Editor’s note: This is the fourth entry in a series exploring Hawaii’s yoga studios. Read the first three here, here and here.
“Bikram Yoga will give you the key to the Kingdom of Health.” — Bikram Choudhury
There are many different yoga styles, but none are as ubiquitous in Hawaii as Bikram. That’s because its founder and namesake Bikram Choudhury brought his proprietary and highly specialized form of yoga to the islands and California in the ’70s. It subsequently flourished in both states, and a couple decades later, Choudhury began certifying instructors, who spread the practice around the world.
So, what is Bikram Yoga? What sets it apart from other forms? What’s the difference between it and, say, hot yoga?
Let’s tackle the last question first. Hot yoga is essentially the same thing as Bikram Yoga, the only difference being that the studios practicing this form don’t pay fees to Choudhury. And why would they be required to pay fees? Because the India-born Choudhury copyrighted the 26 positions — developed from a style called Hatha — that comprise his specialized brand of yoga.
So that’s the controversy. Now, let’s talk about what defines Bikram — and yes, hot — yoga.
The principle remains the same across both disciplines. For example, the “hot” in hot yoga comes from the fact Choudhury had students practice in a heated room, where temperatures mimic those found in India. Translation: humidity runs at a cloying 30 to 40 percent, and the mercury can rise as high as 104 degrees.
As a result, you’ll want to bring plenty of water, a towel, and a mat. You’ll also want to refrain from eating two hours before class. If the studio has showers, bring an extra towel. Should you decide that Birkam yoga is for you – and it will be, trust us – you’ll end wearing revealing but comfortable clothes that resemble – inhale… exhale – a bikini! If the skimpier clothing gives you pause, just remember: less is more in a heated room.
Back to what Bikram yoga is really all about. Originally from Calcutta, Choudhury based his style on repeating the same 26 postures, each of which is done twice. There is no variation. At their core, these postures provide more than a wonderful workout. They constitute a healing process. Bikram yoga is about improving every facet of your being by engaging each muscle, tendon, organ, and fiber. Nothing is left untouched. Nothing is left unhealed. Your blood will flow, your mind will open, and your life will be that much easier.
The best part: Bikram yoga is perfect for both beginners and experienced practitioners.
Below, you’ll find a list of nine studios spread across all of the Hawaiian Islands, including six on Oahu, two on Maui, one on Kauai, and one on the Big Island. Whenever possible, we’ve included a representative quote from each studio’s site, so that way you get a feel for its general philosophy. Since prices and schedules vary, be sure to call ahead.
“In the beginning you might feel NAUSEUS or DIZZY – PERFECTLY NORMAL. Remember to drink lots of water after class and try to take a second class within the same 24 hours to help cleanse your body and relieve muscle aches.”
“New high density rubber mats installed actually make you work harder. You start to activate small muscles in the foot, ankle, and shin area of the leg, and all the way into the hips, pelvis and gluteus areas. You will develop tremendous balance by practicing here!”
“Yoga is not a religion, though it promotes common morals found in most world religions. Each of us on our individual paths can use our experience in yoga to advance any spiritual practice, find a spiritual practice, or simply to use yoga however it serves our life experience. The use of “GOD” in yoga practice is not specifically used to identify with any world religion, but in reverence to that which is greater than us. “
“At Bikram’s Yoga College of India in Kona Hawaii, as at all the Schools that teach Bikram’s with the integrity and consistency that Bikram insists his teachers hold to, you will discover the ‘Key to the Kingdom of Health.’”
“[Instructor]McKell’s enthusiastic approach to teaching is magnetic. Her love of the practice is evident and heartfelt. Guiding you through the 26 postures you are encouraged to tap into your Bengal Tiger strength.”
We had a wonderful time at Sail Away and I recommended Hawaii Hideaway to dozens of people. You were a delight to work with and I will definitely use you again the next time we rent a home in the islands.
Like a Dream
Bliss doesn’t even describe our experience. It was almost like a dream. We are ready to do this again with Hawaii Hideaways – you guys are the best. Everything was perfect!!!
Outstanding Experience From Beginning to End
It was in an outstanding experience from beginning to end, I would work with Hawaii hideaways again in the future unquestionably. Sunny Madeiros was terrific with her recommendations of everything from leisure activities to restaurants and even equipment rentals.
Coral Gables, FL
Perfect Combination of Elegance and Comfort
First time to Maui (and Hawaii). This is a spectacular setting and the home is a perfect combination of elegance and comfort. I could stay on the lanai all day long and be happy. Of course there’s a ton of fun activities, but it was great to have Gull Cottage as our base to come back to!
Arlington Heights, IL
You’re Going to Want to Stay
Our family spent a splendid week in Kauai in early 2017, basing ourselves out of the Touching Green house. It’s in a great location, has everything you need, and is just lovely. The pictures don’t do it justice. You’re going to want to stay!
We had a wonderful time in Kauai! We remained in awe at the unimaginable beauty, both of the rental home, as well as Kauai itself. It will be a treasured memory for life. I hope we can come back and make more memories.