Photo borrowed from www.tribalance.com
I have been practicing yoga since college and over the past month, I have been able to return to a weekly evening class at my mom’s yoga studio. It is so relaxing and I am finding myself less stressed throughout the week. Over the past year, I have attended a few yoga classes at the large gym where I belong. Although there have been some good classes, it is hard to get into the ‘yoga’ mind frame in a bright room where there is a cardio kickboxing class next door and free weights dropping outside. Plus, the room is usually packed.
My trainer told me about a studio near my house where she has taken some classes. I looked into it online and found that it is a HOT YOGA studio. I have never done a hot yoga class before, but I have always wanted to try it. I packed up my yoga mat, a towel, some water and headed off to try something new. I had no idea what to expect.
Slightly intimidated, I placed my stuff in a locker. I usually leave my socks on and take an extra long-sleeved layer for Savasana, but it seemed that the other students were heading into the yoga room in shorts and tanks (and just shorts for the guys). I followed along, opened the studio door, and walked into what felt like a large dark sauna. In the past when I have taken a “hot” class, it has been a yoga class where the instructor has turned the heat up and I haven’t noticed much of a difference. This room already felt warmer than any studio I have been in. There were lines across the floor to help line up the mats into 4 long rows. The room was silent and the students were stretching, relaxing, and practicing their poses. I found a spot in the corner, laid down on my mat, and set my intention for the practice. For this morning, I chose an open mind to this new form of yoga. I lay silently, focused on my breathing and waited…but for what I wasn’t sure.
I had no idea what time it was or even which mat the instructor was on. So I stretched out my legs, my back, and all of a sudden, I heard a man’s voice from the back of the room. The class began and we started going through the poses. The instructor walked around the room telling us poses as we moved quickly over our mats. I tell you, I must have done 30 push ups in the first 15 minutes. There was a lot of strength work and we held many of the poses for longer than I expected. I had sweat dripping down my arms and legs and just when I thought I couldn’t do any more, we began some serious core work! I was happy to see that there were a variety of levels in the class and everyone was reaching for their towels and water bottles as often as I was.
After the core strength, we finished with some deep hip openers and other stretches. I was able to stretch further than I do in my typical classes and it felt great. We finished in a seated position with some wise words from our teacher. Then proceeded into a self-directed Savasana. I did not need my socks or long sleeve shirt as I was covered in sweat from head to toe. After a few minutes, I started to hear people moving about and realized that your final relaxation was as long or short as you wanted. I walked out of the class feeling fabulous physically and definitely open-minded. I LOVED the atmosphere and spirit in the room and I was surprised at how well I tolerated the heat. I usually keep my eyes closed during class, but found that I was able to remain focused with my eyes open in the dim room. It will be hard to go back to another ‘meat-head’ yoga class at my gym! My abs are already starting to feel sore and I am figuring out how to fit a HOT YOGA class into my weekly or monthly schedule. They even have a discount for health care workers…hooray! Next time, I just need to remember an extra towel!