What better way to celebrate national yoga day than popping down to Fitness First with some of my favourite blogging buddies to get our sweat on and try out hot yoga for the first time.
The last time I went to the gym was around seven years ago, I did not even make it through the door before having a panic attack. The thought of exercising in public brings so many of my anxieties to the surface that even the thought of hitting the gym is overwhelming.
My body and I have felt disconnected for a very long time, I know it is the vessel that gives me life but is also something that I cannot bring myself to accept. I really do love to work out but doing it publicly horrifies me, but through individual sports such as snowboarding and climbing I have built up my confidence. So when the opportunity to try out hot yoga dropped into my inbox I decided to take a leap and say yes.
I know that trying out an exercise class may not seem like a big deal to most people but this was a huge personal challenge for me and I wouldn’t have got to this point without the unknowing support of my friends.
As we entered Fitness First at Angel the modern surroundings and welcoming staff could not detract from the feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. Sneaking off to the bathroom to get my workout gear on instead of doing it on show in the changing room I felt physically nauseous; I knew, even though it seemed like the better option, I could not stay in the cubical until the class was over.
Meeting with the rest of the group, manager Ash took us on a tour of the well equipped space. One of the issues I have with the gym is it always seem like you are on display, but the Angel branch was cleverly segregated into three sections, making it more private and clearly defined what type of equipment is available for particular workouts.
Ash was incredibly enthusiastic and gave us lots of useful information, unfortunately my mind was swimming with toxic thoughts like; why did you ever think you could do this? You are going to embarrass yourself. You are going to pass out because of the heat. You are going to make a complete full of yourself. In a daze I walked into the ambient hot yoga studio, my heart already racing before the stretching even began.
Grabbing a mat, we lay down an began calmly breathing in and out for 3 seconds each, and with each breath my mind and body began to unravel. Soon I got into the flow of things and as I began to stretch through the movements I could literally feel the tension leave my body. 45 minutes later I had fallen over, got the timing of sequences wrong and was drenched in sweat but none of that mattered because I felt great.
Our amazing instructor Emanuela was clear with her instructions, calming and happily answered our questions after. Which included;
What is the point in the room being hot?
Answer: The 36oC temperature allows your muscles to warm up so that you can stretch more deeply and raises your heart rate, which in turn increases blood circulation. Another benefit is that the warmth means a lot of sweating which flushes impurities out of your system.
What is the difference between bikram and hot yoga?
Answer: Bikram yoga is a series of 26 moves on circulation usually over a 90 minute period and typically are held in an even hotter room, hot yoga is less strict and allows for more dynamic routines.
Hot yoga is my type of gym class, it gave both my body and mind a full workout and left me feeling challenged yet uplifted. This was a big milestone for me and I am now so enthustaic about exercise again I am even considering getting a gym membership!
What are your favourite ways to work out?
*This class was complimentary thanks to Fitness First and Talented talkers but as always all my opinion are my own. If you want to see how the other girls got on follow #FFHotYoga