Hot to trot

Posted: August 13, 2013 in Blogs
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On first consideration, it seems odd that anyone would want to subject themselves to 90 minutes of exacerbating sweating, occasional nausea and a whole host of accompanying emotions. All the same, hot yoga has become my new joie de vivre. Hot yoga or Bikram Yoga is a serious of 26 postures and two breathing exercises, developed from traditional hatha yoga, practiced in a heated room – ideally 40 degrees Celsius. Just sitting in the room contemplating your thoughts, results in sweat trickling down every major plane of your body. Start moving and expect the sweating tenfold. In my best balancing stick pose the sweat drips off the end of my nose and if you think wearing shorts is a good option to keep cool, think again, slimy sweat-drenched legs don’t make for optimum entwined legs in Eagle pose.

So if excessive dehydration and subsequent heat stroke are potentially on the agenda, why bother? Well I’m no scientist but I tend to side with the claims of many professional sportsmen and women, especially dancers and athletes. As a runner, a hockey player and generally always active girl, I tend to always be nursing an injury of some kind, even if only a niggle. More recently an old hamstring injury has been plaguing me since the London marathon over a year ago. Of course I am far too stubborn to stop everything and rest appropriately. So claim number one – injury-healing! After four days in a row of hot yoga my dicky hamstring that also pulls on my lower back has improved immensely, more than I could ever have hoped for. I am confident that with continued practice I can irradiate it forever – the niggle that is.

Aside from that I genuinely feel amazing, I feel taller – like there is new found space between every single one of my vertebrae, my posture is better with little effort – by that I mean I don’t have to consciously pull my stomach in, drop my shoulders and keep my chest up – these things are all happening of their own accord. The amount I sweat I surely must be flushing toxins out of my system and I have noticed that my skin looks different because of it. These days I don’t weigh myself, I don’t even own scales. I know roughly what I weigh from trips to the doctor or visiting friend’s houses who have scales, so I have no idea if I have actually have lost weight but I feel like I do. I feel calmer, strong and more able to deal with life’s stresses and strains.

One of the things that sticks with me most from day-to-day, might apply to those people who are thinking maybe this hot yoga is too dynamic, and let’s be honest, too much like hard work! Well, there is some relaxing and I find after the first 12 poses the two minutes of lying down in a pool of sweat, known as Corpse Pose, (literally lying there like you’re dead!) is so valuable and as my instructor says, most important because it’s where everything comes together. It’s two minutes of total relaxation, being still with yourself and letting go of all your thoughts and inner chatter. Your shopping list becomes distant, the impending deadline is of no consequence and it’s definitely not a time to be thinking about what you’re having for dinner. We don’t often grant ourselves these precious minutes of total freedom from inner judgment and conversation, except perhaps when we are asleep, yet we spend all day every day processing endless streams of information in a myriad of forms. Personally, I think that’s odd and that we have all got it the wrong way round.

So I love the hotness, the wellness, the physical challenge, the strength of emotion (and trust me it gets emotional when you’re upside down and inside out and dripping in sweat) but is there anything bad about it? Well for me there’s only one thing – the ridiculous outfits that the toned and tanned yoga goers insist on wearing, or not wearing! Once my six-pack has re-engaged and my arse has halved in size, I don’t intend to don a crop top and tiny hot pants, if I do, someone needs to have a serious word. See-through leggings, complete with thong is just as bad for anyone wondering.

If you’re in two minds or still have reservations about trying a hot yoga class, my advice would be to stop listening to your inner voice, in fact silence it this very minute and go book a class.  Once you’re there, look out for the first pose after the two minutes of playing dead – Pavanamuktāsana, also known as wind removing pose, got to be worth it just for that!

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