I’d always been interested in yoga. In college, I did some DVDs, Yoga for Dummies, this and that. A few months ago, I decided to take it to the next level and actually attend a yoga class. It was nice, but my schedule prevented me to return and instead I found Pilates, which I absolutely adore!
I’ve been a complete Pilates fiend for four months now, going three times a week, and I am proud to say that I’m getting better and better at it. But when a friend called me and invited me to a hot yoga class, I knew I had to try it. After all, I like yoga and I love the heat.
I’ve been hearing about hot yoga for quite a while, but this particular class was new to me. It was called Hotpod Yoga, as it is performed inside a heated pot/inflatable tent. The concept was thought up by two British men, Max Henderson and Nick Higgins. According to the company’s website, “Our unique style of yoga has its roots in ‘Vinyasa flow’, synchronizing a dynamic flow of postures with the breath. Our instructors keep it practical and accessible, whilst remaining anchored in the wisdom of an ancient and potent practice. As our name suggests, classes take place in a warm environment – approximately 37°C. It’s not just about the atmosphere of delicious calm: heat helps the body melt into the practice, warming the muscles and aiding flexibility while the heart works harder. All this and a purifying sweat help ensure maximum benefit from your effort.” Spoiler alert, it was really hot!
So, armed with only what I had read online and a tip from a friend who goes to hot yoga classes (to only have a bit of fruit before the class), I went to the Hotpod yoga class. The tent itself was surprisingly large, and we were around 15 people in there. It did feel crowded, at times, but everybody made it work. The Vinyasa flow was less challenging than I expected, and even though there were a few poses that I couldn’t do, considering this was only my second official yoga class, I think I did alright.
But my main concern wasn’t the yoga bit, but the heat bit! I was afraid I would faint, get sick or even go mad! They made us sign a waiver before we entered the pod and I must say, it wasn’t at all encouraging.
The good thing is that the pod itself wasn’t all that hot when we entered it; while we were waiting for people to arrive, it was slowly warming up, and this gradual heat made everything non-threatening. The class started and it was soon becoming apparent that everyone in there was going to be sweating buckets. Just for the record, I am a non-sweater! I go to the hottest sauna and the water from the shower simply evaporates off me and I leave the sauna dry and hot, most of the times. But not in hot yoga! Every single bit of my skin was sweating. At one point, I was supposed to be holding my wrists and they were so sweaty that I kept slipping.
The heat wasn’t too much to bear, but I must admit there was a time when I thought I couldn’t continue until the end. I started feeling a bit weird, when I was the only person that I could see, breathing as I if I was running. 10 minutes in and I was feeling overwhelmed by the heat! Oh, no! I remembered what the instructor told us, that if we felt like we needed a break, we should take one, so I paused just for a moment, took a sip of water and it really helped! Halfway through the class, a window was cracked just for a few minutes, and I felt the life come back to me; I managed to concentrate again on the flow and keep on sweating. And I felt really great that the people around me were starting to sound as if they were running, too!
I know that I keep mentioning the sweating part a bit too much, but Lord, do you sweat! The floor around us was wet, our clothes were soaking wet and so were the towels underneath us. Needless to say, I drank my own weight in water, when the class was done.
I loved the class and I think I’ll return once in a while. It is a bit out of my budget, and I appreciate that the first class was free. Now that I’ve done this, I do have a few useful tips for you should you be interested taking up hot yoga.
- Do not eat before the class! I had some oatmeal at 9 AM and the class was at noon and there were some poses where I could actually feel the oatmeal wanting to come back up. If you must eat, have a small portion of fruit. Also, easy on the water before the class, for the same reasons.
- Wear as little clothing as possible. If you’re comfortable with your body, that is! I had long tights, a sports bra, and a fitted t-shirt and I felt overdressed. The t-shirt kept rolling up, I started pulling at it, and long story short, I should have been more focused on my yoga and less on the state of my damn t-shirt.
- Bring a face towel, a mat towel, and water. They gave us a mat towel, which helped loads and I brought a face towel, without which my eyes would have killed me. And bring water. Sip it, don’t chug it!
- Listen to your body. Take a break if you feel like it, push yourself when you know you can. Never follow the lead from those around you, your body and your abilities are your own.
- It’s not for everybody. Hot yoga can be pretty intense and it’s not necessarily for everyone. I can safely say that when I started working out after a year-long break, I couldn’t have done hot yoga. If you’re new to working out, or haven’t worked out for a while, I would advise take some regular yoga classes, before jumping in to hot yoga.
At the end of the class, the instructor told us to thank our bodies and to congratulate ourselves for what we had just done. So I said, Well done, Cristina, you did a great job! I don’t think I’ve ever uttered those words to myself and hearing my inner voice say that made me so emotional that I actually got teary eyed.
I left the class, hot and feeling like a million bucks. I faced the cold with a smile on my lobster-red face, feeling light on my feet, slightly dehydrated and hopeful. Hopeful that from now on, I’ll tell myself that I did a great job more often. Hopeful that from now on, I’ll sweat a little bit more in the sauna.
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