By Maire Benevides
As the title would suggest, hot yoga is just that – hot! The yoga studio is heated to between 37 and 40 degrees Celsius. There are many different styles of hot yoga, although it is mainly associated with the Bikram style. Though there are many benefits – both physical and mental, the benefit that’s touted most often is that because you sweat so much it helps flush toxins from the skin. The heat also allows you to go more deeply and safely into postures. There are many informative websites and articles online so have a google!
I found a great studio in Hiroshima City called Shanti Yoga
(www.shanti-yoga.net/). They have two studios; a hot yoga studio and a pencil yoga studio. At the hot yoga location there is also an amazing vegan café. I haven’t eaten there yet, but it smells great, the food looks delicious and it’s always packed full of people. Keep an eye out for a review soon!
The studio was easy enough to find (with the help of my iphone and google maps, but it would be just as easy without). It was about a 5 minute casual stroll from Hachobori tram stop and a 2-ish minute walk from Parco and Starbucks.
I attend the ‘Body Make Course’ which has benefits for weight loss and general toning and shaping. There are four other ‘courses’ to choose from, each with their own benefits and for varying levels.
» Beginners Course – which, as the name would suggest, is ideal for beginners.
» Self care of the pelvis – poses that focus on the pelvic region.
» Cleansing course – focuses on facial massage and cleansing of the lymphatic system.
» Ruushiidatton (Lucy Datton) course – based on traditional Thai style massage.
Check out their website (in Japanese) for more info, or stop by and pick up a pricing plan and timetable.
What to take and wear
- Water bottle (at least a 700ml)
- Sweat towel (even if you intend on renting one)
- Less is more when it comes to clothes. Wear something you’re comfortable in and that is breathable (like Nike coolmax or dri-fit etc.) – NOT cotton. I recommend running shorts and a singlet/tank top.
- If you intend on showering there – another towel, toiletries and obviously a change of clothes.
- Don’t eat too heavy a meal before attending the class
What to expect..
» You will sweat. A lot. By the end of the class your clothes will be saturated. Embrace the sweat.
» You will feel great afterwards!
When you arrive, sign in at the reception counter by the vegetarian cafe. You have to make a reservation in advance, which you can do by calling the studio or making a reservation online (it’s all in Japanese so if you can’t do it yourself, it pays to have super nice Japanese friends who can do it for you!). If it’s your first time you have to fill out at form basically signing that you understand the terms and conditions of the studio. You can also rent yoga mats and towels for 200 yen.
After you pay you can head on upstairs to the studio. Take your shoes off, don a pair of crocs (yes urgh crocs!) provided and wait for the elevator. If you are a new member you’ll be given a card to hand to the instructor before class, and if you rent a mat and towel you’ll be given a separate card to redeem your mat and towel before the class. When you get out of the elevator, take off your crocs, and you’ll be greeted by the instructor who’ll take your card(s), ask if you have done hot yoga before and make sure you know what you getting into and that you feel comfortable. There is a small changing room outside the class with lockers that you can you can use for free. When you’re changed, grab your mat and towel and head into the room.
Once you enter the room, it’s generally a quiet place to relax before the class starts. Find a spot in the room, lay out your mat with your towel on top and relax until the class starts. Most of the other people are usually either lying down or stretching. I find it best to get in there a little early to become used to the heat and to get a good spot. The instructor usually goes around and greets everyone before the class starts.
The class lasts 60 minutes and is a combination of breathing and relaxation, strength poses, balance poses and stretching. The instructor describes all the moves and demonstrates them, so even if your Japanese isn’t great it’s easy to follow – especially if you’ve done any kind of yoga before.
If you have never done yoga before, I suggest that you attend a regular (not hot) beginners class first and then attempt hot yoga. During the class the instructor will tell you when you can drink. If the heat becomes too much you can either take a break by lying down on your mat or you can leave the room if you have to. Feel free to stretch or lie down if there are particular poses that you can’t perform. Due to a knee injury I couldn’t perform one of the balance poses so I sat down and stretched until the next pose.
When the class is over you can take your time getting up and leaving the room. If you rented a mat, leave it on the floor in the room and there is a basket outside the room for the towels. In the changing room there are three showers that you can use, but be prepared to wait for a little while (although most people just change and head home to shower). When you leave, don your crocs again, head down the elevator, grab your shoes and head on out – or stop in at the vegan cafe!
I recommend you give it a go, even if you’ve never tried it before. It is a little different to what I was used to at my studio back home, but not a bad different! If you’re worried about Japanese language ability – don’t be! The staff and instructors are all very friendly and as long as you have a positive attitude and an open mind there’s nothing to worry about!