hot yoga: an excellent complement to your regular practice

Mixing up your yoga practice is something I’ve advocated for years and generally it’s been well received. Students tend to be relatively comfortable in acknowledging that there is huge value to be gained from the guidance in alignment found in Iyengar Yoga, the flow of Vinyasa, the intensity of Ashtaga, the anatomical knowledge of ‘Teacher X’ , the playlist of ‘Teacher Y’ and the philosophy exploration encouraged by ‘Teacher Z’.

When further persuading is needed to encourage students to access a diversity of teachings, I bring out  a Tibetan saying that “Knowledge must be burned, hammered, and beaten like pure gold. Then one can wear it as an ornament.” Eventually, I mention ‘Hot Yoga’ and I lose my audience. I’ve crossed the line and their head is now filled with images of speedos, slippy mats, controversial figures and something that just isn’t ‘real yoga.’ Perhaps understandable, but holding on to those views means they are truly missing out.

My relationship with with Hot Yoga sequences has been long. Over the last decade, alongside other styles, I’ve practised them, I’ve taught them and then, what seems like an age ago, left them behind, focusing almost exclusively on alignment-based vinyasa yoga. With some trepidation I signed up for the Hot Yoga teacher training at triyoga earlier this year. I admit to being wary of it being more of the same, and yet I was hopeful as the schedule showed respected triyoga teachers from different lineages teaching it.

There must be more to it, I thought.

As an alignment and anatomy geek, I  was geared up to be critical of the way the asanas were instructed, but no, I agreed with everything taught. On the fifth day of practicing in large part the same sequence, I expected to end up going in to autopilot, but instead I found myself able to immerse in deep physical and mental self-enquiry. In short, you can read into the above that I quite liked it.

So I write this, as an advocate and teacher of the triyoga Hot sequence, though, as an aside, it’s worth saying that each teacher will teach it in their own style, with small variation in the overarching structure. I’m certainly not saying that you should drop your other classes and move on to practice only hot, and I’m not going to list the general benefits of hot yoga; that’s for another blog post by my colleague Nikita Akilapa.  There is, however, certainly an argument for seasoned practitioners to add one or two of these classes to their weekly schedules.

Why? Here’s just a few reasons. If you’ve only got an hour to play with, the room will heat up your muscles quickly without the need to build heat through vigorous movements.  If you’re used to exploring advanced poses and complex flows, there are huge benefits to doing more basic asana with control, consciousness and, indeed, well, rather that hard asanas, without integrity and fast. The heat can offer another challenge for you to control you internal narrative and breath through. It’s occasionally rather refreshing to come to class knowing almost exactly what you are going to get, allowing you to focus more on self-enquiry, rather that what is coming next. With more time in poses and the benefit of the heat, you can explore more depth in asanas like you’ve not done for years.

Also, you’ll sweat, which we all need a little more in our lives.


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