My First Hot, Hot Yoga Class, at the Baron Baptiste Studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Via Merete Mueller
on Nov 20, 2008
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Photo by Caroline Treadway

Four days after my first Baron Baptiste experience, when I jotted down the notes for this blog, I was still sore, in muscles I didn’t even know existed. And after three years as a yoga practitioner, I thought I knew them all.

My dad and sister live just a few blocks from the Baron Baptiste studio in Porter Square, Cambridge. For years, I passed the unassuming storefront on my way to the subway or to buy groceries. But never could I have imagined the sweating that went on inside. My background in yoga is fairly traditional—first at Naropa University’s yoga teacher training program and at Richard Freeman’s Yoga Workshop in Boulder, known for its meticulous teaching and good form. Baptiste Power Yoga serves the ancient tradition with a modern twist, combining fast-paced sequences with 90-100 degree heat, for a sweat-filled experience of purification and cleansing unparalleled anywhere else.

Baptiste Yoga gets major points for approachability. I’d have no second thoughts about sending a non-meditating, squeamish-about-long-hugs-and-deep-eye-contact friend to a class. Downstairs by the bathroom, posters promoting Baptiste’s Hawaii training skipped over vague testimonials like “I found myelf” or “I experienced inner peace” and went straight for the concrete: “I lost 15 pounds.” “I quit smoking.” “My dad and I started speaking to each other again after 5 years.” Likewise, I sensed that everyone in the class, including myself, was there for practical reasons: exercise, abs of steel, stress release. And if we walked out with more clarity and patience, feeling more “centered,” well, that was an added bonus. Still, I did feel a bit awkward joining the rest of the class in a resounding “Om” and “Namaste” at the end of class when I wasn’t sure that half the people in the room knew what those terms meant. (Though come to think of it, they’re seldom explained at the yoga workshop, either.)

The studio itself was immaculate, and better equipped than most I’ve been to in Boulder, with a bright storefront, large bathroom, changing rooms and even laundry facilities in the basement (all lost and found items get washed before ending up in the basket—necessity due to the copious amounts of sweat shed in each class).

Because the class I attended was All-Levels, and at the same time a fast-paced, intense workout, students were encouraged to move at their own pace (hallelujah!). At the Yoga Workshop, I would never dream of taking a breather and sitting back against the wall while the rest of the class worked through a sun salutation. Here, I found myself taking many breaks to drink water and find my bearings while more experienced students moved at a faster pace. (Confession: I did at one point leave the room and visit the bathroom to splash water on my face and catch my breath.) Because the workout was so intense, I was surprised but totally pleased to see bodies of all shapes and sizes, sweating and stretching along with the rest. In Boulder, the capital of fitness and health, most practitioners can pronounce the Sanskrit name of every pose, stomachs flat and forearms bulging from constant practice, which can be a little intimidating.

The verdict? I missed my usual yoga routine, which gives me time to breathe into poses and pay attention to alignment. But after only 10-15 minutes in the Baptiste hot room, I felt the same yoga-high (a combo of release and adrenalin) that I usually only get after 2 hour classes back home. 


About Merete Mueller

Merete is a writer and filmmaker, and was once-upon-a-time the Managing Editor of elephant journal's print incarnation, from 2006-2008. Today, you can find her on Twitter @meretemueller and on her blog To The Bones. Her first documentary, "TINY: A Story About Living Small", about people who have downsized their lives into homes the size of a parking space, premiered at SXSW in March 2013.


12 Responses to “My First Hot, Hot Yoga Class, at the Baron Baptiste Studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts”

  1. lindsey says:

    Really insightful Heather! I have yet to try any kind of hot yoga, and you gave me a little peak into the world. I think I’d pass out. I really do. I get dizzy at times in an anusara class when it’s just the summertime so naturally warmer in the room. Perhaps I should give it a shot however just to see how my own body really would feel. I also loved your sentence: “I’d have no second thoughts about sending a non-meditating, squeamish-about-long-hugs-and-deep-eye-contact friend to a class.” As one who is lets say, highly comfortable with those things, it’s good I think that there’s yoga out there that’s accessible for those that may not consider that their groove.

  2. block says:

    That makes me want to do hot yoga right now! Especially since it is freeeeezing outside.

  3. Heather says:

    I also am totally prone to dizziness and fainting, that’s why it was so necessary and wonderful that we were encouraged to move at our own pace, both by the teacher and the other students. I mean, I’ve often wanted to take a breather at other yoga classes, but would never dream of being the odd one out as everyone else kept going (that’s what they call peer pressure, I guess). But at the Baptiste studio, people actually took breaks and rested and I didn’t feel awkward about it at all.

  4. Victoria says:

    I do Bikram Yoga in Sydney, Australia and just love it. I have heard about Power Yoga but have never tried it but I think I would like to. I think Bikram Yoga is hotter than the power yoga and you don’t move as quickly but Bikram is more intense and more about controlling the mind over the body which has really helped me in my everyday life. I stress less about small things and if you can last in the Bikram Torture Chamber as Bikram calls it then you can do anything.

    I recently completed a 36 class challenge which was 6 classes a week for 6 weeks and it rocked. Can’t believe I did it.

  5. juliana says:

    i could try to give you a description of baptiste vs. bikram, but my BEST advice is that if you like baptiste, you MIGHT end up liking bikram EVEN BETTER… but the only way to know is to try. one class will tell you more than pages of description ever could. you are only 2 t-stops away from bikram yoga harvard square. i practiced there (and at the other studio downtown) every day for more than a year and it is AMAZING. amazing. i cannot say enough great things about that studio and its instructors. i think you should check them out. 🙂

  6. jennifer says:


    I have really low blood pressure (ie: dizziness) so I will either drink a drink like gatorade or vitamin water or make sure i’m not starving going into a class.


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  9. David Lincecum says:

    I love Baptiste Yoga. I have been practicing it for about 18 months and recently went to a workshop and took a few classes at the Cambridge studio. I wrote about one here:

    The thing I love about it is the body mind connection. The instructors really help me make connections about what I am thinking and the games I play with myself. It is all covered in the facebook note. You should be able to read it if you join the Baptiste yoga fanatics group. I plan to go to Bootcamp soon!


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