Friday, 6 March 2009

The Beauty Spot: Olga Allon

As I'm 'focused' on exercise this week, I thought it pertinent to interview someone who has truly dedicated their life to a form of exercise they love and who has created a hugely successful and admirable business from it.

Meet Olga Allon, Founder of Hot Bikram Yoga.

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Olga Allon. I was born in Glasgow and moved to London in 1998. I was working as an architect until 2003. During this time I felt increasingly stressed in all parts of my life and started to feel aches and pains in my body from spending much time in front of a computer. I had tried other types of yoga and always had a keen interest in sports. When I first tried a Bikram class I was immediately drawn to the yoga because of the challenge that every class gave me. I also enjoyed the fact that every class I went to there were people of all different ages, sizes, body types. I very quickly started to feel better about my body and I felt more relaxed. I continued a regular Bikram practice for 4 years before embarking on my life changing decision to give up my regular job and train to become a teacher.

What is your background and why did you decide to open Hot Bikram Yoga?
With my background in architecture my dream was to combine my love of yoga with her love of architecture and design a space where people could come and enjoy this fantastic yoga. I feel that in Fulham and Balham I have created a beautiful retreat for people to get away from the hectic world around them and do something incredibly good for their body and mind.

What is Bikram Yoga and what are the benefits?
· Provides total body workout
· Helps sport (and other) injuries
· Improves posture
· Eases back pain
· Increases flexibility and strength
· Reduces stiffening of joints
· Boosts energy levels
· Detoxes and cleanses
· Relieves tension
· Relaxes the body and mind

Whatever your fitness level you will find Bikram Yoga challenging (that’s why so many people come back for more). The postures (asanas) combine strength, flexibility and balance to give you a total body workout. As with other forms of cardiovascular exercise, regular practice will also aid weight loss.

How often do you practice, and how often would you recommend others practice?
I practice 3 – 4 times a week. I recommend twice a week to see quick improvements in your body but even once a week will help to see the changes. The key to it is sticking to a regular consistent practice.

Describe a day in your life…
Wake up before 7am by my gorgeous daughters Yasmin and Skye. Have some cuddles in bed before getting Yasmin ready for nursery. Heading to the studio to teach or practice or both. Having a busy day of meetings, phone calls and things to do to keep the studio running. Home for bath time and bedtime with the girls. Try and keep up regular Transcendental Meditation followed by dinner with my husband Justin and an evening of work and some relaxation.

What advice would you give to anyone who wanted to become an entrepreneur like you?
It has been a very difficult but rewarding experience. It is 24 hours a day, 365 days a year commitment and sometimes I have to stop myself from getting overwhelmed and to remember to just enjoy the yoga. But If you want something enough, it doesn’t have to be a dream.

Who else do you admire in the world of Bikram?
I admire all my teachers at the studio who devote so much love and energy into teaching and helping others.

For very experienced students who wish to become a teacher of Bikram Yoga, what is the procedure?
You have to have kept up a regular (4-5 times a week) regular practice for 12 months minimum before I will consider sending you on the teacher training course. Then you need to get to my classes as much as possible so I can work with you and your yoga practice.

Is Bikram yoga enough weekly exercise or should you combine it with other forms of exercise?
It can absolutely be done on its own as a main form of exercise. It is a serious cardiovascular workout. However, it does also compliment other sports.

What are your hopes for the future of Hot Bikram Yoga?
I hope that the studios continue to be as friendly and inviting as they already are. I hope that many more people will come through the doors and change their lives for the better through practicing this wonderful yoga with me.

How do readers join Hot Bikram Yoga?
Check out our website and come along to the studio to sign up for our introductory offer of 10 consecutive days unlimited use of the studio for only £10!!

Yet another inspirational woman - thanks Olga.

As soon as I get off this mountain I'm heading straight to the Balham studio for a well-deserved Hot Bikram Yoga session...

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