Welcome to yoga hell. When someone walks in the studio in Petaluma they are welcomed by pleasantly loud reggae music, authentic décor, a friendly smile and a giant friendly dog named Chester.
Bikram Yoga is a series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises. In this class the participants repeat each posture two times and the total length of the class is 90 minutes, all the while in a 105 degree heated room; hence, yoga hell.
The friendly smile that greeted each person who entered the door belongs to Lisa Isley, who also led the class through the series of postures. During the duration of the class Isley was moving to various places in the room to make sure the participants were doing each posture correctly.
Isley said the most exciting part of her job was seeing people’s bodies and minds work together, or not work together.
“It’s easier to intellectualize something, but then to physically do it is harder, and that is the most exciting, to see them (participants) improve,” said Isley.
Each posture has physical and mental benefits. Isley went on to explain that she has had participants come in with bad backs, broken bodies, and mental disabilities. After regular practice they do not need medication anymore and they improve themselves naturally.
A study done by Scientific Research Publishing titled, “Optimization of Physical Activity as a Countermeasure of Bone Loss: A 5-Year Study of Bikram Yoga Practice in Females”, suggests performing Bikram Yoga may preserve, or even increase bone mineral density that may be an effective countermeasure for preventing osteoporosis.
Isley believes coming to Bikram Yoga will help students in every way.
“Whether you’re studying and you have a hard time with anxiety and you have trouble sitting down and reading a book this will help you focus. It will burn you out and when you get home and you can read you can finally relax,” said Isley.
Isley understands it is hard being in a room with other people essentially half naked if a person is uncomfortable with their body. There are many different body types and that’s okay; normal and healthy.
“Now when I go on with the rest of the day, it’s so much easier. Whether I’m sitting in traffic or talking with someone who is difficult, I can breathe and I know this will pass,” said Isley.
The owners of Bikram Yoga Petaluma have had eight studios in total but are currently operating just this one. They are almost in their 60s and they know how to work with old and young people. The owners understand how to cater to bad backs and injuries and have a lot of experience working with a variety of people.
Their website claims Bikram Yoga is for everyone. Before a person attends a class they should drink plenty of water throughout the day so that the participant is well hydrated before the class. One should not eat three hours before a class because this type of yoga is better practiced on an empty stomach, but if necessary eat a light snack.
The studio is located at 1484 Petaluma Blvd N Petaluma, CA 94952, which is approximately 8.6 miles away from campus. They also boost a student deal of unlimited yoga for three months at the cost of $99, or in other words, $33 a month for unlimited yoga. They hold classes seven days a week and their schedule can be found online.
“For students coming in, be open-minded, do the best you can and have fun. The hardest part is showing up, after that, it’s not that bad,” said Isley.