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Guest Post: Namaste or Should I Go to Cleveland? Bikram Yoga Arrives!

While I’m enjoying a weekend with my incredible in-laws in New Jersey, a friend from my Philly theatre days shares how Bikram Yoga’s recent arrival in Ohio led her to “flee to the Cleve.” I’ll be back Monday with an (overdue) recap of my first attempt at a Cleveland Clam Bake!


Danielle shares her love for Bikram Yoga at Bikram Yoga Cleveland -- Ohio's first studio of its kind.

Hello Clue into Cleveland readers!   In another lifetime, Amanda and I were theatre nerds together in Philadelphia through the Walnut Street Theatre’s apprenticeship program.  She was having nightmares over A Christmas Carol‘s group sales, while I was getting shoes thrown at me from irate CATS audience members. 

Fast forward six years and Amanda is loving life in Cleveland as a skilled and successful editor lady, while I’ve been fundraising for nonprofits myself – and getting hooked on Bikram Yoga – in San Francisco.   

My Bikram Yoga addiction led me to an intensive nine-week yoga teacher training program in Los Angeles with Bikram Choudhury himself this past summer, but when I returned to SF I knew I couldn’t teach full time in San Francisco for long before I’d go broke and be living in a box, offering yoga lessons for spare change. 

That’s when I discovered Bikram Yoga Cleveland – a brand new studio opening in September 2011, the very first official Bikram studio in all of Ohio!  I had some wonderful phone conversations with the owner, Jeannine LoConti, and it sounded like a great fit – and I really liked the idea of being a part of a new yoga studio right from the beginning.  So I stuffed my car to the brim, drove across the country…and here I am! 

Now Amanda has generously given me a bit of time and space to introduce you, her loyal readers, to Bikram Yoga Cleveland!  Hopefully I’ll convince you to come check out our clean and beautiful, welcoming studio! 

The newly opened Bikram Yoga Cleveland in Shaker Heights

We start, of course, with…What is Bikram Yoga?

Bikram Yoga is a sequence of 26 Hatha Yoga postures (and two breathing exercises) selected and developed by Bikram Choudhury.  These postures, performed in the same order each 90 minute class, systematically work every part of the body, to give all the internal organs, ligaments, and muscles everything they need to maintain optimum health and maximum function. 

And yes, it’s hot in there; we heat the room to 105 degrees with 40% humidity. 

The heat in Bikram Yoga helps students safely get into poses like these

Wait, what?  105 degrees?!

Bikram likes to use the metaphor of forging a sword to explain the need for heat (I’m quoting from his “Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class” book): “Suppose you are going to make a sword.  You start with a piece of fine steel and the first thing you do is put the steel in the fire and heat it up.  When the steel is hot, it becomes soft.  Then you can hammer it and slowly you make it change shape to the sword you want…now, if you don’t heat it up and start hammering the cold steel, nothing is going to happen to the steel, but you break your hand, the hammer, your arm.  The same thing happens when you do any exercise, even Hatha Yoga, in a cold environment.” 

The heat makes you less likely to strain, to pull a muscle, to hurt yourself.  You’re more flexible and malleable, just like that fine piece of steel. 

Also, when you exercise in a hot, humid room, you sweat.  You sweat a lot.  And that has such a wonderful, detoxifying effect on your whole body.  When you walk out of that room, and you’ve worked every muscle and joint in your body and sweated out every toxin, you will feel AMAZING.  There’s no high like a Bikram Yoga high, I promise you that! 

Bikram Yoga Cleveland’s studio space

So what do I actually get out of it besides this “yoga high” business?

Weight loss, reduced stress, better endurance, more energy, improved immunity, a stronger heart, expanded lung capacity, relief of chronic pain, toned muscles, prevention and rehabilitation of injuries, detoxification, increased balance, strength and flexibility, increased willpower and mental strength…to name a few! 

That all sounds marvelous, but I’m a beginner and I’m frightened.

Don’t be!  The great thing about Bikram Yoga Cleveland is that because we’ve only just opened, we have a wonderful mix of beginners and advanced students alike.  And because every class is structured the same, you’ll feel more familiar with the poses and start seeing improvements in balance, strength and flexibility within only a week or two!  

Besides, in Bikram Yoga it doesn’t matter how flexible you are, how close you can get to the full expression of the posture – as long as you’re doing it 100% the right way, you’re getting 100% of the benefit, regardless of how deep you can go, how long you can balance.  Bikram Yoga is for everyone!  After all, as Bikram says, “you’re never too old, never too bad, never too late and never too sick to do the yoga and start from the scratch once again.” 

Before or after a Bikram class, there's a lounge and shop to peruse

Okay, I admit it, I’m intrigued.  How do I learn more?

There’s lots of useful information on our website, http://bikramcle.com/.   And stop by any time, we’re happy to answer any questions!  We’re located on Fairmount Circle by John Carroll University.  There’s plenty of free parking in the adjacent lot. 

See you in the hot room! 

– Danielle

When she’s not teaching or practicing yoga, Danielle is blogging about it at namasteorshouldigo.blogspot.com.