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Stretching internal organs never felt so good at North Andover’s Bikram Yoga.

By Beth Daigle

Open-eye meditation, 26 postures and two breathing exercises, 105° room temperature, watchful, auctioneer-like instructors, and lots of sweat. Welcome to Bikram yoga. While this style, also known as hot yoga, has been around for years, it’s now picking up steam throughout the North Shore, thanks, in part, to Teri Almquist, who owns Bikram Yoga Merrimack Valley in North Andover. One of just three authorized Bikram studios on the North Shore, Bikram Yoga MV hosted 130 first-time Bikram students in March alone. Almquist’s 49-person studio welcomes anyone looking for a cleansing, therapeutic experience that offers deep stretching and strength-building opportunities.

Almquist first discovered Bikram yoga following a spinal injury that left her immobile from the neck up. While attending her very first class, she realized that Bikram yoga would help her on the road to recovery. The recurring technique and specific order of fixed poses began healing the damage her body had sustained 13 years prior.

Bikram yoga is a challenging, 90-minute practice created by Yogiraj Bikram Choudhury intended to work every part of the body from the inside out, bringing the entire body into balance. Everything from muscles and tendons to internal organs are stretched and massaged while unhealthy toxins are eliminated.

“No matter what your body can do, even if it’s only a little bit, done the right way, you are getting a great benefit,” Almquist says of her practice.

New to yoga myself, I had all of the typical apprehensions before my first session. I began quite fearful of the heat, only to realize that I could manage my body’s reaction simply by accepting it.

If I began to feel light-headed, as can happen in the first few classes, I simply sat down and resumed when ready.

Other students and the instructor’s careful guidance gave me direction as I watched some bend over backward with ease while others did only what their bodies would allow. As Almquist says, “Just move your eyes and eventually the body will follow.”  Now, when I leave the studio, I feel cleansed and invigorated, while breathing for other activities like running and biking has vastly improved, and my muscles are now noticeably longer, leaner, and looser. Bikram Yoga Merrimack Valley, 43 High St., Suite 310, North Andover, 978-689-9642,

Things That Make You Go Om Four more yoga styles.

1. Ashtanga Also known as Power yoga, Ashtanga offers a challenging and dynamic series of movements that combine breathing with movement. The goal is to gain strength and stamina.

2. Junzi Now available at A Yoga Practice in Georgetown, Junzi is geared specifically to the needs of the male practitioner. 65 Central  St., Georgetown, 978-352-8886,

3. Iyengar This very precise style focuses on achieving optimal body alignment through awareness and control.

4. Laughter A relatively new form of yoga, Laughter yoga attempts to combine yogic breathing with laughter resulting in health benefits associated with a great big belly laugh.