Much ado about…..


Bikram Yoga… one hot workout!

Posted by gottabkd on Saturday, January 27, 2007

No seriously, I mean heat hot!

A new yoga studio opened up near me offering free classes during it’s grand opening. I had seen the signs for at least three weeks and wondered what Bikram Yoga was all about. I had only done Yoga as a child while visiting a somewhat eccentric aunt for the summer. She thought it would be good for me and after taking a class I thought it was for the old folks of the hippie generation. Never mind I thought, let’s try again. I also wondered what the new studio would look like considering it used to be a drop-in centre slash pool hall slash hangout joint for the under aged crowd of 20 and under.

So I went on the internet where Wikipedia describes it as this:

“Bikram Yoga (Bikram Parmar), also known as Hot Yoga, is a style of yoga developed by Bikram Choudhury and a Los Angeles, California based company[1]. Choudhury claims that his method is the only true hatha yoga practiced in the West, though this is not accepted by many other schools. Bikram yoga is done in a room heated to 105°F (40.5°C) and accompanied by specific dialogue. People of all levels, ages and body types usually practice together with a teacher acting as a guide, taking the class through the ninety-minute series.”

As I walked in, the new environment now had a wall size waterfall to the left, leather bench seating on the right and a large greeting/workspace straight in front of me. Quite an improvement to the dark and dingy pool hall that used to be here. Chris was very welcoming, personally offering to give me a tour. His excitement could hardly be contained. He explained that this was his second studio, feeling confident that this new studio would too be a great success. It was smaller than the first one located at Bayview and Sheppard, in an area know as Willowdale.

The workout room took up half of the total space and when Chris opened the door to it, the heat came pouring out. Apparently the room was only 82 degrees, hot but according to Chris, not hot enough. All I could think of was of my trip to Barbados as the humidity and heat quickly warmed my body. We toured the smallish but new locker rooms complete with fresh paint, showers, and nine lockers. I thought to myself “it’s amazing what someone can do with and idea, some paint and some drywall”. I commented to Chris that they did a real good job of transforming the place into something completely different.

After the mini tour, there really isn’t much else to look at. Chris then explained that the workout was ninety minutes long, consisting of 26 poses and that anyone of any age/ability could attend the classes. He also noted that one needs to be prepared to sweat as “the water will pour out of you” as you cleanse the body while completing the exercises. His advice was to wear as little as possible, some would even wear bathing suits. You need two towels and a yoga matt, both will be provided for free during the grand opening, but after that a small ($2 Cdn) charge for the matt will then kick in.

Can’t be too hard I thought, as Chris also explained that even a beginner will benefit just by being in the heated room. The heat allows the muscles to relax faster and stretch easier because they become warm; and the body reacts better while warm than it does while cold. He also explained that one should only go as far as the body will allow, being careful to not over extend each pose the first few times; thus possibly hurting the body in the process. Eventually a beginners body will become used to the poses and one will find that each class allows one to stretch itself further. After twenty classes, you will be able to see how much better you have become while possibly extending each pose to their fullest.

I went home feeling excited about trying this out. I committed myself to attending 3 of the 6 free classes and wondered how out of shape I really was. What’s the worse that could happen I thought, I would sweat and stretch, and do the best I could while cleaning my body in the heated room. Yeah OK. All righty then.

As noted above this was the second location within the GTA, and the plan was to rotate the current instructors between the two locations. Classes are $299 Cdn for a pass of 20, which you use as you see fit. There was a special running during the grand opening that has a hundred dollar savings if you purchased the pass during the open house. You could also purchase a 2 pack pass for $20 dollars, but the 20 pack pass was the best savings. The membership could also be used at the Willowdale location.


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