The day I signed up for Hot Yoga

Hot Yoga

It has been a while since the last post. It is time for me to catch up with posting and today I am posting about a “life experience” rather than a trip! Who knows it may give you some ideas to try it as well.

So here is the thing… I have been keeping a “life list” where I write down the experiences and trips I want to take. It is indeed very close to a bucket list, however, but as I was discussing with my better half, we agreed that a life list is a much more exciting, positive and lively name than the “bucket list”. Closing this “parenthesis” – I am getting back to the main topic of this post.

As I was living in London, I had heard so many times about “hot yoga” and its benefits, but I had never tried, until one of my colleagues found a “hot yoga” studio and invited me to join.

“Hot yoga” is better known as Bikram Yoga, and consists in a set of 26 postures sequence selected and developed by Bikram Choudhury from Hatha Yoga. Bikram Yoga is ideally practiced in a room heated to 40 °C (104 °F) with a humidity of 40%. The benefit is that every part of the body are worked, to give all the internal organs, all the veins, all the ligaments, and all the muscles everything they need to maintain optimum health and maximum function.

I will always remember when I enter the room: a group of 40 people, of which a third was in swim suit, making daunting and loud breathing exercise as a warm up.As I was kindly trying to quietly lay my mat on the floor and get started for this new adventure, I just told my self :  “what have I signed up for”.

In order to feel a bit more comfortable, I looked up for the teacher. SURPRIIIISE !!!!! I crossed his look and found out this skinny man, standing on top of the stage (in a tight swim suit too) – speaking in a headset microphone, deeply inspired by “this tremendous energy in the room”. When he saw my  WHAT AM I DOING HERE look, it took him less than a second to realize I was new.

90 minutes later, after twisting my body in positions I had never thought about, and losing 5 litres of water, I proudly and happily ticked one of my “life list event”.

After this epic adventure, I came back home, drank a lot of water and got a very low key but relaxing day. The day after was a bit more challenging as I was a bit stiff – though I realized this was a hell of a great workout !!!

My situation at the time made that I was too busy to continue hot yoga, but this experience definitely triggered my curiosity and made me want to try again later. After this experience,

I liked:

  • The great deep and full workout I got after doing this 90 minutes session,
  • The idea of ticking one of the items on my list

I did not like so much:

The daunting atmosphere in the class, whereby it look a bit elitist : people with years of practice would show off, while people who were new did not look so welcome by the teacher… This made me feel quite uncomfortable as I was trying my best.

Note:

I was just unlucky, and the fact of picking a Central London Yoga club may be partly the reason why I felt as such. I joined another club outside of London and teachers are just fab : fun and chilled, walking over the room and trying to help as much as they can.

2 years after this intense experience, as I moved in a new town I found a Birkram Yoga studio and decided to try again. This time, I came in a swim suit too ( Thinking people would not notice I am a beginner… I assumed that coming dressed up like the 1st row was during my first class in London would be a great way not to be spotted as THE beginner – SMART THOUGHT ! What I did not anticipate was  that the teacher would start the class with an “Ok folks : we have a new student today… Can you raise your hand so I see where you sit?” – My subterfuge vanished 🙂 )

Anyway… I felt a bit rusty at the beginning of the class but body does not forget and by the end of the session I was able to do almost all the positions. I then decided to come over for 4 more classes and really started feeling the benefits of this practice. I love running and I noticed my cardio was getting better and better : breathing just comes naturally and I am not feeling pain at all, even after running my 10k finishing the race up a hill… Muscle recovery is also faster. The cherry on the cake : I am overall much more relaxed since I do Bikram Yoga. Breathing exercise must help for sure.

Then comes the non-visible effect – and yet probably as important as the rest. Bikram Yoga is practiced in a room with mirrors at the front row so everyone can check their body alignment. For 90 minutes, it is a matter of focus, meditation and rigor: facing at yourself, twisting your body until you get to the right position. Living in a society where “selfies” and Photoshoped pictures rule the “world”, where the press and internet release pictures of girls with body proportions going beyond Mother Nature laws, the image and relation one can have towards our own body may be a tiny bit shaken up. Last week, as the class was full, I ended up taking a spot on the first row : facing the mirror. Thanks to the practice and time spent at the studio I was able to look at myself in the mirror, straight in the eyes, not feeling discomfort and appreciating the results this discipline gave me, without thinking “ Dear! I should consider buying fat free Nutella” or “ Shall I tell them their mirror is flawed… “ 🙂

In a nutshell , if you want to have fun time, get healthy and fit, try Bikram Yoga. It is a great way to get a good body and mind workout at once.

Note It goes without saying that practicing hot yoga may not be good for everybody, so make sure you are in healthy condition. I do not practice more than once per week, because I want to avoid any veins or blood circulation issue.

Last but not least, I am very well aware of some critics and lawsuits that have been associated to Bikram Choudhury ( founder of Bikram Yoga). This post is only to discuss about the practice and the benefits I found in practicing, and not to get into a discussion about the lawsuit and controversy around Bikram Choudhury. 

I hope you enjoyed it and that it gives you some motivation to try (at least for the one who have been contemplating trying : just try – you will be surprised of the results)

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4 thoughts on “The day I signed up for Hot Yoga

  1. Woohoo! Love when people get into yoga 🙂 As an instructor myself one more thing to watch out for during hot yoga is how extra flexible you will be! Because of that you can begin (very easily) to over stretch and begin stretching tendons and ligaments instead of just muscles, and those don’t go back! So be careful & pay attention to your body but I am so glad you had an amazing first experience! I love the idea of a “life list” Might have to start one myself!

    • Thanks very much for your post and advice ! 🙂
      I really love this new yoga experience. I am being careful indeed as you recommend as I realized how it can be addictive and when seeing how flexible we can get, it is very easy to try to push harder… I am listening to what my body says and allows me to do. I got an amazing teacher on the Sunday class who says it is a journey… so not worth trying to burn the steps !
      The life list is a nice way to live a life with purpose and plan the year ahead with trips and fun times with friends, family or just yourself. Try and share with us if you want ! 🙂

  2. London might be one of the most confusing places to start yoga, I’ve hardly ever seen a city with so much choice! Keep going, yoga is an amazing, transformative journey 🙂

    • Hey Andrea
      thanks for your comment and for following my blog. London is indeed confusing. Sometimes have multiple choices does not make the pick easy ! 🙂

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