Hot Yoga (similar to Bikram Yoga)
What is it? Yoga in a REALLY hot room
Equipment needed: A yoga mat, towel and REALLY big bottle of water.
Where: A variety of yoga studios offer this kind of class. We went to CorePower Yoga on Garden of the Gods.
Benefits: Yoga increases flexibility and strength. The heat is said to help with circulation and getting rid of toxins. Lora Lantz, area manager with CorePower Yoga says, “It also helps increase circulation to tissues and organs, enhances the functioning of the immune system and provides great healing influence to the entire body.”
Let me begin by saying… I am no yogi. I have taken two yoga classes in my life, so I am not an expert. But when my producer Tara (who loves yoga) told me about hot yoga, I was intrigued. “It’s done in a room that’s 105-degrees,” she said. “You sweat buckets and buckets.” Hmmm… alright. She agreed to take me with her, so I thought I’d give it a try.
(TIP: CorePower allows you to borrow mats, which was helpful for a novice like me. The first time you come, borrowing is free. But after that, it’s $2.)
Once I had my mat, I was ready to go.
The heat of the room will hit you like a wall. It reminded me of an Oklahoma summer – humid and… well, just hot! I was glad I wore shorts and not sweat pants.
After the heat, the next thing I noticed was the smell of the room. This is a confined space being kept at approximately105 degrees designed to make people sweat “buckets and buckets.” I’m not going to lie to you - it smelled like a boxing gym. That’s not to say it was unbearable by any means, but it definitely smelled like a room where people had sweat… A LOT. To me, that just meant I was going to get a good workout.
So let’s talk about that…
Since the room was full of students, the instructor walked around between each of our mats as she led the workout. I didn’t recognize any of the yoga pose names, since I’m not a regular student. But the instructor was very helpful and did a great job explaining the particulars of the pose she was looking for, which side of the room to face, etc. And I didn’t feel weird at all taking a moment to watch the other students begin their poses before I followed.
I was sweating “buckets and buckets” before we were even done with the warm-up. Whew! I learned quickly that’s what the towel is for. You lay it over your mat and it keeps you from sliding around as you get sweatier.
After the warm-up, half the class-time was spent on standing poses followed by poses done on the floor. There were several times when there were different levels of difficulty offered for a particular move. I never felt like I stood out being unable to try the advanced level pose. Everyone just reached and stretched to the best of their ability. “Yoga is all about accepting where you are in your life and practice,” says Lantz. “Everyone was once a beginner.”
I really felt like my flexibility improved as the class went along. After a long day at work (much of it spent sitting in my desk chair), it was just nice to STRETCH! The heat felt good to my muscles.
NOTE FOR THE GERM-A-PHOBES: You might be freaked at all the sweating that happens in a class like this. But the CorePower folks clean the room multiple times throughout the day. That includes wiping down the floors.
Don’t think hot yoga (or yoga in general) is for chicks. Out of a class of about 20 people, there were four or five guys. There were also people there who were of all different fitness levels. So, don’t let thoughts like – I’m not in good shape… or I’m not flexible -- keep you from going. These are great reasons to go! Improve those areas!
But you do want to be careful. I talked with my trainer Jerod Langness at 24-Hour Fitness before I went to hot yoga. Here are three things he wanted me (and all of us) to be aware of: 1. Make sure you are well hydrated. “You should consume water all day, before and after the yoga class,” said Langess. 2. Watch your breathing. “During yoga, you must control your breathing, and not hold your breath during the positions,” he said. “This may lead to raising blood pressure.” 3. Listen to your body. “Your muscles may be a little more flexible than normal during hot yoga, but don't become over confident,” Langness told me. “Watch your form through the positions and pay attention to how your body is responding.”
I probably won’t become a regular student of hot yoga. While I did enjoy the hot room, I’m just more of a lift-weights kind of girl. But if I’m looking to shake up the routine, I will definitely go back.
Ready to give it a try?? You can do it for FREE! CorePower Yoga offers one free week of classes to new folks. Check out their website for the studio closest to you: http://www.corepoweryoga.com/
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