Stony Brook resident Catherine Kelso describes her life as "constant academics," but she has found an outlet for her stress: bikram yoga.
"It's like being in a sauna and working out as hard as you possibly can, which is mildly torturous," Kelso said. "It makes me healthy...I sleep better. I get more done. It makes it easier to think."
Bikram yoga, also called hot yoga, is the practice of yoga postures and breathing exercises performed in a room heated to 105 degrees with around 40 percent humidity. The practice was developed by Bikram Choudhury, a native of India, in the 1970s.
Pete Monsen, who owns the Bikram Hot Yoga Studio in Setauket along with his wife Trish Monsen, established his studio in 1999 and has grown to the point where he recently opened a second studio, located in Bayport. In order to obtain his certification, Monsen completed 500 hours of training with Choudhury during the course of nine weeks.
Monsen said there have been a number of proven medical benefits to the practice.
"Your resting heart rate goes down," he said. "You sweat toxins. Your circulation improves and your skin glows."
The class consists of 26 asanas (yoga postures) performed twice each along with two pranayama (breathing exercises). The first half of the class is done standing up, while the second half of the class is performed on the floor.
Beginners should "get here early and warm up on your own for 15 minutes," Monsen said.
Elizabeth Ortiz drove to Setauket from East Patchogue to try her first class one day in June.
"My expectations were that I was going to be able to do this, no problem, because I'm very flexible," Ortiz said. "But it definitely is a challenge."