The Hot Yoga Experiment (aka Midday Showers Are Fun)
Note: I wrote this post in 2013. I have developed significantly since that period but I think it’s important to leave the writing as it was written.
When I first moved to Vancouver, I thought I should do what locals do in order to adapt to my new home. So I started eating sushi, wearing plaid shirts and signed myself up for a one-month all-you-can yoga membership. At the start, I didnt exactly know what hot yoga was except that it involved heat and everyone in Vancouver was doing it, has done it or wants to do it. Vancourites must be an extraordinarily flexible bunch.
I normally opt for weight-training or an activity where I can feel like a badass but I wanted to get a better understanding of Vancouvers cultural obsession with yoga, so I gave it a go. Besides, winter was coming so anything that involved heat sounded like a good idea to me.
At my first class, I quickly learned that you need to bring a large bottle of water with you or you will probably overheat and pass-out. Hot Yoga is a bit like doing Muay Thai in Asia, except you dont beat anyone up and you move at the same pace as a koala bear. Basically, theres a lot of bending, twisting and holding poses. My emotions ranged from discomfort to dehydration to doubt. I didnt feel like I was doing anything substantial, apart from stretching in a sauna.
I decided that I needed to immerse myself fully in this activity to properly enjoy it. So I started going during lunch and after work; effectively 2 hours of yoga a day, 5 days a week. You know, stretch big or go home.
Im not sure if it was the yoga or the resultant multiple showers a day, but I felt amazing.
Yoga teachers seem to be an exceptionally lovely bunch and its sweet that many of them are thoughtful enough to learn your name. (I had never experienced this in a regular gym.) Whats more, the studio smelled like delicious spices and complimentary herbal teas were available to enjoy. It was like a smell-o-vision experience. I was starting to understand the Vancouverite obsession with hot yoga. The experience was perhaps more for your mind than your body. The cardio benefits are still there, but not necessarily as effective as the same time spent in a gym or playing a sport. However, you do leave feeling rejuvenated and smelling like spices.
After a couple of weeks of this, I thought Id take things to the next level and also give Power Yoga a go. This was a terrible mistake. I was by far the worst student in the class. While the others were doing handstands and the crow, I mastered the beached whale then settled on pretending to do child pose (which was just an advanced form of beached whale). Hot yoga, by comparison was the much more enjoyable option.
My problem with Power Yoga was that it just required too much power. There needs to be an intermediate version like Power Yoga with less power. Nevertheless, I continued to attend Power Yoga classes, undeterred. I would like to say it was because I was determined to master this advanced form of yoga. But the truth is, I just found my teacher adorable. And so, I continued to flop.
At the end of my one-month membership, I concluded that I had enjoyed myself thoroughly but would not renew. The reality is, I still would need to do a sport to meet my fitness goals and it wouldnt be affordable to do both.
Still, I miss my yoga teachers and having mid-day showers.