The Hot Yoga Experience

At the beginning of this year I wanted to try a new form of exercise so I signed up for hot yoga. I want to share my experience with you so that you may familiarize yourself with this activity and try it for yourself.

For any of those who are unaware, the premise of hot yoga is to create a sweaty stench within the studio that is so aromatic that it will ward off wild animals from the premises. I kid, but in reality hot yoga is performing yoga poses in extraordinarily warm temperatures. This will encourage copious amounts of sweat to be released from every pore in your body and I suppose this is supposed to detoxify the body or some mumbo jumbo. It is actually a fantastic workout but there is no other workout that will make you feel you need a shower more than this one.

I have a healthcare background and I am quite anal about infection control. Walking on a warm surface while barefoot where so many others have walked barefoot before me, makes me quite anxious. Warts, fungus, ew… So I acquired some yoga socks which put my mind at ease as it provided me with a barrier against pesky foot pathogens. Ignoring the funny looks I got from my barefoot disease spreading peers, I proceeded to enter the studio.

When you first enter the studio, you are met with an intoxicating aroma. Ah, the smell of sweat in the air. This is like pure concentrated smell. This is definitely no eau de toilette, it’s the hardcore shit. If I hadn’t paid for this class already, I would have been very tempted to walk straight out after being greeted by this odour. As you pick your spot and place your mat, you start to become acclimated to the conditions.

Having never attempted yoga of any kind before, I had certain preconceived notions about how this 75 minute class would go. I thought we would do some gentle posing in a warm room and it would be nice and relaxing. Imagine the feeling of being asleep and then a cold bucket of water is dumped on you. Well in this case, it was a hot bucket of water I suppose. Point being, I was in for a rude awakening.

The poses themselves are not difficult, however the pace and the actual strength needed to hold the poses for periods of time made for an intense physical endeavour. Downward dog, cobra, up dog… the yoga flow. It’s a killer. That being said, I don’t suppose that everyone who does yoga is fit. I did notice a woman who was fantastic at all the poses and was very flexible. She was clearly skilled yet she did not look fit for whatever reason. So what I took from this observation is that perhaps it would be best to incorporate various styles of exercise into a workout plan to achieve results rather than just sticking to yoga alone. But I do not know her situation so I will shut up before I get myself into hot water.

During the session, you begin to sweat so profusely that there is not a dry area of skin on your body. It is like a thin layer of slime has built up around you. Sweat is streaking down your face, into your eyes and causing them to sting. You can feel sweat drip from behind your ear all the way down your neck. You now come to a realization and then silently apologize to the next group of yogis that will enter this room because you know that you are now contributing to the room ambience which turned you off so much at the start of your session. It is at this point that you check your watch and notice that there is another 65 minutes left in the session… (Insert profanity of choice here).

Once the yoga session had ended and you exit the studio, it literally feels as if you are exiting from the hottest hell and re-entering the human world. As I was unaware of what was to follow, I threw on a hoodie and left it unzipped as I stepped into the cold to walk to my car. Well, I think all of the sweat that was on my body pretty much froze the instant I stepped outside. It was quite an uncomfortable feeling.

In summation, hot yoga is a fantastic workout and you should attempt it. Be warned however and ensure to take the proper steps to prepare yourself for the discomfort that may ensue.

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