“It’s been so hot outside, like 109º, and I’m thinking, why would somebody want to go do hot yoga?”
said Carol Farrow, office manager at Greteman Group. And yet there she was, standing in the lobby of Siva Power Yoga in Delano, a few steps away from her first Hot Fusion yoga class and already sweating — in more ways than one. “When I walked in and felt how warm it was, I was like, ‘Oh wow, I haven’t even started yet and I’m already sweating. What did I get myself into?’” But on the other hand, Farrow was intrigued by one of the benefits of doing yoga in a room heated to 90-95º: the promise of greater flexibility. “I love yoga,” said Farrow, who’s practiced traditional yoga regularly for the past five years, “but I’ve never been very flexible.”
Nickki Head, instructor for this popular class, confirmed that increased flexibility is one of the primary benefits of ramping up the heat. “Hot yoga allows the muscles to get into a deeper stretch…and releases a lot of toxins and waste,” she said. “It’s a different experience than you could get in any weight room or any weights class.” The “fusion” part of the class is so-called because it incorporates elements of Vinyasa Flow, which is the process of moving smoothly from pose to pose. A soundtrack handpicked by the instructor helps keep the energy high.
Farrow found a spot to spread her yoga mat at the end of the long, darkened studio, where light oozed in through translucent drapes covering a wall of windows. The high-ceilinged room was lined in rustic red brick squares, and was two- thirds full with over 20 students — a small class tonight.
Head started the class off with standing poses like Half Moon, Downward Dog and Eagle. “Remember, challenge your body, but never push too far,” she said. Subtle susurrations of breath floated through the dim room. “Inhale, sweep…” the students moved smoothly into the next pose, “…exhale, sending that heel straight out in front of you. Four deep breaths.” Periodically, students stopped to wipe their faces or necks; the hardwood floor was lined with towels and water bottles.
That relaxed feeling
After the class, Farrow’s long hair was limp and her shirt sweat-stained. “I’m a mess,” she said. “It was intense, but it was cool; it was actually like — you know when you’re in a sauna, that relaxed feeling? I felt like I could get more flexibility in my muscles. It’s like you’re already warmed up.” She had a few words of advice for someone contemplating trying the Hot Fusion yoga class: “Wear a rubber band,” she pulled back her hair, “wear shorts and bring a towel. You will drip on the mat. There will be drippage.”
Farrow was gleaming — and more than just sweat deep. The next day she wrote in an email, “I think I got a free facial out of the deal — all that sweating cleared out the pores and I’m simply glowing today. I loved it and will do it again (this time I’ll bring a big towel or two)!”