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Fit for Winter: Hot Yoga

Who Knew?
11 November 2013

Winter is coming. And the chilly morning nip in the air makes it harder to get out of bed and put on those running shoes. So we decided to check out the indoor workout scene in the city, to stay toned beneath those layers of sweaters and mittens.

Bangalore’s a1000yoga listed a Hot Yoga class on their website. Some quick Wiki research told me that Hot Yoga is usually a repetitive series of 26 postures (practiced in Bikram yoga), performed with the temperature turned up to 40°C. The high temperature and humidity settings are meant to replicate the natural weather conditions in India, for classes practiced in the West. Warmer muscles make for more flexible bodies, I was informed. I was ready to find out. I mapped the location on Google maps, then hopped into an auto rickshaw, yoga mat in hand.

Their Koramangala yoga studio is on the first floor. Big windows flood the waiting room with sunlight, an inviting bookshelf gets you in the mood for some serious yoga philosophy, and the atmosphere exudes quiet serenity.

The previous class wraps up and the students emerge. I walk in and unroll my mat, while the instructor, DJ, turns up the temperature and reminds us to bring in our water bottles. “You will need to rehydrate during class. Remember: Sip, don’t gulp.”

Hot yoga begins with a very short warm up, since the temperature levels loosen your muscles, readying you to dive right in. The instructor quickly caught up with each student’s progress and introduced herself to the newbies. “Don’t worry, I’ll be kind since it's your first class,” she grinned.

Moving through some familiar yoga poses – the downward dog, the warrior pose, the surya namaskar – she gradually increased the tempo to more complicated bends, stretches and locks. Most of the class kept up with ease, moving in and out of intricate postures fairly effortlessly. Halfway through the class, the towel on my mat was soaked, and I had to remind myself to sip, not gulp at my water. But the instructor kept the mood buoyant, reminding us to smile through each contortion.

While we didn’t follow the 26 positions of Bikram yoga, the dance-like fluidity of the Hatha postures in this class will push the boundaries of your flexibility and leave you feeling stretched-out and limber. “Holding each pose for longer periods tones and chisels the muscles, and is great for building endurance,” she explains.

Hot yoga is the perfect way to build strength and flexibility in a safe, balanced way. The intense cardio gets your heart pumping, and working out in a heated room brings an added elasticity to your muscles, allowing you to push deeper into those difficult poses. It’s also a fantastic way to detox; the heavy sweating helps flush the toxins from your body and leaves your skin feeling supple and moist.

In the silence of Shavasana, the music accompanying the lull of the instructor’s voice guided us into deeper relaxation. Soothing instrumental, a fusion of sitar and violin, transported us to places far away, under open skies and wide green canopies. I woke ten minutes later as the lights came back on, feeling thoroughly refreshed.

Definitely a must-try for winter. Find the nearest Hot Yoga class in your neighbourhood and sign up. It might leave you bushed the first couple of sessions, but stay with it; it will build your stamina, break down your stress and leave you toned and lithe. The hour of summer-like weather conditions is just an added perk.

The full schedule of classes at a1000yoga can be viewed here.

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