I have been making a concerted effort to get into yoga, but with so many options out there it is often somewhat of a minefield.
For some time now I have wanted to find a class that improved my flexibility, strength and endurance and one which also made me feel like I’d done a hard, intense workout at the same time.
I had heard about Bikram Yoga but was somewhat wary of it as I had heard it was very challenging; those who partake are working out in temperatures of up to 40 degrees or more. Further to this, the shortest classes on offer are usually 90 minutes long and I knew there was no way I would be able to stand the heat!
After doing some more research I discovered hot yoga, which, similarly to Bikram, is done in a heated room. Hot yoga isn’t done in quite such a hot environment as Bikram yoga, which immediately appealed to me. With temperatures of around 30 to 35 degrees, I was sure this would be a lot more bearable for a beginner.
Back in October I visited the OM Yoga Show and met Nick and Max, the founders of hotpod yoga. These two lovely guys talked me through what hotpod yoga was all about and I was instantly intrigued. Rather than being in a room, hotpod yoga is practiced in a heated up ‘pod’ (just like a massive tent). As everyone’s body heat rises, so does the temperature in the tent. The heat, I learnt, allows you to push yourself further, as it loosens your muscles and joints; it’s also great for ridding your body of toxins as you sweat them out.
A couple of weeks after the show I finally enrolled myself in a class, which takes place on a Saturday morning in Brixton, a short bus ride away from me. Armed with a towel and a large bottle of water I arrived at the pod and reintroduced myself to Max and Nick. Entering the pod was delicious, it was like being whisked away to the Caribbean and I didn’t ever want to leave… ah, the innocence of a newbie! I lay down on my mat and towel as we waited for the session to begin and felt extremely calm.
Max is a fantastic instructor and incredibly vigilant as he makes sure every single person in the room is doing each posture correctly so as to avoid injury. He also made it very clear that if we couldn’t hold the pose or we found one a bit too challenging then we mustn’t push ourselves further than necessary.
Because of the heat, we were also told that it is important to concentrate solely on yourself and what you are doing with your body. In doing so, you avoid starting to panic because of the heat, which I can understand would be easy to do. Breathing plays a huge part in this, and in any yoga practice, and I was amazed at how my breath pushed me through each pose and helped me continue.
I was, however, struck by the difficulty of some of the poses. But it wasn’t the actual pose that was the problem; it was holding it for so long that I struggled with. For me, this is where yoga sets itself apart from other forms of exercise. Repetitions and pulsing are common in various other workouts, but holding a still pose takes deep concentration and strength. Of course, some poses were, for me, entirely unachievable. The yoga bunny in front of me, meanwhile, was making me feel like a complete novice, which, of course, I am but you never want to feel that way!
During the class, I worked muscles that I have never engaged before and it honestly felt really good. What I haven’t talked about yet, though, was the heat. My goodness, I was shocked by how hot it got and just how sweaty I got (sorry!) Never before has a fringe got in someone’s way to the same extent as it did that day! At the end, when I peeled myself off the floor after our 10-minute lie-down and flopped out of the pod like a wet fish, the fresh air was definitely well received. My towel felt like someone had thrown it in a swimming pool and I was dreading the bus journey home!
Our verdict: I felt great; revitalised, energised and very bendy! I am angry to admit that I haven’t been back since, but Saturdays are often difficult. That being said, I absolutely will return because it is just fantastic!
Our score: 9/10
To find out more about Hotpod Yoga visit: www.hotpodyoga.com