Dreaming of warmer temperatures? Step into a hot yoga studio. Practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity, the hot yoga taught at the city’s original studio, Yoga 101, is rooted in a yoga style introduced in the U.S. in the early 1970s by Calcutta-born Bikram Choudhury.
I began practicing at Yoga 101 not long after Nicole Tibbs and George Barnett opened the first studio in June 2001. Nicole (who has been featured on the cover of Evansville Living’s “Healthy Living” magazine) moved here from Irvine, Calif. Barnett, a local attorney, had visited hot yoga studios. Before they opened the studio, Nicole completed the 9-week teacher training at Bikram’s Yoga College of India, Los Angeles. Though neither own Yoga 101 today, Nicole instructs several 60-, 75-, or 90-minute classes weekly. A Bikram-style class focuses on 26 postures — asanas — each completed twice, though other class formats also are taught. The heat and humidity remain constant to flush impurities from the body through hard work and sweat.
Readers of Vanity Fair now know that the hot yoga guru, Bikram, has been accused by former acolytes of sexual misconduct. Here’s a photo of the story in the January issue, next to my copy of Bikram’s book. The Los Angeles district attorney’s office has investigated police reports and has declined to prosecute.
“l love all types of yoga and I will always appreciate Bikram yoga for what it has brought to my life and to the lives of so many people,” Nicole says. “It’s difficult for beginners because of the heat. But at the same time it is specifically designed for beginners. It’s for people who have no yoga experience whatsoever and need to rehabilitate their bodies. We can’t truly have healthy, happy spirits without healthy, happy bodies. They go hand in hand.”