Buy Local Hot Yoga

The good news: A yoga studio just opened about three blocks from my home. Joyous ommmms. No more hyper-stressful rush hour odysseys into Somerville or Cambridge, my eyes glued alternately to the unyielding bumper of the car in front of me and the clock. Ten minutes until yoga class… nine minutes… will the gridlock let up? Will I find parking? Will there be any space left in the class? Will the class afford enough relaxation to cancel out the damaging levels of stress necessitated by getting to the class? Wouldn’t it just be healthier to go home and watch Seinfeld re-runs?

The bad news: The yoga studio that just opened about three blocks from my home is a hot yoga studio that heats classes up to 100 degrees. Just in time for summer! I’ve taken enough Bikram yoga classes to know that vigorous yoga in a hot, humid room causes me to literally sweat rivers. Of course, that’s the point — the profuse sweating supposedly helps flush toxins out of the body (and if you believe that, I have some magic anti-cellulite cream I’d like to sell you).

This yoga studio seems a lot like Bikram Yoga, what with the heat and the same sequences of poses, but this isn’t a Bikram-certified studio. Rather, the owners seem to be renegade Bikram enthusiasts who saw a gaping hole in the hot yoga market and decided to open their own place… and make the wife the chief instructor. If opening a coffee shop is the secret ambition of every coffee shop denizen, then opening a yoga studio is the parallel dream of yoga junkies. “Imagine… I could just hang out and do yoga and sweat as much as I want, and make money for doing it!”

The pursuit of money is, of course, a secondary goal to the pursuit of enlightenment, but money is a necessity. The studio has only been open a week and I’m already worrying about its existence based on the two classes I’ve attended. The Saturday morning class consisted solely of me and a similarly-aged man who seemed to have traveled from a distance out of personal loyalty to the owners. The Monday night class consisted of me, a Bikram veteran, and an older woman who had trouble holding many of the poses and spent much of the 90-minute class cowering in child’s pose.

I can’t blame her, really. The co-owner was instructing on Monday night and I instantly disliked her for how she forcefully adjusted me into deeper poses (unlike the Saturday morning instructor, who would reassuring massage us with supportive hands). I mean, is it really healthy to goad people into intense exercise in 100-degree heat? Frequently she would instruct us to hold a pose “For five… four… keep your lower belly tucked in and the outer edge of your left foot grounded. Three… Make sure your hips are squared to the front of the room. Two…direct your gaze at the ceiling. Keep your shoulders down and your fingers spread open. Create space between your fingers. Every pose should create space…” And I’m there, sweating pouring down my face, my legs, my chest, willing her to say “One” so I can release the pose and mop myself up with my sodden towel. It was about as relaxing as jogging on an endless desert road.

“Take breathes without an agenda,” she instructed, causing my next breath to have a very distinct agenda: To stifle a giggle. At the end of the class, she beamed into our sweat-soaked faces and proclaimed, “It’s been very special practicing with you all today.” Special? Was it the way that sweat cascaded down my back as she made manual adjustments on my shoulder muscles? Or was it how I resisted her attempts to fiddle with my perfectly fine Warrior II?

I’ll support my local hot yoga studio, but in definite moderation, because sweating is overrated, and July and August are upon us.

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3 Responses to “Buy Local Hot Yoga”

  • Comment from Melissa

    The only time I enjoyed hot yoga was right after I moved away from FL and was still craving the sauna-like heat my body was used to living in. Now it just makes me dizzy.

  • Comment from EcoYogini

    I am definitely not a fan of hot yoga- tried Moksha and Baron Baptiste (which isn’t has hot as Moksha but still heated). Yep, not for me. And I think that’s alright. :)

    It sounds like that instructor was a bit ‘special’. hopefully there is another instructor at that studio who isn’t like that… :) or if it’s moksha, you might have some difficulty as I know they don’t usually post the instructor’s name who is teaching the class….

    Good luck!

  • Comment from shizzknits

    Hmm…I personally like hot yoga, but NOT Bikram. I’ve run into several Birkam instructors who are much like the Wife/co-owner you describe, which is probably why I’m not a Bikram fan. It’s too strict for me! LOL

    BTW I found your blog thru the 2010 Top Yoga blog Awards (congrats!)