To my left a muscular, shirtless man was stretched out in a meditative state. His physique wouldn’t have looked out of place alongside Russell Crowe in Gladiator, but it wasn’t him I was in awe of. Instead, my gaze was drawn to the petite woman with her legs wrapped around her head. She was balanced in a pose so terrifyingly bendy it made me doubt my ability to make it through the class.
Incidentally, the class hadn’t begun yet and as I continued to stare at her I couldn’t decide if that was a good or bad thing.
As I waited for the hot yoga session to begin, sweltering heat engulfed the room and I’d already started dripping with sweat, so I was pleased to see Gemma Payne (the instructor) enter the spacious studio.
Having swotted up on the premise of hot yoga beforehand I knew the stifling heat of around 42 degrees had many benefits, including flushing out impurities from the body and relaxing the muscles to make them limber. However, I could also see why Bikram Choudhury (founder of Bikram yoga) referred to the heated studios as torture chambers.
Lets get this straight, it’s not called Fierce Grace for nothing and as a fan of intense, fast-paced exercise I wasn’t disappointed.
From the moment the session began, Gemma and her lithe limbs
(well, she is a former ballet dancer), took us through a whole body workout, focusing on our alignment, stamina, strength and flexibility.
From the Ardha-Chandrasana (half moon pose), to the Padangusthasana (toe stand pose), Gemma calmly explained each movement, correcting newcomers at the back whilst congratulating the accomplished yogis at the front.
A quick glance around the room proved my theory that the more professional the participant the fewer clothes they were wearing. But with yoga bodies so beautiful I couldn’t really blame them for wanting to show off.
At around 45 minutes into the session – only half way through the class – a small puddle of sweat had begun to form below the man in front of me. He didn’t seem to notice, nor did the woman next to him who was being pelted by his perspiration each time he performed another move.
This definitely isn’t a class for the vain, I thought, as I caught a glimpse of my red, puffy face in the mirror-lined wall.
But I was far too focused on my breathing and balance to dwell on my imperfections for long, as I slid my way through the Tadasana (tree pose). And I wondered which would be harder to remember, the names of the poses or the poses themselves.
As we moved to the floor the heat begun to overwhelm me, but I breathed through the pain and continued to push my body, as instructed, and slowly the suffocating temperature began to lift. The burning sensation in my muscles however, did not.
Finishing off the 39 poses with some gruelling twists and stretches, I was relieved to have made it to the end without fainting or melting into a pool of my own sweat. I must have looked as sweaty as Lee Evans after a two-hour stand up show, but once outside I started to feel amazing.
I’d always been a bit cynical when it came to yoga, writing it off as one of those relaxing things hippies do in stretchy yoga pants before popping off for a chai-tea latte, but hot yoga had kicked my butt. I even found myself telling people about the release of energy I’d experienced, which although clichéd was true.
Hot yoga had won me over and although in my case it may not have been graceful, it had definitely been fierce.
Written by Laura Hill
Why not continue your fitness this New Year and find out our tips on Surviving Dry January by @Stocks1986 https://onin.london/how-to-survive-dry-january/