Being in corpse pose at the end of a good yoga workout is usually one of the more relaxing states a person can be in.
This particular corpse, though, was busy trying not to laugh about the beads of sweat dripping down into its ears.
My wife and I introduced ourselves to yoga about eight years ago through the P90X workouts, and I’ve always enjoyed doing it — but we had never experienced it the way I did last Tuesday evening, when we took the HOTTT Yoga class at Studio You Yoga in Greenwood.
In terms of movements, hot yoga isn’t really that much different than regular yoga — this particular class, taught by Emilie Smith, is the same vinyasa style that I was already familiar with. The main twist, though, is that the room temperature gets jacked up to about 90 degrees or so.
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Needless to say, I was quite glad we brought some towels.
The heat accomplishes a couple of different things. One, all of that extra sweat (and I had plenty) produces a greater detoxifying effect, allowing more garbage to work its way out of your body. Two, the higher temperatures loosen up your muscles, which means you can go a bit deeper into stretches than you might ordinarily be able to.
In addition, the heat forces you to breathe more deeply, strengthening your cardiovascular fitness — and it can also speed up metabolism.
Smith, who was introduced to yoga as a student at IUPUI and became an instructor at Studio You a year and a half ago, enjoys those extra benefits — particularly on the heels of other difficult workouts.
“For me, it’s like a recovery,” she said. “When I was training, it really helped me recover. Bad leg day, you’re super stiff, I’d come to hot yoga and I’d stretch.”
I’ll second all of that. My hips in particular were extremely tight going into the studio, but over the course of the one-hour session, I loosened up considerably. I’m accustomed to my body feeling better after doing yoga, but the heat amplified that better-ness.
Other people have taken notice, too. The room was packed with close to 20 students of varying ages and skill levels — something that Studio You owner Lori Davis says has become par for the course.
“A lot of the students that we have coming in that like the hot yoga classes, they’re really looking for the intensity, the challenge,” Davis said. “But we do have some that, they may not go all the way into the poses; they just like the hot atmosphere. So they’ll just do their own little practice within, just so they can be in the heat and the humidity.”
It’s kind of funny that something that drained so much sweat out of me could be so invigorating, but sometimes the body works in mysterious ways. If your body has been taking a beating lately, whether because of strenuous exercise routines or the day-to-day strain of your job, a yoga class — especially in a heated room — could be the elixir for what ails you. My body felt better coming out of that class than it had in weeks. And it wasn’t just me.
“We range anywhere (in age) from the 20s to up in the 70s,” Davis said of her client base. “I think that speaks volumes to the fact that yoga really is for everybody.”
I’d highly recommend it … if you can stand the heat.