As part of this monthly fitness class review series, I committed to trying a hot yoga class. Now, my ONLY official (if you can call it that) yoga class was back in about 1994 at a community rec centre. And I hated it. It was boring, it was slow, and I vowed never to return. One of my best friends is a yoga instructor but given the fact that she lives on the other side of the country, I’ve been able to avoid repeating the experience. (Although she tells me her class is VERY different, so I might give it a try next time I visit. Because she’s my friend.)

When sharing my monthly review plan, several people I spoke to said that if I was going to do hot yoga, I HAD to do it at Oxygen Fitness. Apparently it was different and WAY better because it was “infrared heat” instead of plain old electric. I’d heard tell of the hot yoga “wall of heat,” and the stanky, humid air that hits you in the face when you enter a studio, so I was willing to try an option that was supposedly LESS of all of that.

Now, I have nothing to compare it to, but there certainly wasn’t a wall of heat. The room was quite warm, and a little funky, but not humid and it was totally bearable. The room was nearly dark and quite full when I arrived, around 20 people, so I found a spot for my mat. The fact that I even HAD my mat was a miracle – I’m such a rookie I nearly walked out of my house without a mat, towel, or water bottle. THAT would NOT have been good.

I did the “Freedom Flow” class. Luckily, thanks to PiYo, I was able to do most of the moves easily. It was pretty slow, and much like that 1994 class I found it a bit boring. Although we didn’t hold the positions too long and we did “flow” from one to the next so it kept moving. And I did SWEAT. Everything was dripping and there weren’t enough towel breaks for my needs. At one point near the end we did this move where we went from standing with our arms above our heads to “swooping” down to a forward bend and the back up again. I hope no one was directly behind me, because the sweat flinging off my arms was something to behold.

The one thing I was surprised by was that I didn’t really feel like I was getting a true WORKout. Even this morning I don’t feel like like my body worked terribly hard last night. I feel way stronger after Chalene puts me through the PiYo gears. Maybe this is the “magic” of yoga, you get a great workout but don’t feel it?

When I asked what exactly infrared hot yoga meant and how it differed, I was told that it “heats from the inside out,” and that it’s better for you. Not exactly a scientific explanation and a search on Oxygen’s website didn’t do much better, only sharing benefits and stories as opposed to what it actually meant. I found this on another infrared yoga studio’s page, from Gr.Attitude Hot Yoga in Salmon Arm, BC:

What is Infrared Heat Therapy?

Infrared heaters convert light directly to heat, warming nearby objects without raising the air temperature. So in other words, a student in an infrared class absorbs heat but the surrounding air does not.Infrared heat is often confused with ultraviolet radiation because both types of energy are present in the sun’s rays. Infrared heat penetrates deep into the body tissues in a way that a traditional heat cannot.  This deep tissue warmth is great for sore muscles, stiffness, and joint pain, especially the kind of chronic pain that comes from arthritis.Because the air itself does not get hot with infrared heat, it is suitable for people with respiratory issues who find it uncomfortable or even risky to go in a heated yoga class.Students also enjoy the benefits of the class at a much lower temperature than in a traditional hot yoga class.

How does it detoxify?
The infrared waves are absorbed more deeply into our systems than traditional forms of convection heat.  As waves are absorbed by your body, molecules begin to vibrate, causing them to start to expel the toxins, fat and impurities from your cells into your blood stream.  These are released from your body in the form of sweat.  The result is an incredible detoxifying effect at a cellular level.  Your muscles and internal organs will be gently warmed.  This form of heat is perfectly safe.  Hospitals use infrared heat to keep premature babies warm.  80% of the light that makes it to Earth is infrared, making it a form of heat that is easily processed by our bodies.

Health benefits of Infrared

  • Increased Circulation
  • Strengthens Cardiovascular System
  • Improved Skin Appearance
  • Strengthens Immune System
  • Reduces Pain
  • Reduces Cellulite

I know many people that absolutely LOVE hot yoga. People were excited for me to try it because they just KNEW I would love it. I didn’t hate it. It was a good experience. I enjoyed the breathing. The instructor was good. I sweat a lot. The warmth was nice. But I really didn’t LOVE it.

Some of the classes I’ve tried so far this year are ones I know I will go back to, like DanceFIT. Hot yoga – not so much. Unless it’s PiYo or my friend’s class in Quebec, I think yoga and I are on a break. I just don’t think it’s my thing.