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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
Welcome to hot yoga. I’ve been addicted since my first class about 5 years ago. :-)
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!
What a wonderful review!!!
I love hot yoga! Its kind of an addiction.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
This post inspired me to take a Dave Farmar power yoga podcast. Thank you. :)
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!
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.
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?
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!
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!
Holy moley!! I have to find some near me, I love the sound of sweat!
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
im so glad you enjoyed your experience. i think theres room for yoga in everyones life.
I’ve just begun doing yoga because of my university required PE class. Its great stretching and centering for me. I’d love to try hot yoga, but I hate saunas, I feel like I am suffocating, so I don’t know if I could make it. Sounds so awesome though!
I’m so excited to try yoga soon. Its a mental and physical workout at the same time, in a way!
Wish I could get into hot yoga! Just not my proverbial “thing.”
Is this class a version of Bikram yoga? I do Bikram 3 times a week and LOVE it – it’s totally changed my body and life! I am SO not a hot weather person either – but I find when I’m in an environment where I’m supposed to sweat, I’m more willing to :)
I think you will appreciate adding that to your workout routine. I started a couple years ago and it has rally helped my other workouts. Even just once a week!
You did an excellent job at explaining the class. I like yoga, but need to get motivated to do it more.
I actually signed up for hot yoga yesterday and I think I’m hooked. It won’t replace my cardio or weights but will be done in addition. It’s amazing that after sweating for an hour you feel so clean.
Good to know. There is a place by my house that does hot yoga and I always want to try it.
You did an amazing job recapping your first experience! I have only been once as well and it is definitely as emotional as it is physical. The sweating part I LOVED…I felt so refreshed and detoxed!
i love this type of yoga i find it extreamly clensing calming but at the same time completely challenging. i certainly agree with you, it does wonders for my anxiety
Loved your recap ! I also think it has a lot of similar poses as Bikram yoga but in the end, does that matter? As long as you get a nice workout it doesn’t matter what it’s called :))
i’m so glad that it went so well! I love hot yoga, too. I’m convinced it is the best workout for your mind, body, and soul. it’s magic!
Lovely recap Ange! Seriously reminded me of my first hot yoga class. I love ashtanga most now but all yoga types make me feel amazing really.
I’ve tried hot yoga twice and almost passed out the second time. Personally, I prefer room-temperature yoga ;)
Dang girl, that was a great read! I’m fairly new to yoga and I haven’t tried hot yoga – I don’t think I would like it. I hear good things but I’m not sure it’s for me. The last yoga class I took was in a warm room, because of sun and outside temp, and it was nice, but hot – not sure about that. Thanks for sharing your experience though, glad you found some anxiety relief too.
I actually tried hot yoga in Phoenix about 4 years ago and really loved it. I later read an article about the associated health risks, especially for people with heart issues so it scared me a little. I do love yoga though and I need to get back into it. Life is just very busy!!
I’ve never done any yoga but reading your post makes me want to try it!
I’m horrible at letting go of the thoughts in my mind…and judging myself. I’m thinking I just need to do more yoga. It’s been so long since I’ve done and reading this makes me want to get back into it!
I go to Bikram’s hot yoga, and I leave feeling like I just got my butt kicked… but by the time I get home I am re-energized and in a great mood! The heat sure knows how to lift the rainny day blues.
PS. All that sweat will make your skin feel softer!
Good luck with your yoga!
I love yoga,It’s very helpful to get improvement of body.
You’ve inspired me to try hot yoga. I have signed up for a class this coming Thursday and I’m very excited about it!
Enjoy! Be sure to drink lots of water before during and after!
Sounds like an amazing experience! I’d love to try that someday. I can’t wait to read more about this addiction you have forming ;) $40 for unlimited sessions is a steal! So glad you’re enjoying it.
” I started to wonder if yoga might be the natural remedy for my anxiety that I’ve been looking for.” Woman, you have found it! I started doing yoga about 6 years ago FOR my anxiety. And here I am.. pursuing for life. It has made such an impact on me. Nothing can calm me down like yoga and meditation! It the natural cure.. :)
P.S. Dancer pose is my favorite as well. It’s just so graceful!
I LOVE hot yoga!!! My fave pose is Triangle Pose… also, Savasana! hee hee…anyway I feel so peaceful after doing hot yoga…just love it!
Loved this post !!
I recently discovered a small Hatha Hot Yoga studio not to far from my house and am now completely hooked. The 90 minute class is a challenge, and many times I don’t feel like going, but once I reach the final savasana, my entire physical, mental, and emotional self thanks me!
Just always remember to breathe !! haha :)
So glad to see you have finally tried Moksha and so excited to read that you liked it. I suggested you try it a while back; sometimes all it takes is a buddy.
I just finished my 2nd 30 Day Challenge in Montreal and feel like a different person. Moksha definitely leads you to question yourself, face your fears and grow from there.
Have a good week!
Totally digging moksha yoga! I tried it a few times over the past three years, but was focusing on my home cardio and weights. I now go to moksha regularly and absolutely love it! :) I think it’s really important to have a balance of all things in life and health to feel and be the best that we can – exercise for body and mind, diet (Raw Vegan and Wellness Coach here!) and spirituality as well. Happy Yoga-ing! Namaste. :)