Firstly, let me apologise for the title of this blog is was obviously a ploy to get you to read this, and hopefully share a little bit about my recent experience at my local “Hot Yoga” studio. As most of you may know I am currently a Personal Trainer at Clapham Junction and my nearest studio is Kula Hot Yoga and Wellbeing.

A client of mine, Jon, has been doing hot yoga for some time now and suggested it to me. To be honest I’ve actually been a little resistant to yoga before. I think partly because I was a little judgemental about it, thinking that those attending would be hippies who didn’t use deodorant and had not really heard of personal grooming, ever. After digging a little deeper into myself, I actually realised it was because I, like a lot of human beings fear change and “new things”. I had also “made my mind up” without even exploring it, which writing this now seems ridiculous. Making your mind up about something before you have even tried is very limiting. I also thought “I won’t be very good at it” and thought I might not be accepted because I was not the “usual” yoga type. I too have the same negative self talk that most people have!

A quote I like, which I have been reminded of by my own attitudes, comes from William Paley:

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

I must admit I had some “contempt prior to investigation”.

My Hot Naked Yoga training experience

Well I did as Jon had suggested and turned up early, which left me the time to fill the necessary health check forms out, like you would have to do with any gym or trainer worth their salt. This gave me plenty of time to find out where I needed to store my stuff and get changed. I say get changed, all I did was put a pair of swimming shorts on and take my T-shirt off. Honestly, even being a Personal Trainer, I want to absolutely assure all of you I felt a little uncomfortable with my top off in a hot room with 8 people I did not know.

The last time I did that … well, never mind!

For those of you that have never tried Hot Yoga before, I want to say a couple of things:

  • Wear as loose and light clothing as you own (your clothes will be seriously drenched when you are finished);
  • Please do not worry about the other people. The whole class was quite mixed, all shapes all sizes, and both sexes. By the time I actually got into the class and got going, I can honestly say I was absorbed by the class, rather than what everyone else was doing.

What was the Yogi like?

The guy that took us through our session looked very “chilled”, but – to be honest – wouldn’t have been out of place at a psy-trance rave in Goa. Long hair and a great beard to match.

… Definitely not sure about the speedos, though! …

He was very welcoming and had already bothered to find out that there were two of us in the class that had not done a class before, so asked for our names. It was also clear that he had a bit of a relationship with some of the others in the class.

In a day and age where Personal Trainers are so busy taking photos and videos of their clients to add to their Instagram account, I found it most refreshing that he was actually interested that everyone felt part of the class!

What was the class like?

I have been called a “Functional Trainer” for a long time, and I think some people just presume I train all my clients in three-dimensional movements. I am going to expand upon how I define Functional Training in a later blog. One thing I will say, is that I really appreciate movement in all joints in the body and in all three planes of motion.

The reason I mention this is because I really enjoyed the structure of the class. I got to feel most of the motions in my joints throughout my whole body. For most of the moves, there was a counter move which used the opposites, so those of you looking for “balance” should find it.

Probably my only criticism is that there was very little rotation. Obviously this was just one class, and I am sure that there would be other moves to address this.

As a Trainer who exercises a lot, I am well aware of my movement and any limits I have at a given time. The class allowed me to feel these, which sometimes I may not even notice when I am training hard and fast in the gym.

The Yogi also picked up on this, and was able to give positive encouragement to help me get into the poses further, rather than shout “you’re not doing it right”. He had a very good eye for movement.

I also liked the fact that there was repetition through the poses. I once heard Anthony Robins say “repetition is the mother of skill”. I like that saying, and when training my own clients, I get them to practice well and then keep repeating to get better at it to form a long term skill.

It was bloody hot! I didn’t feel too bad though, and I think maintaining good hydration and not pushing too hard definitely helped. I did sweat a lot, however there were no unpleasant smells as they had an ionising room freshener in the studio, which probably makes a big difference.

It’s probably a great time saver too, I mean if you like a sauna, this way you get a sauna mixed with exercise at the same time!

Anyone that knows me, would probably say I am quite hectic, and the relaxation side of yoga was great, for me to actually focus on what I was doing. Listening to my body was great, and to be honest I didn’t even notice we’d done one hour and a half!

Downsides to yoga on its own

As I have stated, time and time again, there is no “best” type of exercise. Yoga is great for increasing your range of motion at a joint (flexibility) level, however I think it’s worth mentioning that increased range does not necessarily mean you will be able to utilise it in a sporting sense.

Certain sports even require quite stiff muscles to perform at the top level of that sport.

I think you have to ask yourself: “do I actually need the extra range?”. Sometimes the answer may be “yes”, but I think the range needs to be specific and you then need to retrain your body with its new range.

Yoga is done slowly, as previously mentioned. My two preferred sports are kitesurfing and golf, and both require massive amounts of rotation, speed and power. Having the extra range of motion in a golf swing or turn in kitesurfing is one thing, learning how to sequence the muscles for that move is quite another. For more information about sequencing check out my good friend Scott’s blog on the importance of sequencing of muscles!

What I mean by that is that increasing your flexibility is great however, just because you have an increased range of motion, doesn’t mean you will be better at your chosen sport.

What do I think about Hot Naked Yoga right now, sat at home?

It was very nice to do something different, and to do something to meet new people which I might not ordinarily meet. They were a real mix, some experienced and some not. Everyone stayed to have tea afterwards, and had a bit of a chat, which I think adds to the experience, as in today I feel that connection with other human being is being lost!

I will go again, and maybe will include this as an addition to my current exercise regimen.

Take aways

  • Try something new
  • It’s not that scary
  • Not everyone is bohemian
  • Good structured class for movement
  • It’s hot
  • Take towels and water
  • Do what you can
  • It’s not specific for everyone’s goals