Friday, February 6, 2015

History of Hot Yoga

The History of Hot Yoga… or more accurately MY history with Hot Yoga.

 It all started 7 years ago. I was living in Kingston, working out at the gym every night (I didn’t have cable and I didn’t have friends, so I would run on the treadmills and watch my favorite shows). I wanted more, my boyfriend at the time was a complete jerk and constantly made comments about my big butt (a real jerk). I wanted to drop weight and I wanted to do it quickly, this is all before I understand being healthy was better than being skinny (weird, right?). I had heard about Hot Yoga and thought I could use all the sweating to lose some pounds fast (keep in mind at this time I was 40lbs lighter than I am now, but miserable). I roped in my girlfriend who had similar issues and we headed to the brand new studio in the heart of downtown.


It sucked. She left with a bloody nose, I threw up and had a headache for a week, but dropped a pound so went back from more. It was like a sweat lodge, I can’t imagine it being that healthy back then, I think the practise was new enough that no one noticed the terrible conditions. I had also never done Yoga before in my life. I remember hating every class, but bragging that I did Hot Yoga. I had issues back then.

Then I found a place in Toronto on the Danforth, I only went twice because it was crazy intimidating. This place was a standalone Yoga bar that took the Yoga lifestyle VERY seriously. To the point of no cellphones in the building. I remember going in the dead of winter and having to take the subway, because I didn’t have a car. I remember standing outside, sweaty and cold trying to call my scumbag ex to pick me up, because I had gotten yelled at by the Yogi for trying to sneak a phone call. There were no shoes in the entire Yoga area, not even reception. You had to ditch your socks and shoes at the front door (the entry level of the two story building) and go up the winding staircase in your barefeet. I also remember the other people at this Yoga bar (I am calling them Yoga Bars because it makes them sound more fun than they actually are) they were conventional Toronto Hipsters (which I know is wrong, but they were exactly as you expected Hipsters to be, they all dressed the same, wore their hair the same and carried the same stank face… way to be original ‘hipsters’). I wasn’t one of them and they made me feel it. In the class I was able to ignore the sideways glances, because I didn’t have traditional yoga gear. I was in sweat pants (for SWEATING) and a tank top.

The next round was when I moved to Acton with Richard. For the first time in my life I had expendable income and 50lbs to lose (I was prepping for our first vacation together that involved going to North Carolina with a group of beautiful Motorcycle girls). I found a little spot in Milton inside the Kicks for Kids building. It was a tiny little room, but the yoga was hot and so was the instructor. He was handsy too… happy to help ‘correct’ a pose with his strong Yogi hands. I ended up bringing a crowd to that venue and we shut the place down, literally. It shut down and relocated. I remember loving that class, he would play rock music and talk through the workout, which is VERY anti-yoga, but very entertaining. It was 90 minutes of pure sweat. It was tough, but reasonable. I could do it. I always left feeling so good, the night classes helped me sleep and worked on my tired achy muscles.

I didn’t go back after the shutdown, Michelle had moved away, Mike and Angie weren’t available anymore. My hot yoga dreams fell apart.

I wouldn’t make it back to Hot Yoga until we were settled in Burlington. Now I had never looked at the different types of hot Yoga, because there are several from Moksha to Bikram. I just wanted hot and sweaty. When we first settled in Burlington I was trying to lose another 30lbs in preparation for the wedding, there is always some reason I am not happy with my body and trying to fix it. It’s exhausting and honestly I hope to get to the point that I don’t care. Actually that I don’t have to care, because I am flawlessly fit, because I am a registered Personal Trainer with my own bootcamps (dream big). So I found Some Like it Hot. It was a yoga studio based in a recreation centre. It was ok, I signed up for the 20-day trial and went twice a week. I think at this point I started dragging Cassy along with me. She is naturally fit and beautiful… and bendy. She killed it in these classes.

Some like it Hot seemed amateur, which I understand the irony based on my own amateur status, but I like the places that take Hot Yoga uber seriously. I did like one of their classes, but that was mainly for the instructor, she was great and lived the life in a harmonious way, which sounds odd, but she wasn’t the least bit pretentious (a typical character flaw of the very fit… but I can’t say I wouldn’t be a bit Pretentious if I successfully lost 80lbs and walked around in a body with sculpted muscles etc.)

My original take on SOME LIKE IT HOT 

I didn’t continue on after the trial. Cost is always a factor and I had a few more Trials to abuse. I next went to Kula, which I had done once before in Oakville… which was my first mistake. Oakville is full of wealthy people that are naturally fit, they wear name brands and aren’t very welcoming to outsiders (or poor people like me). I did there 30 days for $30. Cassy did the trial with me. We went to every type of class offered from Yoga Cross (pilates/yoga/Cross Fit), and insane with weights and lunges) to Detoxifying Yoga, Bikram to low impact. This studio was smack in the middle of serious and fun. I loved the classes and the location, but after the trial costs shot up to $25 a session, which didn’t work on my wedding budget. Back track to the detoxifying yoga… what a GREAT class. I don’t always believe in the continuing affect, does my liver really care about how I stretch, but to be harmonious I tried this class, we wrung out our organs, flushed our livers and stretched our hears and I did feel better afterwards, different, relieved. If only the timing had been better, it was a tricky class to get to.

Then Kula was bought out and replaced with Be Yoga, same location different Mantra. They added suspended yoga, which I still haven’t tried. I went to several drop in classes, but never fell in love with any of them or the instructors, which is SO important to me. And now I was doing yoga for the stretching not for the potential weight loss. I was in a different head space.

Then I got pregnant and Hot Yoga was done. You can’t elevate your temperate when pregnant it can cause birth defects, especially if you are not practising regularly (The class I took in Oakville was taught by a VERY pregnant and VERY flexible yogi).

After Thomas I returned to Be Yoga for a Mommy and me class, but that resulted in him being tethered to the wall, because he was too mobile and constantly tried to escape to harass other babies. I didn’t love the class or the cost.

And now finally I have come to today, well yesterday. I joined Goodlife fitness. I joined because I love Goodlife, because I love their classes, but the thing that pushed me over the top was the new Hot Yoga studio. I could incorporate Hot Yoga into my weekly routine without the added cost (I know I am cheap… I have mentioned cost a dozen times in this post, but Hot Yoga ain’t cheap). Now I just had to figure out when to go. There was a Friday morning class, a 6am start time, which meant a 5am alarm (you have to sign up 30-minutes prior to class), but knowing how I typically felt directly after class, I didn’t think a morning class would work. I also worried about time to prepare. I have learned you need to fully hydrate before the class (and during and after, but before is what will get you through the class) and you can’t go in hungry or full. It’s a small window of opportunity to get it right. A 6am class means I am eating a light breakfast at 5am to be ready, that is  A LOT of commitment on a Friday. My other options were Saturday/Sunday, but that would pull me away from Thomas and make me miss the only Step Class I can make it too in a week (which Step is STILL my favorite class). The last option Thursday. TV night. I already hit the gym at 6am for a Body Pump (which I love) could I really do 2 intense workouts in ONE day? Only one way to find out. I headed to Hot Yoga last night after a rushed daycare grab, dinner and dress. I ran to the gym, barely hitting the 30-minute pre class mark. I then changed and sat in the ‘waiting room’ for 20 minutes (that system needs to be revised). Finally we were let into the Hot Room. Whewf. It was hot and smelly. The immediate impression was this was NOT a serious class. I found a spot at the back, (or what I hoped was the back. I had been screwed before with setting up and then finding out I was at the VERY front of the class). I unrolled my mat, laid my towel down, set my blocks to the side and stripped off my socks and pants (yes, I wore shorts. In Public. On purpose. In Canada). I watched as gaggles of girls skipped in, giggly. I watched as guys sauntered in and scoped out the prime location, based on the women next to them. I laid down in Shavasna and started on my breathing. It was hard to concentrate with all the chatter and it dawned on me, I might have become a Hot Yoga snob. I would cringe if someone pulled out their phone while they were in studio. Gah. It occurred to me I have become ‘one of them’. The class starts to fill up and the stragglers start to make everyone shift and shimmy to make room, which is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. I got here on time and got myself all settled and then you’re going to run in late, and demand I move? It is the same way I feel about going to the movies. Don’t ask if I can move over one seat, because you want two seats together and the previews have already started. I am settled and happy. Screw you. Whewf, lost my mantra for a second.

So the class starts and it filled with every type pf Yoga goer. The hard-core, yoga fanatic who doesn’t wear enough clothes or deodorant. It’s usually an older woman in  just a bra. She usually looks angry. The Chubby girls, whom I used to be ‘This is the best way to drop quick weight, right?’.The Yoga Jock, a buff guy that has added yoga to his routine, because his muscles are tight. The Yogi, although female Yogi’s happen, they are harder to pick out. This type is usually a ripped guy, with his ponytail in a bun. He’s beautiful to look at and you can bet he understands Karma Sutra. The Yoga Snob, ‘I do yoga. What do you do?’ this is usually a fit girl, dressed head to toe in Lululemon  with resting bitch face. The Yoga-Hippy, this is the best Yoga persona. They are there because they love yoga, love the world and love you. They are smiling in their tie-dye shirt.

The smell in the room is terrible and the floor creaks, but I am being picky and after the above I think I have the history to be a little picky. Not that either of those things will stop me from going back.

Than our Yoga-Hippy instructor walks in. She is like a pixie floating around us. She starts speaking to us in a whisper asking us to be present, to feel our breath. The next 60minutes cruise by, I can keep up with the class and it feels good. I feel good. I am holding poises, stretching through and surprising myself.

I am reminded that I love hot yoga, that stretching and meditation is just as important to a workout regime as cardio and strength. I am relaxed and at rest. I can even get past the smell of the sweaty guy beside me who keeps making eyes.

I drift out of class after 60 minutes and feel at ease.

I freaking love hot yoga. I slept like the dead last night and now I am just trying to work out how to achieve that yoga high EVERY week.

That is my complete history of Hot Yoga… its been a crazy ride, but I am glad I have the experience. I would like to believe I am the female Yogi. I love the class, understand the lifestyle and look cool even in a 101 degree room.



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