Fitness Series: Yoga

I did one yoga class when I was about 13 years old and HATED it. As an active kid (constantly outdoors, playing soccer, hiking, cross-country skiing etc.) I did not enjoy holding poses or “focusing on my breathing”. So, when I was in my early 20s and a friend asked me to go with her I was hesitant – she convinced me to go to a hot yoga vinyasa flow class and I fell in love. A complete 180 from my first time!

My Personal Experience

I’ve been practicing yoga inconsistently for about 7 years but more consistently in the last two when I joined my gym which has daily hot yoga classes. I always choose a hot yoga class and switch it up between a Hot Yoga class (varies from a flow class to more of a power class but not quite as hard) or Hot Yin Yoga.

Yoga gives me a chance to let go at the end of the day, or prepare for my day if I get to an earlier class. It helps me focus on the positive things in life and let go of the negativity. Yoga is a very personal practice so when I go to a class I look like a keener at the front of the room, but it just lets me focus on my own pose rather than how I’m doing compared to the people around me.

It can be intimidating going to your first class but I highly recommend it. I love hot yoga classes – I typically hate the humidity but love the heat in a yoga class. I’ve been loving the yin classes because I have a lot of issues with tight muscles and injuries in the past.

Hot Yoga

Hot yoga is done in a hot and humid room – you’ll sweat profusely and I recommend buying a hot yoga towl (like this one) or a hot yoga mat (like this one). I also use a small towel to wipe my face. BRING WATER. You’ll need it.

Equipment

You’ll often be able to rent or use the following equipment at your yoga studio. (My gym has free mats, blocks, straps and knee pads!) I prefer using my own gear because I sweat so much in hot classes.

You’ll need a mat. You can pick one up anywhere that sells fitness equipment. I’ve seen them at Chapters/Indigo, Winners, sports stores like Sport Chek, and I got mine from Lululemon (about 8 years ago and it’s still in perfect condition!). Prices range from $15 to over $100 (mine was about $40). I also have a strap for my mat so I can sling it over my back and walk or bike to class. There’s tons of options and it doesn’t have to be fancy (I’ve seen people use string). You can also use a Yoga Mat bag – I don’t have one but they seem functional!

I also have two blocks for when I do yoga from home. They can be used to help in poses (such as placing your hand on a block for stability) or to help open up (such as sitting on the block to open your hips). In Power classes, you might use one to hold on to, to push farther in the pose.

I prefer practicing yoga in pants and a tighter fitting tank top/tshirt. Hot Yoga makes you sweat profusely so I find pants have more grip than sweaty legs. A tighter fitting tank top or tshirt is best when you’re doing inverted poses like downward dog (otherwise your shirt slides in to your face and you’ll constantly be adjusting). Ultimately, it’s about being comfortable so you can really get into the poses and focus on your breath.

I use both a mat-size hot yoga towel and a smaller yoga towel for my face.

A free app I use on occasion is Down Dog and it’s wonderful – each sequence is accompanied by music and an instructor talking you through the poses. It’s great to do at home and varies from 15 minutes to over an hour.

What about you? Do you do yoga?

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