The sweat trickles down my body as I take up the downward dog position. Trying to focus on my breathing to distract myself from the intense heat of the room, I wonder why I decided to put myself through this.
I have always been a fan of yoga, often resorting to it in times of stress. So when I had the opportunity to try out hot yoga, I immediately jumped at the chance.
Hot yoga is a style of yoga that is performed in hot and humid conditions. At the session I attended, at Yoga Fever studios in Cardiff, the temperature was cranked up to a sweat inducing 38 degrees Celsius.
Used by high profile celebrities such as Ryan Giggs, Andy Murray and the Welsh national rugby team, there must be something in this fitness craze.
So what is hot yoga?
Catherine Kelleher, owner of the Yoga Fever studio tells me that hot yoga is a derivation of Bikram yoga. Bikram yoga was founded by Bikram Choudhury in the 1960s in the USA and was brought to the UK by various students of his. Catherine informs me that Bikram is run as a franchise, so wherever you go in the world you will have exactly the same experience: the room temperature will be the same and it will consist of the same 26 postures.
“Hot yoga is a derivation of Bikram yoga”
Recognising the global success of Bikram yoga, various yoga teachers started experimenting with heated rooms whilst practicing yoga, and thus hot yoga was born. Whilst Yoga Fever uses heated rooms, Catherine is quick to inform me that she only teaches hot yoga as she doesn’t follow the Bikram sequence.
Despite having owned the very popular Yoga Fever for five-and-a-half years, the diminutive Catherine still seems surprised at her success.
“When we first opened in Pontcanna it was just meant to be a hobby,” she confides. Having taken voluntary redundancy as an IT manager and with two little boys to take care of, Catherine spotted a lack of hot yoga studios in Cardiff and seized the opportunity to begin her own business. Already a trained yoga teacher, Catherine had all the resources to set up Yoga Fever.
“It was huge from the start,” exclaims Catherine. “The first week I had one person, but the second I had 21!”
“Hot yoga is really beneficial for people who are generally quite stiff or they struggle to get full range of movement”
It appears that Catherine has amassed a strong following, with some of the original people still regularly attending her classes.
Whilst she is keen keep her loyal followers, Catherine is always on the lookout for new class members. “The whole kind of marketing for Yoga Fever is get get people in who would probably not try yoga in more traditional environments, such as in a church hall,” she explains.
Fans of hot yoga claim that it has many benefits.
Catherine says, “It’s really beneficial for people who are generally quite stiff or they struggle to get full range of movement.We also get lots of people who come to us through cross training, such as triathletes or long distance runners, who like to compliment their sports or other training.
Detoxification is also thought to be another benefit to hot yoga, as the heavy sweating that occurs is said to help flush toxins out of the skin.
Catherine believes that hot yoga can really help to ease the stresses of our fast paced lives. “The heat gives you an extra element of having to switch off from your day to day life, so you really have to focus on breathing and keeping going in a hot environment and not getting caught up in what everybody else is doing,” Catherine explains.
“The heat gives you an extra element of having to switch off from your day to day life”
“When you come into a hot yoga environment, because it is a bit more intense it really does force you to leave all of that other stuff at the door, and then hopefully, when you leave you’ve switched off from it, some of it is in perspective and you realise that you don’t need to worry about certain things!
In between wiping the beads of sweat off my brow I really started to embrace hot yoga. Eventually my body got used to the high temperatures, and I found like I was seamlessly able to move between positions.
Lying on my yoga mat at the end of the session, I feel complete relaxation. I think the intense heat definitely enabled me to stretch further and work harder than I usually would during a normal yoga session.
If you’re feeling a bit adventurous I would definitely recommend hot yoga, it is a completely unique experience and the benefits are definitely worth it!
Book your hot yoga session today at Yoga Fever
Each session costs £8