Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hot (and super sweaty) Yoga

Last night, Sarah and I tried hot yoga for the first time. The studio was far different from Stroga and Mint, where I've done yoga before. While those two are more fancy and seem to be filled with many people who just want a good workout, Hot Yoga USA was pure, simple yoga for the more spiritual and experienced yogi. But it was also for me.

Because the studio had just offered a Living Social deal to their establishment (a steal at ten classes for $39), the place was packed. We were there 20 minutes early but we had to ask people to scoot over so we could squeeze our mats in and still had to sit across the room from each other. I talked to the girl next to me who was a member and knew all about the place. I told her I'd done four yoga classes ever and had never done hot yoga and she told me not to be afraid to sit down if I needed to. I appreciated it but I didn't plan on sitting down. I was glad to see that people were wearing normal yoga clothes. I wondered if anyone would be in booty shorts and/or sports bras, and a small part of me hoped they would so that I could wear the same next time. Here's what I wore.

The instructor, Amberlyn, came in and had us all lie down on our mats. She was talking about ethical dilemmas and letting things in your life out. It made me think this class was going to be more of a spiritual journey than a workout and I started to long for the ballroom at Stroga. She had us sit up and do some heavy breathing exercises which were really hard and actually awesome. Then it was time to Ohm. Normally I play along and Ohm with the crowd but don't really see the point in what I'm doing. This instructor knew that there were a lot of new students in the class so she did a good job of talking us through everything. She said "For those of you who haven't Ohmed before, don't worry, you're not joining a cult" and explained that Ohm is just a word to represent all of the things in our life that are so complex that we have no words for them. It can represent the divine, the beauty in nature, or simply the peace within oneself. More importantly, though, she told us how to Ohm. I had no idea that it was an exercise in breathing, that there is a particular "o" shape to make with your mouth at the beginning, that you shouldn't stop making the sound until the very last ounce of oxygen has been exhaled from your lungs. I really appreciated the explanation.

This is Sarah. Ohming.
We got going and it was apparent that I'd get a very good workout. We did many planks, runner's lunges, cobras, and warrior poses. Amberlyn walked around the room as we were set in poses and helped individuals get in the perfect position when she spotted a flaw in their pose. The rest of us remained mid-pose as she worked with a person so we got to feel the burn extra long. She told us repeatedly to lift our tailbones, suck in our cores, and pull our hearts up, emphasizing posture and stretching. She showed us how to do the perfect plank which was actually eye-opening. I really appreciated her attention to detail and her desire for us all to get the most of this, physically and emotionally.

Through it all, I sweat uncontrollably. At the end of class, when we were back in spirituality mode, Amberlyn said something like "Try to find how this has changed you on a deeper and more subtle level than the sweat on your body." Sorry friend, but all I was looking for was a good sweat and that, the ability to sweat and to do all of these great things with my body, that is what I'm ohming for.

This experience was different but I thoroughly enjoyed it. And my back is kind of sore today. As this is a Vinyasa studio, I am still interested to try Bikram but, for now, I am really excited for 9 more classes like this. If you haven't done so already, and you like to sweat, I advise you to try hot yoga. It is very refreshing and challenging and maybe it will change you in a more deep or subtle way than it did me. Namaste.

I'm curious: Have you ever done hot yoga? Was it Bikram? How did it make you feel?


  1. I love yoga. It does wonders for my IT bands but it does also help some with the stress of college

  2. Thanks so much for going with me! Fun times. And thank you even more for making that last picture black and white ;)

  3. Looks like a good class! I've done bikram once or twice and loved it. But I never had a studio in DC that was convenient for me. Plus it is kind of pricey.