Bikram Yoga OKC Promotes Yoga for Everyone
by Sheila Julson
Helping to run a family-owned business can instill in one a sense of entrepreneurship. So it was for Lisa Arthur, owner of Bikram Yoga OKC, whose parents owned and operated a dairy farm in Pauls Valley. While Arthur had no interest in pursuing farming as a career, she would later combine the work ethic gained during childhood with a passion for yoga to open Oklahoma City’s premier Bikram-style yoga studio.
Arthur studied public relations and journalism at Southern Methodist University—where she also took her very first yoga class—and later at Oklahoma State University, where she graduated in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She worked in journalism for about a year after college but still held a strong desire to own a business.
Arthur opened L.A. Tan tanning salon in Oklahoma City in 1987, which turned into LA Sun & Sport, a women’s clothing shop. In the late 1990s, she noticed a sign in her neighborhood advertising yoga classes and decided to participate—a move that renewed her interest in yoga. Around that time, a friend who had moved to Denver told Arthur about Bikram yoga, a series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises performed in a room heated to 105 degrees. “I searched online, and the closest place that offered Bikram yoga was in Tulsa,” she recalls. “So I drove there, took the class and fell in love with it.”
In 2002, Arthur completed teacher training in Bikram yoga. She was the only Bikram yoga teacher in Oklahoma City at that time, and she wanted to open her own studio but the timing wasn’t right. Gradually, more people went to teacher training and interest in Bikram grew in the metro area, soon Arthur transformed a spare room in her house for use as a yoga studio. “We practiced at my house for four years,” she recalls. “It wasn’t conveniently located, but everyone kept coming, so we thought we needed a full-time studio in Oklahoma City.”
After selling LA Sun & Sport, Arthur opened Bikram Yoga OKC in March 2014. She says the Bikram series of yoga is ideal for everyone because of its consistency—the 26 postures and two breathing exercises don’t change. “It’s the same class every time,” she says. “It’s for every body of all ages. It’s a good beginner’s yoga class, but it’s always a challenge and it’s not hard on the shoulders and wrists.”
Arthur highlights some of the myriad benefits of Bikram yoga—it’s gentle on the tendons, muscles and joints, and it’s good for cleansing and detoxifying the body. Some people have a misconception that yoga is only for those that are flexible because they see photos of people in unusual poses, she notes, but with the Bikram series, the heat helps with flexibility by warming the muscles. “Also with Bikram, you don’t have to go into the full posture to receive benefits,” she says. “It’s a total body workout, and because you know what the teacher is going to do, you let go in your mind and you can experience moving meditation.”
Bikram Yoga OKC stays true to the Bikram series. Bikram yoga is the “original” hot yoga, Arthur says, and instructors must go through a nine-week intensive to become certified to teach. “Some people think they know hot yoga and assume they know what we are. They’ve been to a hot yoga class and either couldn’t do it or didn’t like it, and they never went back,” she explains, so she and her other instructors strive to educate people about the true Bikram series.
Stories abound of how Bikram yoga has benefitted people, Arthur observes, and she stays motivated by hearing of how her elderly students stay in good health, or how a younger man that had suffered from rheumatoid arthritis tried Bikram yoga and found it has improved his life by relieving symptoms.
Arthur hopes to see the studio grow and to add more classes. The newest offering is an express class, which includes the same postures performed in only 60 minutes instead of 90 minutes. “It’s for everyone,” she says. “You’re never too old or never too sick.”
Bikram Yoga OKC is located at 210 S. Ellison Ave., OKC. For more information, call 405-278-6944 or visit BikramYogaOKC.com.
Sheila Julson is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer and contributor to Natural Awakenings magazines throughout the country.