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.
The style in which you wrote this post seems different from your normal writing. I like both. :) I’ve heard a few bad stories about hot yoga (basically dehydration stories from not drinking enough water before going) so it was nice to hear the positive.
Great post. I have done yoga on my own for over a decade, but had never done a regular studio practice until this past November. Hot yoga came to town and I was hooked (like 5 days a week hooked!). The heat just felt so good through the winter. Now that it’s warming up though, I find that I’m not enjoying the heat as much. I took a few “non-hot” classes when I was a way for work, and appreciated the opportunity to “build my own heat” through the various postures and series. Enjoy your classes. I encourage you to try a variety and styles and teachers, since each will give you a different experience.
Go you for trying out hot yoga! I know it can bring up a lot of mixed emotions about your body. I tell myself that I can’t think of it as a workout, I have to think of it as, “being nice to my body”. You don’t have to be the most flexible or hold the poses the longest. A good yoga teacher will remind you that being a good yogi is all about going with the flow and accepting your body as it is in the moment. If you know your body needs to spend 15 minutes in child’s pose that day, them you are being a good yogi. being at one with your sweat is being a good yogi. Breathing is being a good yogi. Letting go of negative self talk is being a good yogi. I like to think of it as an experiment, and every time I do it I’m coming into deeper knowledge about my body.
So inspiring. I went to hot yoga for the first time in a year this week and was suprised how much the heat knocked me out. I am so glad I read your post-it gives me inspiration to return to class!
This post makes me want to try hot yoga!
this post was beautiful, angela. i also took ballet for years growing up, and i think it was inevitable (or perhaps just lucky!) that i found my way to the yoga mat as an adult. yoga has done so, so much for me, from improving my overall fitness (i am so much stronger now than when i just ran/did cardio at the gym), helping me get over an injury, and most importantly, making me a more confident person. there’s something really special about mastering a difficult pose that makes you feel like you can do anything when you’re off the mat and in the world. i also love how yoga teachers encourage students to see class as time away from life and time just for yourself – it really shifted my perspective on exercise. and it’s helped me become much kinder to myself as well.
i guess the point of this rambling is that i’m thrilled you experienced some of this! i hope you’re able to keep going to classes and i really look forward to reading your thoughts on them!
I’ve never heard of Moksha practice before. From your review it seems similar to Birkam with the high heat but just different positions to go through. Makes me miss the studio. I’ve only done hot yoga once but it was amazing. My body is craving it. Too bad memberships are soooo expensive to yoga studios in general.
I have been very reluctant to try Hot Yoga and this may have just been the nudge I needed! I can always use a little encouragement to look at myself with kindness, plus a little sweat never killed anyone!
Loved the details of your experience!! I really miss that dripping sweat. It’s so refreshing + cleansing!! I am not a big sweater when I’m at the gym. Even doing an HIIT cardio workout and lifting weights, I don’t break much of a sweat. However, hot yoga always left me standing in a puddle. I need that back!
This class sounds magical!
I am so happy to hear you tried it! It is intense but so worth it. Soon you may just be an addict. :) I still do not like the heat at all, but my body sure feels the difference afterwards.
Lots of water!
I wrote a post about my first month of Moksha recently, too! I am in LOVE with it and go at least twice a week now! It’s my favorite syle, ever :)
Congrats on making it through your first class! I’ve only tried Bikram – which I love because it’s the same moves in the same order every class.
On an unrelated note – where did you get that Amazing Grass smoothie cup? I’ve been looking for one like that forever!!!!
Sounds like a great experience! I’ve always wanted to try it but haven’t yet gotten up the courage.
Dancer pose is also one of my favorites. I also love pigeon pose and incorporate both into my post-workout stretching once in a while. I’ve never tried hot yoga, it looks interesting.
Random question: what’s the super pretty purple drink in your amazing greens cup? :)
Great post! I have tried Bikram but not Moksha. I got my yoga teaching certificate in February and have been really lazy about going to yoga classes since because I think I know the poses, but I really miss the experience! It’s just different to be in the class and feel the energy of the room, especially if it’s a heated class, kinda hard to recreate that at home.
I’ve never tried hot yoga before but it sounds amazing!
hey lady. nice to hear your review of hot yoga. I have tried Moksha and Bikram. I’m always hesitant about any hot yoga as for me the heat takes away from the calm/breathing/centered focus that I need/get out of yoga. I’d highly recommend trying out some non-hot yoga too! A recent teacher that I really connected with explained that the focus of yoga should be breathing, the poses are a way to challenge the body not necessarily for the strength or flexibility you gain, which are awesome, but to train your breathing to overcome those obstacles. That really resonated for me as breathing and anxiety are so directly related and it really explains why yoga does help with my anxiety overall. I know it sucks to feel tight and unflexible which is why the hot yoga can be so appealing, but that’s part of the process. Breathing into the tight areas, really feeling them, challenging them, accepting them, that’s yoga to me!!
Very nicely put! I’ve had an instructor say that if you only come to class and breathe, then it is worth it. I recently wrote a post on “learning to breathe”. You wouldn’t think there is so much to it, and so much benefit to it, until you finally experience it in its fullest.
What an awesome post! I’ve wanted to try hot yoga forever but have always felt intimidated. Maybe I just need to get over it b/c your experience makes it sound totally worth it. thanks for sharing.
I love it… by the end of my Bikram Yoga classes I feel so at peace and energized! I really think it is what is needed in my life to keep me balanced and clear my mind from time to time. It’s like your own “reset” button.
This is off topic, but I was wondering if you have done, or can do, a post about what brand appliances you use/recommend? I’m currently in the hunt to buying a blender and food processor but I’m LOST
I have a Vitamix and a 12 cup Kitchenaid food processor…they are both great. As for my other kitchen tools, check out this post found here: http://ohsheglows.com/2011/01/10/my-most-used-kitchen-tools/ :)
I love hot yoga and regular yoga as well. It feels like a natural anti-depressant! It keeps my body feeling aligned, toned and strengthened, allows me to screw my head on straight (literally and figuratively) and brings me calm and peace that last for days after each class. It’s a lifesaver!
Awesome review! Now I want to try hot yoga so much! Or any yoga class for that matter. Although I practice yoga at home alone, there’s something amazing about being in class, listening to that calming voice of the yogi that leads you through the practice
You mentioned Yoga to help with anxiety problems, and I can tell you that my best friend is currently in nursing school, and had to write a paper for her psychology class – the topic she chose was Yoga as a Form of Therapy for Panic and Anxiety Disorders. !!
There is currently a ton of research going on which is studying the exact and specific effects on brain chemistry of doing Yoga postures, and it turns out that GABA levels in the brain go WAAYY up when people do Yoga – more than when they do other forms of exercise or meditation alone. And GABA regulates other chemicals in the brain, among them some of those responsible for panic attacks and other panic disorders. AND, the effect is cumulative – the more you do it, the more your brain becomes able to regulate the hormones and other chemicals involved in the cycle of panic disorders.
Anyway, she could tell you more about it than me, but I thought you would like to know that you are TOTALLY on the right track in terms of doing this to help with anxiety!! GO YOU!!
I’m not entirely sure why, but I’m terrified of hot yoga classes. (Maybe it’s the sweat? Who am I kidding. Of course it’s the sweat.) Great post! I enjoyed your perspective. Now…to alter mine…
So addicting!! I can’t get enough, it’s the perfect thing to relax you, but burn some calories :)
Congratulations! Glad you enjoyed the class…take each class as it is…sometimes it’ll be easy, sometimes it’ll be hard…sometimes you’ll be loose, and sometimes tight…most important, just keep breathing & don’t judge…sounds silly, but as you go to more classes you’ll see what I mean.
Hot yoga is the BEST! Drink a big green juice beforehand for the best class ever. Green monsters are also good an hour or two before if you need something more. Congratulations on starting your practice, I’m so excited for you!
holy smack that is alotta sweat!
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!
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!
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?
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
Thanks for sharing! What a great workout.
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!
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 :)
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 :)
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
i can’t wait to try hot yoga!
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!
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 :)
Ive heard so many people say that!
This is beautifully written! It makes me want to take a hot yoga class for sure.
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.
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!
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!
Loved this post.
Makes me realise how much I have been missing my Hot Yoga class.