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Sizzling hot fall workout: warm the the mind, body and spirit with Bikram (hot) yoga.

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Kelly Mason, a 41-year-old mother of three, learned about hot yoga while watching Celebrity Fit Club on VH1 about six months ago, and she knew immediately that she wanted to give it a try.

The Columbia, Md., resident was struck not only by the intriguing name, but by the challenge--a series of 26 yoga poses performed in a room that's heated to about 100 degrees, with 40 percent to 60 percent humidity.

The practice, also known as Bikram Yoga, causes profuse swearing, which can rid the body of toxins. The heat allows the body to become more flexible. Mason, who found a class througgh a mother at her son's school, attends class twice a week, receiving instruction from Kat Kelley-Chung, director of Bikram Yoga Columbia, in Columbia.

"I'm a much nicer person now that I do Bikram Yoga," says Mason. "It balances me out. I don't feel the inner tension that I used to feel. That's why I don't get any flack from my husband when I tell him I'm going to yoga. Physically, it has helped me to become more flexible."

Most forms of yoga--an ancient spiritual practice from India--focus on relaxation and deep-breathing as practitioners perform and hold poses, according to Fitness For Dummies by Suzanne Schlosberg and Liz Neporent. Bikram is one of nine main options, including Astanga, Anusara and Integral.

Despite its grueling intensity, Bikram Yoga has scores of followers. The practice like wildfire across the nation. It is taught by yoga master Bikram Choudhury, who requires instructors to teach practitioners to follow a sequence of 26 postures during a 90-minute class. Bikram trains all instructors himself.

Because Bikram Yoga is said to rid the body of toxins, it has been known to generate cures for a variety of ailments, including arthritis and sports injuries, says Kelley-Chung. "Bikram gives everybody and every body what it needs," Kelley-Chung says of hot yoga. "People think about yoga as low lights, candles, etcetera, but Bikram is more challenging. There are no candles or chanting. We cut all of that other stuff out. I urge everyone to try it." But medical experts say you should first check with a doctor to make sure that participating in this exercise won't be harmful to your health.

Are you game for a little hot yoga this fall? Below, Kelley-Chung demonstrates some postures:

traditional postures

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(should not be attempted without assistance from an instructor)

1. Standing I toad to Knee

Helps develop concentration, patience and determination; strengthens legs, especially the knee joint as well as the arms, shoulders and upper back.

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2. Balancing Stick

One of the best postures to correct bad posture; helps improve control and balance by improving physical, psychological and mental powers; increases the circulation, strengthens the heart muscle and stretches the capacity of the lungs. This posture is known as the "quick 10-second heart attack posture."

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3. Half Moon (variation)

Gives quick energy, corrects bad posture, increases flexibility of the spine, strengthens the core muscles; promotes proper kidney function and alleviates constipation.

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4. Hands to Feet

(This posture is done in conjunction with the prior posture, the half moon) Increases flexibility of the spine, sciatic nerves and back of the legs; improves blood circulation in the legs and the brain; strengthens arms, shoulders, abdominal muscles and glutes.

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5. Eagle

Firms and strengthens the legs, hips, abdomen, arms, shoulders and back; improves flexibility in the ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows and wrists.

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6. Triangle

Can improve every muscle, joint, tendon and internal organ in the body; revitalizes nerves, veins and tissues; strengthens the last five vertebrae of the spine and helps to correct spinal misalignment; increases strength and flexibility of the hip joint and the muscles of the side torso.

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7. Camel

Improves flexibility in the neck and spine (relieving backaches) and provides maximum stretch of the abdominal organs and muscles.

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8. Standing Bow

Develops concentration, patience and determination, and it increases endurance.

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Before You Begin

Equipment: Bring your own yoga mat because you'll sweat profusely.

Clothing: Wear very little clothing (such as swimwear).

Hydrate: Drink lots of water before and after class. It is not advisable to eat during the two hours before class.

Classes: If you decide to try Bikram, make sure the hot yoga studio has been certified by Bikram Yoga. Bikram Choudhury requires teachers to undergo rigorous training.

Caution: Hot Yoga is not advised for pregnant women, or people with certain health conditions.

For more information about Bikram Yoga, go to www.bikramyoga.com and check out the book, Bikram Yoga: The Guru Behind Hot Yoga Shows the Way to Radiant Health and Personal Fulfillment by Bikram Choudhury (Collins, $24.95).

WHAT IS BIKRAM YOGA?

* An intensely physical style of yoga that includes lots of breathing exercises.

* The same 26 poses are performed in the same order during 90-minute classes that are usually conducted in a room that's heated to about 100 degrees.

* The heat is intended to make it easier to stretch, thus the name "hot yoga."

Source: Fitness for Dummies by Suzanne Schlosberg and Liz Neporent.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDRE F. CHUNG
COPYRIGHT 2007 Johnson Publishing Co.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:BODY TALK
Author:Holloway, Lynette R.
Publication:Ebony
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2007
Words:866
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