We had unusually warm temperatures for a few days this last week, which meant when the rain came it brought a cold front. Since I was missing those warmer temperatures (and a good friend invited me) I ventured out to the new Sumit Hot Yoga Studio that opened in our city yesterday. I’d never been to a hot yoga class before. In fact, we didn’t even have a hot yoga studio in our town until yesterday. Bikram (pictured left) is responsible for starting the “hot yoga craze.” When I mean hot, I mean the room is heated with artificial heat to around 110 degrees. He franchises out, so one cannot just open a hot yoga place and use the word Bikram or even his series of postures. In turn, just “hot yoga” has pretty much been running like wildfire. I was reluctant to go as I was busy preparing for garage sale hell, and I also thought that if I went that I might die. But my friend convinced me that she’s 66 (I’m 42) and she was still alive after attending the class yesterday. I decided I would try yoga hell instead.
I’ve taken a yoga class in Florida where the back door was open and it was stiffling hot! But that was a more natural, humid, jungle type of heat. The class was Ashtanga-like and I loved it. But, there was not a thermometer on the wall, so I don’t know how hot it actually was in the studio that day. All I know is I felt totally cleansed when I left, kind of like today.
The new center is located in a shopping center and is inviting to the eye once you enter. I only brought one bottle of water and a small towel and my own mat of course. I wore bermuda length yoga shorts and a tank. As soon as I entered the yoga room, I could feel the warm, dry heat. The space is heated with 6 heaters, two on each wall close to the ceiling. Tip: If you go, get a place closer to the wall, under the heaters, that way they won’t be blowing directly on you. I figured that out half way through the class. He uses music. Some I liked some I didn’t but I wasn’t paying that much attention to it. I was too busy focusing on the different names he had for each pose. One thing I couldn’t get myself to do was to lock my knees. My knees do not like that and I don’t feel it’s that safe, but maybe it is when the room is 109 degrees. And it was, 109. The thermometer was right behind me, in big digital numbers I could read it. I also noticed some flashing light every now and then and I began to wonder if the iPod mounted on the wall, was shooting pictures and how scary that will be if and when those surface.
We started right off into postures and I don’t remember what ones. We did mostly standing stuff, lots of Warriors, lots of balances and lots of sideways bending. I have a partial fallen arch in my right foot, so I had to surrender and come out when it hurt. Towards the end, we took several mini shavasanas (relaxation on our backs) for like 20 seconds, eyes open, arms close to the body. Then, we had to pull ourselves up with our hands reaching our toes working our core. Then we’d stand back up again, flow or do standing postures or both, then back down again, mini shavasna time. It will take a getting used to, the stand up lie down part for sure. In most yoga classes, you start off with meditation or breathing, or both. Then you do standing work, the class peaks and you return to the floor. Not at hot yoga. No meditation, no pranayama, not at all. I left the class feeling totally cleansed. My face feels soft and my body feels good as of right now. I stopped at the health food store on the way home and grabbed a couple Kombucha’s to hydrate and picked up some quinoa for a new salad I saw in a magazine.
I like yoga. All of it. In the world today, there are people offering wine and yoga, chocolate and yoga, yoga on a slackline and yoga with your dog. You name it, it’s out there. I know people who will never try this hot yoga because they feel it’s wrong, or unsafe. I say try it and if you don’t like it, don’t go back. I don’t do a lot of cardio and I know it’s good to get your heart rate up and sweat for at least an hour every single day. I don’t like aerobics and I hate to run. All I know is this. Hot yoga will be a nice compliment to my already steady yoga practice and perhaps a substitute for exercise that I should do, but won’t do. After all, you might as well be doing something that you love or you’re probably not going to do it.
The weather is amazingly lovely today, so much that I’m posting from my deck. But it’s time to slam this Kombucha and descend back into garage sale hell. Wish me luck.