You’re going to tell me that doing the same 26 poses day after day is somehow different?! Sure it is?! If I wouldn’t have experienced it first hand I wouldn’t have believed this to be possible. Last month I took hot yoga classes three times a week at Hot Yoga Naples. When I say hot, I don’t mean warm or even very warm, I Mean HOT!!! 105 degrees hot!!! Oh, and the class is how long?!? 90 MINUTES..an hour and a half. Yep. I know you’re thinking, there’s no way I could’ve possibly liked this… 😉
There are different styles of hot yoga. Often times it’s a flowing vinyasa style where the room temperature averages between 90-95 degrees. The type practiced here though is called Bikram. It is a set series of 26 postures, including 2 breathing exercises, each of which is performed twice in the 90 minute class. The poses are from classic hatha poses and are designed to move fresh, oxygenated blood to 100% of your body. My favorite is the “corpse pose” (savasana). Lol, I’m kidding. 😉 A few that I really love are the “awkward pose”, “balancing stick”, and “triangle pose”. Honestly, not sure why?! What I can tell you is that every single one is challenging. The postures systematically work every part of the body to give all the internal organs, veins, ligaments, and muscles everything they need for optimum health and maximum function. They are done in a specific, unchanging order, in order to achieve the desired benefits.
My first class was with Rachel. I was definitely nervous, nervous about the heat, the 90 minutes, and the fact that I either didn’t know how or couldn’t do the poses very well. She was so completely reassuring and awesome. She told me my only goals for the day were to stay in the room the entire class and breathe. Simple enough, right?! The breathing in Bikram yoga is in through the nose, out through the nose. This was the BEST bit of information for a newbie! Not only did I meet these goals, but I was able to follow along with all of the poses to the best of my ability. I felt both accomplished and exhausted after class, feelings that I experienced after future classes as well. I had the chance to take classes taught by several of their instructors at Hot Yoga Naples. Even though the poses are exactly the same, every class is so different. Each instructor has a unique personality and offers tips and insights during the class that can really help. I also loved Nancy’s class and learned from her that wiping the sweat only makes the body work harder; Tom’s class, don’t cheat yourself, only do what you can staying true to form; Ursula’s class, stay in the moment; Holly’s class, when in the front corpse pose, find a thread on the edge of your towel to focus on (otherwise you end up looking around the room and not truly relaxing). Oh, did I mention, it’s an eyes open meditation. The only time your eyes are closed are at the savasana at the end of class.
Aside from the instructors presentation, every class is different because YOU bring something different each time! Depending on how your balance, focus, flexibility, mental clarity, health, or energy level is, they all change the dynamic of your practice that particular day. I think what I enjoyed about hot yoga was the HUGE mental challenge. It’s not a surprise that I enjoy that whether in a CrossFit workout, Spartan Race, or GORUCK event. If you don’t get into the right frame of mind, you’ll suffer more. By being positive and staying in the moment you can push yourself farther than you imagined. Maybe you balance a second longer on the tree pose or stretch slightly more on your cobra pose. It’s progress nonetheless.
They boast several benefits from Bikram yoga with regular disciplined practice. Some include that it: reduces stress; boosts mood; promotes mindfulness; aids in weight loss; gives you glowing skin; detoxifies your body and increases flexibility. I will say that in the months time what I noticed the most were three things. Firstly, my sleep at night was incredible. I was so exhausted I didn’t move the entire night on the days I took class. In addition I feel like my skin was nicer, seemed softer and more hydrated and lastly, my flexibility DEFINITELY improved without a doubt!
A few tips I’ll offer before your first class:
1. HYDRATE…and I don’t mean just drinking some water the day you go. Start drinking extra water at least 24 hours prior to class. I normally drink between 100-128 ounces per day anyway. 😉 I like to bring a large tumbler of ice water as well as a sports drink. Nooma is my favorite. I buy them in bulk online, but they also sell them individually at the studio. The instructor will announce the appropriate times when everyone can have a sip of their drink. (This is another mental challenge because you obviously want to drink all the time since you’re so darn hot!) It’s hard, but try to follow their cues, and only have sips. Just like you don’t want to eat at least a couple of hours before, you don’t want a full belly from water either.
2. Get Naked…Did I mention it’s 105 degrees ?!? When I tell you there are people of all shapes and sizes there…:) NO ONE is checking you out! Wear the least amount of clothes you’re comfortable with (or without lol). I wear the shortest booty shorts possible(surprise), sports bra, and a tank top. You will be drenched by the end, more like 20 minutes in! You may want to bring a change of clothes and a dry towel, as they have a changing room and showers available. Your car will thank you!
3. Bring a towel and a mat…The mat I LOVE for hot yoga is from Lululemon. It has a nice amount of cushion, but also doesn’t interfere with my balance. The studio rents mats as well. You definitely need a towel on top of your mat! As Nancy said the one day, “slip ’n slide was fun in the 70s, but not in yoga class! 😉 It’s best if you can have a specific yoga towel so it will grip the mat, but not necessary. I love the yogitoes mat by manduka. An etiquette tip; Don’t set up your mat directly in front of someone else. Make sure it’s offset enough so that person behind you can see themselves in the mirror. It’s absolutely necessary for focusing during the poses.
4. Have an open mind and positive attitude…Honestly, need I say more?! Is it different? Yes. Is it hard? Yes. Are you going to mess up? Probably. Is it a mental challenge that will leave you feeling accomplished? Yes. Will you discover things about yourself? I think so. Will you improve over time? Absolutely! You simply have to dive in and give it your best shot. It’s pretty cool! Wait, no, it’s hot! 😉 #bemindful #sweatmorebitchless