Kendra Dibinga Blackett, owner of the BikramYogaWorks studio in Northeast, in a yoga pose (Courtesy of Drew Xeron)
Kendra Dibinga Blackett, owner of the BikramYogaWorks studio in Northeast, in a yoga pose (Courtesy of Drew Xeron)

I cried during my first hot yoga class, not because of the heat but due to the yoga instructor’s decision to place me directly in front of the mirror. There, I was forced to look at myself where I began the arduous process of liking what I saw.

For one suffering from low self-esteem and depression, that’s a major accomplishment. Ninety classes and 14 fewer pounds later, I felt better about myself than I had in a long time. I have Bikram (hot) Yoga to thank for that.

Words like these, shared by a District Heights resident who says she took Ubers to Ivy City in the District and Riverdale to take classes, have become commonplace since I opened BikramYogaWorks (BYW) located in District Heights, reaffirming my reasons for opening the business.

If I could help her, I could help others in that community and surrounding areas. I wanted to reach African Americans, particularly student/athletes and their parents who might not have easy access to the many yoga studios throughout the greater Washington area so they could reap the many health benefits that yoga has to offer. I knew it would be worth it.

In terms of my own journey, Bikram Yoga changed my life. After years of running track and weight training, I developed chronic knee pain which led to surgery in 2010. Bikram Yoga helped me strengthen and heal my knees and manage the stress and demands of a very busy but rewarding life. It has allowed me to connect with like-minded, health-seeking individuals and I wanted to share my experience with the residents of District Heights.

Bikram Yoga takes place in a 105-degree room with 40 to 50 percent humidity. It improves flexibility, increases muscle strength and tone, reduces weight (in conjunction with the right diet), improves blood glucose levels and eases depression.

The Hot Room powered by BikramYogaWorks officially opened its doors in the District Heights community a few months ago. BYW offers hot yoga, barre and Pilates classes. I want BYW to become a one-stop shop where parents and their children can exercise together.

Unlike typical yoga studios, BikramYogaWorks serves as a lifestyle and wellness company that caters to the whole person.  In addition to high-quality yoga instruction from some of the most experienced instructors in the area, we also offer Fascial Stretch Therapy and Cryotherapy — a treatment that uses cold temperatures to treat pain and inflammation resulting from sports injuries.

I am excited to partner with the Athletic Republic-Capital Region (ARC) to improve the health of Prince George’s County youth and their families. Our goal is to get area residents to take classes so that they can take care of their health. Parents may find our services beneficial particularly if their children have dreams of reaching their full potential as basketball, football or track stars.

In addition to my District Heights location, I have studios in Riverdale Park and Baltimore, Maryland and in D.C.’s North East Ivy City neighborhood. I am passionate about building healthier African-American communities.

If you’ve long considered participating in hot yoga, Pilates or barre classes, or have been away from the practice and want to start again, check out BikramYogaWorks at 6417 Marlboro Pike in District Heights. The first class is free and we offer a special introductory rate for the first month. For more information, see our app, BikramYogaWorks or visit Kendra Dibinga Blackett is the owner of BikramYogaWorks in District Heights, Md.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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