I took my first hot yoga class last week. My first yoga class ever honestly. I was excited to mix up my routine and I’m a big believer in the value of strengthening & lengthening my muscles to support my other physical activities. I knew it was going to be hot in the room (it’s 105 degrees to be precise). And I knew that my inflexible nature (both physical & mental) was going to be challenged. Beyond that – I had no idea what to expect. Here’s what I learned:
1. 105 degrees is really stinking hot. I mean, walk in the room and it’s hard to breathe hot. However, after about 10 minutes I was used to the heat. I learned to move slowly after I stood up quickly when the teacher walked in to start class and got a bit dizzy. And I really do think the heat relaxed my muscles and helped me stretch.
2. Hot yoga makes me sweat a lot. To some extent I expected this because I tend to sweat a lot anyway. Take me out on a run longer than six miles and you’ll see a person at the end with salt caked on her face. I like to get a good sweat on when I workout, but this kind of sweating was new. Within 15 minutes sweat was literally pouring off me. Every pore was sweating. I had a hard time holding some poses simply because my body was sliding around too much. The woman next to me joked that we needed gymnast chalk.
3. I am ridiculously inflexible. I had a hard time keeping my legs crossed in the first five minutes of class. My legs/hips are beyond tight. I tried my best and I did some variation of every single pose but I had to use an awful lot of modifications.
4. I also have a surprising lack of balance. I have done pilates for some time and think I have a fairly strong core. But the things this teacher asked us to do on one foot were impossible for me (and much of the class). I’m going to be honest, I don’t see my body ever being able to balance on one foot, standing up straight, grabbing the big toe of my raised foot and extending it straight out at hip level.
5. Hot yoga is a great workout. Every muscle on my body was tired all day. I was quivering & shaking through much of the class. I expected a good stretch but I had no idea the workout I’d get from it.
6. The end of yoga is so relaxing I almost fell asleep. After all that sweating and stretching and limit-testing, the instructor had us all lying flat on our back (I’m sure there’s a name for this pose but I didn’t catch many of the names). Even lying there she was talking us through muscle tensing and relaxing. I couldn’t believe how loose and limp I felt when done. I didn’t want to move. I had to force myself to peel my sweaty, exhausted body off that mat. I honestly felt that I put it all out there in this workout – and that’s an awesome feeling.
I chase that soreness in my workouts. I don’t always find it but I certainly did in hot yoga. I may not be very good at it but I’ll be back. And this time I’m bringing two towels.