Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New thing #25: Hot yoga

I like yoga but I don't go on a regular basis. I'm not sure why, since yoga classes are included in our gym membership.  Maybe it's because the last couple times I've gone, I've been plagued with muscle cramps. It's pretty embarrassing when your leg cramps up in the middle of Downward Dog and you topple over. Or maybe it's because I haven't found a teacher with whom I really connect, or a class time that's convenient.  But after spending 20 hours in an airplane, I needed a good stretch.

I wanted to try hot yoga, where the room is heated to around 100 degrees. This heats up your body to allow for deeper stretching, and is supposed to help detox by flushing impurities out with your sweat, among other benefits. There is a hot yoga studio near our house, so The Girl and I decided to try a drop-in class last night. They were offering Yin Yoga, an hour of slow passive stretching. The poses are held as you slowly control your breathing, and you keep your muscles passive in order to work deeper into the joints and tissues.

We were running late, dashing into the studio at the last minute to find the class nearly full. The room felt pleasantly warm since it was chilly out, and had that undeniable sweaty gym smell. We found a couple spots to unroll our mats just as the class began. Ceiling fans spun lazily to keep the air moving gently, the lights were dimmed and tranquil music played. It didn't take long for the room to heat up. I quickly realized that the hand towel I brought was way to small to keep me from sticking to my yoga mat. But just as I started to worry about 'head rush', my body adjusted to the temperature and I began to feel comfortable.

We both really liked the hot Yin Yoga class. It was not a workout, but it definitely worked out the kinks. I didn't have any problem with cramping, even though I was slightly dehydrated. And the instructor struck a perfect balance of being spiritual without being overbearing or apologetic. She named each pose, then described it clearly while demonstrating the moves. She noticed that some of us were clenching our jaws and gently reminded us to relax. And she kept us focused on breathing, breathing, breathing. Maybe it was all that oxygen, but both The Girl and I would like to go back another day and try a more intense class.

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