After the high energy of CrossFit last month, we decided to bring the tempo down a little. So, the last few weeks have been all about finding our Zen as we step into the wonderful world of yoga.
Having looked at the different styles and benefits, it was time to roll out my yoga mat and put learnings into practise. Courtesy of My Soul Space in Shrewsbury, I attended a Hot Bod yoga class for the first time. Taught in a heated room (as the name would suggest!) the preparation for this was simple. Bring a towel, water and get ready to sweat.
My Soul Space, Shrewsbury
Dedicated to yoga, My Soul Space offers a whole variety of classes, available for all levels of experience. The first thing I noticed on arriving at the studio was the atmosphere. A pleasant calm. Almost as if people had left all their worries and the stresses of everyday life at the door. The inviting words “Yoga For Everyone” were written above the entrance. I was definitely in the right place.
The sense of tranquility was even more pronounced in the yoga room. People were stretching, practising their breathing and relaxing. Candles were burning and soothing music was playing. The only source of light was that of the evening sunshine streaming through the windows. The setting was beautifully serene and even before taking my place on the mat, I was starting to feel more relaxed.
Hot Bod Yoga
With the heat turned up to 37०C – body temperature – it was time to start the class. Hot Bod yoga, more generally known as Hot Yoga, has become very popular in recent years. It typically involves a sequence of around 26 low impact asanas (postures) designed to build strength, flexibility and tone. The heat also helps to get the heart rate going so you have a good cardiovascular workout as well.
We started with Tadasana (Mountain Pose) – a simple resting pose – and would return to this throughout the sequence. The asanas became increasingly intense and it wasn’t long before I was really starting to sweat. Dripping like an ice-cream in the sun. This would have been quite embarrassing if it hadn’t been for the fact everyone was in exactly the same position. No need to feel self-conscious, it seemed we were all melting!
Detoxification is one of the benefits most often associated with Hot Yoga. It refers to the process where heavy sweating flushes out the skin and the body of toxins. It’s even thought to cleanse internal organs such as the liver, kidney and lungs. This meant it was important to resist the temptation of reaching for a towel. Wiping away the sweat would just close up my pores. I had to let it flow – embrace the heat, embrace the sweat.
Yoga is all about form and it’s surprising how much effort and concentration it takes to hold even the more basic poses correctly. Take for example the humble Utkatasana pose – sitting in an imaginary chair. This may sound easy, but when you factor in correct alignment and posture it becomes a lot more challenging, and that’s even before attempting to balance for a sustained period of time.
Fortunately, we had a knowledgeable teacher offering gentle encouragement and the odd adjustment where necessary. “Remember to breathe” she kept telling me. Who’d have thought it would be so easy to forget something so fundamental? But apparently this is quite common amongst beginner yogis. It’s very easy to focus all your efforts on the pose and forget to breathe. But it does get easier, just keep telling yourself to breathe, breathe, breathe.
Deep and thoughtful breathing is important in yoga. It helps you approach the movements with more control and also focuses the mind. While it may be slightly uncomfortable and overwhelming at first, working in a heated room is in fact meant to improve your breathing as it helps your body to relax.
Yoga in a hot room also helps your body to reach working temperature more quickly and is therefore good for circulation. The heat helps to get your muscles nicely warmed up meaning you can go into poses safely and a little more deeply. That said, be careful not to over stretch. It can be tempting as the body and muscles are so warm, but it can lead to injury.
After having twisted and stretched our bodies into various poses, it was time for Savasana. Otherwise known as the Corpse Pose, the purpose of this final position is to rejuvenate your mind and body while you connect with your inner-self. Lying completely flat, Savasana lets you truly relax and leave the world behind. If you’re lucky you may even be treated to a gentle head and shoulder massage as my peers and I were at My Soul Space.
I was so relaxed by the end of the class I could have easily fallen asleep. I would like to thank My Soul Space for letting me join their Hot Bod class. It was a wonderful experience and I left feeling relaxed, energised (and appropriately sweaty!).
Rehydrate and Refuel
After having rehydrated with plenty of water, it was time to refuel with Purition. Packed with all-natural, wholefood ingredients Purition is perfect for that post-exercise boost. It provides a balance of protein, healthy fats and fibre giving my body the nutrition it needs. After a delicious strawberry shake I was ready to get back to reality and face what the world had to throw at me.
For more information on My Soul Space, visit their website which is full of useful information.
Article written by Helen, Team Purition