Looks like your typical yoga studio? Well, it’s not. It’s HOT in there…at Hamptons Hot Yoga (Bridgehampton.) No, like really hot. I guess that’s the typical response of a hot yoga first-timer? Shock? Shock initially, gratitude to follow. It’s not instant gratification, but it is gratification. I’ve been wanting to try hot yoga for a long time now and I’m so glad I did. I find that there is nothing quite like the benefits of yoga, especially for a body tired from spin, TRX, running, body combat, etc. Hot yoga combines each of the benefits of these other exercises (cardio, endurance, strength, agility, warming the body) plus stretching, lengthening, and challenging on a whole new level. While I love a good group fitness class, I despise feeling tight and compact afterwards. I love the post-yoga high that brings that sensation of long, lean, stretched muscles as well as a good sweat. Hot yoga brings the term ‘good sweat’ to a whole new level.
As unsafe, unnatural, and unpleasant as exercise in extreme heat seems, the class is conducted in a very specific manner, making safety the top priority. The precise rules, sequence, structure, suggested routine before, during, and after class, (LOTS of water, no food, no caffeine) all make the practice safe and beneficial for all. So, what are the benefits?
Benefits are countless. While the high heat allows the body to move and open more fluidly, excess sweat quickly removes toxins from deep within. Hot yoga is the perfect cleansing activity, it will leave you feeling renewed, rejuvinated, and pure. The postures and the heat works every part of the body; muscles, bones, organs, and even skin (our largest elimination organ.) Hot yoga claims to actually work 100% of the body. That makes 90 minutes pretty worthwhile doesn’t it?
Other benefits include; enhanced body processes (like metabolism, detoxification, mobility, circulation, oxygenation, and endocrine function.) Hot yoga also decreases stress, regulates blood pressure, improves immune system, and provides an overall ‘feel good’ vitality.
It was great to see that the class was mixed, age, gender, ability, etc. It really speaks to the fact that anyone can do hot yoga, although I don’t think it’s for everyone. Anyone can experience this class, anyone can rest whenever they want, and anyone will feel the benefits for hours and hours after class. I was truly amazed at how I felt after class, with a new appreciation for the crisp fall air, my body, and even my simple daily routine outside of that oven.
You’re going to sweat. A LOT. You’re going to feel dizzy (at first, I’m told this sensation goes away after a few classes.) You’re going to want to guzzle water. You’re going to want to run out of the room. You’re going to daydream about ice cubes and stillness. But, you’re going to feel immense gratitude as well.
Hamptons Hot Yoga offers two variations; Bikram Hot Yoga and Hot Vinyasa, both open-level and all-inclusive. I gave the 90 minute Bikram class a try and plan to go back for more soon. There is not one downward dog and the class is the same every single time, a calculated sequence with exact purpose. This gives participants a chance to constantly improve their practice. Each of the 26 postures are performed twice with a few seconds rest in between. The first round sets the correct form and alignment, so your body knows where to go. The repetition allows you to push, go further, improve flexibility, and get the full benefits of the pose. The key, as with yoga in general, is to get the foundation down before pushing the body. Some of the poses are to be held for 30-60 seconds. This was a challenge. In the heat, it was a HUGE challenge. With sweat dripping down on the mat, focusing on the breath (and the rewards) is really all that keeps you going.
Vinyasa, meaning flow, is more of a fast-paced practice packed into a shorter (still 75 minutes) class. Vinyasa focuses on strength, balance, flexibility, and most of all: breath. Lienette, the studio director at Hamptons Hot Yoga, is very welcoming and informative. She clearly knows her stuff, as she walks the class through each and every posture with her words, not just telling you what to do, but how and why as well. And, even better, Hamptons Hot Yoga offers local a free week of classes so you can try it out!
One Healthy Breakdown: Hot yoga is like nothing else. I imagine the only thing it has in common with other workouts is the love/hate relationship. The benefits outweigh the burdens, if you can take the heat.