Feeling the heat with Bikram yoga

By Lauren DeGeorge | gargoyle@flagler.edu

As I walk into the room, or the “torture chamber” as some refer to it, the heat immediately envelops me. I search for an open spot among the other people. I need to face myself in the mirror. Class begins. It is 105 degrees. The sweating starts. In just one posture I am perspiring. More than in any other work-out. After the “standing series” I am out of breath. I have barely any energy left. But on it goes. For 90 minutes. When the teacher calls an end to it, I am tired, smelly and sweaty. I wished it wasn’t over.

Bikram is a form of yoga with 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises that work every part of the body — including organs, muscles, ligaments and veins — to promote proper health. Its founder and namesake was an Indian man who studied with Bishnu Ghosh, his guru, from the age of three. Bikram practiced all 84 traditional yoga asanas before coming to the United States in the 1960s and creating his own 26 postures, calling them Bikram Yoga.

Bikram Yoga of St. Augustine, on 700 Anastasia Blvd, is the only place to ever make me spend an hour-and-a-half challenging my body to new levels. And I discovered I am not alone in discovering my “secret” to a healthy body.

“I started practicing Bikram 10 years ago here in St. Augustine,” said Kate Toy, the owner. “I had been practicing other yoga locally and had heard of the amazing benefits of the heat and the Bikram series. I went to my first class in August 2001 and the rest is history.”

Toy’s studio is popular with St. Augustine locals. With an average of 50 to 70 people a day, she and her certified Bikram staff offer four to five classes daily — 28 classes a week.

Bikram is a beginner yoga class so it is suitable for any age, shape, size or physical condition. It has been known to produce weight loss, tone and strengthen muscles, increase energy and detox the body

“It is overall health. It is healing and rehabilitation of the body and the mind. With the heat, we are able to break down a lot of the history in the body and create new memory of the cells and muscles,” Toy said.

Student rates are available for Flagler students.

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