Some Like It Hot.

Via on Jun 13, 2011

Drip…drip…drip… pant… sigh… those are some of the familiar sounds of the hot yoga studio – and if joy had a sound that would be there too.

It’s been over a year since I started regularly practicing yoga in a hot studio, and I have to admit that today I’m completely enamoured by it. The warmth that was initially intolerable is nothing more than a comforting blanket to me now, and the rivers of sweat running down my body carry away all my worries. I just let it all go, and let it all flow: my sweat, my breath, and my body to the rhythm of asana. I replace what is lost with what is fresh and new. I find presence in each sip of my cool water, and in the air that I breathe, and in the energy that I get from my practice.

Before I joined the hot studio, I attended fairly regular Ashtanga classes, and Hatha classes. I began to really like yoga at that time, but the chitta vrttti (or call it monkey mind, or internal chatter) was reigning me, as opposed to being reined in by me. I found it difficult to be led in any kind of meditation, or to relax into any pose, and my mind was 95% out of the room. It was planning my evenings, my chores, and even my distant future via picking out the names of the babies I was going to have, choosing a side in an argument that hadn’t taken place yet, and booking vacations I couldn’t afford. What kind of yoga was this you ask? Well, it wasn’t really yoga at all. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was just working out and stretching while happening to be on a yoga mat in a yoga studio.

When a new studio opened near the house where I used to live, a hot yoga studio that offered Hot Vinyasa, Hot Hatha, Hot Yin, Hot Power Yoga, Hot you name it, I joined up on their two week intro pass and dove in head first to a daily practice there. It was during this practice in such an amazing studio with such an amazing group of instructors, that I would start to develop all that was missing in my previous yogic attempts.

The first class was unbearably hot. It was intolerably hot. I couldn’t think of anything else except how hot it was. I was thinking, how am I going to last through this class? I kept thinking I would do the next pose the instructor requested, and then I would leave the room… But I didn’t leave. And I told myself “just one more pose”… “Okay, ONE more pose”… and then just as I thought I couldn’t one up myself with one more pose and I would run out the door, it was time for savasana! That day, it was the most welcome and most glorious savasana I ever experienced to date. I just lay there, spent, in silence, breathing, and recovering, and even though I didn’t rest there for long (as I could hear the cool breeze screaming my name from outside the studio door), I knew this practice had been different.

During my second class the following day, beginning in savasana, as the instructor requested that we let go of our stresses and become present in the room, on our mats, in our practices it hit me: How could anyone possibly not be present in a place where all you can think about is how freaking hot it is, continuously conscious of your breath, aware of the sound of your own hammering heartbeat and the sweat beads tracing down your body?! Who could have chitta vrtti in a place like this? Surely not me! I then realized that as a mantra works for some to distract the mind, this heat would be my beginners mind’s mantra, and the hot studio then became my sanctuary from my own incessant inner ramblings.

In the beginning, the heat forced me to slow down my practice and my mind, like a child being forced to take nap time. And, in the 200+ hours that I have spent in the hot studio since, though I have overcome, grown to love, and even become accustomed to the heat, I have been left with the ability to focus on my breath and stay present in the room. The challenge and initial distraction of the hot room gave me the chance to adopt the habit of devoting my time on the mat to solely being there in that moment, and now I am able to do this whether I’m in a hot studio or not. For that I will be forever grateful, and a solid advocate of likin’ it hot!

Have you given your local hot yoga a try?! How do you like it?

About Robyn Chubey

Robyn Chubey is a Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor who just attended a 200 hour yoga teacher training in Costa Rica, to add Yoga Teacher to the mix. She likes to high kick into her lunges and dance into her warrior twos. She can be found along with her thoughts on health, fitness, nutrition and other yogic musings at her online home www.philosophyfitness.ca.

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25 Responses to “Some Like It Hot.”

  1. Lisa says:

    I have a health condition that is a contraindication for hot yoga. I even once did regular hatha yoga class in a room that prior to ours had a hot yoga class. It was one of the only times in my life I've passed out. I am a well-conditioned athlete in excellent health, and I was hydrated too. I love to sweat, so I was kind of bummed about not being able to do not hot yoga when I tried it once prior to my other passing out experience. I found out the hard way in the hot yoga class that it was not for me. But, glad it works for some people :)

  2. Tanya Lee Markul tanya lee markul says:

    I've only tried 'hot yoga' a few times and liked it, but often left feeling a little puffy – puffy eyes especially. Anyone know how they 'heat' up the rooms? :-)

    • Robyn Chubey Robyn Chubey says:

      Hi Tanya!
      The studios that I have attended have all used "radiant heating panels" to warm up the studios. This is an energy efficient type of heat that warms "things" in the room, which in turn heat the air in the room, as opposed to the air being heated thereby warming up "things". It's a much greener way to operate a hot yoga studio, and the air inside the studio is much fresher too. You can check out the type of studio I attend at http://www.mokshayoga.ca – and currently there are Moksha studios opening all over Canada and the USA.

      As with any new fitness endeavor, it takes time for the body to adjust to the heat and movements, so this adjustment period may be able to account for the puffiness… or maybe there was an allergen in your studio?

      Maybe you will give it a try another time, or maybe in another studio? Good luck with all your yoga endeavors!

      • Tanya Lee Markul tanya lee markul says:

        Thanks Robyn!! And, thanks for the very informative response. I really appreciate it! I am indeed open for another class. :-) :-)

  3. Robyn Chubey Robyn Chubey says:

    Thanks Jennifer!
    Yes, the type of hot yoga that I do is completely different than Bikram – I do a type of hot vinyasa yoga, and the studio I currently attend, Moksha, offers hot hatha, and hot yin as well! It's actually quite nice, and there is ALWAYS savasana!
    Maybe you will have the chance to try an un-Bikram class one day?!
    Thanks for the comment :)

  4. Andy says:

    I absolutely love the heated room. LOVE it. But I loathe Bikram Yoga, as a method. (sucks because I love the heat) That's why Corepower or whatever other place that offers "Power" heated vinyasa is ideal for me.

    • Peter Sklivas petersklivas says:

      Fortunately the opportunities to practice different styles or hot yoga are expanding. While Bikram contributed a great idea … heat & steam up the room … he doesn't own a patent on hot yoga!

    • Robyn Chubey Robyn Chubey says:

      I agree with Peter! Bikram did have a great idea with heating the room during yoga practice, but now hot yoga has taken off in a multitude of directions. Hot Yin, Hot Hatha, Hot Power, Hot Vinyasa… It's all sweet in the heat!!

      You will always come across yogis who think that in yoga the body should be creating the heat, and not be heated from your environment – but I personally just came from completing a 200 hour teacher training course in Costa Rica where it was well over 30 degrees Celsius (around 90' F) and insanely humid and we all practiced/sweat/stretched/yogified ourselves just fine there too (while drinking hot tea!) and further to that people have been practicing yoga in very hot places for centuries, nay, millenniums!!!

      Long live Hot Yoga I say!

      • Vixen says:

        Sorry- somehow I checked dislike when I meant to check like and can't figure out how to undo it. So sorry !

  5. ~cc says:

    I LOVE IT HOT!!!!!! Keeps me in the room, on my mat, in my body, in my heart and mind. It stays with me all day. Best experience ever.

  6. Jayme says:

    I so want to try this but I am so afraid that I would pass out! One of these days I am going to break down and just do it! I used to do yoga all of the time but have slacked a lot recently.

  7. Andy says:

    Once you get to the point where you are fully sweating—not just a little bit, but profusely, you come to realize it feels GOOD.

  8. Exactly how I feel as well. All day I am efficient, multi tasking, constantly thinking of what to do next and how to achieve it faster. In the room, all that matters is that exact moment. And I am so grateful to have that peace.

  9. Jen says:

    I love hot yoga, but only hot vinyasa, like core power. Bikram scares me, plus it is boring as hell.

  10. Tanya Lee Markul tanya lee markul says:

    Great article – thanks Robyn!!

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  11. Vixen says:

    I love hot yoga! I practice Bikram regularly and, on occasion, practice with Peter Sklivas at Yoga Passion. Its nice to see that there really are different ways to practice hot yoga. I couldn't agree more that the heat is a great way to keep me present in the room. Can't wait to participate in Yoga Teacher Training with Peter beginning this September.

  12. stella says:

    I tried & tried to like Bikram and hot yoga. But what I found is I was avoiding yoga altogether. The hot yoga experience is not at all joyful — or even pleasant — for me. Now that I attend non-heated or gently heated classes, I look forward to yoga and go as often as I can. People have been practicing yoga long before heaters were invented, so I really see no need to heat the room unnecessarily. It wastes a lot of energy and does not seem very green to me. In short (at least for me) hot yoga stinks. Literally and figuratively.

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  14. Susan Simon Susan Simon says:

    Robyn your saying that the warmth in the room is like a comforting blanket got me thinking I need to experience a hot yoga class again. I live in a hot humid climate and when I started doing yoga to deal with an injury I was so sensitive to any discomfort the last thing I wanted was to go from the heat into a heated room to do asana practice so I did Hatha in a non heated room and then added Ashtanga classes as I began to heal. That was 18 months ago, I've healed and just the other day noticed that I was not suffering from the heat like almost everyone else. Maybe a hot class week will enhance my practice even more.

    • Robyn Chubey Robyn Chubey says:

      I think you should definitely give it a shot! The body has a miraculous way of growing, and healing, and adjusting to so many things, and it fact the body also loves to respond to new challenges.

      Now that you have had a change to heal, maybe a little heat is just the new ingredient you need!

  15. McMamma says:

    Hey y'all! I love hot yoga too but I have to throw a word of caution out there about balance. I used to be a hot yoga instructor and lived for it, hot yoga students like yourselves is what made me get up in the morning! Unfortunately after 4 years of teaching I started to develop a sensitivity to light, migraines and cluster headaches.

    I learned from neurologist that is very dangerous to exercise the body in anything over 96 degrees. After 96 degrees the body can no longer maintain its own internal temperature. If your body build a fever of 100 degrees things can start to go south very quickly. After a temperature of 100 degrees is maintained for about 45 minutes to an hour protiens and cell wall structures all over body start to break down-that includes in your brain. In other words I have brain damage from being exposed to the heat for hours on end.

    I am not speaking out against hot yoga, again I love it and MISS it. But its about balance. It does teach incredible focus, bring it back into other class rooms that aren't heated. Again this is just a post about balance, thats all. A little hot, a little yin, some vinyasa krama, some restorative…the banquet of yoga is vast and wide. Enjoy the yumminess all!

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