Heat Things Up

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A local Bikram yoga instructor strives to help clients find health and balance.

By Ashley Breeding

LBM_38_QA_Bikram_Yoga_By Jody Tiongco-14

For some, yoga practice is about opening the heart and connecting with “the divine.” For others, it’s about getting an “ass-kicking workout,” says Marna Kibby Bright, a certified Bikram yoga instructor and owner of Bikram Yoga Laguna Beach. Marna personally seeks the latter, and promises to deliver the same to her clients.

Developed by former Olympic weightlifter Bikram Choudhury, Bikram yoga is a series of 26 postures (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayamas), performed in 90 minutes in a heated room (the recommended temperature is 105 F). A yogi since age 5, Bikram became the youngest contestant ever to win the national India Yoga Competition at age 11. He created the series after a weightlifting accident injured him at 20.

Regular practice is designed to restore health to the body, promote weight loss, prevent injury and illness, increase mental clarity and reduces stress.

A former distance runner, Marna says she tried Bikram yoga just once in 2002 and was hooked. She stopped hitting the pavement and started rolling out the mat. “It can be miserable the first time you do it, but you’ll love the way you feel when you’re done,” she says. She was inspired to become a teacher and in 2007, purchased the studio from its original owner.

Laguna Beach Magazine chats with Marna about the many benefits of Bikram.

Laguna Beach Magazine: Aside from its prime location near the ocean, what sets Bikram Yoga Laguna Beach apart from other Bikram studios in Orange County?

Marna Kibby Bright: Just being in Laguna means we have a different demographic. We may have 20 to 40 students in a class, where other studios have 50 to 80. It gives us an opportunity to really connect and get to know our students.

LBM: How does Bikram differ from other types of hot yoga?

MKB: Bikram is a specific set of 26 postures and two breathing exercises, done twice, in a carpeted room heated to 105 F and 40 percent humidity. Each posture prepares you for the next, and you literally stretch and strengthen every part of your body. Any room can be heated. … We train directly with Bikram and learn a very specific routine and dialogue. The uniformity keeps the integrity of the class.

LBM: Why is Bikram your preferred method?

MKB: I just love the heat and repetition of it. Your body is different every day, but the postures stay the same. It never gets easy.

 LBM: Who can do Bikram, and what do they need?

MKB: It’s suited for all ages and abilities. We’ve got everyone from young people trying to get in shape to pregnant women (recommended only if you practiced prior to becoming pregnant) to a 60-year-old who says he surfs better now than when he was in his 20s, all because he’s been doing Bikram! All you need is a mat and a bottle of water. We provide everything else.

LBM: What health benefits can Bikram practitioners expect?

MKB: You’ll build strength and flexibility, rid your body of toxins, lower blood pressure, improve range of motion, strengthen [your] immune system––there are so many. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says the reason he played professional basketball as long as he did is because he practiced Bikram.

LBM: And mental health benefits?

MKB: I’ve seen students become more comfortable in their own skin, calmer and learn to let go. [But], everyone comes with their own set of issues, so the benefit each person gets is entirely their own.

LBM: How frequently should Bikram neophytes practice?

MKB: You can do Bikram every day; it’s not like lifting weights––you do not break down your muscles, so you don’t need to rest in between. Your first three classes are the hardest, but it becomes more manageable after that. I tell new students to come as often as they can.

LBM: What type of diet best accompanies a yogi lifestyle?

MB: You can eat whatever you want, just not less than two hours before class. Bikram loves ham sandwiches and Coke. I personally find that the less sugar and refined carbohydrates and the more green leafy vegetables I eat, the better I feel in class. LBM

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