…And the Yoga was hot, hot, hot
I have made my workout preferences clear, stating that I need a major sweat-drenching routine and that I like it bouncy.
However, I might be changing my tune a bit.
Recently, I have felt my flexibility might be dwindling a bit so I decided to focus some of my attention on Yoga and Pilates. Over the past two weeks, I made it a goal to add in some Yoga and Pilates classes as a supplement to my traditional routine.
Over this short amount of time, I have come to see how people get hooked on this relaxing, but challenging, form of exercise.
Perhaps I am a bit intimidated by these workouts, as I am definitely not the bendiest of folks. So when I am not able to wrap my leg over my head, I feel inferior to the other participants in the class. However, as my new charge is “no intimidation when it comes to fitness,” I marched my mat and myself into the group fitness studio and clung to the attitude that I was a pro. Fake it ‘til you make it, I guess. This newfound attitude benefitted me immensely.
The Pilates class was the first attempt, and I must say that I am now more familiar and comfortable with Pilates-based moves. With the various years of Jazzercise and strength training classes I was involved with, some Pilates moves crept their way into the choreography.
The class actually zoomed by and I wasn’t finding myself peeking at the clock every five minutes. Instead, I left feeling refreshed, relaxed, and ready for bed. This was the ultimate way to wind down from my busy day and head home. I found I liked the night classes because by the time I left the gym it was 9 pm and I could focus my attention on the great workout I just performed. In turn, that feeling was soaked in until I fell asleep. Sweet dreams indeed!
My First Yoga Class
I grew a sense of confidence and empowerment for Yoga the next day. Yoga is a little bit more out of my comfort zone. Sure I have been to my share of Yoga classes, but I always found myself taking the easy way out. I would perform the simplest modification of the pose and would never push myself to the next level. I didn’t want to find myself in this situation again because you don’t grope the same level of accomplishment as when you push yourself and go for it.
With a can-do attitude, I had another success with my Yoga class. To make the situation even more enjoyable, some familiar faces were in the class and they welcomed me in. (Just as a side note, if you see someone new in your fitness class, go over and welcome them in. Acknowledge they took that step to try something new. Let them know how excited you are about the class and how it’s great to have a new pal.) I felt even more relaxed after this Yoga class as our focus was on balance moves and lengthening the muscles. This felt outstanding after my cardio session and strength training class. Once again, I slept like a baby.
During the first week of my Yoga and Pilates journey, I could tell a difference in how my muscles felt. Another little perk: I could tell a difference in the way my clothes fit. Once again, feeling inspired by my progress I decided to conquer a new Yoga goal. Time to turn up the heat…seriously.
Preparing for Hot, Hot, Hot Yoga
I remember hearing about Hot Yoga in college but thought “why the heck would you subject yourself to that?” My friends raved about it, saying they felt so cleansed and purified. This just sounded like a bunch of frou-frou fitness talk to me, but I decided to open my mind and take the plunge this past weekend.
Perhaps my timing wasn’t the most optimal. I had just completed a long run for my marathon training so I was a little apprehensive as to how my body would react to the sweltering heat. I took the appropriate precautions and nourished my body with some nutritious food and drank plenty of water. I was exhausted but kept thinking I will not regret this. I repeated in my head, You will only benefit from this power workout and you get to take a nap when it’s all over! It always inspires me to have a little incentive or special reward for myself when I conquer a mega-workout.
I headed over to my friend Angela’s house and she psyched me up for the toasty Yoga session. She is a fan of the hotness and encouraged me to enjoy it as well. She warned me that it would be terribly smelly in the room and there might be men in Speedos. I braced myself, held my breath, and entered the sweltering room with a temperature of approximately 100 degrees.
What Hot Yoga Class is All About
Instantly I felt like my breath was sucked out from me and I became frantic. I thought I am literally going to die from suffocation. The Yoga instructor informed us that once we entered the room, there was to be no talking. This was completely opposite from my typical random yell-outs during cardio classes. No singing along with the jams in this class.
I tried to allow my body to get acclimated to the frying pan of a room and I laid down slowly on my mat. Everyone around me seemed just fine, relaxed in various traditional Yoga poses on their mats. Although I felt like I was literally melting in the first two minutes, my breath normalized and I was no longer on the verge of panic. Still not allowed to talk in this “sacred” room, I turned to Angela and crafted out some sort of hand messages, letting her know I would go wait in the car if I got too overwhelmed from the heat. Although I didn’t want to back out from the challenge, I wanted to have a plan B just in case my body was overloaded with heat.
During the midst of my relaying information to her, I had to contain the giggles. Why is it, when someone tells you that you’re not allowed to talk, you feel like you could bust into a fit of laughter? So I avoided looking at Angela, in an effort to contain myself and not get booted from the class and banned forever.
Pretty soon the itty-bitty Yoga instructor came in and she calmly gave us our cues. With this Hot Yoga class, we rapidly went through 31 postures consisting of balance moves, strength training, core stabilization, and of course some deep stretches. With this specific class, there are no passive stretches as the aim is to strengthen and tone the muscles. So it wasn’t quite as relaxing as I had envisioned, but the benefits from the class were positive indeed.
And perhaps the benefit I enjoyed the most was the sweat factor! This might top the cake as one of the sweatiest workouts I have ever done. No wonder the gents wear the Speedos! Although I wasn’t hopping around, I could definitely feel my heart rate pounding, as the level changes and strength moves got my heart pumping.
As the class progressed, the poses became more challenging. You could tell which students were the advanced ones, having practiced their craft for many years. I was a bit more on the wobbly side but pleased with my progress and the fact that I was stepping out of my comfort zone. On another positive note, I felt a swift breeze from time to time. I was not exactly sure where this breeze was coming from, but I was eager to embrace it. The time actually passed by fairly quickly. There was no clock in the room to stare at and wish the time away. The instructor eventually commanded us to lie down and relax, taking in everything we had just done for our bodies.
Final Thoughts on Hot Yoga
I took a few moments to relax and take deep breaths. I was soon bursting with pride that I had attempted and succeeded in achieving this fitness feat! I honestly thought that there was a good chance I was going to have to back down due to the heat. However, I sucked it up and mastered the test!
As soon as I was exiting the room, the 75-degree hallway felt like an igloo. I soon began shivering, desperate to get out of my soaked-up workout clothes. I hustled into the locker room and begin piling my layers on. Here’s a tip: make sure you bring an extra set of dry clothes. Unfortunately I did not and I was freezing the entire way home.
Despite my teeth chattering, I felt refreshed and cleansed of all toxins. Although I wouldn’t want to do this sizzling workout on a daily basis, I could definitely see myself craving it in the future. In fact I am going to take another whack at it this week. Hopefully it won’t be such a shocker when I first enter the room; I will be prepared for the heat.
There are precautions that must be taken when engaging in this heat-intensive workout. Dizziness, light-headiness and nausea can be a result of this form of Yoga practice. If you venture to try this, make sure you are plenty hydrated and do not overdo it during class. With any workout routine, listen to your body and don’t push over your limit. After I was finished with the class, the Yoga studio provided me with an electrolyte powder with tons of vitamins and nutrients. This helped minimize my headache from the dehydration.
If you are up for the ultimate sweat fest (and I mean SWEAT FEST) then go forth and partake in some Hot Yoga. As mentioned, this was out of my comfort zone but I am bursting with pride that I tried it, mastered it, and want another go at it! If not Hot Yoga, give the traditional Yoga a try. You only have calories and stress to lose.
About the Author
Kimberly Westphall is the author of Blogging Fitness and a regular contributor to Midwest Sports Fans. She is a recent graduate of the University of Kansas where she majored in Journalism. She participated in a podcast with Jerod, which will help you get to know her even better.
While at KU, she was an anchor and online web producer for Jayhawk Sports Talk. Kimberly made her MSF debut in 2009 discussing the fight between Kansas’ basketball and football teams and also had her column about the Dallas Stars Ice Girls featured at Dallas Sports Fans.
She has a passion for fitness and is on the lookout for emerging fitness trends and workouts. Her favorite group exercise format is kickboxing, which she discusses in her first Blogging Fitness post today.
When she’s not hitting up the aerobics studio both as a participant and instructor, Kimberly is training for the 2010 Washington D.C. Marathon with her best friend Jackie.
* – First Hot Yoga class photo credit: Macabre Fitness
* – Second Hot Yoga class photo credit: Hot Yoga Willits