Breaking down Bikram barriers

Bikram Yoga Halifax

I have to admit, when Bikram Yoga Halifax opened three years ago, I tried it and shortly thereafter deemed it too hard. My very first 90-minute class was intense, I struggled to hold the postures and found the heat overwhelming. Considering myself moderately fit (but with the tendency to exercise inconsistently), I decided to go back for a second time but still found the class to be overly rigorous. Leaving the studio both times, I felt amazing yet spent, and simultaneously a bit too intimidated to return.
Bikram Yoga Halifax owner Kristin Johnston has heard other stories like mine and says she sticks by her faith in the benefits of the 26-posture, 90-minute class, but wants to dispel the notion that Bikram is not accessible to all. With a third birthday party planned for September 15, Johnston will unveil renovations, a new pricing structure and classes that will appeal to people of all fitness levels. She took some time to chat with me on all the upcoming changes and to break down some of the myths surrounding Bikram.
What do you believe are some common misconceptions currently out there about Bikram?

Bikram Yoga Halifax owner Kristin Johnston.

Bikram Yoga Halifax owner Kristin Johnston.

I think there is an impression that it’s a bit of a hardcore yoga. What we want to do now is to get rid of that stigma and offer a wider variety of classes. For instance, we’re planning to offer a reduced heat class to introduce people to Bikram in the hopes that they will work up to the next level, which might be a 60-minute hot class. Ultimately, we hope this will help more people work up to the 90-minute class, which is the series we really believe in. Hopefully, we can help guide our clients on their journey to get there.
In your opinion, what differentiates Bikram from other forms of yoga?
The yoga itself, the teaching and the studio are what separates us. The 26 postures work every part of your body but we also do a lot of internal work as well, which makes it very restorative. It works with a pressure and release system that allows fresh highly nutrient blood to flow into the system, and no other yoga does that. Currently, there are a lot of yoga teacher training programs out there but to become a Bikram instructor you have to go through a nine-week rigorous teaching program where you eat, breathe and sleep yoga the entire time. And lastly, our studio itself will really be set up to feel like a spa so that clients feel like they are in a very beautiful, calm atmosphere.
Can you tell me about the renovations that are currently underway?
We’re really trying to make it a place where people want to come and spend time. We will be creating more space for mat storage so that people have one less thing to carry around, plus the lobby and lounge areas will be updated so that they are really private and comfortable spaces. Our instructors always sit down with new students and we want a private nook for that—an area where students can chat and feel completely relaxed.
What do you say to those people who feel that Bikram classes are too expensive?
It’s our mission to make Bikram easier and more affordable for everyone. We’ve got some ridiculous deals coming up that will follow a monthly membership structure and make it very affordable. The other piece is that we also want to create corporate memberships for all the businesses around us. With all of this, we just want to get our name out there and let people know that everyone is welcome. Our clients are those with injuries, people just starting to get in shape and even athletes who are healing. We have clients from all across the board and just want to continue to introduce new people to our studio and show them what we’re all about.
On September 15, Bikram Yoga Halifax will unveil the latest renovations, offer free yoga all day and announce their new pricing structure, heat reduced classes and schedule.

This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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