Hotter Than Madonna’s Yoga Workout
by Christina Ly


Exercise trends are constantly fading in and out of the spotlight, but yoga has withstood the test of time. Originating in the East before the birth of Christ, this practice now holds quite a reputation in Western cultures. Like most other fitness activities, yoga has branched off into multiple variations over the years. Madonna’s practice of Ashtanga Yoga has brought recent fame to this particular style, but a new kid on the block — or mat, rather — has now emerged: Bikram Yoga. 

Bikram is essentially a 90-minute set of 26 poses performed in 105-degree heat, with 40 percent humidity. While this description may invoke cries of “what?!” and “OMG!”, after giving Bikram a try, you just might find yourself saying, “Wow, that felt so good!” 

Bikram Choudhury started the foundations of Bikram Yoga, or “hot yoga,” after a knee injury he suffered at 17. When doctors told him he would no longer be able to walk, he turned to the healing of yoga. Every pose in Bikram Yoga is designed for a specific purpose. In the dead-body pose, for example, the heels are kept together while the feet fall naturally to the side in order to create a passive stretch in the hip area. 

Yoga incorporates more than the ability to perform poses; it is about attaining complete awareness of one’s mind and body. The gentle nature of yoga brings relaxation to mental health while simultaneously improving physical health. It is no wonder why so many westerners who live under stress are turning to yoga for its favorable effects. 

Bikram Yoga claims endless benefits, from back pain relief, to a speedier metabolism. Its followers feel that the continuous sweat cleanses the body of toxins, the heat greatly increases flexibility, and that all of the major muscles in the human body receive ample attention with the exercise.

Crolyn Tallman, a UCSB student, attended a session of Bikram for the first time last week. “It was intense, but I feel so relaxed and calm now,” she said. “I want to go again.” 

I gave Bikram a try two and a half months ago and enjoyed myself so much that I signed up for a monthly unlimited pass. I must say, I have never sweat as much as I do in each class, but I have also never enjoyed any type of exercise as much as Bikram.  I emerge from each session feeling energized and fresh, even though I just burnt more than 600 calories. After one month, others began to notice I was leaner and more toned. I have also noticed improvements in my breathing technique and body strength. 

The studio nearest to UCSB is Studio You Bikram Yoga in Santa Barbara. Chris Skye-McBride, who co-owns the studio with his wife, encourages college students to give Bikram a try. “I graduated from UCSB in 2002 and I don’t think I could have done it without yoga,” said Skye-McBride.

So for those who still see yoga as only for the “weak sauce,” challenge yourself to a session of Bikram.