News Chicago Daily Herald

Hot yoga breeds sizzling runs

06:16 PM CST on Monday, December 6, 2004
By ERIN BURDETTE / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

Runners, expand your horizons. You may be a yogi in the making.

On Saturday, as you register and grab your info packet for the White Rock Marathon, take a minute to check out the Bikram yoga booth at the 2004 Marathon Fitness Expo.

The five Bikram studios in the Dallas area have joined forces to discuss the benefits of adding hot yoga to a runner's workout, answer questions and demonstrate positions.

What does yoga have to do with a marathon? If you're anything like me, yoga conjures up visions of tranquility and enlightenment – a peaceful, somewhat balding guy mastering the art of doing nothing. And isn't a marathon runner generally an obsessive type who thinks that it's normal to run 26.2 miles voluntarily?

The truth is, the two disciplines complement each other well. Bikram can improve flexibility and stamina and reduce the risk of injury.

The original "hot yoga," with temperatures between 100 and 110 degrees and 40-60 percent humidity, Bikram is a 90-minute, 26-posture (hey – a pose per mile!) class. And it's not for the faint of heart.

Paul McBride, 44, a lifelong runner who has completed three marathons, was dismayed eight years ago when chronic backaches, shoulder spasms and tight muscles, particularly his hamstrings, were causing him to cut back from his usual 30 or so miles per week.

"The thing about running and age – your muscles just don't stretch as well," he says. Around that time, Paul stumbled into yoga, experimenting with Iyengar, Ashtanga and power yoga before he found his match in Bikram.

"My first class felt like getting a thousand massages," Paul recalls. "Because Bikram focuses so intensely on stretching and lengthening the spine, and the spine is what running confounds, my backaches were history and my hamstrings started letting go of years of tension."

Paul was surprised to find in addition to his aches and pains disappearing, his running improved dramatically.

"My per-mile pace was a lot faster, my stride was better, and as long as I made it to yoga a couple of times a week, I could run as much as I wanted."

What makes Bikram yoga so compelling for a runner?

Karen Buckner of Bikram Yoga Dallas studio cites two factors. First, she says, the heat adds intensity, facilitates a deeper stretch, rids the body of toxins and produces benefits more quickly. Second, the specific postures and placement within the series are orchestrated to work each muscle and joint of the body from the inside out, she says.

For the admittedly Type A marathon lover, Bikram yoga may give you more run for your money.


When: Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

Where: Marsalis Exhibit Hall, Hyatt Regency Reunion Dallas, 300 Reunion Blvd.

Who: Approximately 10,000 runners registering for the White Rock Marathon plus family and guests

What: More than 90 booths, including Cooper Fitness Center, Touch of Italy Boutique, Cool Shades, Delicious-N-Fit: Sugar Free Bakery, Free Scale Marathon (Austin), Laney Chiropractic and Sports Therapy, American Laser Centers, American Stroke Association, Texas Massage of Dallas. Bikram yoga demonstrations begin at 9 a.m. in Booth 623.

Speakers: From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., there'll be hourlong talks on various topics, including "Nutrition for Marathon Runners" by Suzie Solenberger Townsend (10-11 a.m.); "Life Steps: How to Reach a Higher Level in your Personal, Physical and Emotional Life" by Larry North (11 a.m.-noon); and Bill Rodgers, three-time Boston Marathon winner, 3-4 p.m.


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