While yoga has been around for quite a while, it has risen as a popular workout trend in the last few years, appealing to a mainstream group of spiritually-minded individuals and athletes alike. It has become a regular fixture on class schedules from fitness gyms to recreation centers and private yoga studios have popped up in many neighborhoods.
Yoga is a great complement to other high impact sports and exercises. It allows you to stretch, tone and challenge your body in ways you might not be able to otherwise. Through yoga, you can learn methods to calm the mind, release muscle tightness, build core strength and focus on proper alignment of the body, among other benefits.
Hot yoga has become widely popular as many people like the benefit of warmed muscles from the heated room. I have to say the warmth suits me well as I don’t consider myself to be a very flexible person. Oh, and the warm room also feels like a mini vacation to Mexico. You can’t go wrong with that, right?
I’ve been going to yoga for a few years now, but hot yoga is somewhat new in my world and it wasn’t until I recently tried a few different classes that I really learned what separates one type from the other. Most of the hot yoga classes I had been to were a standard yoga style, such as Hatha, in a heated room. The room is usually between 25° – 30° Celsius to start, with the source of heat coming from heat lamps or infrared heat. Generally, the postures practiced in each class are different from one to the next and the class length ranges from 45 – 60 minutes.
To mix things up, I thought I’d try Bikram yoga, which is practiced in a room where the temperature begins at 41° Celsius, is 90 minutes long and the same twenty-six postures are practiced each class. While I prepared myself physically by drinking lots of water to stay hydrated, I wasn’t prepared for the mass amounts of sweat and mental challenge of this class. My first clue of what to expect should have been the groups of people sitting outside the yoga room, dripping in sweat in their barely-there workout gear. These people were red-faced, sweating, and looking like they had just been chased by a Lion in the desert. I instantly knew I was overdressed.
Once in the studio, I let my body adjust to the heat and carefully placed my towel beneath me. The instructor barked the directions for each pose as we followed along like a sweaty batch of Gumby dolls. There is a lot of focus on proper alignment and it was helpful to have the teacher provide slight tweaks or suggestions throughout the class. I managed to make it through the class without passing out, and physically pushed myself further than I thought I could go. I was exhausted, mentally beat and not sure I could do another class.
Somehow, I made it through a few more classes, but have since returned to my “regular” hot yoga class and love it even more than before. After stepping out of my comfort zone to try something new, I learned that a) you have to enjoy the form of exercise that you choose to do or you won’t stick to it b) you are capable of more than you know and c) unless you try, you won’t know if it’s for you.
Are you a hot yoga fan? Where do you practice in the Fraser Valley?