One of my post marathon (actually, Post Ironman…) plans was to try new things. After subjecting my body to mile after mile after mile of endurance sports for the last year and a half, it is about time that I gave it some variety. One of those new things that I’ve always wanted to try is hot yoga. I’ve actually become somewhat of a yogi in the last few months and have been going to a lunchtime yoga class at my local gym once a week (I never missed a week from December to May!). Hot yoga,I had heard, is a whole different beast than your run of the mill gym class yoga and since I’m always up for new challenges, it has been on my radar for some time.
I heard that Yoga Six in Carlsbad (at the Forum Shops) was a great studio and even better, they offer 6 free classes to new members that you can use over the course of 2 weeks. Yoga Six has three studios and offers a variety of classes at various levels and even a barre class (which I unfortunately did not get to try).
According to the Yoga Six website, the benefits of hot yoga are:
Practitioners of hot yoga receive all the traditional benefits of yoga and more! Added heat increases heart rate, which encourages the body to spend more energy (calories) in its efforts to stay cool during exercise. In addition, the warmer environment dilates the capillaries, which facilitates greater distribution of oxygen. Increasing oxygen to muscles, glands, organs and other tissues also helps remove more toxins, which results in greater benefits for the immune system. Finally, once the body is warmed through movement the heat helps the body’s natural stretch mechanism, allowing for greater range of motion in joints, muscles, and ligaments.
My first class was two weeks ago exactly and as usual, I underestimated how long it would take me to get there and showed up just as class was starting, flustered and probably with my clothes on backward since I had changed at stop lights. I quickly jumped into my first class (Y60 Classic/Hot), laid out my mat and thought to myself, It’s not that hot.
The class wasn’t very full and the moves weren’t anything I hadn’t done before. To be honest, it was very similar to my free gym yoga class except it was heated. I was sweaty, but the heat was a dry heat so it wasn’t overwhelming or stifling. I enjoyed the class and felt like it was a great stretch but not a great challenge. I also realized sometime during the class that the people around me seemed to know the moves were coming, which made me think that the routine didn’t change week to week (this was later confirmed – same routine each time in the Classic class).
The next week (bad time to get into a free two week yoga class when you have two weekends in a row that you can’t make it to class for one reason or another) I headed to the Y60 Fusion Class with my good friend/bridesmaid/workout buddy Allison. We were late again and the class was VERY crowded. We both squeezed in very close to our fellow classmates- the room was packed. The heater was right by my mat and I was dripping sweat within 5 minutes of the class. Fusion is a harder class – the poses are held longer and there is less stretching and more strength work. I was pouring sweat – when I went into downward dog sweat would run into my mouth and nose. At one point we had to hold our hands behind our backs and I was astounded that anyone could do so because my fingers just kept slipping. To be honest, it was hard to enjoy myself because I was so distracted by the immense amount of sweat. I ran to the bathroom after class and found that my mascara was all over my face (thank goodness for a spot at the back!) and even after washing it off, I still left class on the fence as to whether or not I liked hot yoga.
However, my third class was much better than the first two. Allison and I went to a 7 a.m. Classic class on Friday morning after a short run together. The class was taught by a very hippie yogi dude who often explained how the moves were benefiting our bodies and souls. The class was just what I needed- a nice stretch in a warm but not crazy hot room at the end of a hard week of workouts. I left class in a great mood and began to lean back toward loving hot yoga.
Tonight I took my fourth and final class before my two week guest pass expired. I went back to the same Fusion class I took last week. This time I knew what I was getting myself into. I brought a towel to put on my mat and during the portion where I had to hold my slippery fingers together behind my back, I grasped a smaller towel. I wore waterproof mascara all day in anticipation of the class. The room was slightly less crowded but by halfway through you might have thought I just jumped out of a pool. I worked on my breathing, my form, and bent my knees even deeper during the warrior moves and during chair pose. I left class feeling great – I guess maybe I do like hot yoga.
Now the question is, do I love it enough to buy classes? Do I want to try another studio? Still figuring all of that out but for now, I’m just going to focus on re hydrating!
Have you ever tried hot yoga? Do you like it? Any tips for beginners?