Jade Lizzie

Sharing the yoga love

Tag: Hot yoga

On My Californian Hot Yoga Experience…

Hot Yoga StudioDisclaimer: I wrote this straight after a hot yoga class, with the intention of turning it into a more polished article, then decided that it would be more honest to publish it unedited… If you are offended by swearing, you should probably stop reading now. I can only blame the heat 😉

So… are there any “normal” yoga classes here? No? Hot yoga it is then.

The studio seems to have been designed in homage to an early nineties Eastern European dance club. It’s all disco lights and concrete.

Still at least the lights aren’t actually changing colour.

Oh no wait. They are.

It seems the teacher was joking when she said the studio isn’t that hot. It’s hot as fuck. I’ve still not got to grips with the Californian sense of humour.

Shit, I’ve put my mat down at the back only to discover that the back is the front. Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit. I need to move.

It’s far too late to move. The class is filling up and the teacher has already spotted me and given me a don’t-even-think-about-moving-now-I-have-you-in-my-sights toothy All-American grin.  Better brave this one out.

Let’s be nonchalant. I can just do a few cat-cows, a little plank. Pretend that I do yoga in the fires of hell every day.

On second thoughts, moving is bad. Need to stop moving. Move as little as possible. It’s so goddamned hot. How long would it take me to get to the door from here? It looks locked. Is it locked?

No one panic. I think I’m panicking. Is this what a panic attack feels like?

Calm, be calm. Focus on your breathing. This is what yoga is all about.

This is not what yoga is all about.  

I’m dizzy. It’s so hot. Does everyone in here have breast implants? I think they might.

Oh no wait, there’s a guy over there. He just caught my eye and smiled. I’m getting flat chest solidarity vibes from him. That’s nice.

Ok time to start. The teacher just told us that the first rule is that you aren’t allowed to leave. I’m pretty sure this time she wasn’t joking. Even Fight Club didn’t have that rule. I think I’d rather be in Fight Club right now.

Hot Yoga Selfie

The teacher just reminded us to leave our egos outside. It’s safe to say my ego left the moment it saw the wall-to-wall mirrors in here. There is no part of my body I can’t see.

I never knew my belly looked like that from the side. Weird.

Ok, focus, stop staring at the mirrors. Focus on the teacher. What the hell are we meant to be doing? She has her back to us and is talking to the mirror. Has she forgotten we’re here? Maybe I can sneak away now…

No, she hasn’t. I just got told off for looking at her. It seems we’re meant to be staring at ourselves in the mirror. Ego-less, remember?

She just told us to engage our cores “because it’s summer.” Would you not engage your core in winter? FFS.

It’s ok though, because we’re only in competition with ourselves. I’m not even paraphrasing now.

This is the strangest mixture of vanity, masochism and self-hatred I’ve ever come across.

People pay for this.

People are weird.

She keeps counting down. Just two more flows, then we’re done. Just one more pose in this sequence. Go to your edge, then hold it for 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. We’ve had more false finishes than my nerves can bear.

So. Much. Sweat. There are puddles of water around my mat. Everywhere I touch turns to sweat. I didn’t know there was so much water in my body.

The woman next to me doesn’t seem to be sweating at all.

She is mostly lying down though. I don’t blame her.

She looks very still. I hope she’s breathing.

I’d do anything for a cold beer right now.

Or a gin and tonic.

A pint of gin and tonic.

With ice.

Mmmm ice.

I don’t think there’s anyone in the world I would not marry if they brought me a pint of iced gin and tonic.

Maybe Trump. I probably wouldn’t marry Trump.

Actually I probably would.

I really do want a gin and tonic.

I am never going to hot yoga again.

I think it’s close to the end.

No one seems to be doing anything anymore. They’re mostly wiping themselves with towels and wincing in the mirrors.

Oh no, 3 more poses.Motivational poster on the wall

2 more.

Final pose.

If we want to do anything else we can.

I think I’m good.

Savasana.

Thank fuck for that.

She just told us that our future selves will thank us for this. I doubt that very much.

 

Why I Love Yoga to the People

Yoga to The People BrooklynI recently spent a couple of weeks in Brooklyn, writing and yoga-ing, and generally falling in love with the place. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen a lot of photos from my rooftop. There are still more to come. I can only apologise. The view was incredible though…

Yoga to the People

While I was in the US, I wanted to get some experience of NY yoga classes. I was lucky enough to stumble across the incredible Yoga to the People. I can’t recommend this studio highly enough. In Brooklyn, a city where I spent 2 dollars on an apple, and 9 on a teeny tiny beer (it was really good beer though…), and yoga classes are often $20 drop-in, their ethos is all about keeping yoga accessible. The classes are donation-based, with a suggested donation of $10. If you can pay more, they ask that you do, and if you can’t pay $10 they ask that you pay what you can (if anything) and just keep coming back.

Sharing the Yoga Love

I love this approach. To me, the elitist yoga scene is off-putting and distracting. I love yoga for its accessibility – you don’t need expensive equipment, just your own body and a mat. And even the mat can be optional. Yes, if you want to spend a fortune on expensive designer yoga leggings, coordinating props and luxury studios, of course you can. But none of it is necessary. The power of the practice is in its simplicity.

The Class

So on a seriously hot Tuesday morning in Brooklyn, I found myself rolling out my mat in the studio of Yoga To The People, along with at least 20 other dedicated yogis. In that first class we were put through our paces in a gorgeous, sweaty vinyasa flow class. The theme seemed to be accepting yourself as “good enough”, which I liked. The encouraging teacher managed to tread that fine line between fitness trainer and spiritual guru with grace. Delivered with less skill, his guidance may have bordered on preachy, but it was full of warmth and peppered with humour, so even my repressed British self couldn’t get too cynical.

The Best Bit

What stood out for me most about that class was the atmosphere in the room. It was a group of motivated, focused people, all there because they love yoga enough to want to go to class, even in the middle of the day when it’s almost unbearably humid. The sense of community was like nothing I’ve experienced before in yoga, and I loved it.

What Next?

Now I’m back in the UK I’m incredibly excited to share all my US yoga learning with my UK yoga family. Watch this space for details of upcoming yoga workshops, classes and retreats…

What I learned doing yoga in Thailand

Chiang MaiI started out my solo travels in the north of Thailand with the best of intentions – every morning I would wake up at sunrise, do my self-practice of yoga, then meditate for 20 minutes before going for a healthy breakfast and beginning my day of travelling and exploring. It would be perfect. It was my opportunity to be completely on my own agenda with no distractions. This is what I learned:

  1. It is possible to take budgeting too far. I was so excited when I found a place to stay for just 100 Baht (around £2) per night. I was less excited when I discovered that my “bed”, essentially a mattress pad, was exactly 13cm away from my neighbours on each side. Never mind finding space to lay my yoga mat on the floor, finding space to roll over without becoming rather too acquainted with the snoring stranger next to me proved impossible. Needless to say, after a sleepless night or two, my yoga practice was the furthest thing from my mind…
  2. 39 degree heat is not conducive to an effective Ashtanga yoga practice, at least not for me. It is one thing to do hot yoga deliberately in a specially designed pod. Doing it accidentally in a sweat box of a room is an altogether different experience, and not a pleasant one. It made me question how and why Ashtanga yoga could possibly have originated in India. Given any kind of hot climate I think I would have developed a regime with a whole lot more lying flat on my back, and a whole lot less actual movement.
  3. There is something to be said for being physically comfortable. I came to Thailand with all these ideas about how I did not need anything – how I could live in the most basic of conditions, and I could do without any home comforts. And I can. But I realised that to be completely honest, I’d rather not. I actually quite like sleeping in a room which is free from cockroaches and mosquitos. I appreciate clean sheets, and air conditioning, and showers that run for long enough for me to rinse the conditioner from my hair. Who knew.
  4. Too much Chang (Thai beer) and yoga do not mix. That stuff is lethal. Nuff said.
  5. Yoga classes are invaluable. After 10 days of struggling to find the physical or mental space to do my self-practice, I needed some external motivation. I found it, in the form of Tara, a fantastic yoga teacher at NAMO Yoga in Chiang Mai. Her class reminded me why I love yoga, and what I’d been missing. Best of all, I drew energy and discipline from the other students in the class, and no longer felt that this was my solo battle.

On my last day, having treated myself to a better room, I finally managed what I had been aiming for all along. I woke up (hangover-free), rolled out my mat and practised underneath my fan with the sunlight streaming through the window. I then took a hot shower and walked to pick up a fresh coconut, kombucha tea and vegan muesli for breakfast. Okay, so it took me two weeks, but I got there in the end. And in that moment of smug satisfaction, it was all worth it.

Sweating it out at Hotpod Yoga in Nottingham

Photographer Credit : Ed ReeveWhy hot yoga could be ideal for reluctant yogis…

It was with some trepidation that I arrived for my first ever hot yoga class on Tuesday evening at Hotpod Yoga in West Bridgford, Nottingham. The thing is, I’m the sort of person who gets nervous in a sauna. After 2 minutes, I feel panicky and have to check that a) I know where the door is, and b) I can open it. I’ve learnt the hard way that this can be off-putting for other sauna users, hence I tend not to inflict myself on them too often.

So it was with some relief, that after a lovely welcome from Sarah, the teacher, I let myself into the heated pod, and found that it felt pleasantly warm, not unbearably hot. I could actually breathe quite easily. The pod itself I can best describe as an inflatable, deep purple tardis, sort of like a grown-up, enclosed bouncy castle, lit by candle lamps and heated with portable heaters. I’m no snob about where I do yoga – some of the best classes I’ve attended have been in run-down community centres with biscuit crumbs from the morning’s toddlers’ group stamped into the carpet – but the pod transformed this unremarkable church hall into a space which felt almost magical. It was as if we were cocooned in our own special little yoga bubble.

My slightly smug “It’s not even that hot in here,” thoughts did not last long. After 10 minutes of gently-flowing vinyasa yoga, I was drenched in sweat. My nana used to tell me that ladies don’t sweat, they glow. If this is true, my experience at hot yoga proved beyond any shadow of a doubt (as if this were needed) that I am no lady. Before the class I had deliberated over my choice of towel – I could only lay my hands on either a little gym towel or a giant bath sheet. I opted for the little one, a decision I quickly came to regret. I could have done with two bath sheets. Performing Parivrtta Trikonasana becomes a whole lot more challenging when you are trying to stop yourself from sliding right off your mat and into your neighbour.

That said, the heat really helped my muscles to let go. Under Sarah’s encouraging guidance, I felt my body move easily into deeper lunges, twists and back bends. My upper back and shoulders, where I hold a lot of tension because I work on my laptop for most of the day, clicked and crunched satisfyingly through the whole practice. By the end they were so released I felt like my head was lighter. It was better (and cheaper!) than a deep-tissue massage.  I had also tried my first Kayla Itsines workout the day before (if I keep this up maybe I’ll blog about it soon!) and so I was experiencing major DOMS in my thighs and bum. This class was great to ease some of that out.

I’d say in fact that this class is perfect as a counter to both sedentary office-style working and any physical training which leaves you feeling tight and sore. Although as I’ve practised yoga, I’ve become more comfortable with exploring some of its more spiritual aspects, I know a lot of people who would benefit from yoga are resistant to trying it. They find its new-age, hippy-ish reputation too esoteric and off-putting. HotPod Yoga as its website states, pares down “thousands of years of yoga tradition…to some critical, logical and powerful elements.”  This makes it ideal for anyone who wants to feel the physical benefits, as well as the relaxation of yoga, without “chanting, a cult mentality… or haughty gurus.” I think the “Namaste” from Sarah at the end of the class was about as overtly spiritual as the class got, and yet I still left it feeling physically and emotionally uplifted.

To sum up, despite all my initial reservations, I whole-heartedly recommend you give hot yoga a try. Just remember to take a decent-sized towel!

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