Last Wednesday, on a rather warm and humid summer’s evening in Eastcote, Nicola and I decided to try out a Hot Yoga Class, or Bikram Yoga, for those in the know. Now this was one of Nicola’s ideas this time (and I think this was a form of payback for me signing her up for a 10k run), so seeing as we both wanted to try it (wasn’t sure I’d ever actually go through with it to be honest) we found one close to home, on an evening we could both be available for.
Now Bikram Yoga or Hot Yoga is inspired Bikram Choudhury, the original guru of Hot Yoga. It revolves around sequences that fluidly move you into the subsequent pose giving your entire body a workout. It’s said to be fantastic for your internal organs, your muscles, joints, ligaments and more! Your body is effectively detoxifying and cleansing itself through the sweat you produce because of the heat. It’s a great stress reliever and probably a good way to increase things like flexibility due to the heat loosening your muscles etc, thus allowing you to move more. This however leads me to a slight reservation, in that you could potentially injure yourself if you push your body too far in the heat, which is sometimes easy to do given an increase in flexibility.
So we found a rather quaint yoga studio in Eastcote called Hot Yoga House. The only yoga it specialises in Bikram yoga, and walking into the studio, I instantly fell in love with the place. It was tranquil, warm, welcoming, and dare I say it – a little bit ‘hippie’. It reminded me of South East Asia, and that sat well with me. The two people that run the studio – Leanne and Amy, are two incredibly friendly and fantastic yoga instructors. For our first class, we had Leanne as our instructor. She made the newbies feel at ease with the entire experience.
For the class you are required to take two towels with you and a litre of water. You will need all of these things by the way… Firstly you will need the larger of the two towels to cover your mat, you will need the second, smaller towel to wipe the uncontrollable sweat pouring off of every single part of your body (this includes places where you didn’t even know could sweat by the way), and the litre of water to rehydrate yourself while you are in the room. Just to note, that the room gets hotter as more people start to sweat, so if you don’t particularly fancy dying in a yoga class, drink your water! Also it’s not wise to gulp it, that just makes things worse. Sip the water, and you’ll be fine.
Within this 90-minute yoga class (I know, I don’t really understand why we chose a 90-minute class for our first time either), we followed a sequence of warm up, main and cool down poses. Among others, these poses included Tree Pose, Warrior Two, Dancer’s Pose, and of course my favourite Shavasana – or Corpse Pose. For those of you who aren’t aware, this pose is the one at the end of class, where you lie on your back, relax, and completely let your mind go, (or in my case, fall asleep – or if you want to argue, reach a higher level of meditative state…).
My first reaction within the first 10 minutes of this class, was – and this is no word of a lie or exaggeration – ‘Dear god, please don’t let me die in here, why would anyone subject themselves to this kind of torture?! Who invented this?! Do MI5 use this as a form of evil to extract crucial information from spies?! Has it been an hour yet?! Oh dear god, it’s been an hour?! Oh shit… we signed up to a 90-minute class?! What did I do in a previous life to deserve this?!’
Upon completing my first class, my thought process turned to this – ‘That was totally wicked! I didn’t know you could produce this much sweat, and my clothes are absolutely soaked through… but it was good!’ It really was. I tend to practice yoga anyway, I try to practice once a week, and usually when I do, I go to a Monday night Ashtanga Yoga class at David Lloyd. For me Yoga is the balance needed between all the weight training I do throughout the week. It’s also a way for me to really not think about anything but postures and the sequences we go through in the classes.
I recommend it. It’s perhaps not for the faint-hearted, or those who have never practiced yoga before. I recommend going in with an open mind, and come to terms with the fact that you will inevitably have to sit down and stop from time to time throughout your first few sessions, while your body adjusts. In fact, I will be going back this Friday!