My experience with hot yoga
Yoga is an incredibly popular form of exercise, with more than two million Australians regularly taking the time to work on their downward facing dog. If you’ve never taken a class, you may be curious about the mental and physical benefits that many of its devotees claim to enjoy. 29-year-old Melbourne-based writer SEAN IRVING attended a hot Vinyasa class to find out what yoga has to offer.
I had never done yoga before, and I’m not great with the heat. So, it’s fair to say that I was nervous as I walked into a hot Vinyasa class at Melbourne’s Virgin Active gym. The instructor, Maxine, greeted me as I took a seat on my mat and warned me to keep a bottle of water handy.
I’d already been told that the room would be heated to between 28—32 degrees. Things started well, with a few minutes of deep breathing while sitting cross-legged. The class took place in the middle of the day and it was refreshing to take a moment to be mindful of my surroundings.
We started with child’s pose, which seemed to be about consistent with my skill level. As we began to move through movement flows I felt comfortable enough keeping up, even if I was having to sneak glances at my neighbours to confirm that my current limb-arrangement did vaguely resemble a warrior II position.
After a gentle warm-up, the progressions between poses started to speed up and I found myself struggling to keep pace. I was conscious of my muscles straining – but it wasn’t physically taxing to the point of being too hard. By this stage, the room was also warming up and I mentally high-fived myself for picking a spot that was a little further away from the heat radiating from the front.
By just over halfway through the class and I was sweating heavily. While I’d consider myself to be relatively fit, I quickly realised that flexibility definitely isn’t my strong point. Watching those around me effortlessly contorting their bodies with fluid grace while I strained to reach my toes was an eye-opening experience. I resolved to start a daily stretching regime as soon as possible.
Vinyasa yoga places an emphasis on pairing breathing with movement, but I found it difficult to keep the two in sync. As we rounded off each flow with a return to child’s pose, I was grateful for the opportunity to collect myself, before trying again.
We finished the class by sealing our practice with a single ‘Om’, and I was swept with relief – tinged with pride. I’d survived! The 45-minute class flew by and as I walked out into the cold Melbourne streets, I felt simultaneously invigorated and exhausted. The experience was as encouraging as it was challenging, and I’m determined to keep working towards touching my toes.
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