Hot Yoga: tweaking the thermostat, finding the flow

Fri May 21, 2010 5:05pm EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - When it comes to yoga, some like it hot but not too hot.

So yoga studios and fitness centers are finessing the tenets of hot yoga as set forth by the master, to find the middle way.

"Some people are turned off by the heat, some people are addicted straight off the bat," said Brooke Eddey, a hot yoga instructor at Crunch, the national chain of fitness centers. "Our room is around 90 degrees (. If it gets too hot, I turn it off."

Such thermal flexibility would be anathema to the strict followers of hot yoga guru Bikram Choudhury, who keeps a firm grip on both thermostat and sequence at his nearly 500 studios franchised worldwide.

A Bikram yoga room is heated to a steamy 105 degrees Fahrenheit, with a humidity of 40 percent. Even the founder calls them torture chambers.

"The heat helps you to stretch safely and has its own detoxifying benefits," explained Ainslie Faust, spokesperson for Bikram's Yoga College of India, in Los Angeles, California.

Faust said Bikram's series of 26 postures were selected because they are the most healing poses for the common problems of people living in the Western world.

"We modify it," Eddey said simply. "I've taken a lot of Bikram and I think the 26 poses are a great system, really well thought out. I get that, but I also incorporate some flow, some vinyasa."   Continued...

<p>A class in Warrior Two pose at the hot yoga room at Crunch, New York City, in an undated photo. REUTERS/Crunch/Handout</p>