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The Heat Is Always On At Bikram Yoga of Santa Rosa

By Pamela Sosnowski

Some like it hot, and if you're a yoga devotee that can take the heat, then Bikram Yoga of Santa Rosa (BYSR) is for you. All classes take place in a room heated to about 95 degrees, and are 60 or 90 minutes long. That means you're going to sweat, a lot. But according to owner Rebecca Pennington, feeling the burn so to speak while performing the ancient practice developed by Bikram Choudhury delivers several benefits, including removing toxins from the body and helping muscles relax and become more flexible for easier stretching.

"Bikram Yoga strengthens and tones the body while burning hundreds of calories," Pennington said. "[It] helps to relieve aches and pains. Regular practice will help to release stress and anxiety."

The yoga studio has been named "Best Of the North Bay" for 11 consecutive years now. That's due to the variety of classes (hot Pilates is offered in addition to several yoga classes) and the caring, knowledgable instructors that set the friendly, welcoming tone of the atmosphere. BYSR's community of yogis is also diverse, with students of all body shapes and ages "sixteen to 78" according to Pennington practicing. The male to female ratio is nearly 50/50.

"All of the classes at BYSR are beginner friendly," she said. "Our teachers are welcoming, encouraging, friendly and knowledgeable. The atmosphere is cheery and bright. All of our teachers are required to have a minimum 200 hour teaching certificate."

For those new to Bikram yoga, there are a few precautions to ensure the experience goes smoothly. Students are advised to come 15 minutes early, and with an empty stomach; eating should be done 2-3 hours before a class. Lightweight, comfortable clothing is must since sweating is a given, along with a towel and a yoga mat. The studio provides showers in the changing rooms. Plenty of water should also be brought along to stay hydrated during and after a class.

Classes take place in a bright, cheery workout room with plenty of windows to allow natural light in. Bikram yoga consists of a Hatha yoga sequence where participants perform 26 beginner postures and 2 breathing exercises, the latter of which helps burn more calories according to Pennington. Another class, Hot Yoga Extension, is considered a classic Bikram yoga sequence consisting of one set of some postures and two sets of other postures.

Pennington herself was introduced to bikram yoga through a friend after injuring her left knee due to her love of sports. Soon the throbbing in her knee subsided, and Bikram yoga also had a positive effect on her entire body, eventually improving her sports performance and even her quality of sleep. She has practiced Bikram yoga since 2003, completed teacher training in 2010, and bought BYSR from its previous owners in 2010.

Several student testimonials speak of how the yoga studio helped heal traumatic injuries and improve one's mental health in addition to strengthening the body. One student has even left her wheelchair behind after making bikram yoga a regular practice.

BYSR offers several rates and levels of memberships so that new students can try hot yoga for a period first before making a commitment. Unlimited class cards are also available. Classes are held seven days a week and the studio is located on the corner of 7th and Wilson Street, with plenty of free street parking.

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About The Author

Pamela Sosnowski is a freelance writer, social media manager, contributor for REBEAT...

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