Lou Prendergast began practicing Bikram Yoga in 2009 in a room in a tenement flat in Glasgow’s West End, taught by Stephen Clark. When Stephen opened the city’s first Bikram Yoga Studio, Lou benefited from the instruction of teachers from all over the world.
Stephen approved Lou for Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in 2015 and she set off for Thailand on an intensive 9-week Training Programme with Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram Yoga.
She returned to Glasgow and began teaching at Bikram Yoga Glasgow. One year later, while studying for her PhD, Lou set up her own studio in October 2016. It was called the BodyMind Studio in honour of her research, which proposed that Bikram Yoga should be incorporated into the rehearsal processes for performance - on and off stage.
In 2018 Lou completed a 500-hour Hatha Yoga course with Yoga Scotland. This expanded her knowledge and understanding of her Bikram Yoga practice and teaching. Around this time, the BodyMind Studio moved to new premises in Glasgow’s Charing Cross.
One month before lockdown, Lou signed a lease on permanent premises in Partick, and changed the trading name. Hot Yoga West End was born. Finally, after finding the right location – and surviving lockdown – the studio has gone from strength to strength.
Lou achieved her PhD in 2019 just before the pandemic hit. She had also achieved her Diploma in Trauma Centre Trauma Sensitive Yoga and worked hard throughout lockdown delivering trauma sensitive yoga online to vulnerable groups and individuals.
This year marked the publication of Lou’s first book, which grew out of her PhD research. ‘Conscious Theatre Practice: Yoga and Meditation in Performance’ includes research around Bikram Yoga TT and Vipassana meditation retreats, which deepened her own experience.
The controversy over Bikram himself, who appears to have ceased his own trainings; and with the pandemic affecting the travelling Bikram Yoga teaching community, as well as post-Brexit changes around visas, means studios cannot currently rely upon the human resource of travelling teachers.
Lou realised the time was right to launch her own training. She chose to partner with the Original Hot Yoga Association, an organisation made up of Certified Bikram Yoga Teachers who do not condone Bikram’s behaviours, but are absolutely dedicated to the practice.
Lou has achieved Level 2 status in the Original Hot Yoga Association (OHYA) directory. Only Level 2 Certified Bikram Yoga Teachers can apply to have their training approved. Lou will inviting other Level 2 teachers to contribute to the training – online and/or in person.
Graduates of the Hot Yoga West End training must teach 75 classes, as part of a mentorship programme, before advancing to Level 1 teacher. This can be completed at Hot Yoga West End, or any other OHY partner studio. Teachers can then work at any OHYA affiliated studio in the world.
Delivering an Original Hot Yoga approved teacher training programme is a natural progression for Lou. She is incredibly excited at the prospect of teaching others, passing on her knowledge and sharing her passion for this life-changing discipline.
Bikram Yoga College of India
Yoga Scotland, Glasgow
Berry St. Edmonds
University of the West of Scotland
University of the West of Scotland
Glasgow School of Art
Glasgow Caledonian University
Prendergast, Lou (2022) 'Conscious Theatre Practice: Yoga, Meditation and Performance' Brill Rodopi
Excerpt from chapter 4 - Immersive Contemplative Practice, describing Bikram Yoga Teacher Training (p.75)
"Bikram was annoying me, and yet I wanted to give him what he wanted, in the same way as I would a Director on a production. If he wanted me to be tough, I'd be tough. I began to deliver the dialogue in a much louder and more assertive way. My peers loved it. The more they cheered and clapped, the tougher I got. It became fun. I was performing [...] when I finished Bikram said 'Good!' and then 'very good!' Then he turned to the audience and said: 'see how I changed what she was doing? See how I helped her? It had to be his success and not mine."