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.
Great review!! I love hot yoga, I am new to Moksha, I have only been at it a few months, but I get pretty blissed out everytime I practice. Enjoy your new type of yoga practice!
Great to share in your first experience! I LOVE Moksha yoga. I started it in the fall of 2009 and was immediately hooked. There is something so delicious in it for me to be in that heat and then flow with those poses.
And you are so right, it is so much more than a workout. It touches one emotionally, mentally and spiritually – not just physically.
That is the only thing missing about living in the wilderness, no Moksha studio around ;) But I still try to do it every time I come by the cities.
Enjoy your continued journey with this wonderful practice :)
Really interesting post! I like how you take us through every thought over each element of class. I’ve always wanted to try hot yoga, so this was great to read. Thanks Angela :)
I LOVE moksha yoga! It gets even better after a few times :).
I haven’t tried yoga yet. I used to be one of those that didn’t think it would be much of a workout but now I’m just trying to figure out where to start. Your post almost makes it seem magical :)
I can’t even express how much hot yoga has changed my life & body. I am currently looking for a new studio because the only one that offers hot yoga in my area is not hot or authentic at all. Moksha looks incredible. I may have to move out to Toronto for the hot yoga + job opportunities! I’m so glad you like it! People have a ton of preconceived notions that yoga is easy and just relaxing stretches, but it is so challenging and rewarding!
I once tried something similiar to this called Bikram yoga. . .and I almost passed out during class. . . I haven’t been back. Haha.
Reading your post makes me brave enough to try it again (maybe) :)
I have never heard of Moksha hot yoga before! It sounds wonderful. Do you have a membership to this place now? I’d love to hear about your progress–inner mind progress that is! For example, how much calmer you feel after doing yoga, etc. It’s amazing how one class makes you feel so much better.
I bought the intro month pass which is $40 :) I can go unlimited times this month! What a steal. After this month, Im going to look into passes and evaluate costs.
Wow thats a great price! :) The studio I found near me (I was in the uk at the time) was like £100 every month! :/ After my trial month I figured I would just stick with the gym!
I went to a Moksha class in Mississauga when I was visiting a friend in Etobicoke. I LOVED it.
Well that just sounds heavenly to me!!!
It sounds like your class was basically a Bikram class, but 15 minutes shorter.
I LOVE the way you articulated your first experience at hot yoga, Angela. It’s a fantastic compliment to running and other cardio, as it really forces you to give your muscles some love. So glad you’ve boarded the yoga train :)
Lovely review, Ange!! I also love Eagle and Dancers pose – and Savasana of course – it’s my favourite for sure!! I also find that Pigeon is a good one for stretching out my oh-so-tight hip flexors. Running and cycling are pretty hard on them! About the cleaners in the studio, apparently they are Nature Clean and CitraSolve. (http://www.mokshayogamilton.com/os-facility.htm). I agree – they are definitely mild and appear to work wonders since the studio smells so good and not like gross stinky sweat!
Ohh thanks Ange :)
You make it sound so lovely, but I’m not sure I’d be able to take the heat! Props to you for trying something new.
I am tempted to try hot yoga but I get quite sick feeling in hot places (steam room, sauna, hot tub) so I am not sure if its for me. It seems great though!!
Do not try hot yoga if you get sick from being in moist heat. You will have the same experience (worse when exerting yourself) and learn to dislike yoga unnecessarily. Hot yoga is not for everyone. If you know yourself to react badly under such conditions, just try another style.
this post is wonderful. you are a great writer and really captured the essence and emotion behind a hot yoga class. i’m on a budget at the moment, but you’ve got me craving a class now! :)
Wow! This sounds so challenging … I love yoga-but I haven’t tried it in the heat (unless you count outside as “heat”)! I can’t wait to get back into yoga classes. I don’t think I am dedicated enough to do it very well when I am on my own!
what a wonderful moksha review, angela! i definitely have hot yoga on my list of New Experiences to try this year. (Likely, at the same place you and angela went to!).
i agree: yoga helps quell anxiety wonderfully. thanks again for sharing your thoughts – beautifully written.
I’ve heard people rave about Moksha Yoga (we have a studio near my work). I think you’ve convinced me to give it a try! I love the thought of 75 minutes of yoga while detoxifying.
I did a 60 minute Moksha class just before Christmas and LOVED it! I haven’t had the chance to go again but I would love to build it into my week!
we should all go sometime…would be fun!
Ohhh! Good idea!
hmmm this is so interesting!!i normally do bikram or power vinyasa , butg I have never tried moksha! it sounds great and the studio is beautiful!
I want to take that class!
I love the “use this 75 minutes for you, leave your worries aside” talk because that is what I try to tell myself before I exercise — to just relax and enjoy the time!
So happy you found a class you like. I have taken up yoga again with DVDs and love it. After my yoga practice I meditate. It does bring peace.
I was considering skipping my regular Wednesday Flow class today (in favor of Jillian Michaels’ Ripped in 30 Day 4), but your perfectly-worded description of how you felt during your class just totally prompted me to sign in and sign up for my 75 minutes of “me time”. My fave pose is definitely pigeon, although the one I’m best at is far and away bow pose… the one where you’re basically balancing on your pelvis, holding your ankles behind you so that you kind of bend into a u-shape. I was terrified to try it my first time, and was blown away that I could not only do it, but do it well! I think that’s the real benefit of yoga, like you said — it constantly pushes us to try new things, but in a safe environment where no one is judging!
I love the bow pose too…it feels amazing. :)
I hated hot yoga! It is just NOT for me. But I get what you mean about it being therapeutic at times. Perhaps I should try again now that I actually have learned to love myself and my body.
Isn’t it just simply fantastic! I started moksha a few years ago as a way to get all the toxins out after doing ivf(all those hormones are gross). That studio is really nice! I go to the one in Mississauga, The instructors are usualy great(except this one time where they made it hotter then usual and a lot of people had to leave the room)…
Glad you discovered moksha!
First off, cool post! I really like that it’s so in depth! :) I also tried Bikram Yoga for a few months, sometimes like you I felt amazingly calm, flexible etc and most other times I just felt like I was going to pass out!! :/ I guess this has to do with how hydrated you are and what you have eaten beforehand. It definitely has a great effect on your mind and body although I think I prefer Dynamic Yoga in a nice cool room! :)
I think Bikram is also hotter isn’t it? I heard it is heated to 40C. That would be intense!
Ahhh that explains alot! :)
I haven’t done hot yoga yet but I feel the same way about the vinyasa flow yoga that I do. Until you give it a try you can’t really explain how it’s more than just stretching. This post puts into words what I love about yoga.
Is Moksha like Bikram? I haven’t done Bikram in such a long time (mostly because it’s super expensive in NYC and the classes that are slightly less expensive are done in CARPETED studios –>gross!). But, after reading your post I feel that urge to pick it up again…thanks!
Bikram and Moksha aren’t the same! The temperature factor is similar but the concept is different.
Moksha is opening a studio in NYC in the Fall!
I love yoga but have never done hot yoga (and can’t try it right now because I’m pregnant). But that sounds like a great class and I may have to try hot yoga someday! For now I’m doing prenatal yoga DVDs…better than nothing, anyway ;)
Boy you made that class sound nice!
I absolutely LOVE yoga and have been practicing (mostly at home) for a long time.
Last year, I tried a Bikram class with a friend, and I almost passed out twice. haha I did finish the class and I sort of liked it. I always like doing the asanas, but I don’t know if the heat is for me. But that spiritual/mental thing is definitely something that makes me know that yoga is a life-long practice for me.
Angela, I’m SO glad you tried moksha yoga! I did my first class on January 2 of this year (new years resolution based on a very well priced month long groupon intro) and have gone every day since. I had been trying to get into yoga for years, but couldn’t find a style that fit me- yin was too slow, ashtanga too advanced to begin with, and bikrams was just mean. Moksha is the perfect balance of a kick-your-butt workout, incredible mind balancing, and wonderful grounding spiritual practice. I can guarantee you that if you go again tomorrow, or thursday, you will be hooked. Every moksha teacher I’ve had the pleasure of working with is calm, kind, and brings their own self-reflective style to the practice. Keep at it and you will surely find yourself a moksha addict.
Let positivity be your guide, namastae.
Thanks for your comment! I went yesterday to the 60 m flow and it was great too, although it left me wanting more. Who knew? ;) Im going to Moksha 60 min today. Gotta use my unlimited monthly pass while I can!
I don’t know which Ontario studio you’re at, but a lot of them have both a “moksha flow” and a “hot flow” class. The moksha flow uses only poses from the moksha series, which is great when you’re starting out, and definitely more of a workout than just the series on its own (so many downward dog flows and vinyasas!). If your studio has a “hot flow” class, try it out when you feel ready- usually they’re taught by teachers licensed in more than one style of yoga, and are a total grab bag of sequences- vinyasa power, asthanga, hatha, and moksha all work together. I did my first “hot flow” class about 3 weeks after starting a daily practice and have NEVER (to this day) sweat so much in my life! The best part is that you’re getting a beautiful workout for the body and the mind!
A lot of studios also have a “live music” class (Mine in Vancouver does), if yours does, GO! You will love it, there is nothing like listening to live beautiful voices while you breathe through the series.
Dancer’s is my favourite too :)
Enjoy your class today! Namastae
Thanks for all the great info!
Ok 1st time I did Moksha 75, yesterday I did Flow 60, and today I did Moksha 60 again. Sweat a TON during both Moksha’s not nearly as much during flow.
These are the options:
CLASS DESCRIPTIONS (all classes below are in our heated practice room)
Moksha (60,75,90 minute) – A dynamic system of postures and breathing exercises specifically designed to be practiced in the heat. Moksha classes are intended to open, strengthen and detoxify the entire body. This amazing series of postures are suitable for students of all levels of ability.
Moksha Flow (75 min and 60 min) – The regular Moksha series is joined together with sun salutations. This class flows from one posture to the next, challenging your strength, while working with your breath. Beginners welcome.
Morning Flow – A gentle and invigorating flow class to start your day! See you bright and early!
Karma Class – A Moksha class offered on a donation basis ($8 minimum). Proceeds go to local charities. Class passes cannot be used for this class.
I’m jealous that your studio has a bunch of 90 minute moksha classes, mine only has them once a day! You really can’t go wrong with any of them- I hope you love the practice as much as I have- it will change your life if you let it! :)
I actually hate 90-min classes…;) – but Moksha I think would be an exception. I tried it a year and a half ago – a 60 min. – and actually enjoyed it more because it wasn’t just 90 mins. of stretching, meditation – or crazy impossible poses I can’t do at all! It seemed more physical but not unattainable. I also found a younger crowd there ;) – unfortunately, I only ever tried it twice and haven’t been back. It’s on the other side of town from where I live – and in traffic that can be up to 1 1/2 driving time! It’s also not cheap – period! An unlimited monthly pass? That’s a great deal.
PS they are so smart with their marketing-
only $40 to start,then we get addicted to how great it feels,
but then it costs MUCH more money after we are hooked!
But I do love it, just warning you it is both a great and
financially challenging “addiction”-but I can;t stay away :)
I love when fitness activities remind me of dance. I did dance and gymnastics as a child, so anything that harkens back to that time is good with me. :) This is why I love Zumba, pilates, and yoga. And in the fall I’ll be taking a “social dance” class. I’m so looking forward to it!
I wish we had hot yoga around here. Ah well.
ooooh i know all about Moksha yoga. and its not easy.
its an awesome class that works ur body, mind and soul.
great job. glad u liked it!
This post gave me chills! I had my first Moksha class about a year ago and had similar feelings. A lot of my personal development has occured in a Moksha class and I have loved every minute of it, good times and bad. Every class I walk out feeling taller, stronger, more centered, and less anxious. I am glad you shared your experience because it is something that I haven’t heard many people talk about with such honesty. Thank you!
Thanks Danielle! I am happy to hear that you have experience so many benefits from it too.
I used to go to Bikram all of the time – haven’t been in forever. The monthly pass (for students) is $110 though – unreal!
Wow, your writing is beautiful. Loved it. I really enjoy yoga, but I am very nervous about hot yoga. I have heard it makes you dizzy and I don’t enjoy that feeling. Afraid it would make me anxious. Did you experience that?
I was only dizzy for a brief moment…maybe 2 seconds. I drank water and I was fine the rest of the class. I think its important to be very hydrated the day before and morning of…and of course, afterwards. I had a small headache that night, but I was able to cure it with water. I dont think I drank enough H20 afterwards.
Its also important to have a light meal about 1.5-2 hours prior
I loved this post. And I love the idea of yoga. But I’m too scared to try. I am probably the most unflexible person I’ve ever met. Touch my toes, not even close. I could maybe touch my calf LOL. Any words of advice?
I’m also not flexible and I tend to have very, very stiff legs (probaby from so much cardio and not enough stretching). The beauty of the hot class is that your muscles warm up. I was able to stretch much more than I usually can and I looooved that part of it. It gave me motivation to stick with it. Most poses just felt smooth…whereas if I had done them at home, they would have felt stiff.
how did you physically feel afterward? or even during? did you ever feel sick? headache? nauseaus? I’ve wanted to try one of these classes but i’m afraid i’ll get sick.
I chugged water so much the day prior and the morning of. I think that helped as I did not feel sick during or after. There was only a brief moment when I felt light headed during the class, but it was all of 2 seconds.
I guess I didnt drink enough water AFTER the class because I had a brief headache a night time that was cured with water. :)
I think a light breakfast is also needed…at least 1.5 hours prior to the class.
Thoroughly enjoyed this descriptive post! If more people understood the concepts of yoga, there would be a lot less stress in the world!
Great review. I have wanted to try hot yoga so I liked hearing your recap.
Oh I love Bikram, love love love. It’s so intense and invogorating. It feels like I got a 90 min massage when I’m done.
Sounds interesting. I’m not sure I could handle the heat, but sounds like something I should at least try.
What a informative, and insightful post! Good for you for focusing and getting your mind into the workout, hot yoga is TOUGH. The first time I tried Bikram Yoga, I remember looking at my mom about halfway through wondering why on earth we had decided to voluntarily participate in this….but by the end of the class I felt fresh and rejuvenated :)
I love this post…I think the feeling at the end is exactly what we all strive for in our yoga practice!
Ooh, I want to try this! I’ve taken yoga classes before, and one of my favorite things about practicing with a mirror is having to look myself if the eye for an hour or so. I have to be honest with myself, and doing that twice a week for several months really helped me feel better about myself, for some reason. I guess it’s hard to look someone in the eye and tell them that you don’t like them.
Love that :)
Thank you so much for reviewing your hot yoga experience. I’ve heard more and more about it this past week and have been really interested. I’m brand new to yoga though, do you think it’s too advanced for someone just starting out?
Yes I definitely think Moksha is friendly to beginners! My favourite so far has been the regular Moksha class. I dont know many poses at all and I was fine with it. Also, no one expects you to be perfect either!
I looove savasana… my fav thing to do are chaturanga’s though, love the arm workout :) downward dogs feel soooo good too.. now I want to meditate!
I have been doing Moksha yoga since March and I absolutley love it. I love doing savansana at the beginning and end of class. I had never done yoga before and went into the class not quite knowing what to expect and when I came out after that first class I could not wait to go back.
There is something about stepping outside of your comfort zone and really growing as a person and as a yogi. I love trying new classes and coming out feeling like I got such a great workout.
This is totally inspiring. I had a great yoga class last night, too. It’s so amazing what it does for your mind and body. Unexplainable!