By BRITTANY SEEMUTH
An hour-long session in a crammed studio where temperatures reach up to 98 degrees while muscles are stretched to their limits is not what most people think of when hearing the term yoga. This is hot yoga, a different take on the traditional form. With a handful of studios now open in the Milwaukee area, I decided to take my first hot yoga class.
I walked into the Milwaukee Power Yoga studio, located at 1924 N. Farwell Ave., full of weariness and unknown expectations. As recommended by its website, I rented a yoga mat and towel for $1 in order to avoid slipping on the wooden floor during class. Immediately, the receptionist invited me to enter the yoga room. The class was about to start.
This particular type of hot yoga is led in the style of vinyasa. According to the Milwaukee Power Yoga website, this type of hot yoga links one breath to one movement and is considered to be fast-paced.
My class was led by instructor Deborah Williamson, who has been teaching yoga for 30 years, and specifically, hot yoga for 18 years. According to Williamson, though this was my first class, I had an upper-hand as a beginner.
“Beginners have an advantage in that they have no preconceived notions about what the practice is, so they are less likely to limit themselves,” Williamson said. “My advice is to show up early, get on a mat, and be ready for anything!”
The temperature was enjoyable to the skin through the first few minutes of class and I soon began to forget about the desert-like heat of the room. Rather, I focused on Williamson as she called out the names of poses I had never heard before. I found myself watching others to learn the positions. Though I felt insecure by doing this, Williamson said it is part of the process.
“As a beginner, you should know that it’s absolutely ok to stop, watch or ask questions,” Williamson said. “I recommend choosing a spot in the room either in the very center or at the back. This is purely for the sake of a better vantage point – of being able to see as many bodies as possible while you are learning.”
Some might question, “Is hot yoga dangerous?”
I did begin to feel rather light-headed midway through the session, but this might have been a result of eating Ramen Noodles 30 minutes before class. I brought a bottle of Gatorade with me and sipped it during class. This helped me to feel better and restored the electrolytes that I was losing through the excessive sweating.
Though Williamson advised hydrating before and after the class, she said the danger of overheating is limited because the temperature of the studio never exceeds the core temperature of the human body.
After the 60 minutes were over, I felt refreshed and relaxed, and already had thoughts to take another class. I knew I would get even more out of attending a future class.
“Some of the beauty of the practice comes from simple repetition … As you repeat the practice, everything starts to feel more natural,” Williamson said. “You’ll find as you practice more, you begin to effort less, using only the muscles you need to support the yoga pose.”
Visit http://www.milwaukeepoweryoga.com to schedule a hot yoga class.