How Hot Yoga is leading and changing the Yoga Industry

Today, Hot Yoga has changed the lives of hundreds of people across the world. Intentional Yoga Studios throughout the world offer a Hot Yoga practice called “Bikyasa” that is grounded in the scientific and medical benefits of the Hot and Flow Yoga.

The word Yoga today is easily associated with lifestyle and health, two major concerns of the American Health Association today. With an increase of obesity in younger adults, rising numbers of diabetes, heart failure, and other stress related health concerns; Yoga classes are becoming increasingly more popular, as a cost alternative, prevention, and even symptom reversal.

In 1998, Dr. Dean Ornish, through experimenting with 194 patients of coronary heart disease, found that “80% of the patients were able to avoid bypass or angioplasty by adhering to lifestyle changes, including yoga.”

Intentional Yoga continues to change one’s outlook of Yoga with its heated flow, in-depth instruction, and popular culture beat. Baseball stars, Hollywood celebrities, and pop culture artists attest to the amazing benefits they experience after just a few classes.

Hot Yoga continues to lead the Yoga industry by encouraging physicians and scientists to research its benefits, funding experiments and educating the general public. Benefits such as weight loss, muscle tone, joint flexibility, range of motion, increased energy and enhanced vitality are only a few of the common benefits that practitioners rave about.

The most recent published paper on the benefits of Hot Yoga were published in the Chinese Medicine Journal on June 2010, demonstrating the benefits of Hot Yoga as a countermeasure of bone loss in women. Cardiac surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, also argues that Yoga “massages the lymph system,” activating the flow of lymph throughout the body, speeding up its infection-fighting and waste-filtering process, and promoting “the draining of the lymph.”  According to Oz, specific asanas “stretch muscles that from animal studies are known to stimulate the lymph system.”

Today’s Yoga industry is vast and varied and offers a class that suits any individual, though Intentional Yoga classes offer a consistent experience through their Bikyasa program which is a set sequence with specific instruction, which make the class accessible to beginners and challenging for advanced practitioners. The postures are connected together to provide not only a complete workout, but also a scientific approach to revitalizing the entire system.

This revitalization process occurs primarily through the heat. In a heated environment capillaries dilate more effectively, enhancing oxygenation of tissues, muscles, glands and organs. Metabolism speeds up the breakdown of glucose and fatty acids, and just as when your body raises its temperature to fight infection, raised temperature in the room assists in improving T-cell function and the proper functioning of your immune system.

Outside of the physical benefits, Intentional Yoga builds a community that supports and nourishes it’s students. What sets Bikyasa Style apart is it’s ability to bridge between the sciences of the East, and the freedom of the West.

Have you done your yoga today?


How Primary Foods can change your Life

I attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I learned an incredible philosophy about food — everything we consider as a source of nutrition is really just a secondary source of nourishment.

The foods you eat are secondary to all the other things that feed you—your exercise routine, relationships, career, and spirituality. Those are the things we call Primary foods.

All that we consider today as nutrition is really just a secondary source of energy.

Think back to a time when you were passionately in love. Everything was exciting. Colors were vibrant. Intimacy was magical. Your lover’s touch and feelings of exhilaration sustained you. You were floating on air, gazing into each other’s eyes. You forgot about food and were high on life.

Remember when, as a child, you were playing outside, having fun? Suddenly, your mother announced dinner was ready, but you were not hungry at all. The passion of play took all of your attention.

Sometimes we are fed not by food but by the energy in our lives.

These moments and feelings demonstrate that everything is food. We take in thousands of experiences in life that can fulfill us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

We hunger for play, touch, romance, intimacy, love, achievement, success, art, music, self-expression, leadership, excitement, adventure and spirituality.

All of these elements are essential forms of nourishment. The extent to which we are able to incorporate them determines how enjoyable and worthwhile our lives feel.

To discuss your goals and intentions for health and life fill out a health history form here.

How Yoga Heals, Destroy, and Excites the Internet

With the recent NY Times and Salon Blog article about yoga wrecking or not wrecking the body being circulated, I felt the responsibility of offering another point of view.

Both articles simply seek the fast attention of the reader.

Why not?

Even Bikram Choudhury is quoted for saying ‘come to my torture chamber room every day for 60 days, and I give you a new body.’ An article back in the 90’s even quoted him saying that his Yoga can cure anything.

And for thousands of practitioners it has.

In Bikram Yoga no one touches you with physical adjustments, so if you are injured it is because you are not listening to your body or to the teacher, who is telling you exactly and specifically how to get in and out of the Yoga pose.

While I have great respect for Bikram practice and the research behind it, I have been an Ashtanga Practitioner for the last 10 years.

Ashtanga Yoga, much like Bikram Yoga, has a set sequence of yoga poses that have been demonstrated to enhance the physical Body while focusing the Mind. That is the primary difference between Yoga and other forms of Exercise.

How has its success been demonstrated? By the thousands of practitioners who have benefited.

The poses that the NYTimes article suggested injure the body the most are not even part of the Bikram practice, as it is intended for beginners.

In Ashtanga, you are not given those poses until your body is ready.

Making great soup takes years, yet learning to make great soup trains the mind to be a great Kung Fu Master. There are great lessons to be learned in the modern Art world, as seen in both Kung Fu Panda 1 & 2.

Great chefs are not made in 2 months of teacher training. And the secret recipe is only appreciated after years of practice, not theory.

Joshua Rosenthal of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition has coined the term Primary Foods. Unlike food that is consumed through the mouth, which we consider as Secondary Food and is very Bio-Individual (again Joshua Rosenthal’s term – the food that is good for one person, could be poison to someone else), Primary Foods are the same for us all: Exercise, Career, Relationship, and Spirituality.

In short, exercise is more important to your health than going on a diet; having a career, a job that you enjoy is more critical than becoming a vegetarian, as is being in a relationship where you feel loved and sexually wanted, along with a sense of purpose and connection to something greater than yourself (call it God, Love, Energy, the term is inconsequential).

Exercise is a Primary Food, and Yoga is only one of many dishes on that menu.

We know why we love it so much. It rings with a promise of everlasting Youth.

Yes, if you exercise your life will improve, whether it is through Yoga or horse riding. Take Bill Dorris who lived to the age of 94, riding and roping until the day he died.

All exercise can be overdone, and what the NYTimes article pointed out is the consequences of extreme acts (like sitting for hours in an unnatural position).  Just because it says Yoga does not mean that you will like it or benefit more from it.

If Yoga is your desire, then you should taste a few different classes. Some people, like the writer of the Salon article, prefer to vary their experience every day. Some find a more regulated practice better suited to their needs. Some enjoy hands on, yet some would rather never be touched.

The overwhelming variety of Yoga styles in America today is a testament to Joshua Rosenthal’s term Bio-Individuality – what is good for one, can be poison to another.


Gabriel Azoulay has been practicing since 1993 and is an E-RYT, a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and member of the American Association for Drugless Practitioners. Having lived in India and Thailand with Masters of Yoga and Thai Massage, Gabriel weaves wellness, Yoga, and counseling to support his students and clients. His recent eBook is a collaboration with a Yoga student who hurt her knee, and through working with Gabriel’s ideas had helped correct the problem.