Cobra Pose

IMG_0745Cobra Pose is an excellent posture for strengthening your spine and healing back pain. Make sure you get a good set up with your hands placed directly underneath your shoulders. Keep your legs together and your hips contracted throughout the pose. When you’re going to lift up, make sure your are stretching your eyes forward then up and back as far as possible. Go up keeping your legs together and keep your belly button on the floor. Continue to stretch your eyes back as far as possible and use your spine strength to hold you in the pose. Hold the position for 10-20 counts

Yogi of the Month: Meet Marilyn

MarilynMarilyn Wayland, 55, director and co-owner of Free Agents Marketing (FAM)
First Bikram yoga class, Oct. 14, 2008

In a nutshell, what is your life story?
Marilyn was born the second of four children in Melbourne Beach, Fla., and spent most of her childhood in Melbourne, Cocoa and Daytona Beach. Her mother taught school, and her father was a photographer.
“I tell people that I lived in Florida BD–before Disney, when it was a sleepy, kickback state. We’d go over to the beach, run in the tidal pools. That’s my heartstring; I would go back to that in a hot second.”
Marilyn graduated from Florida State University with a degree in finance. She was a competitive swimmer during her freshman and sophomore years. After college she moved to New York City, where she met her husband, Ken. They have two grown daughters: Hayden, who teaches high school Spanish, and Rebecca, who is a pediatric intensive care nurse.
Marilyn says her parents taught her about physical fitness at a very early age.

“They encouraged eating healthy and enjoying the outdoors, exploring, having adventures, building forts. … My parents were always fitness buffs. … My mom ran around the cul-de-sac 19 times to make a mile, and this was before running was popular.”
Marilyn inherited this passion for fitness, which has guided her professional life as well. Free Agents Marketing focuses on four values: fitness, faith, family and friends. When they moved into a new office space last year, Marilyn says, “We tore down the walls.… We wanted to make this an open, creative, collaborative work space.”
FAM employees not only work together but also work out together. They participated for the third year in the Special Olympics of Virginia Polar Plunge at Virginia Beach. “It was a lot of fun, but it was freezing this year!” Marilyn says. Among other events, the company also participates in the Monument Avenue 10K and has weekly yoga classes at the office.
How did you first learn about Bikram yoga?
“In 2008, my daughter brought me to my first Bikram yoga class, and I was hooked. I love the intensity and focus it demands of me. I also love the inner strength I feel after leaving the studio and throughout the day.” Marilyn is a regular at the 5:45 a.m. class.

What do you do when you’re not doing Bikram yoga?
“I love to be outside–running, biking, swimming, golfing and traveling. I ran a half-marathon with my daughter Hayden in 2009, completed a triathlon with my daughter Rebecca in 2011 and did a two-and-a-half mile dam-to-dam swim on Lake Toxaway in North Carolina with my college roommate last August,” she says, adding, “I would like to become proficient at kayaking.” Marilyn also volunteers for numerous organizations, including George Mason Elementary School, Boaz & Ruth, Special Olympics and FeedMore.
How has Bikram yoga changed your life?
“Everything in life requires focus, and to a large degree it is controlled by breath,” Marilyn says. “My Bikram practice … benefits my whole body–physically and mentally.”

Yogi of the Month–Meet Pontus

pontusPontus Hiort, 42, teacher, ninth-grade ancient world history at St. Catherine’s School, high school tennis coach, St. Catherine’s and St. Christopher’s
First Bikram yoga class: Nov. 19, 2010
“There have been so many days when I have arrived at the studio in the worst mood, and left an hour and a half later feeling like a new person.”

In a nutshell, what is your life story?

“I was born and raised in Sweden in a small town where sports was the main thing to do. I played soccer, competed in cross-country skiing, and played tennis–all from a very young age. Sweden was a great place to grow up. Most people were genuinely interested in helping one another, which made for a fairly harmonious and happy society.

“As I entered high school, I became fairly serious about my tennis, and I started competing a great deal, not just in Sweden, but all over Europe. As a matter of fact, I spent a week in Sochi (site of the Winter Olympics) while it was still part of the Soviet Union. I was part of a small group of Swedish players who received the first invitation to compete behind the Iron Curtain—an incredible experience.

“After high school, I spent a year and a half playing professional tennis. This was one of the best times of my life. I competed in tournaments all over Europe, experiencing new cultures, meeting interesting people. Unfortunately, I was not good enough to make a living as a professional tennis player, so I decided to come to the United States to try my hand at the college experience.”

Pontus spent five years at Murray State University in Kentucky, where he played college tennis and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history and German. From there he entered the doctoral program in history at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

“I stayed in DeKalb for 10 years, working on my PhD and coaching men’s college tennis. After a few years as the assistant coach, I took the job as head coach in 2003.”
DeKalb is also the place where Pontus met the girl of his dreams. “Gretchen and I have now been married for seven and a half years, and those have been the best years of my life. I am so fortunate to have my best friend as my wife, and we have so much fun together. She is the kindest, most hard-working person I know, and I feel so lucky to be married to her. She truly makes me want to be a better person.”
After five years as head tennis coach at NIU, Pontus decided he wanted to coach less and teach more. “I was fortunate enough to land a job at St. Catherine’s School, and in 2008, Gretchen and I made the move to Richmond.”

How did you first learn about Bikram yoga?

“Gretchen had tried Bikram yoga and really liked it, and she told me that I had to try it. I had a pretty serious shoulder injury a few years ago, and despite surgery and much physical therapy, I was never able to get back a great deal of strength and range of motion. I had contemplated trying yoga for a while, and once my wife suggested it, I was excited to see what it could do for me. It took about a year, practicing three to four times a week, but I was able to regain most of my strength and flexibility in my shoulder.”

What do you do when you’re not doing Bikram yoga?

“As part of St Catherine’s partnership with an Episcopal school in Haiti, I have taken students and teachers there on three occasions. These trips have taught me a great deal about humanity, humility and just how interconnected our world truly is. The older I get, the more I realize how incredibly fortunate I am to live the life that I do. Cliche as it may be, these trips have taught me to focus more on the big picture and less on those annoying little details that sometimes get in the way of our happiness.”

How has Bikram yoga changed your life?

“During the past 35 years, I have spent tens of thousands of hours on the tennis court or out on the roads running, so as a result, my body was pretty beat up. Since I began practicing yoga regularly, I am much more flexible, which is great both on the tennis court and in everyday life, and most of my aches and pains have disappeared. If I practice several times a week, my body just feels better and more like I think it should feel.”

Following two recent knee surgeries, Pontus says he’s looking forward to seeing more changes through his yoga practice: “My short-term goal is to be able to get back into Fixed Firm pose. Not sure when that will happen–so far, I am not making much progress.”
But he’s still a believer. For anyone who hasn’t tried Bikram yoga, Pontus says, “You might think yoga is insane, you might think that yoga is not for you, you might think that you are too old, inflexible, or out of shape, but no matter what you think–try it just one time. You will not regret it, and if you make yoga a part of your life, you will be amazed at what it can do for you.”

So Far, Five BYR Representatives at Nationals

Rachel #1First of All, congratulations to Rachel Mzhickteno for her first place win for Kansas last weekend!!! We are so proud!!!

Also, we are thrilled to announce that Purvi Harish, Garland Hume, Lucy Homiller, and April Penland will all be representing BYR and Virginia in San Antonio, TX, from March 14-16th for the National Yoga Asana Championships!!!

For information on this event or to see it live streamed, please visit

$10 Drop In Classes for Valentine’s Day

heartLove is ALWAYS in the air at Bikram Yoga Richmond. On Friday, Feb. 14, show love for yourself or bring a loved one to class. BYR will be offering $10 drop in classes all day long (*limit 1 per person).

Posture of the Month: Savasana

IMG_0739There are three important components to a Hatha Yoga posture: stillness, normal breathing, and rest. Eventually you may achieve this in all the poses, but for now, let’s look closely at Dead Body Pose (Savasana), since it is practiced to frequently in the class.

Dead Body Pose is an interesting posture for many reasons. One is that you are lying in complete stillness and are totally passive, which is different from the rest of the postures in class. Also, dead body pose is done in between each set of each posture for the entire second half of the class. Why? To allow circulation, energy, and nutrition to flow very quickly along the energy canals in the body.

The Tourniquet Effect: When you are in the poses, you are squeezing, compressing, and stretching different muscles, organs, glans, and body parts. When you release (in to Savasana) you are allowing all that blood flow build up you just created to flow very quickly to all the body parts you just manipulated. This building up and release of circulation is known as the tourniquet effect.

Through out the class you are taking little mini Savasanas. If you have time at the end of class, take a long Savasana. Stay 20 minutes if you can. It will restore, re-energize, and re-vitalize all the cells in your body. When you leave yoga class, you will feel “reset” and you get to start from scratch once again!