Hot Power Yoga
This morning, I went back to a Hot Power Yoga studio in Natick (near Framingham) called Spirit Bear Yoga, after a hiatus of several weeks…actually, it’s more like a couple of months if I think about it. And it felt great 🙂 Hot Power yoga is like your traditional Vinyasa or Power yoga class – but it is done in a room that’s heated to 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s not as hot as Bikram Yoga, which is conducted in a room heated to approximately 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and it is also more “flowing” than the latter since you move through a series of poses and breath cycles over the course of the class.
I find Hot Power yoga to be more challenging than a traditional Vinyasa class done at room temperature (or in air conditioning!) because the heat can feel quite intense – especially towards the end of class. You also have to pay attention to staying well-hydrated, and drink plenty of water throughout and after class – or you will most likely end up with a headache from dehydration (as yours truly learned the hard way….). But Hot Power yoga has its advantages too….I find that the heated room makes your muscles more flexible, and so some poses don’t seem as difficult to move into. I think that you’re also less likely to sustain an injury from stretching cold muscles in a hot power yoga class since your body is already warm … that – and the heat just feels so good on tired and sore muscles 🙂
I also admit that I finally went back to yoga after a long hiatus because my hip has been feeling quite sore again 😦 Probably from increasing my running mileage and intensity far too quickly after just getting started again (I stopped running for months due to my previous hip injury). Lesson learned. Don’t rush it. Take things slowly. And stretch, stretch, stretch. That’s where yoga comes in – for the physical and the mental aspect.
Physically, I feel that yoga provides an excellent structure for increasing one’s strength and flexibility. I used to do yoga at my gym quite regularly when I lived in Columbus, Ohio, and was not surprisingly, far more flexible during that time. But after moving around so much during the years after that, my yoga practice became more sporadic – and I paid the price for it physically. I think that when I practiced yoga more regularly, I was less susceptible to injuries – from running, spinning etc, and yet now, my inflexibility just seems to compound my tendency towards sustaining yet another tear, hip strain, case of tendonitis or plantar fasciitis.
Mentally, I find that yoga really calms my mind, and eases any amount of stress, tension or anxiety that may have built up over the course of a day… or several days. It provides a concentrated period of time in which I don’t think or focus on anything but my yoga practice. On my breathing, on my balance and on trying to achieve a certain pose or posture that may be challenging or new to me. It’s a period of focus, of challenge and yet also a period of calm and clarity.
So one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2011 will be to practice yoga on a more regular basis. Whether it’s at a studio like Spirit Bear, or via personal practice at home, complemented by the on-line yoga guidance at yogadownload.com. And at any rate, I’m not going to be running again at all for the next few weeks. Just icing, stretching, swimming, and of course yoga 🙂