Hot yoga. The words sound intimidating by just reading them.
True story: When I first found out that Todd was going to be attending dental school in Arizona I was in absolute terror and excitement. Excitement because of the new adventure we would be embarking, but terrified because I don't do well in extreme heat. I was trying to figure out a way to condition my body for months of constant 100 + temps, and finally came up with a solution. Hot yoga! Totes right?! Once that idea popped into my head I did my first Bikram yoga class. Prior to taking Bikram, I took multiple yoga classes before, but was never consistent in my practice. I initially thought Bikram was going to be like the classes I've taken, but with the addition of heat. Oh how ignorance is bliss.
I showed up to class with just a water in hand, and rented a mat from the studio. When getting into the studio, the room was super warm with high humidity. As class started there was no tranquil music, and you just listened to the instructor the whole time. Everyone was essentially naked (just enough fabric to cover the goods), and I was immediately regretting that I chose long leggings and a tank. As class progressed I stripped my tank off, and wished that I could shed my leggings off and go commando to rid my body of extra heat. When class ended I felt extremely dehydrated, and was immediately terrified to move to Arizona.
Fast forward three years later.....
I'm not sure if I have said this on my blog before, but for 5 years I have had this breathing issue. In the earlier years I would go through a 3-5 day phase where I felt like I couldn't get a full breath, and would have constant discomfort in my breath until the phase would go away. It was never really a concern to me because it would happen 2-3 times a year. I initially thought it was just a "tick" my body would do, and couldn't get it checked out because it would go away by the time I could see a doctor. When we moved to Arizona it got worst. It was becoming more frequent, and lasted for a month. During the 2nd year of dental it became so debilitating, and I would take work off because of it. Since it was so frequent I was able to see a doctor when the symptoms were present. After seeing specialists they all ruled out anything serious. My primary care then said that it could be anxiety. Me anxious? I couldn't accept that my discomfort was caused by anxiety, because I've never considered myself to be an anxious person. We decided to put me on a low dose pill for 3 months, and see how my body would react. At this point I was desperate to do anything to get rid of my discomfort. After three months my breathing decreased 10 fold, and felt back to my normal self. I guess I have anxiety?
I promise this will tie in to yoga.....
I went a year feeling normal, and as of recently my body started going back to it's "anxious" ways. This time I do feel anxious, and have been dealing with a million different stresses due to loss of a friend, work, and planning to leave to Utah. Instead of going to the doctor to up the dose I decided to try yoga again to see if it will help me find some peace through my day. While browsing for a yoga studio close to my house I found a place called Sumits that offers two weeks unlimited for $20. Heck yes I am doing it for 20 bucks! Since being a PB teacher I realize the importance of stretching while the muscles are warm to prevent injury, and that's why I wanted to go back to hot yoga. I got a fellow friend to go in with me so I had a buddy to endure a sweat sesh with. Day after day I kept going back, and honestly feel amazing. The sequence of the positions at Sumits doesn't change much, so your essentially repeating the same class minus a few variations. They keep the class flow the same so that you are able to get deeper into your meditation with each class.
After two weeks of taking class my discomfort in my breath has decreased. The physical changes I have seen in my body has been that my upper body has leaned out a ton. My upper body reacts the fastest to muscle gain and weight loss. My flexibility has remained the same since I am consistent with stretching everyday after a workout. One major change I noticed was that my skin cleared up a ton. So random.
I have become addicted to yoga because the peace of mind it brings me, and the changes I have seen in my body. After that long introduction here's a few things to know before doing a hot yoga class.
What to Bring
Yoga mat, long towel, small towel, and a water bottle that in insulated. Some studios offer mat rentals for a low price. Here's two of my favorite yoga mats here and here. You want to bring a long towel because your mat will turn into a slip in slide with all your sweat. Place your long towel on the mat as your practice. You can buy yoga towels that have grippers on the bottoms that will keep your towel flat on the mat (great one here). I like to bring an additional small towel to wipe the sweat from my face as body during class. It's also great for to tuck under the body for laying down poses for additional cushion. An insulated water bottle is seriously a must. Since the room is around 105-108 degrees, and insulated bottle will help keep the water cold. Two of my favorite bottles I use are the Hydroflask, and S'well bottles. Note when buying an insulated bottle go for the bigger one. They are pricey, but are totally worth it.
What to wear
This is all based upon your comfort level. But the less you wear the better you'll feel. I like to wear just a sports bra and small yoga shorts.
During class the teacher will talk, and say what position you should be in. For those of you who aren't familiar with the basics here's a brief breakdown.
You want your back foot turned out, front leg bent, and have front knee over ankle. You want your torso squared off to front wall or mirror, and shoulders rolled down your back. The benefits of this position is that is strengthens the legs, inner thighs, and helps develop balance.
Legs maintain the same like in warrior 1. Open the arms up to reach to opposites ends of the room. Keep torso stacked over the pelvis.
Downward Facing Dog - One Legged
Have feet planted hip width, arms extended forward, heads hangs down freely, and tailbone lifted to the ceiling. This position strengthens the upper body, and stretches out the back. By lifting one leg is challenges your balance, and opens up your hips.
Downward Facing Dog - One Legged - Knee Bent Variation
Shift all your weight into one leg, and bend the other leg with the foot resting on the supported leg. Avoid resting foot on supported knee. This is a pose of gratitude, and a great way to take time to think what you are grateful for. Tree pose helps develop balance, focus, and strengthens ankle & knee.
Supported Shoulder Stand
While lying on your back bend the knees into the chest, and place arms to support low back. Lift the legs straight in the air while maintaining support in the back. This is a great pose the stretch shoulder and neck. It also engages the muscles of the glutes and legs.
Lie on the belly with hands under the shoulder. Press the floor away, and roll shoulders down. When doing Sumits we do this a ton as part of our flow. Cobra is great to open the chest, and strengthen the core.
Lower hips to the heels, arms are either extended forward or by the side of the body, and the forehead resting on the floor. This is a great time to find your breath, and lower your heart rate.
Hot yoga offers many benefits that improve the mind and the body. By constantly sweating through your practice you are detoxifying the body, and flushing toxins from the skin. The heated room allows for the heart rate increase allowing for a cardiovascular workout. While moving from pose to pose during class you improve your flexibility, strength, and balance.