Hot Yoga: The Lowdown

Hot Yoga is the newest form of zen that has swept the world over for a few years now. At first it seemed that only hardcore yogi’s and Victoria’s Secret angels took part in this sweltering exercise, but with hot yoga pods and studios popping up everywhere from Nottingham to Cornnwall, it’s time we sussed out this new form of Namaste. Louisa Davies explains all…

I will hold my hands up and say I am completely late to the yoga trend. It’s only been very recently that I’ve realised yoga is not exclusive to ladies who lunch, celebrities, and zened out vegans – but it’s a form of exercise that a lot of my friends take part in. Normal twenty somethings who enjoy a Mcdonald’s every now and again, drink a lot of fruit cider, and listen to Little Mix. So, when a Hot Yoga studio opened next door to my house, I decided it was time for me to get my Namaste on and see what all the fuss is about. And I’m so, so glad I did.

Hot yoga, of Bikram yoga, has been popular since the 1970’s, and essentially fuses traditional yoga techniques and moves into flowing patterns – all in a room heated up to about 40 degrees. Doing yoga in such conditions helps to deepen your muscle tissue, which in turn helps to get rid of any pesky fat. You sweat a HELL of a lot more than traditional yoga, and it allows you to really loosen up into those poses that may otherwise be out of your reach.

My first hot yoga experience was tricky, so please don’t feel alone if you end up feeling a little lost in your first class. I am largely sarcastic, so walking into a darkened studio with candles, incense burning and a smiling woman telling me to ‘set my intentions for the class to lift my soul’ left my inner, dark cynic grinning – waiting to completely hate the experience and laugh about it later. But, as I lay down my mat and allowed myself to acclimatize to the heat (which, by the way, if you shut your eyes you could TOTALLY BE ON HOLIDAY. Seriously.), I truly did begin to feel the stresses of my day completely leave me. The frustrating work emails, the fact I forget my jelly at lunch time (an important snack for me) and the traffic on the way home, it all drifted away as I allowed myself to submerge myself into the hot yoga vibe.

I chose to go to a ‘Hot Yoga Flow’ class, which is a non stop session full of sun salutations (lots of downward dogs, cobras, child poses) warrior poses, and surprisingly a lot of core work that really get your abs working. As much as yoga is about breath, stretching and centering yourself, it really is an intense workout for your body – lengthening your limbs and really focussing on strength and balance to nail those poses. Also, the heated room really amplifies the work you put in, and you leave feeling like you’ve pushed your body to the max.

What I will say about hot yoga is that it’s vital to do a bit of preparation prior to attending the class. By that, I mean ensuring that you are hydrated, and bring a bottle of water to class to sip on throughout as I’m not over-exaggerating when I say it gets damn hot in there. Also make sure that you’ve eaten a few hours before the class, as I experienced a class where I had to leave early as I got slightly faint. You want to be able to put your all into the class, and being hungry and thirsty won’t help you. Trust me. I’d also make sure you bring a towel, your own mat, and wear light, breathable clothes. One guy in my class goes topless and wears his holiday shorts, so anything goes…

Whilst I love the poses, the heat and the feeling of accomplishment when I leave the studio, my favourite thing about it is that it fully allows me to switch off. I’m very animated, and always feel like my brain is working in overdrive, and especially working in PR it can be difficult to fully ‘switch off’. The moment I leave the studios I feel completely re-energized, in the best mood possible, and feeling like nothing is too much of a struggle.

And for that reason, I would fully recommend you try out hot yoga. After all, a class that leaves you smiling, a little sweaty, and ready to take on the positive bits in your life can’t be bad – can it?

Louisa Davies

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