Hot yoga in various forms has been around for quite a while. Perhaps the best-known style in North America is Bikram, a series of 26 postures performed in a set sequence in a heated room. Recently, a Moksha studio opened in Ottawa. Tuesday was my birthday so I decided that I would give myself a yoga gift and attend a class. I wanted to try something new so with towel and water bottle in hand, I headed down to the new Moksha studio.
If you are new to the studio, a nice option for first-timers is a $20 pass that is good for one week and allows you to try as many classes as you like.
A standard Moksha yoga series (90 minute class) consists of 40 poses. In her article, Suzanne takes a look at the background of Moksha yoga and what is involved in a typical practice. The room is heated to about 40C. I have participated in many hot yoga classes in the past but this room seemed particularly hot to me. Not that I’m complaining, it was a drizzly, damp day and my body was craving heat!
We started off in Savasana. I arrived quite early so had time to find a space with my yoga mat, lie down and really enjoy the relaxation before class started. Our instructor was Tracy Koert and after Savasana she lead us through a breathing flow exercise followed by a series of standing postures, than a floor sequence and finally Savasana to close the class.
The class was quite challenging but Tracy’s cues and explanations made it possible for people of all levels to follow along and at any time if the heat or postures were too much, Tracy encouraged participants to rest in child’s pose.
Proponents of hot yoga claim many benefits unique to this particular style. A couple at the top of the list include; the removal of toxins from your body through sweat and your body’s ability to find a greater range of motion.
Although a very physical class, I appreciated that other aspects of yoga were touched on in the class such as the importance of focusing on breath throughout the practice and the idea of turning inwards and bringing our awareness into the present moment.
I really enjoy a hot yoga class (okay I admit — I am longing for heat — is it summer yet?) and will happily return for another class. However, as with any style or class I believe you need to really be in tune with what works for you. Physically, the heat may be too much for some people, and I would not recommend it for complete beginners. On their website, Moksha Ottawa recommends not practicing hot yoga during pregnancy, for young children or for anyone with heart disease. Also remember it is critical to stay hydrated by drinking enough water.
Have a look at the following video from Moksha Yoga Ottawa to get an idea of what the style looks like. Maybe I’ll see you there!