A Challenge for Betterment: Enduring a Bikram yoga new year and new you

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SWEATING INTO 2014: The Bikram Yoga Biggest Loser Challenge invites 20 participants with a BMI of 31 percent or more to complete the three-month challenge for $175 (a $350 value). Courtesy photo

SWEATING INTO 2014: The Bikram Yoga Biggest Loser Challenge invites 20 participants with a BMI of 31 percent or more to complete the three-month challenge for $175 (a $350 value). Courtesy photo

New Year’s is usually the time when people come up with resolutions to either quit smoking, lose weight or join a gym. Usually a month or two in, the cracks start to show and motivation begins to dissolve. Wilmington Bikram Yoga hopes to seal 2014 resolutions with their first Bikram’s Biggest Loser Challenge. The incentive: Win unlimited yoga for a year.

The founder of the worldwide Yoga College of India and Bikram Yoga, Bikram Choudhury, is a well-known Hatha Yoga Masters. “Bikram began studying yoga at the age of 4 in Calcutta with Bishnu Ghosh,” Wilmington Bikram Yoga Studio owner Henry Elbert tells. “He carried his teachings and message to the United States, where he has trained thousands of teachers and maintains over 500 affiliated schools.”

Today, Choudhury lives and teaches in Los Angeles with his wife, Rajashree. Both are India National Yoga Champions. Bikram Yoga stands apart in that the physical exercise takes place in a heated room. This also provides numerous benefits.

“[It] enhances vasodilatation so that more blood is delivered to the muscles,” Ebert insights. “This means the capillaries that weave around the muscles respond to the heat by dilation, and brings more oxygen to the muscles and helps in the removal of waste products such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid.”

It makes muscles more elastic and the warmer temperatures allow a greater range of motion. “Cold muscles don’t absorb shock, impact as well and stretch as easily.” Ebert adds. If one exercises with cold muscles, they can’t use the fatty acids, and they end up in places where they aren’t wanted, such as the lining of arteries.

It also speeds up the metabolism, which helps break down glucose and fatty acids. In turn, it improves your digestive system and coordination, and reduces heart irregularities associated with sudden exercise. It enables the body to release more toxins through sweating. “Remember, your skin is the largest organ of elimination!” Ebert says. “Your body uses sweating to detoxify, and it makes your skin glow.”

Folks interested in Bikram can rest assured it’s appropriate for beginners—even the challenge. Ebert informs, “We do 26 postures and two breathing exercises. So, far we have had students from 7 to 80 years of age.”

Barbara, Ebert’s wife, teaches the classes and has taught a multitude of people, ranging from NFL football players, a college basketball team, to people in wheelchairs. “Many of our students who have never done Bikram have come every day during their intro,” Ebert noets. The only items needed are a mat, towel and water. (Mats and towels are available at the studio for rent and sale.)

Inspired by the success of the Bikram Yoga Studio in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Wilmington Bikram Yoga wanted to inspire health and prosperity within their own community by executing the benefits of Bikram. Thus, the devised Bikram’s Biggest Loser Challenge like that from Portsmouth.

“The winner of [the Portsmouth] challenge lost over 70 pounds,” Elbert says. “The participants didn’t just lose weight; they lowered blood pressure, came off cholesterol medication and gained confidence. One student with a pacemaker was taken off three of his medications.”

Wilmington Bikram Yoga will offer a three-month unlimited membership for $175 (a $350 value) for their Bikram’s Biggest Loser Challenge. This applies to individuals with a BMI of 31 percent or over. There are 25 spots open and participants need to commit to four yoga classes per week.

Five students were chosen for scholarships. The Wilmington studio put the message out via Facebook and local media that they were looking for folks who had poor diets and difficulty affording healthful, proper food, all of which contributes to obesity. News traveled quickly and soon they received letters from people as far as Jacksonville, and from others whose spouses had lost their jobs. They picked their five contenders on December 1st before opening to the public to buy into the challenge at a discount. Next year, Ebert hopes to offer 20 scholarships and open the challenge to 50 people.

Beginning on January 4th, the initial weigh-in for all 25 challengers will take place at 2:30 p.m., followed by their first class at 4 p.m. Blood pressure and weight will be tracked at no additional cost at the beginning and end of the three months by a registered nurse, Jenny Knowles.

“We have teamed up with Max Muscle sports nutrition, who will be tracking contestants weight and BMI, as well as providing meal plans for free during the challenge,” Ebert explains.

The student who achieves the greatest percentage of weight loss will win unlimited yoga, a life coaching session with Sheryl Light at Open Studio and clothing. “The biggest reward will be losing weight, gaining strength, flexibility and overall health and well-being, as well as transforming their lives,” Ebert ensures.

The deadline to fill one of the remaining 20 spots is January 3rd.

Bikram Biggest Loser Challenge
Bikram Yoga Studio
5424 Oleander Drive
Deadline: January 3rd
$175 for 3 months of yoga

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