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The Mission is to Sweat – Hot Yoga

By Meghan Baker

At first, the temperature was cool and comfortable and so was I. I watched as the yoga instructor walked towards the thermostat and switched a knob evoking an audible groan from the heating system that kicked in to a high temperature and started to make us sweat.

Welcome to hot yoga, a new twist on an old favorite of stretching, posing, bowing and respecting the body.

I was apprehensive about the concept, envisioning myself holding the downward dog pose only to slip face first due to excessive sweating and flatten my nose. This did not happen, but the sweating did. I immediately began to wonder if this was a practical joke being played on westerners.

The flow of the movements and repositioning of my body kept my mind occupied, until I could feel beads of water dripping down my back. I was perspiring as if I had just finished running across the Sahara. This can’t be good for you.

Our Yoga instructor, Catherine Konopelky’s smooth dulcet tones attempted to keep us calm and focused and she told us to remove the looks of apprehension off our faces. Hard to do, as my limbs were perpendicular to my body up in the air and my face was beet red.

It felt similar to roasting on a tropical beach, only instead of drinking margaritas, I was actually doing something that, as it turns out, is one of the best things for my body. Catherine has been teaching the hot yoga class for a year after teaching regular yoga for eight. She explained that hot yoga is inspired from the source—India, where the temperature reaches ridiculous highs. “The body responds better in the heat, muscles, respiratory system, everything responds more. It’s ideal for the body,” she said. It came to the west through Bikran yoga that involves 26 positions in 105-degree heat and 45% humidity. “Here it is drier heat, so the body sweats less,” Catherine added as I tried to see her through the drips falling from my forehead.

It is said to increase your ability to burn fat, build core muscles, improve the immune system and promote detoxification. It’s also like trying to move elegantly in a sauna.

However, to feel spent without the thumping, pounding and yelling of a regular aerobics class was blissful. Now, it’s margarita time.

Hot yoga is available at most gyms and yoga centers.