Cranking Up the Heat With Bikram Yoga

By Lisa Cleary
|  Tuesday, Oct 5, 2010  |  Updated 11:10 AM EDT
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Cranking Up the Heat With Bikram Yoga

Royalty-Free/Corbis

Cleanse the body and mind while maintaining Bikram postures.

Combine the allure of yoga with a steamy room and you’ve got Bikram yoga -- a.k.a. hot yoga -- a growing trend across D.C. 

Yogis are flocking to Bikram studios to sweat, stretch, and meditate all while balancing in the cobra, the eagle pose, or maybe even the standing separate leg stretching pose (whew).

Bikram Choudhury developed Bikram yoga from the postures of Hatha yoga, or any physical version or practice of yoga.  Bikram’s Yoga College of India offers a nine-week teacher training session based in Los Angeles.  To become certified, the official site at bikramyoga.com specifies that trainees must attend sessions in the 700-person capacity yoga room, as well as pass various tests and exams during the training.

During Bikram yoga sessions, instructors lead a 90-minute workout, composing of 26 Hatha yoga postures.  They guide yogis to control their mind and breathing in an effort to create balance and harmony among the mind, spirit, and body. 

Yogis practice breathing exercises in a heated environment, with temperatures often exceeding 100 degrees.  The heat intensifies yoga postures as the muscles become more pliant, reducing the risk of overstretching.  The body additionally sweats out toxins as a result of the heat, attributing to an overall cleansing effect.

Among the local studios, there’s Bikram Yoga Tenleytown, which is located at 4908 Wisconsin Avenue NW.  Other Bikram studios include the Bikram Yoga Capitol Hill (410 H Street NW).  Remember hearing about Lady Gaga doing yoga on the Hill early this September?  Yep, it was with this studio, and owner Elizabeth Glover held her poses right next to the megastar.

Like Lady Gaga’s passion about purses made of meat, Glover is just as passionate about yoga.  “It’s very accessible.  People who are not at all flexible can do it," she said. "And it works the entire body from the inside out. It’s just an amazing workout.” 

Glover opened the studio to bring healing for the community. 

“I wanted to be a doctor initially, but I couldn’t handle the sight of blood," she said. "But yoga is similar in that it’s a healing art or industry."

The studio’s site, bikramyogacapitolhill.com, details in full the Hatha yoga poses, including the half moon, locust pose and camel pose; or the ardha chandrasana, salabhasana and ustrasana, respectively.  The poses exercise the colon, kidneys, back and spine (to name just a few), and ease symptoms inclusive of rheumatism and scoliosis. 

But Glover admits that not every yoga session is a cake walk.  “Sometimes classes are harder than others," she said.  "Still, I never regret having taken a class."

With that being said, the studio reminds clients that it’s important to remember there’s no good or bad posture in yoga.  It’s whatever your body feels and however it performs at the moment.  And yogis from Bikram Yoga Capitol Hill have seen results, from increased fertility to lessening of pain.  Some clients have shown gratitude to Glover as Bikram has helped them wean off of medications, like blood pressure, and has assisted with pain management from an array of health conditions.  Glover herself has seen her sleep cycles become more regular with routine Bikram sessions.

So what is Lady Gaga like as a yoga mat neighbor?  Glover stays mum. 

“You know, I’m not comfortable commenting on people.  You focus on yourself,” she said. 

But of her Bikram Yoga Capitol Hill studio, in general, she’s certainly vocal:  “It gives me tremendous satisfaction. It’s incredibly fulfilling.”

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