The Day I Tried Moksha Hot Yoga

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IMG 5606   The Day I Tried Moksha Hot Yoga

We entered the Moksha room and the heat smacked me in the face.

37 Celsius is hotter than I expected it to be.

This is HOT yoga, not warm yoga, I reminded myself.

Then again we’re just coming out of a long Canadian Winter and I haven’t felt the heat in months, so it’s relative. I could feel the blood tickle my cheeks as my skin flushed from the heat.

Ange and I were the first to enter the practice room, which made me happy because I love being early. Best of all, I could pick my spot at the back of the room to hide. I totally wanted to hide even though I felt like there was no place to hide in this room. It was open and airy, with several large windows, bamboo floors, and floor to ceiling mirrors at the front.

So much for hiding.

Moksha Yoga whatTOdo Maple   The Day I Tried Moksha Hot Yoga

[source]

I carefully and quietly rolled out my Lululemon mat and placed my large bath towel over top, which Ange told me was a great sweat catcher. You also do not talk when in the practice room…if you do, the floor will open up and suck you out in one quick motion.

I left my Sigg water bottle and small face towel near the wall and I lay down on my back…because that is just what you do, I quickly learned.

IMG 5612   The Day I Tried Moksha Hot Yoga

I later found out that this is called ‘Savasana’.

‘Lying flat on the back with the palms turned up and the feet slightly separated, we start a challenging practice in relaxation, allowing our expectations to fall away and be replaced by the potential for pure experience.’ [source]

The Savasana was great because it allowed my body to adjust to the temperature. After about 5 minutes, I felt comfortable again. Calmness started to slowly come over me as I inhaled and exhaled in silence for about 10 minutes before the class began. Any sense of anxiety that I felt prior to the class was virtually gone. I started to wonder if yoga might be the natural remedy for my anxiety that I’ve been looking for.

I hear others walking past me, some lightly… some not, but I try to tune out the distractions. I’m eager to sit up and look around at my fellow classmates, but I try to focus on breathing.

‘Welcome everyone to our Moksha 75 minute class.’

We stay on our mats and just focus on our breathing for several minutes. While we breathe, the instructor speaks to us in a soft tone:

‘The to-do lists might be swirling through your mind right now. You are thinking about your day or things that you have to check off your list. Let this 75 minutes be just for you. Don’t think about anything else except where you are in this moment. Allow your to-do list to leave your mind. This is your time.’

I like her already.

We’re standing up now and looking to the front mirrors. A single bead of sweat drops from my brow as I get up. My skin glistens and my face is looking rather..flustered. I quickly glance around the room and I notice our class is made up of mostly women, with a few men. All shapes, sizes, and abilities. There was about 15 of us. It wasn’t a classroom full of 6 foot amazon yogis like I imagined.

‘Now, meet your gaze in the mirror.’

I look directly at myself, feeling mixed emotions. She looks strong, but weak at the same time, I think. I’m not sure I like that thought.

As if the instructor was reading my mind she said, ‘Now, meet your gaze in the mirror with KIND eyes. Soften your eyes and look at yourself with kindness.’

I tried again. This time with kind eyes.

For a moment, I felt emotional by this simple act of looking at myself with kindness. I was grateful that it was easier to do than it used to be, although I know that I still had a ways to go yet.

I immediately know that this is going to be much more than a workout.

Alive in the Fire Coffee and Yoga hands behind back   The Day I Tried Moksha Hot Yoga

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We move into the standing series which is ‘a cardiovascular set of postures. The focus is on building strength, balance and endurance through hot yoga postures done from a standing position. Postures are held anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute, allowing the skin to sweat and detoxify the body.’

I fell in love with Dancer (left) and Eagle pose (right). I’ve done them both at home, but never with a mirror to see my body bend and balance more than I expected it to.

7259 hp 218 Natarajasana 248   The Day I Tried Moksha Hot Yoga 2722 54   The Day I Tried Moksha Hot Yoga

[source]

I feel amazing when doing the dancer pose and it reminds me of my ballet days as a young child. Much of what I love about ballet, like discipline, could also be applied to yoga. This excites me.

‘Focus your thoughts on your breath if you find your mind wandering. Inhale….hands planted on the floor, legs extend out…exhale…downward facing dog.’

After a short while, my skin is beaded with sweat and it drips off my body uncontrollably. 

hot yoga poses 2   The Day I Tried Moksha Hot Yoga

[source]

At first, I’m a bit embarrassed by sweat falling off me, hitting the towel strategically placed on my mat. A quick glance around the room assures me that everyone has sweat dripping off them. Like a faucet. I feel less gross. Surprisingly, the room doesn’t smell funky and I wonder what line of natural cleaners they use.

‘Keep breathing.’

After the standing series, comes the floor series:

‘The floor series works on strengthening the upper body, spine and abdominal muscles. Having thoroughly warmed the body in the standing series, we now begin to open the hips and spine. The floor series relieves tension, treats lower back and knee pain and improves posture.’

I feel loose as a goose in the second half of the class. This heat has me thinking I’m much more flexible than I am and it’s motivating because I feel like I can do this. The poses feel smooth instead of painful and tight.

We end the class where we began- Savasana. We are told to pay particular attention to how we feel in the Savasana, as compared to the beginning of class. I’m amazed by the difference. My breathing now is long and deep, effortless and unforced. My body feels calm and despite being soaked in sweat, I feel just right.

And that feeling of ‘just right’ or calmness carried with me throughout the day as I found myself anticipating my next class.

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{ 177 comments… read them below or add one }

kaila @ healthy helper! May 11, 2011

I’m glad you enjoyed hot yoga! It’s one of my fave forms of winter exercise! It’s great when you come enter the room after being out in the frigid temps. Plus its so relaxing but challenging at the same time!

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Morgan May 11, 2011

I don’t have many yoga studios anywhere near by but I have been wanting to try hot yoga for a while now. I love your review post!

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Jessica May 11, 2011

I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time as I tried it years ago and the exhilaration after the class, the euphoria really, was addicting. Thanks for describing it in such a thoughtful way. I’m going to look into classes now. How was Moksha different from Bikram?

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Emma @ Getting There & Going Places May 11, 2011

yoga classes are the best!
I’ve never tried Hot Yoga, but I would love to sometime! :D
Great post.. Even reading it was calming haha! :P

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birdie to be May 11, 2011

Thanks for sharing! What a great workout.

http://www.birdietobe.blogspot.com

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Melissa May 11, 2011

I recently did a 60 day yoga challenge (a personal challenge) after being away from Yoga for about 2 years. My practice has always been power yoga (upper body strength, arm balances etc in a SLIGHTLY heated room). I’ve always had a weak upper body, and this is what I found challenging. I often pictured Hot yoga to be a power class with these types of postures and it scared the dickens out of me….mainly because you are challenged so deeply in power yoga that the sweat pours off of you…and the room is barely heated!
One day during my 60 day challenge I got up the guts to do a hot class. I was scared (and I love the heat). At first I was totally deflated. It’s slower moving, it’s predictable (you have the same postures in the same sequence EVERY class) and I was used to my heart rate going up in a power class, so I could use it as a cardio workout as well. No such luck in the hot class that I took….It was more controlled, more precise and I didn’t necessarily feel “as powerful”.
I decided to use Hot yoga more as a practice when I needed an easier day, or a “break” from power.
My challenge ended about a month ago and my focus has been on my bike and running with a few power classes thrown in here or there.

I went to a hot class a few days ago and to my surprise, the following day I was sore in almost all my back, my ribs, my abs, my glutes…..who knew the toning that happens with Hot yoga and you don’t even know it and all it took was a few weeks away from yoga, to realize that I had lost the conditioning of a hot class! I’ll be going to more hot classes in the near future.
(plus I love how light and free you feel when the class is over). Although I still love the challenge of Power yoga, I love the feeling of cleansing and loosening that a Hot class provides – it’ music to my overworked running and cycling legs!
m

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Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit May 11, 2011

Moksha was my first hot yoga class too. Something about the set motions really calms me. I’m so glad you liked it! My favorite is the standing poses in the series. Mmm I die every time :)

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) May 11, 2011

Oh Angela, this post is wonderful! I love it!!! As a yoga teacher, a yogi, and a lover of all things yoga, I am so glad you had this amazing practice. Also, so glad that on your first time trying hot yoga, you had a wonderful class and teacher. The first experience someone has with anything…from yoga to vegan food to traveling somewhere…if that first experience isn’t quite right, it can be a forever dealbreaker. So happy this was a huge success!

And yes, yoga being so much more than just a workout and also allowing yourself to let go in svasana and really seal in the practice and allow your body the space to just…..be. Well, I am thrilled!

I will be linking this post up as a great read of the week, for sure :)

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Alaina May 11, 2011

What a great review! I’m so nervous to take a yoga class. I’m such a newbie at it. This sounds like an intense yet relaxing exercise.

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KaraHadley May 11, 2011

I’ve never heard of Moksha yoga before, but the heat and some of the poses sound remarkably like Bikram. I don’t know if you’ve ever done Bikram, but based on this I definitely think you would love it. Except Bikram is 90 minutes.

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michelle s May 11, 2011

Moksha is like a drug for me! I first discovered it in toronto over 5 years ago. shortly after moving to ottawa a Moksha studio opened here and it is super popular… it can be hard to get a spot in class now! I have done it on and off over the years, depending on pregnancies and parenting demands…. but when I get there even once a week it does wonders for me. I find it detoxes me on an emotional and physical level. so glad you like it!

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Kathryn May 11, 2011

Oh Angela! I’m so happy to read this! I’m glad you enjoyed your class. Yoga is pretty powerful, I love that you said it was going to be more than just excercise. I’m doing my second teacher training right now and I start teaching an actual class this Sunday (like for money!). It warms my heart to read your review. I’ve never even heard of this kind of yoga but it sounds awesome. There are so many wonderful style of yoga out there!

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Ragnhild May 11, 2011

Thank you for sharing your first Hot Yoga experience!
I do Ashtanga Yoga, and I really love it. Makes me feel so calm, and I feel like I get a good work out! I really want to try Bikram Yoga, I think it is simular to Hot Yoga.

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Elena @ GagaForGrapefruit May 11, 2011

i can’t wait to try hot yoga!

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Paula May 11, 2011

Welcome to the wonderful world of hot yoga!!! I knew it would be a good match for you :)

I realize hot yoga is not for everyone, so sometimes I’m not over enthusiastic when I recommend it to people, but I’m always SO glad when someone has a positive experience and I know it will have a tremendous positive impact on their life!

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Amber from Girl with the Red Hair May 11, 2011

Awesome review!

I always thought Hot Yoga (aka Bikram) was just not for me. Until I tried MOKSHA! I adore Moksha yoga so much, it is definitely my favourite kind that I’ve ever done. I’ve been bad about making it to classes lately but will be remedying that soon :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) May 11, 2011

Ive heard so many people say that!

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Emily May 11, 2011

This is beautifully written! It makes me want to take a hot yoga class for sure.

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Cait @ Beyond Bananas May 11, 2011

I have never done Moksha.. but I have done Bikram. How do they compare? I love all the sweat that drips out from me. It feels like negativity leaving my body.

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Clare May 11, 2011

I am glad you are loving your yoga. As a yoga teacher, though, I do want to caution you to be very careful of the injuries you are rehabbing. Hot yoga makes your muscles and ligaments feel stretchier than they already are, and because I think I can remember you mentioning hip/groin/ or back injuries in the past (recent past?) I would hope that your teacher would keep you out of end range of motion. I do not know about Moksha-will have to do research-but Bikram “Hot” yoga is generally too extreme for most bodys, adheres to a “push it to your limits” kinda yoga-and I have found that is not for me. Happy Breathing-and I hope you keep enjoying your yoga!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) May 11, 2011

I’m definitely mindful of the injuries, even when now everything feels back to normal. :) Moksha is not Bikram, but I’ve heard it described as a less intense & kinder Bikram though. The instructors do not encourage you to push beyond your own limit which I love!

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Beth May 11, 2011

Loved this post.
Makes me realise how much I have been missing my Hot Yoga class.

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Nicole @ Fresh & Fit May 11, 2011

This sounds amazing. I haven’t done yoga in a really long time. I occasionally take a class that combines some yoga and pilates. Is this yoga class something an inexperienced yogi can do or do you have to be somewhat advanced in the practice?

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Clare @ Fitting It All IN May 11, 2011

As others have said, this sounds remarkably similar to Bikram. I know Bikram is very very picky about who can use his name however, and that his specific 26 posture series is trademarked. I bet you just did lots of the same postures but not the same order! I hope you loved it as much as I Do!

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Frank Jude May 17, 2011

Moksha Yoga is a form of hot yoga created by Ted Grand and Jess Robertson when they broke away from the Bikram style. The biggest differences physically, is that I find the Moksha series more comprehensive in that the Bikram series lacks upper-body practice. Moksha also is less rigid in that teachers have more latitude to ‘change’ it up a bit in the series. Also, there is more variety (Moksha Flow; Hot Flow etc).

The other big difference I’ve experienced is philosophical. Moksha does not encourage ‘push, push, push, nor is there any insulting kind of language. Moksha emphasizes ahimsa (non-harm) as well as ethical and environmental awareness.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) May 17, 2011

thanks!

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Rachel May 11, 2011

Welcome to hot yoga. I’ve been addicted since my first class about 5 years ago. :-)

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Susie May 11, 2011

This is awesome! I so want to just try regular yoga one of these days! LOL! I read your 1st yoga post and i’m going to check out that free yoga class site. Thanks for sharing!

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Lisa (bakebikeblog) May 11, 2011

What a wonderful review!!!

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laura May 11, 2011

I love hot yoga! Its kind of an addiction.
Great review!

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Tara @ trulysimplebits May 11, 2011

Love the way you wrote this post. I felt like I was right there next to you yoga-ing along!

Any plans to do any abs/fitness type challenges again? I love following along with you and the other readers. This is my favorite time of year to exercise too now that the warm weather is finally creeping in!

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Patrizia May 11, 2011

I too have recently tried hot yoga, and have fallen in love! It makes you feel so incredibly relaxed and calm and is so amazing!

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Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin May 11, 2011

Thanks for sharing Angela! I loved hearing your play-by-play because it let me know exactly what to expect when I try out a class. It’ll definitely help make me feel less nervous!

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Gina May 11, 2011

I loved this post! I like to hear other’s experiences with their first studio yoga class! It’s so much different than a video or gym class. I practice at a Baptiste Power Vinyasa studio and an Ashtanga flow based studio. I absolutely love them both and enjoy the variety of classes and amazing teachers. I’m going through the Baptiste teacher training right now and taught my first 60 mnute class last ngiht as part of the training. It was so amazing to actually lead a few people through a whole class!

I’ve never tried Moska, but I actually don’t like practicing with mirrors because I get too distracted on looking to make sure my pose is perfect instead of feeling it in my body…but whatever works and keeps you experiencing the amazing mind and body benefits of yoga!!! I can’t wait to hear more about your experience!

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Meredith May 11, 2011

This is a great review of Moksha! It’s a fabulous practice to get into the habit of doing, and is such a fabulous workout for both the body and mind. Hot yoga is really the form of exercise that let me stop thinking about exercise as a way to burn calories and start thinking about it as a way to care and nourish for my body. It’s really changed my life.

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Krystina (Organically Me) May 11, 2011

This post inspired me to take a Dave Farmar power yoga podcast. Thank you. :)

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Kait May 11, 2011

Welcome to the club!

I wish I could articulate how much hot yoga has made a difference in my life over the past year+. My studio has become my family…I have experienced a full range of emotions on my mat, from inner peace and balance during Savasana and pure joy during ohm to fear, rejection, and grief in any number of hip openers (so glad I had an instructor mention that crying during half pigeon isn’t all that uncommon). I’ve laughed and sobbed on my mat and it has become the place where my day simply melts away and the rest of my life comes in. The patience, integrity, and strength (physical, mental, emotional) that I have gained on my mat have been indispensable during a roller coaster of a year and I have no doubt they will be my greatest aid in all future ventures.

To anyone who is afraid or intimidated or had a bad first experience, I always say: try it at least three times. Class 1 your goal is to simply get through it. Class 2 its to start learning the poses. And Class 3 will be when you can truly say “I’m in or I’m out.”

Good luck as you continue on your journey – I have no doubt you will probably become as dedicated as so many of us!

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Aja May 11, 2011

I have always wanted to try hot yoga, I like that your post goes through a session. It was really well written, and I loved how it felt like I watching it.

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Beth@naturallyyoursbeth May 11, 2011

No matter what I do, I just can’t get into yoga. I always like it for about 20 minutes, but I can’t focus for much longer than that. Do you have any tips for not focusing on the boredom?

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LauraJayne May 11, 2011

I LOVE this review – makes me want to make it to my next class sooner rather than later! I’ve always felt like Hot Yoga was just as important for me mentally as it is physically – glad you enjoyed your class!

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katie May 11, 2011

well written angela! sounds like you really enjoyed yourself. Im surprised you haven’t done yoga before, it seems like something you would be into!

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Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn May 11, 2011

Holy moley!! I have to find some near me, I love the sound of sweat!

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Kris May 11, 2011

Hot Yoga is amazing!! Glad you finally got to try it. I find it especially great in the winter when the weather gives me the blues…It is so nice to go in there and relax and pretend to be on a beach :) Can’t wait to join you in a class! xo

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kate May 11, 2011

im so glad you enjoyed your experience. i think theres room for yoga in everyones life.

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