Monday, January 23, 2012

Today, I was a tree, cobra, rabbit and a camel.

No, I wasn't imagining myself at a zoo. But in an effort to kick off the new year with some healthier habits, I've gotten back into Bikram yoga here in Istanbul.

A new studio, 40 Derece Bikram Yoga - the first Bikram studio in Turkey - opened in the Etiler neighborhood about two months ago. I was ecstatic to hear about this studio - just a 20-minute walk followed by a 59N bus ride away from my apartment. Just this past weekend, the studio celebrated its grand opening.
Here is the front of the Bikram yoga studio in Etiler - located on the ground floor of an apartment building near the Etiler Camii.
About six years ago, at my friend's urging, I took my first Bikram yoga class in NYC. If you don't know, Bikram yoga is practiced in a hot, very hot room, heated to 105 F/40.6 C and consists of a series of 26 poses - including a tree, cobra, rabbit and camel poses - and breathing exercises. I enjoyed going to these classes with my co-workers before we had to head into the restaurant for our long night shifts.

Two years ago, I started taking Bikram yoga again in Baltimore just a few months before our wedding to shed 10 pounds, combined with a detox diet.

Here I am again, this time, more than 5,000 miles away from the U.S., but now I can take Bikram yoga classes here in Istanbul. Today, was my fourth class, but it wasn't my best performance. I could tell our weekend's indulgence in pizza and wine had taken its toll. I felt like I was sweating out all sorts of red wine and leftover carbs in my body!

However, exercising really is one of those things, where if there's no pain, there's no gain. I gained enough from the holidays and really want to get myself in gear now.

I enjoy these yoga classes because for 90 minutes all I must do is focus on myself and improving my poses to the best of my ability. The teachers - Ayşe from Izmir, Michelle from Canada, and Alex from Holland - are very motivational and help push you to your limits!

But today, as Alex was going through the poses, she says, "Imagine you are a Japanese ham sandwich and push you forehead to your knees."

Meanwhile, as I'm stretching, trying to keep my forehead on my knees and sweating like a pig, I have to block out my mental image of eating a Japanese ham sandwich. Mmm...pork!

This is why I go to yoga on an empty stomach. Afterwards, I rewarded myself with a grilled chicken salad at a nearby cafe.

I'm on the right track - if I can avoid the pork!

·         40 Derece Bikram Yoga is located at: Tepecik Yolu Cad. Akgoren Sokak No. 3, Daire 1, Etiler, Istanbul.
·         Phone: 0531 705 7640

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Alyson said...

This is great information! I enjoy Yoga, although I have never tried "hot" yoga. This place is very close to me, so I will have to check it out

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i would die! i can never get cold enough. but way to go you!

Jake Olson said...

I've never had much time avoiding the pork in my time here in Turkey. Not much access down here in lil ol Adana.

Joy said...

@Alyson, Definitely I recommend it!
@Jaz, sometimes it's too much for me, but I'm giving it a shot! =)
@Jake, Ha, I just keep stocking up on pork on our trips and luckily a few places in Istanbul carries pork salami and such.

Joy said...

Just completed my 3rd class in one week! I'm on a roll! =)

Kyra said...

How much did you find a yoga class to cost in Etiler?
I'm very excited to have found your blog, I am a university exchange student from Pennsylvania studying at Bogazici for the spring semester, and an avid baker but I found my flat here has no oven! So I ordered one.. now to sort out the turkish ingredients and learn some new turkish recipes! I think your blog will help a lot with that :)

Joy said...

@Kyra, the yoga class is wonderful! Only 30 TL per class. I need to get back to it this week after my baking classes end. =) I'll probably do a cupcake class in March or April, so if you are interested let me know. Welcome!

Kirsten said...

I am a huge Bikram Yoga fan and will be traveling to Istanbul in late February. I was hoping to find a studio where I could practice while I'm away and hopefully this is it! Our hotel is located in Pendik and I have NO idea where anything is. I loved hearing another American's view of your new city. I am traveling from Washington DC and am looking very forward to it.
Many thanks for your post!

Joy said...

@Kirsten, Yikes, Pendik is pretty far away from any of the main sites in Istanbul. However, maybe you'll be close to the new metro stop there or by the water to catch the ferry boats. This is the only bikram yoga studio, but there are several other good yoga places in Nisantasi and Cihangir and maybe in Kadikoy which is on the Asian side where you will be staying. Good luck!