27 November 2010

Loving Hot Yoga in Chilly Washington

When I was looking for a yoga studio near Kent where we were staying with family during our visit to Washington, I stumbled upon Hot Yoga Inc.'s website and hit the jackpot when I saw that they were offering a "10 for $10" introductory promo to first-timers at any of their studios. A dollar for a class!!! Unbelievable!!! There was simply no excuse not to enroll. Back here in Manila, I had been making excuses about classes being too expensive (with single class rates starting at P550+) and that I lived too far from the nearest studio. With Hot Yoga Inc.'s branch in Federal Way just a 10- to 15-minute drive from Kent, there was no escape!

Hot Yoga is basically just a series of yoga postures done in a heated room. It doesn't necessarily have to follow Bikram Yoga's strict series of the 26 postures, but most Hot Yoga studios still do anyway. At Hot Yoga Inc., you can choose either the Hot Hatha Yoga classes (60 or 90mins) which basically follows the Bikram Yoga series or the 60-minute Power Yoga class.

Basically, the difference between the two is that when you choose the Hot Hatha, it follows the set 26 poses from the original Bikram Yoga series all performed twice plus the two pranayama breathing exercices (one at the beginning and one to close the class). At first, it seems so easy since it's not a flowing yoga where everything is done in a flowing sequence so you do get breaks in between postures. The thing is, the postures are very challenging, especially the balancing postures and you'd have to stay in the poses for longer periods of time. Often, I would find myself with my knees shaking and just wanting to collapse and sit out the rest of the class.

the reception area at Hot Yoga Inc. in Federal Way

The Power Yoga on the other hand would be a flowing sequence which won't require you to hold poses for too long. I didn't get to try this at Hot Yoga Inc. but I would imagine from previous ashtanga / vinyasa classes I've tried elsewhere that it would be made up mostly of sun salutations and basically, more of a workout than the Hatha since you'll be moving continuously. I wanted to try the Hot Power Yoga class but just didn't have time. The people I met there though kept giving me mixed reviews on it. Some people liked the Power Yoga more since it's only 60 minutes so even if it's a lot more physically taxing, it's over sooner than the Hatha. But I also got to chat to several people who still liked the Hatha class more since they feel like they get more from it than the Power Yoga class because the poses are a lot more challenging.

the heated studio to the left and the shower & changing rooms
at the end of the corridor

My first class at Hot Yoga Inc. was super exhausting and I almost didn't make it thru the end of the class! I used to go to Bikram Yoga in Eastwood but it had been months since the last time I went so the intense heat in the room and the challenging balancing postures took a bit of getting used to all over again. And I guess what makes it harder to do Hot Yoga in Washington is the cold weather. Doing Bikram Yoga back here in Manila is just like doing yoga on a hot summer day. I remember a few months back, when I was too lazy to drive down to Eastwood, I would just do the same 26 postures inside our house with no electric fan turned on and I would sweat buckets still - sometimes even more that I sweat off when I go to the studio. When you're in Washington though, your body gets used to the chilly weather so the heat inside the studio brings more of a shock to your body than it does back here.

After one class, I noticed that right after savasana, a lot of the people who couldn't stand the heat anymore just stood up and left to go out. When I finished my savasana and got out of the studio, I found several of the people in the class just walking around the parking lot with their shirts off in the cold and it was just a funny sight: half-naked men and women in their yoga shorts & sports bras just walking around in the empty parking lot, drenched in sweat!

yoga clothes and accessories for sale

What's great about the heat though is that it loosens up your muscles so much that it facilitates stretching more and lets you be more flexible with your body than you usually are without the heat. And because you sweat tons, it's a great way to flush toxins out of your body!

And that's basically what Hot Yoga promises. According to their flyer, Hot Yoga's Heat Therapy builds strength (check!), improves balance (half-check! I never did get to hold those one-leg standing poses for its intended duration! :s), increases flexibility (check! I can now touch my head to my thighs when doing the standing forward bend -- YAY!), relieves stress (check! Because your mind is so focused on making your body hold the postures, it really does let your mind forget about everything else and lets your mind rest from all outside stress even for just 90 minutes!), helps you lose weight (only a half-check! I know I could've lost a lot more weight if I didn't always find myself looking for a good lunch right after the class! Boo!), helps you release toxins (check!).

I love Hot Yoga. I'd keep going everyday if only there was a studio closer to our house. The first few classes are always the most challenging but one thing I also learned from Hot Yoga is super determination. I learned that if you really put you mind into making your body do something, it's possible even if you don't think you're flexible at all. Even I suprise myself sometimes with the postures I can actually do! I always leave Hot Yoga a lot more energized than when I came in. And as exhausting as the classes are, it always leaves me feeling fantastic all day!

Hot Yoga Inc.
31839 Gateway Center Blvd S

Federal Way, WA 98003 (p) (253) 528-0880

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