Up until last week, I hadn’t done a hot yoga class in years. I tried it out in Toronto when it was new and trendy and I hated it. I found the entire experience uncomfortable. Trying to hold a pose with beads of sweat running down every part of my body was like some horrible form of torture. I went twice and then never again.
So when Action PR offered me a chance to try out the new Hot Yoga facilities at the Porchester Centre in Westminster, I tentatively said yes. I know yoga has so many benefits for runners, and with my increase in running mileage lately, I could probably use a good stretch… even if it is in a room heated to 100 degrees.
The benefits of hot yoga are vast. The heat allows your muscles to reach new levels of flexibility and the low impact movements help you wake up muscles you didn’t even know you had. What’s more, these classes burn a lot of calories. I feel like yoga involves a lot of laying around and breathing, but Everyone Active claims that a 90-minute class can burn up to 1,000 calories!
Of course, there are all sorts of healing benefits of yoga as well. Connecting to your breath helps your body feel relaxed and revived. Add that to the detoxifying effects of sweating throughout the class and you have the recipe for a very effective session.
I immediately liked the Porchester Centre. It’s a lovely old building. A Google search on its history yielded few results other than to state that it was built in 1923 as a public bath and wash house. While the facility has been completely renovated with new gym equipment, and the state-of-the-art hot yoga studio, it still holds some of its old-timey charm. It’s the perfect combo of old-meets-new.
Paula, the hot yoga instructor, was absolutely lovely. She was welcoming and warm and lead a class that was equal parts challenging and relaxing. She stressed that she tries to vary the class week-to-week so that it is always different. She also offered a variety of variations to suit any ability.
Despite the heat, I was comfortable throughout the class. Sure, I was sweating, but it wasn’t the same agonising experience I remember from my first classes. Dare I say, I actually liked it!
Here are a few things I learned after my return to hot yoga:
- Don’t wear shorts. My assumption was that, because it is hot, one should wear as little as possible. (I was thinking: wear what I would wear if I was at the beach!). Wrong!! Many of the poses involve using your legs for balance and when they are all slippery with sweat, it’s nearly impossible. Capris would have been more functional. I’m also showing way, way too much leg in the above photo.
- Hot yoga is hard work. I mean, it’s an actual workout. I thought I was being clever scheduling this class on my marathon training plan’s prescribed “Rest Day,” but this wasn’t really a rest. While it may not have the same feeling as a run or HIIT class, I was sore the next day! My arms and abs were definitely feeling it!
- Make sure you go to this class hydrated! No hangover either. Drink lots of water throughout the day and bring water with you. I drank nearly 2 litres of water leading up to the class. Be warned, if you arrive dehydrated, I can’t promise the rejuvenating, relaxing experience advertised!
- Don’t eat before class. A small snack an hour before is OK, but save the meal for after class. I stupidly ate a dark chocolate Bounty chocolate bar on my way and immediately regretted that decision.
Everyone Active offers Hot Yoga classes at a variety of locations around London. To find one near you, click here. To find out more about the classes at Porchester Centre, click here. Right now, you can try hot yoga for 20 days for just £20, which is an awesome deal when most classes will cost at least £12/class!
If you haven’t done it before, I suggest you give it a try. For me, hot yoga is like a mushroom. It’s something that I used to hate, but after trying it again, I can definitely see myself incorporating it into my routine more often because it’s good for me!
Have you tried hot yoga? What do you think?