If dressing up in super-tight clothes and contorting your body into the shape of a pretzel in a 105-degree room is your idea of fun, then you know that Bikram yoga is hot—literally, but the sport is also one of the hautest fitness crazes to hit America in a generation. Chicago in particular has taken to hot yoga in a big way.
Why is it spreading like wildfire? It’s a real workout. It’s highly social. And, as an ancient spiritual discipline, it’ll do more than tone your thighs. The high heat and 40-percent humidity are said to help flush toxins from the body and the willpower and concentration that a yogi develops through continued practice can physically change the brain for the better.
Also, you’ll make friends. To impress them, get hip with these three underground yoga trends in Chicago:
1. Yell your way to spiritual bliss. Bikram Choudhury founded his eponymous brand of yoga on the commonsense notion that the deep mental, physical and spiritual benefits of the ancient Hindu art of yoga can most easily be conferred by shouting the lessons directly at the subject’s face. But this boot-camp style isn’t universal. If you’re looking for a drill sergeant to whip you into shape, check out Stu Getz at Bikram Yoga Evanston. He’s considered one of the best yoga instructors in the Chicago area.
2. Buy luxury gear. It’s yoga, so you can go old-skool mystical and do it right on the ground, just you, the dirt and the clear blue sky. Or, if you want to feel closer to the ultra-wealthy Bikram (whose wristwatch is encrusted with rubies), you can bling yourself out with ultra high-end gear. An all-leather Italian bauletto, complete with yoga mat straps, can be yours for around $1,200. This makes good sense as a motivator, because if you spend like that, you will simply have no choice but to continue with yoga.
3. Cleanliness is next to Godliness. In the hothouse of a yoga studio, sweat is a perennial challenge. Your towels soak it up, your clothes drink it up, your mat gets the funk. But thanks to modern technology and SilverSport products, your workouts can be as clean as they are tough. The company, founded by Steelers great Franco Harris, produces an innovative line of Bikram yoga gear which uses silver ions to help keep germs at bay. It’s nanotech basically, and you can use it for Pilates too. You can pick it up at your local Dick’s Sporting Goods. There are thirteen stores in the Chicago area to choose from.
Yoga — it’s a sport that builds both the mind and the body. The cardiovascular benefits are well known, and as research shows, focused concentration leads to increased neurogenesis and improved brain plasticity. Boot camp with high-fashion bags and sci-fi tech in Chicago? Sounds good. But as Douglas Adams said, don’t leave home without your towel. At those temps, better make it a SilverSport.
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