Bikram Yoga Columbia expands to Irmo

The business that brought famously hot yoga to the famously hot city has expanded into Irmo.

Participants in a Bikram Yoga Columbia class at the new Irmo location Saturday (photo by Allen Wallace)

Participants stretch their flexibility Saturday in a Bikram Yoga Columbia class at the new Irmo location. (photo by Allen Wallace)

Bikram Yoga Columbia held a grand opening this weekend for its new location off Harbison Boulevard, at 1150 F4 Bower Parkway behind Wild Wing Cafe.

The new spot joins the original Forest Drive studio as the only certified Bikram facilities in Columbia.

Bikram yoga, named for its founder, Bikram Choudhury, is also known as hot yoga, because sessions are held in a room heated to 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity.

Unlike the familiar stereotype of chanting and meditating, “this is a more exercise-based yoga,” said instructor Kira Kowalski.

Kowalski, along with owner Lacy Carbone and the other Bikram Columbia instructors, attended training in California with Choudhury in order to be certified. The Bikram sessions last 90 minutes, with an instructor guiding the classes through 26 postures and two breathing exercises that work muscles all over the body.

Bikram yoga is used by several NFL teams, including both this year’s Super Bowl participants, to help players build flexibility and rehabilitate injuries.

Participants at the Irmo location’s grand opening Saturday raved about recovering full range of motion after surgeries and back injuries and even carpal tunnel syndrome.

“It’s really crazy how much it heals,” said Kowalski, who has suffered from scoliosis.

Bikram Yoga's new Irmo location, on Bower Parkway (photo by Allen Wallace)

Bikram Yoga’s new Irmo location on Bower Parkway (photo by Allen Wallace)

The Irmo and Columbia branches offer classes for beginners and have participants from teenagers through seniors. The workouts are open to those age 8 and older. Kowalski said the workout is designed to allow for any age, shape or size because participants can stretch in each posture to their own comfort level.  She said the studio’s setup, with mirrored walls, also helps build confidence.

“You learn to appreciate yourself, to become more comfortable with your body,” Kowalski said. Unlike other types of yoga, there is no chanting and no overt spiritual side to Bikram. Instructors also don’t prompt participants regarding lifestyle changes.

“You don’t have to change your diet to do this,” Kowalski said, but, as she added, “Your body does different things when you work out. When you walk out of here, you may find you don’t want a cheeseburger; you want juicy fruit or something hydrating.”

Kowalski said despite the absence of meditation and chanting, Bikram is very relaxing.

“You forget about what’s going on in your life,” she said. “You find that all your focus is on the postures.”

More on Bikram Columbia and the new location in Irmo can be found here.

Categories: Business