At 5:15 am the “harp” sounds on my iPhone alerting me that it’s time for the day to begin. There’s a pause, where my body and my mind think ‘it’s a mistake’ and ‘what could I possibly have to get up for?’ But then I remember: yoga.
It’s opening day at the new Bikram Yoga SLC location. They’re kicking off the new Sugar House space with a FREE yoga class on this particular Friday morning at 6am, and I want in on the action. Running through the morning necessities, I squeeze into some yoga clothes, decide against breakfast, but make sure I’ve got my mat, towels, and a water bottle en tote.
In the interest of full disclosure, you should know this isn’t my first Bikram class. I’m a yogi–not enlightened guru type, but practicing consistently for about seven years and I teach at a sister studio in the valley. Some of the methodology is different, but the benefits are the same as owners Greg and Becky Airhart share with me over email correspondence:
“All kinds of people find amazing benefits from Bikram Yoga—physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. We are always gratified by the stories our students share with us about the healing they experience from practicing Bikram Yoga.”
So what is it that’s so special about this particular branch of yoga? Well, for starters: the heat. The recommended temperature for a Bikram class is about 105 degrees Fahrenheit, with the room at about 40% humidity. Thankfully the reception area is climate controlled for comfort with décor that’s soothing and chic, almost as if I’d landed in a modern museum or swanky spa. But as I transition from welcoming space through the double doors to the practice room, it’s almost shocking.
The good news is I remember this heat. And the options are not just fight or flight, but to embrace it because I know this heat will already allow my muscles to warm up faster and let my body stretch even deeper.
I remember my first Bikram class the instructor told me to “just try to stay in the room.” I thought she was being esoteric and telling me to keep mindfulness and “stay present” with the practice. It wasn’t until I had a few sessions under my belt that I realized that trying to stay in the room was a very literal recommendation. All Bikram classes (made famous and ‘franchised’ by Bikram Choudry) are 90 minutes long, and consist of the same 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises taught in the same order. Hot, sweaty, bendy and chock-full of benefits for the body and mind.
The class attendees are a mixture of instructors, regulars and plenty of ‘first timers.’ At one point, as we’re finishing the final sit-up of our floor series, Greg instructs the class to let out a “Yee-haw!” We follow orders with a joyful yell.
Shortly after he congratulates the new students on making it through the entire class; and invites them back to participate in the studio’s special introductory rate: 10 straight days of this hot-mess for only $20.
“Don’t judge it on your first time,” he says. “If you do that, you’ll never come back.” Along with the rest of the class, I erupt in laughter, because most of the participants know exactly what he means.
Later he tells me that “the benefits of Bikram Yoga cannot be explained, they must be experienced! We offer [the] generous introductory offer so people can come and experience for themselves the amazing advantages of a regular practice. We have seen and experienced how the regular practice of Hatha Yoga helps and stimulates every part and function of the body, top to bottom. As Bishnu Ghosh (Bikram’s teacher) said: ‘Yoga reenergizes, reorganizes, and revitalizes.’ In simple terms this yoga works, and people come back.”
And they haven’t just come back, they’ve told friends and family about the life-changing benefits; and Bikram Yoga SLC just keeps growing. The new location, housed at 1924 South 1100 East was gutted and the Airhart’s built a hot yoga studio the way they wanted state of the art technology and equipment in the building,
And Mountain West Small Business Finance was there to help with a 504 and answer any questions to make the studio’s financing run smoother. Greg described the people he worked with at Mountain West as professional and said they “helped explain the process of how [the] SBA works;” or in the larger sense, showcasing flexibility and benefits on and off the mat.
Bikram Yoga SLC
1924 So. 1100 East in Sugar House