Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hot Yoga

I have received a few inquiries in the past few months regarding Bikram or "Hot" yoga.  Do we offer Bikram yoga at Lothlorien?  At the present time we do not.

For one thing, "Bikram yoga" is, as far as I know, the only form of yoga that is patented.  This means that in order to use the name "Bikram" or offer classes as such, one must pay a fee and become licensed as "Bikram yoga" instructor.  Otherwise it is a violation of copyright to use the term "Bikram yoga" and is therefore illegal.  This does strike me as a little bit odd, since yoga is after all at least 4000 years old and copyrights and such things did not exist back then.  So clearly this is one of many modern variations on the practice of "yoga."  And that's okay, but we at Lothlorien are not licensed to teach it or use the terminology.

Now, we could simply use the term "Hot Yoga" and teach it anyway.  Per Bikram (ahem, cannot use that name) or Hot Yoga specifications, this would require heating the yoga studio to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.  This raises a couple of concerns.  First, the thermostat for the heater in our studio only goes up to 90 degrees.  I suppose I could use a marker and write in "105" ala Spinal Tap ("Dude, this amp goes to 11!"), but the heater is still only built to put out 90 degrees of heat.  However, this limitation could probably be overcome, at least during the summer, when the outside temperature is close to 100, and by putting the heater on maximum we might be able to achieve the requisite 105 degree temperature inside the studio.  This raises other questions (see below).  Of course, since the thermostat only goes to 90 we would not be able to know when we had achieved the 105 degree point.

Assuming we were in fact able to get the studio to 105 degrees, and put people in that room doing yoga, we would then have several extremely sweaty people sweating all over their mats, the floors, and maybe each other.  Unfortunately, this would ruin our nice wood laminate floors which were installed for us last year by Fabulous Floors, LLC, who advised us that the temperature of the room must be maintained within "reasonable parameters" to prevent warping of the wood.  "Reasonable parameters" would not include 105 degrees; under 85 was recommended.

More importantly, heating the room to that level would present health and safety hazards.  Our building has an old-fashioned heater which dries out the air and generates positive ions in the process.  Positive ions are the ones you don't want, as opposed to negative ions, which are the healthy ones created by the crashing of waves at the seashore and the ones which charge the air during thunderstorms.  Positive ions are irritating.  The hot, dry air from our heater will be filled with positive ions clinging to the dust kicked out of the ventilation ducts.  This may be a secondary concern, since many people claim they cannot notice ions one way or the other.  Of more immediate concern is what will happen when all that sweat pours onto those mats:  they become extremely slippery!!  So now we have the potential for people to slip and fall onto the (soon to be ruined) wood floors, which is a serious liability concern..

So am I opposed to Hot Yoga?  Absolutely not!  I agree with some of the claims made by Bikram.  Sweating is, in fact, very healthy and removes toxins from your body (provided that you stay well hydrated - VERY important!  And if you are using chlorinated water, and/or plastic water bottles in the hot environment, they likely contain carcinogens, which defeats the purpose of your healthy intent.)  People have been using saunas to detoxify throughout history.  Also, practicing yoga in a very warm environment helps loosen up the muscles.  In addition, some health practitioners including Dr. Max Gerson, [this statement is not approved by the AMA], have stated that cancer cells cannot survive at high temperatures, and therefore recommend hot baths to raise the body temperature in order to stimulate the immune system to flush out toxins and kill cancer cells.  Which is great.

Here's the thing:  People are calling me to inquire if Lothlorien offers Bikram [cannot use the term!] Hot Yoga.  I look at the weather indicator on my computer and the current temperature is 95 degrees, with a heat index of "feels like 110"!  Let me get this straight:  You want to pay money to go to a studio where they will turn the heat up to 105 degrees (hopefully having the special modern heaters that do not dry out the air and do not produce positive ions) and you will be packed into a room with a bunch of people you barely know, much less, are intimate enough to sweat on each other??

OK - you live in FLORIDA!  From about May to September, the outside temperatures are often in the 90s, with a heat index well over 100 - perfect for Bikram [excuse me, Hot] yoga, along with the lovely humidity which makes our climate so much like a sauna that people are constantly complaining "it's like a frickin sauna out here!" and rushing indoors to enjoy the air conditioning.  And you want me to use precious energy to heat my yoga studio to 105 degrees so you can stretch and sweat indoors, which will, of course, contribute to global warming?

For goodness sake, GO OUTSIDE!  Get some fresh air and sunshine!  [see my blog re: sunshine] This is, after all, how the Sun Salutation was meant to be done - in the sun!   Put a sheet or blanket on the grass and do yoga on your lawn!  It's perfect!

But, you object, I'm embarrassed to do yoga on my lawn where people might see me!

You are embarrassed to exercise on your own lawn, but you are okay with paying money to sweat like a pig packed into a room with a bunch of people you don't even know??  Frankly, if I am going to be sweating like a pig with a bunch of people, I would prefer to be outside where there is plenty of ventilation.

In my opinion, you can't do better than a sheet or blanket on top of a well-manicured suburban lawn in the sunshine.  If anything, your neighbors will be envious and wonder how you can do all those poses.  Or, go to the beach!!  But if you really can't bring yourself to do it on your own and you insist on paying for classes -

I suppose we could offer Hot Yoga here at Lothlorien outside during the summer.  I myself very much enjoy doing yoga and sweating like a pig in the sunshine on my front porch.  But, Lothlorien is out in the boondocks and we do not have a nicely manicured lawn; much of our so called "lawn" has stickers and fire ants.  There is a sandy area in the pasture where the horses sleep, which seems fairly free of ants and thorns, which perhaps we could use.  If you guys are really into it and are willing to bring sheets or blankets, we could probably do it.  Just let me know.

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