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Lara and Jimmy met up recently on Facebook Live to answer a few questions about the upcoming 26 & 2 Hot Yoga Teacher Training.
Below are highlights. Some of the questions and answers have been shortened while staying true to the spirit and facts of the conversation. You can watch the whole video on our Facebook page HERE.
Intro: [Lara first studied with Jimmy Barkan in 2008 at his Fort Lauderdale Studio. In 2014, Lara led a group SHY to attend his Barkan Method Level 2/3 Teacher Training. Many of our students met him last fall during the workshops he taught here at SHY.]
LA: Besides knowing us at Steamtown Yoga, how do you know Scranton and what is your personal connection to this area?
JB: I grew up in Pittsburgh and went to summer camp near Scranton, every summer from the age of 11 to 17. I attended a competitive sports camp [near Clarks Summit].
LA: 11 - 17 are the formative years! What sport did you play?
JB: It included every different kind of sport, like an Olympic sports training camp.
LA: Lots of yoga is out there and it’s easy for someone to find a studio and a training and have a good experience with yoga and experience its life changing qualities.
What makes our training special and how does it fit into the greater Hot Yoga world?
JB: I began training Bikram Yoga teachers in the late 1980’s in Los Angeles at Bikram’s headquarters. At that time, I was the only person (besides Bikram) allowed to certify Bikram teachers until 1994 when Bikram started his first condensed teacher training program. [Lara attended this training in 2003] I stayed in LA working with Bikram until 2002 when I relocated to FL and developed the Barkan Method of Hot Yoga.
I never stopped teaching and focusing on the 26 and 2 postures of the Bikram series and they are at the core of the Barkan Method. Now with Bikram ostracized from the yoga community, there’s a demand here in the United States for qualified Hot Yoga teachers in our great lineage.
I was Bikram’s most senior teacher for about 18 years.
LA: At SHY, we believe in connecting to a yoga lineage and connecting to a source. I know we do a whole lesson in the history of yoga in the training, but can you tell us a little bit about the history of the Hot Yoga lineage?
JB: Our connection dates back to Mahavatar Babaji who brought these ancient teachings from the dark ages into the light in the 1700’s. From this lineage is Paramhansa Yogananda, considered one of the greatest yogis of our time. Yagananda’s younger brother was Bishnu Gosh, who was Bikram’s teacher.
LA: Who is this training for? I know some of our students are mulling it over and are a little worried that they may not even be able to get through the day. They’re concerned they are not advanced enough for the training.
JB: We require at least 6 months of practice before entering the training, although we can be flexible on this. You don’t have to be an advanced practitioner: I’d say 70% of the teachers out there right now don’t have an advanced practice. You just need an understanding of where that advanced practice is.
You don’t even need to want to teach. Some people just want to immerse themselves in the experience and find the personal growth.
The teacher training is for anyone who wants to delve into the history of yoga, the subject of yoga, and explore it within their own practice and improve their own communication skills and find their own voice.
One of the things I think I do best is help people find their own authentic voice. I help you find a pattern of speech that students can can listen to, and understand, and makes sense, and that helps you everywhere you’re public speaking.
LA: Yes, public speaking! I remember the comedian Jerry Seinfeld did a routine years ago on a poll that revealed people’s number one fear is public speaking and their number two fear is death. He said that means most people would prefer being in the casket to being the one giving the eulogy!
JB: Funny you bring up Jerry Seinfeld because I taught Jerry Seinfeld yoga. He was a big Bikram Yoga fan and when he came to Florida, he came into my studio looking for Bikram Yoga.
LA: I like to think you helped Jerry Seinfeld find his authentic voice! Last question: tell us about your singing career!
JB: I studied theatre at NYU. I first went to LA to pursue singing and then I met Bikram and my life turned upside down. Now I’ve come back to the singing and perform all over in all size venues.
It’s really the same as teaching yoga:
It’s all about communication and connection.
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But, why HOT yoga?
The answer is different for everyone.
Once you experience a class or two, no more words are needed.
On the outside, hot yoga may seem like an extreme sport. Yes, it can be challenging, but the rewards are far greater than the initial push it takes to step on the mat for your first class.
To Maintain the Engine
Everybody needs a maintenance plan. A steady routine that keeps you moving forward and feeling human. When we stop moving and become inert, that's when we start to break down. The beauty of a steady yoga practice, especially a heated one - is that it keeps you supple, allows you to maintain access to a healthy range of motion and increases your metabolism. If you have extra weight to lose, it will certainly help you drop a few. If you struggle with chronic stress or anxiety, hot yoga can help you to ease your symptoms, de-stress and feel more comfortable in your own skin.
But how does hot yoga help?
Hot yoga works on several levels. The first is obvious, it creates a challenging environment for your nervous system. The added "effort" it requires to thrive in the room, makes you body and mind adapt with more efficiency. Over time, the heat feels normal and you are firing on all cylinders. You become stronger and more resilient to external stressors. This translates to feeling more at peace, focused and productive.
Hot yoga stimulates blood circulation to your muscles, joints, organs, glands, and every system of the body—even the nervous system. We follow a therapeutic yoga lineage designed to heal the body bringing you into greater balance. During class, oxygen-rich blood sequentially reaches every organ, including any areas of injury (old and new), and any damaged cells. This class is designed to restore and strengthen, bringing your body and mind into balance and optimal health. With a consistant practice, the better you'll feel and the healthier you'll become.
The impossible, becomes possible: a note from Lara
I started my hot yoga practice because I needed to get moving again. I thought I began for physical reasons, but the deeper reasons I discovered are what keeps me on my mat year after year.
Through my yoga practice, I first discovered new ways to move my body. Strength and flexibility that seemed totally out of reach for me at my first class soon opened up for me. I still tell my students: "Here in yoga practice, impossible things happen and the impossible becomes possible."
I discovered that if I could make such great strides physically with my strength and flexibility and my focus and peace of mind, maybe the obstacles I faced outside of the practice room could be overcome as well. I approached my whole life with more energy, confidence and love. My whole life expanded with new possibilities.