Page last updated at 11:53 GMT, Sunday, 6 July 2008 12:53 UK

'Hardcore' yoga comes to Scotland

By Julie Broadfoot
BBC Scotland

Andy Murray
Scots tennis star Andy Murray is a Bikram yoga convert

Andy Murray has been singing the praises of Bikram yoga since it became integral to his training routine.

It is practised across the world and, finally, it has reached Scotland.

Everything you think you know about yoga goes out the window when you try Bikram. The idea of doing hot yoga sounds very appealing in our Scottish climate but it is unlike any yoga I have experienced.

You would expect plenty of stretching, some classes focus on spiritual wellbeing, some are all about getting that flat stomach.

It can be difficult to get into the right mindset when you have just shut down from your working day.

You use your mind as a tool to shape your body
Lisa Miller
Bikram yoga teacher

In Bikram, you have no choice - you are effectively doing yoga in a sauna.

Lisa Miller, the teacher who has brought it to Glasgow, explains that you need intense concentration.

"You have to get the focus and the physical meditation, when nothing exists except the postures in the moment. You use your mind as a tool to shape your body."

After training in Los Angeles, determination to continue her own practice led to the challenge of finding a venue here. One with temperatures above 40C and a humidity of 40%.

It is an overwhelming heat and there is no room for ego as you put your body through the 26 ordered poses. Twice.

You can't look around or be influenced by anyone else's varying degrees of contortion. By the end of the 90-minute class the sweat is dripping off you.

No worries

In my first class, Lisa's words rang in my ears: "Push! Push! Push more, until you feel you can't push any more, then push again!".

There was nowhere to hide but my body felt fit to collapse at times and nausea crept over me. Somehow I got through it and I keep going back.

If you try it once, you'll know why.

Your worries are wrung out of you and you leave feeling energised and clear-headed. The heat gives your muscles a safer stretch so, remarkably, you do not ache the next day.

Steven Rennie, an amateur golfer from Airdrie, is a recent convert.

He said: "It really pushes you mentally and physically, and different poses are perfect for the muscles I used in the golf swing. I feel fantastic when I come out of it."

Having had to walk out of two classes, it is satisfying and inspiring to hear it puts even trained sportsmen through their paces.

The form of yoga, invented by Indian Bikram Choudhury more than 30 years ago, claims to strengthen the body, improve flexibility, to promote healing and prevent physical injuries, to tone, aid sleep, detoxify and massage your internal organs. There are plenty of positive anecdotes to choose from.

Whatever its claims, it is an incredible experience and one I am happy to be addicted to.

Murray turns up the heat
22 May 08 |  Tennis
Yoga guru's star power
18 Jun 02 |  Entertainment

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