New way to feel the burn
by Joel Danoy
Feb 22, 2013 | 3729 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
New yoga studio
Tristan Henle (left) and his parents, Tom and Jonalyn, stretch as they demonstrate a yoga position at Bikram Yoga Tracy, a new business on Auto Plaza Way, on Wednesday, Feb. 20. Bikram yoga is a series of poses performed in sequence in a heated room.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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The love and energy are heating up at Bikram Yoga Tracy — to 105 degrees, to be exact.

Tracy's newest yoga studio at 2800 Auto Plaza Drive is the first in the city to practice the “hot yoga” that features 26 poses and two breathing exercises during a 90-minute class. The only person talking is the instructor.

Co-owners Tom and Jonalyn Henle — who have lived 18 years in Tracy where they’ve raised two sons — have been registering a flurry of new members since opening Saturday, Feb. 16.

“We hit a home run, we did it right, and everything was just planned correctly," Tom Henle said. "It’s unheard of, because you don’t open your studio and have 40 people in a class, and we've done that twice already. We got that energy going and it works, so we are really super lucky.”

Bikram yoga was developed in the 1970s by Bikram Choudhury from Hatha yoga with the purpose of “systematically work(ing) every part of the body, to give all the internal organs, all the veins, all the ligaments, and all the muscles everything they need to maintain optimum health and maximum function,” according to his website.

The heat softens the body for better reshaping and strengthening, the website states.

Instructors must pass a nine-week certification course with Choudhury — who lives in the Los Angeles area where the main Bikram studio is located — and studio owners must meet several requirements during a lengthy process before operating under the Bikram name.

In Tracy, the 5,200 square-foot studio features a large showroom and reception area, a 1,700 square-foot yoga room and men’s and women’s locker rooms, with showers available for after class. Yoga mats, towels and clothes are being sold in the showroom and are available to rent for class. Up to 80 students can practice at one time.

Tom Henle — owner of Henle Construction in Tracy — said the construction “was right up my alley,” because he is a remodeling contractor and designer.

“This is exactly what I envisioned and in fact it turned out better than I hoped,” he said.

For Jonalyn Henle, who was practicing traditional yoga for two years — realizing her dream of becoming a Bikram instructor happened after her very first class almost five years ago.

“One day and one year later, I taught my first Bikram yoga class,” she said. “I started right away and haven’t looked back.”

Students at the studio can expect a rigorous workout during which the instructors will “positively encourage you to go beyond your limits,” Jonalyn Henle said.

“If you can only stay in the room, then do that the whole time because once you leave, you’ve let yourself fail, and then it becomes easier each time,” she said. “This is already a great community, but we hope everyone takes advantage of Bikram so that we can all become healthier.”

Students of all ages can practice during one of four classes offered Monday through Friday or three sessions Saturdays and Sundays. More classes are expected to be featured in the coming months.

If students can’t complete a pose or position, they are asked to simply lie down or stand up straight until they can continue.

Marco Zarte started practicing when he was 7 years old. During the last year, the now 8-year-old said his flexibility has increased, which helps him in his favorite sport of golf.

His mother, Isabelle, is an instructor at the studio.

“I can hit the ball about 100 yards now,” said the Manteca resident. “I can be able to swing more thoroughly now.”

Julie Wagner said she takes the 5:30 a.m. class “because it really helps me have a better day.”

She joked that on Mondays and Tuesdays, when she doesn’t practice yoga, “my co-workers really notice it.”

“I think I’m not as nice to be around,” Wagner said.

The studio offers new members a deal of 30 days for $40.

Tom Henle said arriving students can expect the studio to be filled with “super good energy” — a state of mind he even admitted to not understanding when he first started practicing yoga.

“I thought that was kind of hippie, but until you experience it, you're not really going to know,” he said. “It’s all about helping people and having a good time doing it with a smile on your face.”

• Contact Joel Danoy at 830-4229 or
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