Studios warming up crowds at 37 degrees while the temperature outside starts to cool down

Jack Frost may be telling us to grab our boots and scarves, but Calgarians are being seen grabbing sports bras and spandex shorts instead.

In the last 12 months at least eight new hot studios have opened their doors – Pure Hot Yoga, Breathe Hot Yoga and Beyond Yoga just to name a few.

Even in freezing temperatures, ensuring a spot in a coveted hot room is compulsory to some. Hot yoga studios stuffed with eager yogis, 30 minutes before class is the norm these days.

Now with hot yoga seemingly widespread across Canada, curious Calgarians are asking why yoga in a hot room?

Hungry for hot benefits

“Hot yoga has changed my life in so many ways,” said Christine Lee, a teacher at Bodhi Tree Yoga.

Lee said she has been practicing yoga on and off for the last 13 years and has been teaching for one and a half years.

“With hot yoga you are increasing the temperature of the body so that you do produce more sweat – this is one of the primary ways the body release toxins,” Lee explained.
Photo courtesy of: Bodhi Tree Yoga

Lee said that by encouraging the body to do this “it makes you feel more clean and vibrant when you come out.”

She explained you can certainly gain these benefits in a non-heated practice but people tend to feel it a bit more in a hot yoga session.

“It does warm the body more quickly, so not as much time is needed for warming up before you start to feel the lengthening and stretching benefits from the postures in your muscles.”

However, as both a teacher and a practitioner, Lee said there is an element of caution needed here – students may feel because their body is warm their muscles are too.

“To avoid pulling muscles, it does take a level of sensitivity to know the heat is being generated from outside sources while you are warming up on the inside as well.”

Lee added that the physical benefits of hot yoga contribute to overall health, generally flexibility, strength, energy levels and a better sleep.

“A regular practice encourages you to maintain a healthy lifestyle because you just feel so good after practicing you don’t want to make choices that are unhealthy – it just doesn’t feel right anymore.”

The ingredients of life

What keeps Lee coming back to hot yoga is not only the physical benefits but also the spiritual aspect hot yoga provides.

“The practice of hot yoga allows you to connect with the essence of who you are, become more aware and wake up to the world around us,” she said.

Lee explained that the practice creates space and freedom to ask the type of questions that lead to conscious choices about how we live our lives.

Sarah Foster, a hospice nurse who got into hot yoga eight months ago said she can’t stop going and attends three to four times a week.

“I think hot yoga improves your core stability and different muscle groups you wouldn’t normally use,” she said.

“My endurance in other cardiovascular activities has increased because of my practice.”

Foster explained that she prefers hot yoga to regular yoga because the breath work and postures are more challenging in a hot room.

“I think it’s an hour and a half of your day where you get to really focus on yourself – you are going through doing something physical but at the same time looking inward,” Foster said.

Kent Simmons, a yogi who practices at Tri-Yoga Calgary, said hot yoga has inspired him to share his knowledge with others. He is currently completing an intensive seven-month teacher training certification at Yoga Passage.

“One of the main appeals for me was the opportunity to sweat out all the garbage I had accumulated from partying,” he said.

“I was at a point in my life where I knew it was time to quit my shenanigans,” Kent said. “Yoga gave me the foundation to center myself.”

Kent said that in practicing hot yoga he has found a place where he can be himself – away from prying eyes – in a safe environment.

aip@cjournal.ca