Hot New Workout in Hoboken
Current Magazine Hoboken, New Jersey
March 14-20, 2002
By JoAnne Steglitz
The things I do for my job will never cease to amaze me. Take last week. On Friday morning I spent 90 minutes contorting my body into 26 unwieldy postures in a studio where the heat was cranked to a 102 degrees. This was made more onerous by the fact that Im the least flexible person I have ever met.
How inflexible am I, you ask?
If Brad Pitt were to say to me, I will dump my beautiful overpaid wife and whisk you off to the French Riviera if you can touch your toes for 10 seconds without bending your legs, I would have to say, Sorry, it looks like you are stuck with your beautiful overpaid wife.
However, according to Reetu Jaukhane, the owner of Bikram Yoga College of India in Hoboken, with a little patience and a lot of dedication I could enjoy the beach with Brad Pitt in no time.
Founded by Bikram Choudhury, a pre-eminent Hatha yoga master, Bikram yoga is a demanding 26-posture series that helps develop strength, flexibility and balance. The yoga is conducted in a heated room usually between 100 and 110 degrees to help stretch the muscles and prevent injury.
After completing an intensive accelerated two month teacher training program Bikram Choudhurys studio in Los Angeles, Jaukhane opened Bikram Yoga College of India on Washington Street in Hoboken last month.
Bikram is everything to me, Jaukhane said last Friday following the 9 a.m. class. I have so much respect for that person. He is a tremendous teacher. He really taught us the right way to do yoga. And when you learn it right from him, it is amazing. I had a thyroid problem and now it is cured. It becomes a belief when you see results.
Reetu Jaukhane 30, was born in Delhi, India. She moved to New York three years ago study Graphic Design at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. After earning a Masters degree, she landed a job at Bonfilio Design, a Manhattan design firm. Meanwhile, her husband introduced her to Bikram yoga. I used to do aerobics and lift weights, she said. But now I just do yoga. Many of her students have adopted a similar philosophy.
Sharon Mathis, a Hoboken resident, was the first student in the studio. I was the first student on the first day of the first class, said Mathis after a Monday morning class. And I have been coming every day since.
Before attending the Bikram studio, Mathis had done yoga a handful of times. I wanted something not only help me lose weight, but also would help with stress, she said. And I was sick of the gym. Today, she is one of Jaukhanes more agile students.
Its amazing, she said. Things you could not do the first day one, two, three weeks later, you are doing them and you cant believe it. It happens really quickly. You just need to stick with it. Noemi Hagen, another Bikram student, offered similar words of encouragement. Your body just has to get used to knowing that it moves into the positions, she said.
At Bikram Yoga College of India, there are seven certified instructors, including Jaukhane, to help facilitate the process.
Beyond the bending and the breathing, Bikram yoga most conspicuous characteristic is the towering temperatures. The recommended room temperature for a Bikram yoga studio is 110 degrees with 60 percent humidity. According to the Bikram Yoga official web site, the room is kept at this temperature to protect muscles to allow for deeper stretching, detoxify the body (open pores to let toxins out), thin the blood to clear the circulatory system, increase heart rate for better cardiovascular workout, improve strength by putting muscle in optimal state for reorganization, and reorganize lipids (fat) in the muscular structure.
When asked what the monthly heating bill of the studio is, Jaukhane just laughed. I turn up the heat half an hour before class, she said. But the temperature goes up basically because of the energy in people. And they sweat, which adds to humidity. The heat is a combination of a lot of factors. And you do not even feel the heat because you are so focused on the posture.
For some of the students, the warmth is a boon. I like heat, says Mathis. I hate winter. I say, the hotter the better. Even the students who are not partial to heat, however, have appreciated the effects. I dont like the heat, Lucia, a Bikram yoga second timer, said recently. So I was scared I wouldnt be able to last. But its amazing the workout you get. It is a lot more challenging than the classes they offer at my gym.