Four Ways to Maximize Your Yoga Practice

18 Jul Bikram Yoga-31


Bikram Yoga-31

By: Nicole Deacon

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


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


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


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


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


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

July Student of the Month: Dan Barkosky

14 Jul IMG_3036 (2)
IMG_3036 (1)
Dan Barkosky has been practicing yoga consistently for about a year and can feel so many benefits from his practice that help him not only in the hot room, but benefits that translate to his everyday life.  Dan says that his job can sometimes be stressful and he often feels very rushed from one thing to the next, he seldom gets the chance to take time for himself.  The yoga helps Dan to relax more and focus from within.  It has also improved his flexibility substantially, he says.  Dan played college hockey back in the day and developed bad scar tissue from several knee injuries, he credits Bikram Yoga to breaking down that scar tissue and substantially improving his range of mobility.
When asked why he chose Bikram Yoga, Dan says, “I had tried other yoga classes but really liked the heat and the holds in Bikram Yoga”.  Dan’s wife is a certified yoga instructor teaching traditional yoga and he has often thought about taking classes.  A friend finally invited him a few years back to try Bikram Yoga.  Dan says “I enjoyed the hot room but due to several knee injuries from sports I didn’t feel flexible enough to continue.  Took me a year to try it again then I was hooked.”
Although it is his most challenging posture, Standing Head to Knee Pose is also his favorite because it gives him a great stretch.  If he had any advice for new beginners Dan says, “hang in there, it becomes much easier as your flexibility improves which can happen in a few short weeks.”
Top 5 benefits of Bikram Yoga:
1)      Reduces Stress
2)      Improving your flexibility really helps reduce you everyday pain from tight muscles old injuries etc.
3)      Helps you stay mentally sharp
4)      Improves your overall help by shedding pounds and overall improving your core strength.
5)      Team environment – Great group of people involved from the instructors to the students.  Also, easier to get to class knowing there will be other people doing the same class with you.


27 Jun Celebration Pic

By Linda Scholten June 2016


I recently experienced quite a roller coaster of events and emotions.  I have been a mentor coach for a year-long coaches training program, and we just had their graduation.  What a celebration!  There was transformation, connection, acknowledgment, and enjoyment.  There was also sadness because of an ending and a mixture of hope and fear looking into the future.  Four days later I laid off an employee who had become a dear friend and informed our staff that our business had been sold.  Believe it or not, there was transformation, connection, acknowledgement, and enjoyment.  There was also sadness because of an ending and a mixture of hope and fear looking into the future.


I would never have expected these two diametrically different events to have such striking similarities.   Yet there were.  As it begins, so it ends.  As it ends, so it begins.  This circle of life is full of endings and beginnings.  We get to choose how we experience it.  If you want transformation, celebration and enjoyment, I strongly recommend taking risks, making connections, and serving and acknowledging those you meet along the way.


Without connection, we are a party of one.  If that’s what you want, you can have it.  If connection is what you seek, the fastest way to connect with someone’s soul is through service and acknowledgement.  Both of these are accessed through truly seeing or hearing someone.  Look at that person.  Who do you see?  What do you see?  Think of what would truly serve them (not what you would want).  Serve them.  Acknowledge them.  It is pleasant to get acknowledgement for a job well done, but to truly touch someone, acknowledge them for who they are.  Acknowledge their Being, their Essence.


How many of us are ever truly seen or heard?    There is no greater gift.  There is no cost.  The giver receives as much or more than the receiver.  What do you both get? Transformation, Connection, Acknowledgment and Enjoyment.  Now there’s something to celebrate!


For life, relationship and professional coaching, please contact me, Linda Scholten, at

June Students of the Month

6 Jun Muirheads

Lory & Marcus Muirhead

Lory and Marcus Muirhead have been practicing at Bikram Yoga AZ since 2014! Before yoga… the Muirheads say their life had “less laundry, showers and a non-insulated water bottle.  Life was good before yoga, but now that we practice consistently we miss it if we don’t make it to a class for a couple of days.  It has truly become part of the daily routine.”

Lory began practicing yoga first, in the summer of 2012 while on vacation in Montana, she says that is where her love for Bikram Yoga began! Due to several busy life events, she stopped for a couple years, picking it back up again in September of 2014 and has been practicing ever since! Marcus says that Lory soon encouraged him to try, “telling me that there we all these “ripped” guys in class and I thought to myself why is my wife hanging around a bunch of ripped guys, I better go check this out.” When it was explained to Marcus that the room was 105 degrees, with 40% humidity he was up for the challenge!  Marcus has been active most of his life playing sports while Lory never really grew up implementing exercise into her daily life. Marcus saw Bikram Yoga as a great challenge and Lory says that, “It was exactly what I needed. Intuitively, I knew I had finally found “my thing.” It was hard. It was uncomfortable. It was awkward. It was perfect.”

The yoga has done a lot for the Muirheads since they began their consistent practice. Marcus says “more than anything it has made me calmer and more relaxed mentally.”  Lory attributes her discipline to the yoga as well as a new sense of strength, both physically and mentally. She feels it has had a ripple effect on the entire family stating, “I feel like I have shown my boys that taking care of your body is so important. They LOVE yoga now, and my 8 year old has even said that he wants to be a yoga teacher. I love that this is something we can do for our entire lives and do it together, as a family.” As for their favorite Bikram Yoga postures, Marcus says he loves the stretch he gets in Back Bend, and says that he used to have back pain but noticed an improvement once he started to consistently practice 3-5 times a week. Lory has a love/hate relationship with Triangle Pose!

If they could give new students any advice, Marcus says, “stay present, breathe and relax” while Lory offers, “give it time. Go all in. Commit to YOU. Be kind to yourself.”


Top 5 tips for new yogis

  1. Stay in the room
  2. Don’t compare yourself to anyone.
  3. Plan your day around your yoga, not your yoga around your day. It makes a difference!
  4. Focus on your breath, it will be your key to getting through a posture and to the next level.
  5. Never give up. This too shall pass.  The discomfort is temporary and you will get through it.


1 Jun Nationals Team

By Scott Mullen

Recently I had the opportunity to represent myself, BYAZ and the State of Arizona at the 2016 Yoga Nationals in Jackson Hole, WY. This would not have been possible without the love and support of my wife, Jen, and kids, Victoria and Patrick. Nor would it have been possible without the teaching and coaching of Nicole Deacon and all the teachers and staff at BYAZ. You are the best, I thank you!!

In class, outside too, there is always talk of us being a yoga family. It is 100% true. Our traveling group from the valley included 50,40,30&20somethings, it had 60 degree temperature changes and snow, it included 3 states and featured thousands of feet of breath-taking elevation change (on the road and in the air). Our journey had shining moments on the stage. It had laughs and cheers, applause and tears. We were fortunate to have shared that together and want to share it again! That is family.

This experience for me also would not have been possible without the generosity and support from all of my classmates at BYAZ. June marks 2.5 years since I began practicing yoga and it’s been done almost always at BYAZ. Knowing I am not alone in class suffering through, and once in a while smiling through, postures keeps me motivated to practice. I’m also motivated knowing I need to be front row at 730 classes on the weekend or I need to be there early to claim that one cool spot at 930 classes on Tue/Fri or 530am classes in the summer are the coolest of the day! My yoga experiences in class have also included laughs and cheers, applause and tears. Thank you for sharing with me, I look forward to many more with the BYAZ family.

Lastly, my individual journey to compete was excellent! The opportunity to be under the spotlight, center stage at the Jackson Hole Performing Arts Center performing six yoga postures that I love, and maybe dislike, to do was amazing. My routine and postures were very good but it wasn’t enough to advance to the semi-finals. Prior to competing I took a 90min hot yoga  class in a local studio with 35 other competitors and 3 locals. It was packed and a really great class. It is ok to know your limits and take a break when needed to regroup! After competing I had the  opportunity to watch Vanessa, Mara and Arynn perform their routines onstage. They were awesome!  There was also a little time to experience Jackson Hole. I highly recommend it!!

Thank you!

Scott Mullen


Student of the Month: Susan Good

17 May


I began practicing Bikram yoga almost 5 years ago.  I began at another studio in Phoenix, but after a year, and moving to north Phoenix, I joined Bikram Yoga Paradise Valley.  On the first day of practice at PV (with Terri as the instructor!) I knew I had found my “home”!  I have been practicing there regularly ever since.

I was an avid runner prior to BY.  I never had any serious injuries running, but it was definitely taking a toll on my body.  I decided it was time to “mix it up” and find a better way to exercise mind and body, while gaining better overall strength

BY was recommended to me by a physician who I work with, who also is a runner.  He said that he had found the combination of running and yoga was a great way to heal the body while also building core strength and gaining better mental balance.  I had some lower back pain as well as “lower butt pain” from running- all better now, and I can run again! I was also experiencing a difficult time in my life, and practicing BY helped me to deal with that stress and move forward.  It worked!!! I’ve met new friends who know how important this yoga is.  I also have achieved  more balance in my life, and have learned to keep things in perspective.

It is the best mind/body/spiritual “exercise” I have ever experienced!

My favorite posture is Rabbit.  I love the way it stretches the entire spine from the neck to the coccyx.   I also really like camel, for the same spine stretching.  Plus, I’m pretty good at those 2!

Susan’s advice to new students: Keep going!!  The first several classes are very challenging, and it would be easy to give up after 1 or  2 times of going.   Soon, as the practice becomes incorporated into one’s life, it would be almost impossible to give it up.

“You can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything.   Be happy with the choices you have made and  live life to the fullest.”

Top 5 things I love about BY

1.  The hot , sweaty classes where everybody looks like the same “drowned rat” by the end

2. The amazing instructors, and their humor, wisdom, and encouragement

3.  The  events such as Yoga in the Park andThe Holiday Party

4. The way the classes are all the same, yet each one is different

5.  The way I feel during and after every class!!

Be the Change…

26 Apr

By Linda Scholten April 2016

change world

“Be the change you wish to see in the world”. This saying has been attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, although documentation seems to show that someone, somewhere along the way took something Gandhi said and abbreviated it into this soundbite. Never-the-less, the saying has meaning in the sound bite world of 2016.

Ever since I knew I was going to be writing on this saying, I have been mulling it over in my mind.

The first word that jumps out to me is “BE”. If I wish to see change – I need to be consistent with and congruent with that change. I must live it, embody it. I must BE it. It must be part of my BE-ing. Let’s say I wish to see peace in the world, I must BE peace. As long as there is ‘war’ or conflict in me, or between me and my neighbor (aka anyone in my life or whom I encounter) there is no peace. This includes the driver who cut me off in traffic, the mass murderer I judge, the politician I abhor, the co-worker who irritates me, the lover who betrayed me…. How can I expect 7+ billion people to accomplish what I on my own, have not been able to master? So, as the song says, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” I could argue that it both begins and ends with me. At least my peace does.

So let’s say I master peace in my life. And let’s further assume I didn’t have to isolate myself on a mountain top to accomplish it. I can even maintain the peace. Now what? This takes us to the second word that jumps out of the saying – “CHANGE”. What change do I wish to BE, to see? What change do YOU wish to see? Be? For the change I envision, I am the change-agent. There was already a Mahatma Gandhi, a Martin Luther King, a Rosa Parks, a Mother Theresa.

The position for me to fill, is my own. For this, I am the only one who can be it. I am the only one who can do it. Take action based on my BE-ing. This is arguably the most powerful thing we can do in this world – take action from our BE-ing. What action should I take? What action do I feel called to take? How about you? Are you willing to DO what it takes, from BE-ing, to see your change through? Am I?

The third word that jumps out for me is “WORLD”. This word speaks to tangible results – in the world. It speaks to community – local or global – all the people whose names I mentioned made massive changes in the world and had community committed to change. While it took one to spark the flame, it took many to maintain it. What is your action? Who are your ‘peeps’, your supporters?

Be the change you wish to see in the world. Here’s another way to say this:

Insight + Action = Results

Insight alone won’t make change. Action alone won’t make change. You need both the insight plus the action – the being and the doing. Then you have a chance to change YOUR world and maybe even THE world!


For life and professional coaching, please contact me, Linda Scholten, at


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