By Brittney Jenkins
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE
The 105 degree heat meets you at the door and the 40 percent humidity hits you in the face as you step into the room where shoes are forbidden. You’ve entered the yoga room at Bikram Yoga Durham.
The owner of BYD, Dr. Ralph Newman, opened this Yoga establishment in 2010 in the Golden Belt complex on East Main Street.
Bikram Yoga, first introduced to Newman in 2005, is a specific type of Yoga consisting of a sequence of 26 postures that was patented by a man named Bikram Choudhury in the 60s for therapeutic use.
As a former runner and cyclist, Newman started developing back problems years of running long distances. He started going to the Bikram Yoga studio in Raleigh as an alternative exercise.
“I got everything out of it,” Newman said. “I got endurance, strength, cardiovascular benefits, form and flexibility all in 90 minutes, all out of this one thing [workout].”
In 2008 Newman went to teacher training to be a Bikram Yoga instructor in Acapulco.
“I had in the back of my mind that I wanted to open up my own studio, but I didn’t want to open up in Raleigh because I didn’t want to compete with them,” Newman said.
BYD is Newman’s first business and says that it is a learning process. He talks about how he made mistakes but he learned from them and he gives first time business owners a word of advice. “You have to love what you do and it has to be important to you,” Newman said. “It’s stressful and it’s not easy.”
Since Newman opened the doors to BYD, one of the goals has been to identify the business with the city of Durham and to help the community. Even the logo has undergone two transformations: going from a logo with a traditional Bikram pose, to a more generic logo that can be identified with Bikram yoga, to a logo that instantly identifies itself with Durham.
Making their logo affiliated with Durham isn’t the only way that Newman and the staff at BYD are making their mark on Durham. In collaboration with the Golden Belt third Friday art walk, BYD holds a Karma Yoga class on that day at 4 p.m., free to the public.
BYD’s work study program is another way for the community to get involved, even if you can’t afford to practice yoga. Participants in the work study program come in the studio twice a month to clean and their compensation is a year of free yoga classes.
Bikram Yoga is unique when it comes to other yoga techniques: it’s hotter than other yoga studios, most of the teachers only know Bikram Yoga, and it doesn’t have any spiritual symbols associated with it.
“Bikram Yoga can be whatever anyone wants to make of it, it’s like a blank slate,” Newman said. If they want it to be spiritual, it can be spiritual, but if someone comes in here purely for exercise, there’s nothing that they have to be spiritual about.”
There is a common trend among the BYD teachers, employees and students: some have never practiced any other type of yoga except Bikram.
Joshua Rand had only been to the BYD studio twice but he said the staff is friendly and the facility is very clean. The 28-year-old Bikram Yoga practitioner, tells everyone who has never tried Bikram yoga to at least try it. “Try it once, you’ll hate it but you’ll love it at the same time.”
“Bikram Yoga Durham benefits the entire person. Not only does it benefit your physical wellbeing but it benefits your emotional and mental wellbeing also,” says Ari Eisenberg, 22, of Maryland and one of BYD’s newest instructors. “It really heals you from the inside out.”