Bikram Yoga will make you sweat.

Bikram Yoga SLO

570 Higuera Street, Suite 195

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

805.545.5951

http://www.bikramyogaslo.com

Membership Required: No

 Price: First- Time members get a special introductory offer of 30 days for $30.  If you go twice, it pays for itself; one class by itself costs $16 (happy hour classes vary from week to week, but they’re usually on Friday afternoons and cost $10).  Devotees can pay by time frame or number of classes:

  • 1 week for $50
  • 1 month for students/ seniors:  $70 ($135 for others)
  • 3 months for students/ seniors: $195 ($330 for others)
  • 6 Months:  $99 per month on a direct debit plan
  • 1 Year: $1000
  • 8 classes: $108
  • 20 classes: $220

All time- based payment plans are all you can yoga.

Distance from Cal Poly: 2.5 Miles

Pool: No

Courts: None; 2nd– floor studio studio

Showers: No.  There is a changing room.

Bikram Yoga SLO in downtown San Luis Obispo.

“Bikram yoga makes me pass out.” -Rachel Bitter

“It’s painful.  I’d rather have a baby.” – Monica Rowker

“It’s different…” -Kelly Edwards

“The room gets so humid because there is a giant pot of boiling water in the center of the room.  After class we must sacrifice one person to the pot.” – anonymous gentleman at the local Lutheran Church.

I’d heard many rumours about Bikram yoga, but none of them prepared me for the real deal.  Bikram (pronounced bee- krahm) Yoga is a series of 26 hatha yoga postures and two breathing exercises practiced over 90 minutes in a 105°F room.  I hit up Bikram Yoga SLO one afternoon with Cal Poly second year Jacky Berracasa.

“When I first got here, I was going every other day.  It made me feel so much healthier,” says Jacky. Before coming to SLO, she practiced express hot yoga at home in San Deigo.  Express Hot Yoga is kind of like the 50 minute version of Bikram yoga, designed  “to allow more people to practice hot yoga more often”, according to a Texas company that offers the class.

“You know how people say, drink 8 glasses of water every day?” asks Jacky.  “It’s really hard to do!  Bikram yoga really helped me pay attention to how much water I drank.”

“This is gonna sound really gross, but it really regulates your bowel movements,” she adds.

Most people, like Jacky, have reported positive changes to their bodies following a healthy diet of Bikram yoga; celebrity devotees include Jennifer Aniston, George Clooney, and Lady Gaga. But no celebrity in the yoga community is as enigmatic or  controversial as  Bikram himself.

The Story of Bikram

Bikram is an actual dude.  His full name is Bikram Choudhury, born 1946 in Calcutta, India.  After a weightlifting accident at age 20 destroyed his knees, Bikram and his yoga guru, Bushnu Ghosh, developed the 26- posture series as a form of physical therapy. According to legend, the crippled Bikram was able to walk again after six months to the disbelief of local doctors.  Soon after he opened schools in India and Japan; in 1972, he opened his first US studio in San Francisco, followed by one in Beverly Hills, where the celebrity residents quickly adopted the fitness regime.  According to media, he is ruthless when it comes to protecting the copyrighted 26 posture series, prosecuting studios, books, and exercise tapes that violate the copyright or present  “thinly veiled” versions of Bikram yoga. The official Bikram Yoga website states that “No one may teach or certify others to become Bikram Yoga teachers other than Bikram Choudhury”. He hosts Teacher Training in a different exotic locale once each year; 2012’s edition takes place April 15th– June 17th at the Los Angeles Raddison.  He currently resides in Beverly Hills.

Mind over Matter

 Most proof of Bikram Yoga’s health benefits come from personal testimonials, not actual studies.  Theoretically, contorting the body for the different poses cuts off circulation in certain parts of the body while increasing blood flow in others; releasing results in the delivery of “fresh, oxygenated” blood to the organs.  Additionally, the poses twist internal organs and help aid in lymphatic drainage.  For those of you who forgot 9th grade biology, the lymphatic system is the part of the immune system that delivers white blood cells to bones and helps flush toxins out of the body.  I entered the studio expecting the 90 minute session to cure my body of every mental and physical ailment imaginable.  After all, I could expect nothing less from all the hype, right?

Wrong.

10 THINGS PEOPLE DON’T TELL YOU ABOUT BIKRAM YOGA:

  1. It’s 90 minutes of naked people sweating in a really hot room. It smells.
  2. Okay, so they’re not naked.  They’re just really scantily clad.  Give your skin as much room to breathe as you possible can; bathing suits are totally permissible.
  3. The males sometimes wear speedos. Be prepared.
  4. All participants must have a yoga mat, a towel to place over the yoga mat (to prevent you from slipping on your own sweat), and a water bottle.  Bikram Yoga SLO offers each for a $2 rental fee (you can keep the water).
  5. Bring a towel you wish to part ways with. “I’ve washed my towel a billion times and I’ve never gotten the smell out of it,” says Jacky.
  6. The class practices intense deep breathing exercises at the start of each class to expand the lungs and make the the yoga more effective.  It sounds like a room full of Darth Vaders.  It kind of made me feel like I was about to be sacrificed to a bubbling pot of yoga.
  7. You have to stay for the full 90 minutes.  If you leave early it’s like telling foreign villagers you don’t want to eat the pet chicken they cooked for your dinner.
  8. If you feel like your instructor is reciting a script, that’s because they are.  Each Bikram Yoga class uses the same postures, and instructors recite the same words.  Instructors may personalize the script with their own individual style; Maggi, our instructor, called us out in class if a particular student was doing something particularly well.
  9. Change out of your clothes.  Immediately.  I made the mistake of throwing on a t- shirt and going out to dinner afterwards.  It’s exactly like going out into the freezing cold wearing a wet bathing suit.
  10. 105 degrees isn’t as hot as it sounds.  The temp didn’t phase me, but I’m used to exercising in hot weather.  It seems like a nice, warm place to go and relax in the cold winter months, especially if your house doesn’t have a heater.

Needless to say, I did not emerge from the studio looking and feeling like a Yoga god. As with any workout, results take time. Eva Klembarova, one of the studio’s instructors, advises that new students “stick with it”.

“Even if you didn’t enjoy your first class, come back and give it another try. The benefits you receive from Bikram Yoga are worth working hard for.”

I purchased 30 days for $30, but the mandatory 90 minutes plus transit takes an unaffordable chunk of time out of my schedule.  Additionally, parking is, for lack of better terms, a bitch.  If you don’t know where The Creamery is downtown, look for the super small opening between Spike’s Bar and another restricted parking lot.  It will probably be full.  I parked on the metered street, which during the day costs upwards of three bucks.

Bikram Yoga SLO is hardly convenient, but some people will stop at nothing to reap the health benefits and reach that inner peace. Director and owner Lori Logan loves Bikram yoga because it has “enhanced [her] overall well-being and coping skills for life.”

“It’s rewarding to watch students grow to appreciate what I am so enthusiastic about,” says Logan.  Maggi, my Saturday afternoon instructor, says, “Believe this yoga can work for you because I know it can.”

It’s something everyone should try at least once.  And possibly only once.

Other Resources:

 Bikram Poses Index

Bikram Yoga:  Hot or Not?  Yogis and civilians alike give their honest opinions.

Moshka Yoga, developed in the US by Ted Grand and Jessica Robertson, is another hot alternative to Bikram yoga with a “green” emphasis.

Bikram Yoga SLO sells supplies, like Mika Yoga Wear designed by Laura Costa, one of the studio's instructors.

Have you ever done a workout that made you sick?  What’s the most you’ve ever sweat?  Would you try Bikram Yoga?

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