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Dr. Yoho's Yoga Practice

Dear Rose:

I wanted to write a review and testimonial for your yoga studio (bikramlacanada.com). Although I have been only an intermittent student over the past 4 years, I can say without qualification that Bikram Yoga (central studio: bikramyoga.com) has changed my life. I've had a moderate experience with Ashtanga and Iyengar Yoga but this has been much better for me. Although yoga is different for everyone, and different for people at different ages, for me it has been a wonderful rehabilitation for injury plus a strengthening process to allow me to pursue my athletic enthusiasms. I can see the others in the classes benefiting in other ways. For example, some of them are mature people who have not exercised in years and are working their bodies into shape gradually with very little risk of injury.

One of the most interesting aspects of the class has been the meditation. Controlled breathing, from what I have read about meditation techniques, is a way to cross over the conscious (voluntary) and the unconscious ("autonomic") body functions because it's controlled both consciously and unconsciously. By directed breathing such as we do in class, we start to learn to have some control over these unconscious functioning processes of the body. I've only now started to begin to appreciate this critical part of the training.

It's my belief that your practice is almost a specific treatment for anxiety disorders of all types. The only trouble with a treatment like this is it's so demanding that most patients would rather take a pill than do the work. I suspect that Bikram Yoga could allow many anxiety patients to go off or reduce their medications. I have also seen weight loss, blood pressure control, and other health benefits among my fellow students who I have observed anecdotally.

For those who are considering Bikram Yoga, I would recommend that they think of it as a series of isometrics and stretches combined with meditation directed by breathing exercises. The heat steps up the intensity and sharpens the focus. I think Bikram is excellent cross-training with other types of exercise, such as weight lifting, but of course it's a fine total-body exercise by itself.

As you know I'm a cosmetic surgeon (see DrYoho.com). I believe I do important work but I would recommend Bikram Yoga to my patients ahead of anything I do. My goal is to improve patients psychologically by improving their looks. But if they have the self-discipline to exercise, eat properly, and stay away from drugs and alcohol, this is more important. Bikram is safe, demanding and has the added meditative benefits.

Thanks for your efforts to keep this studio open for our benefit.

Best,

Robert Yoho, MD