LAKEWOOD RANCH -- After yogis finish a class at Thavma Bikram Yoga, pretzeling themselves 26 ways, they can head to the locker room and take a cold shower with complimentary organic body wash, scrubs and shampoo. Or they can relax in the lounge with a glass of iced tea, some fresh fruit and other treats.
Thavma Bikram Yoga, which opened in the Lakewood Ranch Gateway shopping plaza Feb. 28, is a marriage of gym and spa. When Marina Bourantonis opened her yoga studio, she wanted to blow customers away with an upscale feel and stellar customer service.
"When people come at the end of class, they're going to have a treat that makes them feel like they're at a spa," she said.
The space features a 1,200-square-foot, state-of-the-art studio with anti-bacterial, medical-grade flooring and a beefed-up heating system that pulls out humidity and blows in fresh oxygen while UV bulbs kill germs from sweat. Everything necessary to run an impeccably clean hot yoga studio.
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Thanos Bourantonis, an interior designer, styled the inside of the space, including all the yoga clothes and merchandise for sale in the studio's boutique, his first artistic project in America.
"It's a combination of European, minimalist, amazing flavors," he said.
Marina Bourantonis was ready to open her studio in Greece, but after visiting her mother in Palm Harbor and traveling as far as Sarasota to take a Bikram yoga class, she realized there was a need for another studio in the area. So the couple moved to the United States and opened their studio at 1821 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., next to the Publix.
Marina Bourantonis will teach Bikram yoga, commonly known as "hot yoga," a practice that she says saved her from having to undergo intensive neck surgery. The style is based on the teachings of Indian yoga guru Bikram Choudhury: 26 postures and two breathing exercises at 105 degrees in a 90-minute routine.
"If you want to have the original hot yoga experience, that's Bikram," Marina Bourantonis said. "Sometimes other hot yoga studios will change (the sequence) around, but we stay with the original 26-2."
Marina Bourantonis, 34, has been practicing yoga since the age of 14. She trained extensively in India and Indonesia and is a registered Bikram yoga teacher.
The couple encourages everyone to try Bikram yoga, regardless of age, weight or flexibility.
"If you come inside and do all of the poses correctly -- even without the flexibility -- if you do it correct, you can burn up to 1,000 calories," Thanos Bourantonis said.
New students can purchase a month of unlimited classes for $55. A single class is $20.
For more information, and to view a class schedule, visit thavmayoga.com.
Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024. Follow @sabrinarocco on Twitter.