BY ELISABETH ANDREWS
It’s 95 degrees Fahrenheit and you’re twisting yourself from one yoga pose to the next in a focused attempt to keep breathing. No, you’re not at an Indian ashram à la Eat, Pray, Love, you’re right here in wintry Bloomington checking out some “hot yoga.”
“The heat adds an extra obstacle,” explains Laura Patterson, owner of Vibe Yoga Studio at 1705 N. College. “It’s something you need to overcome. You’re thinking, ‘The room is hot and this is hard, but I want to be able to do this.’”
Yoga, for many, is hard enough, incorporating elements of strength, balance, flexibility, and coordination. But Patterson says that for some active people, it doesn’t feel like a workout unless they’re sweating buckets. Cranking up the heat, she says, adds an extra athletic element that can help them commit and feel more comfortable practicing yoga.
“I was always an athlete, and I was personally drawn to hot yoga because I love sweating,” she says. “I think the heat can be a gateway into yoga for people who are looking for a challenging physical practice.”
There are practical benefits, too, Patterson says. “The heat helps the body loosen up and makes the muscles more pliable.” She also credits the hot environment with stimulating the lymphatic system (which is involved in immune function) and speeding up the natural process of “detoxification” that cleanses the body of waste.
Many people associate “hot yoga” with Bikram Yoga, a set progression of 26 yoga postures popularized by the modern-day Indian teacher Bikram Choudhury. At Vibe, however, hot yoga classes do not follow this format; instead they incorporate flowing sequences that match movements with breath patterns in a style known as “vinyasa.”
While Patterson believes that hot yoga is a great match for many people, she cautions that it’s not for everybody. Those with blood pressure problems (high or low), pregnant women, and others who are sensitive to heat may not respond well to the hot environment. For those who would like to try it, she advises drinking lots of water beforehand and eating a small meal a couple hours before the class.
Vibe offers heated and unheated classes seven days a week. For schedules and rates, visit vibeyogastudio.com or call 335-9642.