Hot Yoga: Yes or No?

After starting the New Year as I mean to go on – and that is, with whole foods, BBG workouts, and long walks on the beach, I thought it might be time to try something new. I saw that my gym was offering Hot Yoga classes, and decided to take the plunge. I have heard a few conflicting things about Hot Yoga; some rave about its benefits, others share concerns about the heat allowing your muscles to stretch in ways they shouldn’t, sometimes causing injury. I figured the best way for me to decide was to give it a go and see what I thought.

I arrived at the class expecting there to be around 20 people there. Oh no no no, there were around 50 people, all jostling for space in the stuffy room. There were a few hardened yogis there, all lithe and limber in their Lululemon crop tops, but there equally seemed to be a few people closer to my skill level. I have done a few yoga classes before, and some in the same style as this; Vinyasa, which has flowing movements, almost like a dance routine. I was confident in my ability with the most basic moves, and felt very proud of myself for knowing what Chaturanga was. The instructor was very kind and calming, but I found it very hard to relax in the heat. I could barely catch my breath at all, let alone breathe slowly and deeply. From around 15 mins into the class I was dripping with sweat, and that situation didn’t get any better, let me tell you. I was sweating from pores I didn’t even know I had, and was feeling rather self conscious about the whole thing until I saw the drips from the people in front of me fall onto their mats. I had to stop several times to wipe myself, particularly my hands as I was sure I was going to be that one person who falls flat on their face.

By the time we got to the Savasana at the end, I had a full on headache. This definitely wasn’t in any way relaxing. However, I did feel very stretched, and proud of myself for putting myself into poses I didn’t know I could do. When I stepped into the air conditioned gym after the class, it was like stepping into a fridge – it felt wonderful. I was pink all over and sweating from head to toe, but I felt very limber. From the workouts I do my hips can get very tight, and I often spend a few minutes stretching them before I begin. By chance, we did these same hip stretches during the class, which felt great apart from the fact I was really struggling to breathe and relax by this point.

Overall, I think I have to conclude that Hot Yoga is no-ga from me. However, I was using this as a way of getting myself back into yoga in general, and I think that part was successful. I really enjoyed the poses and stretches, and felt wonderful after. I think I will definitely be back at a Dynamic Flow Yoga class, I just don’t think I’ll be putting myself in a 40 degree room by choice again any time soon.

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