalities, and a history of fainting.

If you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or nauseous. Just lay down on your mat till you feel able to return to the practice or once you feel cooler you will be allowed to leave the hot room. It is not reccomended to walk out into the cold straight away, due to fainting.

How to get started

If you haven’t done yoga before, you may want to try a regular yoga class first to see if the instructor and studio are a comfortable fit for you. All of our hot yoga classes are designed for beginners and the teachers have the most experience with our Hot Yoga and are hear for your benefit.

Black Lotus Yoga Offers introductory packages for people new to the studio and enables them to try a variety of class, so they can decide which types of yoga are right for them.

If you’re ready to give hot yoga a try, consider these tips to get started:

Wear lightweight, breathable fabrics that can wick away your sweat.

Bring a large towel to place over your yoga mat, which may get a little slippery once you start sweating. You can also bring an extra towel for your face and hands.

Bring a large, insulated water bottle filled with cold water that you can sip throughout your hot yoga session.

The bottom line:

Hot yoga may not be for everyone. But if you enjoy regular yoga, and want to step it up a notch, it may be just what you’re looking for.

Hot yoga offers a wide variety of benefits for both your mind and body. It can help you burn calories, build bone density, boost your cardiovascular fitness, and improve your flexibility. It may also help ease depression and reduce stress.

*As always, you should consult your GP if you have any concerns with your current health conditions.

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