By Léo Azambuja
Buddha once said no one can save us but ourselves — we ourselves must walk the path. For many Kaua‘i residents and the occasional visitor, this path may start in the heart of Kapa‘a Town, more precisely at Bikram Yoga Kaua‘i.
Each one of us has baggage in our lives, there is constant suffering, Bikram Yoga Kaua‘i owner Samantha Lockwood said. At Bikram Yoga, you suffer through 90 minutes in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and when you leave, everything else in life is easier, she said.
“You walk in one person, you walk out another person,” Lockwood said. “With Bikram Yoga, you are reborn once again.”
Bikram Yoga was founded by Bikram Choudhury, an Indian yoga guru who came to the United States in the 1970s invited by Hollywood star Shirley MacLaine. Today, Bikram Yoga is one of the most successful yoga franchises in the world. Lockwood learned from Choudhury himself, who also taught Lockwood’s parents. All instructors at Bikram Yoga Kaua‘i also learned from Choudhury.
Bikram Yoga Kaua‘i offers classes suitable for beginners and experienced yoga practitioners.
“It’s the same every single time you practice, it’s 26 yoga postures and two breathing exercises,” Lockwood said. “Half of the class is standing, half of the class is on the floor, and the entire practice is done in a heated environment with a mirror and with an instructor who has been certified by Bikram Choudhury, a real living guru.”
Out of simplicity — and hard, consistent work — miracles may happen.
“We’ve had some miraculous stories coming from our students,” Lockwood said. One of her students was a nurse who was hit by a truck, had her pelvis crushed and almost lost her leg. The only thing that relieved the pain during recovery was coming to yoga. Today, the nurse can walk again.
“We have people here who just can’t even imagine life without Bikram Yoga, who come every day, and say it’s the best thing for their body, their mind, their soul, every part of their being, every part of their life,” she said.
When you make it through 90 minutes of “torture and hell” in a heated room, with teachers pushing you outside of your comfort zone, you go beyond what you think you’re capable of doing, physically, mentally and emotionally; you walk out and, spiritually, you’re on Cloud 9, Lockwood said.
“You feel like you’re in another level, you’re living in what we call cosmic consciousness,” she said. “Every problem starts to become smaller and smaller.”
Furthermore, you can focus your attention to become more successful; you have more positive thoughts about yourself and what you’re capable, Lockwood said. Each day you do a little better in the yoga class, and you apply this success to your life.
And her students vouch for it.
Keri Hashitate has been practicing Bikram Yoga for four years. She said it impacts her life inside and out; emotionally, physically, spiritually, “the whole gamut.” It helps her to live the moment, to be conscious at all times and to make better, quicker decisions.
Ken has also been practicing it for four years. He called it “the real deal.” Bikram Yoga changed his life and helped him to focus on his health and well-being. To him, it’s a perfect combination of athleticism and a real deep spiritual practice.
Six years ago, Kyle Knowski was only 26 years old, but his body was already shot — including a shattered C4 vertebra — from multiple car accidents. After starting yoga classes, his back pain slowly faded away, his posture realigned, his scar tissue dissipated, his mental clarity improved and he performed better at school. Today, he takes Bikram Yoga classes almost daily.
Aside from the health and mental benefits, she said many are surprised on how much better they look. They gain muscle, lose weight and stand up taller.
Bikram Yoga is for everyone, from any age to any body type or health condition, Lockwood said. And beginners are encouraged to come. If the workout becomes too hard, they can take time out and skip a posture. The goal is to stay in the room through the whole class.
But as Ken said, “it either chews you up and spits you out, or it chews you up and you come back and say, ‘That wasn’t so bad,’ so you come back and it keeps chewing.”
Lockwood called Bikram Yoga “the prime rib of yoga.” Rather than just sit and meditate, you must try your best. If you can’t do a posture, sit down, no problem. But if you can, you must do it. “That’s Bikram Yoga in a nutshell.”
Bikram Yoga Kaua‘i has classes seven days a week, two or three times a day. The rates get cheaper with multiple-class packages, making it quite affordable for residents.
“We really try to cater to our local crowd, our local community,” Lockwood said. “We really want more people coming in here instead of going pau hana, we want them to come and find another way to de-stress, release from the daily pressure of life.”
Bikram Yoga Kaua‘i is at 4-885 Kuhio Hwy, at Choy Village Center, just north of Safeway Kapa‘a. Visit www.kauaibikramyoga.com or call 823-9642 for more information.
Lockwood has had a life-long relationship with Hollywood. An accomplished actress with many movie and TV series credits to her name, she is the daughter of Hollywood actors Gary Lockwood and Denise DuBarry. Visit SamanthaLockwood.com for more information.
She is also the creator of Fleurings, a unique line of vase jewelry, with a collection of earrings, necklaces and hairpieces designed to hold water and keep flowers fresh. Visit Fleurings.com for more information.