Bikyasa Yoga transforms your Health and Happiness

“Gabriel, that was brilliant, I have never done anything like that before,” Clive, a tall, broad shoulders English ex-patriot, living in Alaro, Mallorca with his wife and 4 children, is beaming as he walks out of the second story Yoga studio. “I feel like I am on ecstasy. That was amazing. What do you call that?”
“Bikyasa” I humbly smile. I am not averse at receiving compliments, but I am also humble about it. One must receive in order to truly give. It is a balance I learned many years ago. While the Buddha emphasized that we should give, western conceptualization of Buddhism forget that in the core of giving, is also receiving. Which is why the story of how the Buddha died is so incredible. He accepted a meal of rotten meat, even though he knew the meat was rotten (the woman giving his the meal did not).
It is Monday morning, and I had just taught my Bikyasa Hot Yoga class at a local Yoga studio in the village of Alaro, on the island of Mallorca. The studio by no means had any external heat in it, nor the ability to turn it on, as I do in most yoga studios that are not set up for a Hot Yoga classes.
You don’t need external heat to benefit, enjoy, and be inspired by this incredible fusion of Hot and Vinyasa Yoga practice. Ideally it is practiced in a room with high heat and mirrors, but I know that heat is built through the flow and the community. My goal is that every person has a chance to practice a yoga class that is not only balanced physically, it is inspirational mentally, and transformational in it’s experience.
After teaching Bikyasa across the Midwest states of America, I am now in Europe sharing Bikyasa, Thai Yoga, Yin Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga across multiple countries.
Earth Yoga Studio in Palma City, Mallorca was the first stop for my Bikyasa workshop. Hot Yoga is non-existent on this island, and most people have never practiced it. The few who have, enjoyed Hot yoga in limited fashion (less than a dozen classes) perhaps in America, or in their home country. However, the yoga practice that changed both Asia and America’s Yoga scene has yet to take over Europe. And from the look of it, Yoga has found a voice through a global popularity, as opposed to the transformational experience of being in a Hot Room.
Hot Yoga arrived to Hong Kong about 10 years ago, and has exploded ever since, from Thailand to Taiwan. Funded by large businesses, it was Pure Yoga Company that opened the first large Hot Studio in Hong Kong and paying Western teachers large sums to teach almost 50 classes a week.
For the first 4 years the yoga market in Asia was primarily Hot Yoga, with studios opening every 6 months, inspiring hundreds of students per day. As Hot Yoga became an establishment, that opened the door for the Vinyasa style popularized by Ashtanga and Power, and today you can experience the same diversity of teachers and classes in Asia as in America.
Such a fast growth suffers the same consequences as the growth in America. Teachers with limited experience, and a push toward standing or arm balancing yoga classes.
The balance offered by Ashtanga or Hot seems to have been lost to most teachers and students who do not have the patience or the dedication to practice these two styles regularly.
Hot Choudhury has a sentence he likes sharing at the middle of his class, when the students lies down in their first active “savasana”. At about 45 minutes into the “torture chamber” as he often calls his yoga room, after students have been led through 13 standing poses, his dialogue says: “everything up until now was a warm up. The real Yoga begins now.”
Ashtanga Yoga is composed of 3 large portions, each to be completed sequentially, as practitioners develop a memorization and physical strength and flexibility. The first portion is composed of almost 30 poses and is called: ‘Yoga Chikitsa’ which means ‘detoxifying.’ The ancient order of these poses follows a hip and spine opening experience. The second portion is known as ‘Nadi Shodhona’ which means ‘expanding the nadis.’ The word ‘nadi’ means energy channels. In this portion students rely on the flexibility and strength learned in the first portion exploring full range of motion in the spinal column, as well as discovering how to tap into internal strength. The third portion is known as ‘Sthira Bhaga’ loosely translated into ‘expanded freedom.’ Once the first two portions have been mastered, the student is now invited to explore their body in showmanship patterns.
The third portion is basically the first two portions, only now the practitioner goes to extreme dimensions. There are no health or energetic benefits to be gained any more.
Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois, who was instructed by his teacher, Trimuali Krishnamacharya to take this style of Spiritual awakening to the world, constantly illuminated his students saying: ‘Yoga Chikitsa – very important, every person can do. Nadi Shodhona – more complicated, ok to practice. Sthira Bhaga – just for show.’
An interesting aspect of Ashntaga lies in the sequences themselves.
All three portion have the same beginning and closing – Sun Salutation, standing, and a sequence of inversions.
When David Williams, the first Westerner to complete all three portions, faced a  dilemma about practicing in the morning and making it in time to catch his flight, Pattabhi Jois shared with him the ‘daily minimum’ – 3 Sun Salutation A, 3 Sun Salutations B, and the last 3 seated poses of the practice.
I had a truly interesting experience when studying with David Williams. A revelation occurred when he shared how he learned the practice. In all foreward bend poses the chin was tucked in, activating the glands in the throat, which is exactly how Hot teaches his poses.  More over the very last pose in the Ashtanga practice, a seated lotus pose, where we raise our bodies off the floor and breathe, was done utilizing Bhastrika breath. Bhastrika translated as ‘breath of fire,’ is a fast breath in and out of the nose, designed to fill the body with heat.
While Hot is not a true breath coordinated practice, the first pose, a breath pose, is all about coordinating breath and movement, and the last pose is a seated breath pose, where practitioners breath quickly out of the mouth, and is called ‘Kapalabhati’ breath. This breath cools the extremities, and helps the heat flush remaining toxins from the body.
Hot Choudhury’s 26 pose practice, known as Hot Yoga, is for all levels, beginners and advanced. Where he has an 84 pose sequence practice, for advanced Yogis and teachers, he shares that the 26 poses have been sequenced by his teacher Bishnu Gosh to help heal society.
And healing magic it has.
Hot and his teacher took the practice to hospitals in Calcutta where patients healed, this inspired Bishnu Gosh to send Hot to America so that he could heal that part of the world. Celebrities from Kareem Abdul Jabar to Madonna all sward by the practice, and helped push yoga into the popular mainstream culture in the early 1990, which up until then was seen as a hippy version of sitting and chanting weird sounds, with no real physical benefits, especially not in the face of the popular aerobics revolutions of the 1970s.
Hot Yoga indeed changed the popularity and the financial success of yoga, though to its credit, hundreds if not thousands of people attribute their yoga practice to a reduction of physical problems, and the spending on pharmaceutical pills to sustain their life in modern society. Hot’s dialogue happily states: ‘if yoga was a pill, people would take it every day.’
I discovered yoga through reading Patanjai’s Yoga Sutras, an ancient manuscript detailing the benefits and reasons for yoga practice. By the time I started to teach, I knew that outside the Spiritual value, Yoga sequences have preventative maintenance abilities. Much like brushing your teeth. If you practice just Sun Salutations regularly, a sequence of ten or twelve movements coordinated with the breath, you will enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
Based on the scientific theory that if your spine is flexible your body stays healthy and your emotional state remains content, sun salutations moves your body in a repetitive motion through spinal adulations. After discovering this meditation in motion at the age of 20 after (I had been practicing seated meditation for months, inspired by the writing of Patanjali), I set to test this theory.
“Concentration, meditation,” is a powerful use of the English language that helps the practitioner move beyond their mind and into their body.
This is one of the powerful aspects of Hot Yoga, that unlike Sun Salutation, is designed to be practiced under the guidance of a teacher.
“Bikyasa bridges between voice and silence,” I start my Saturday workshop connecting the subtle with the gross, the philosophical with the physical. “Hot Yoga has a powerful way of using language that helps students move beyond thought and into action. So often students are trying to figure out what the instructor was saying, needing to look around or at the teacher before they are able to act, where as you will find that I will speak in a very action oriented manner. Direct, yet compassionate.”
Today Hot Yoga simply means that a studio, recognizing the financial power in a hot room, simply offers a yoga class in a heated environment. Heat has transformational powers. It melts iron; reforms glass, moves the Earth, and can change both our bodies and our minds. This is a subconscious understanding, and once you practice in a hot room, you will notice a deep gravitation toward coming back.
This is true for both Hot and Ashtanga, and where the first heats the body from the outside, the latter uses the breath to ignite an internal fire. The first is more accessible, and financially more rewarding to the studio owner since there are more students in the room practicing in unison, while the latter is an individual practice, since it is your individual breath that creates the heat, and thus you must concentrate on your own breath and not the sound from the outside.
Where the heat can remold glass and iron, it is the skill of the artist that actually forms the material into the shape that is needed, otherwise all we are left with is a glob of metal or glass.
Today’s yoga classes lack the artistic intelligence of re-shaping. Teachers offer heat and poses that enhance heat, yet are filled with standing poses, and very little floor action. Somewhere Hot’s words that the real yoga begins when we get on the floor, or Ashthanga’s intelligence that each portion is unique because of its floor poses. Much like cooking pasta, it takes time for the water to boil before we can add the pasta. Yet once cooked fully, we must rinse it to stop the cooking process before we can truly enjoy its flavor.
Both Hot and Ashtanga utilize this alchemical knowledge, ancient wisdom translated into modern information.
Somewhere the information has been lost.
‘There is a way between voice and presence, where information flows,’ writes the ancient poet Rumi. ‘There is a way between voice and presence where information flows. In silent meditation that way opens, and in hurried conversation that way closes.’
Bikyasa balances voice and presence so that the student can discover how information flows for them. Combining modern music with silence students discover the emotional magic that music creates in us, but also to experience the challenge of being alone with our thoughts. The instructions are a scientific usage of language that goes through the Neo-Cortex, which is our modern brain responsible for words, and into our Limbic Brain, which is responsible for action and has no capacity for language or words.
It is of no wonder then that the ancient Tao Master Lao-Tzu said: ‘The way to be is to do.’
It is through action that we discover our true being.
Bikyasa creates a sense of action that follows the intelligence of Hot and Ashtanga, a balance between standing and floor poses, a scientific combination of poses designed to heal the physical form and enhance the subtle domain, allowing information to flow.
‘There is a balance between voice and presence where information flows.’
Bikyasa sets information free.
The greatest of all information – that we are being of joy, happiness and peace.
No wonder Clive left the class feeling like he was on ecstasy.

Gabriel is the founder of Bikyasa yoga and is the creator of H3 Yoga, a revolutionary teaching program. He has been teaching since 1996 and has developed Hot Yoga Programs for studios around the world, from Absolute Yoga in Thailand to Intentional Yoga in the USA. He believes in the transformation of the individual to reshape society. His teaching, writing and privates experiences merge humor, philosophy and physical knowledge formed from decades of practice and study. You can contact Gabriel at www.gabeyoga.com

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