It took me a long time to even try a hot yoga class, mainly because I had studied and trained in Rishikesh, India- a place where it was made known to us every day that 'hot yoga' was not 'real' yoga and that it had just become a means of 'exercise' in the western world. The whole 'hot' yoga idea was basically coming from Calcutta where it was genuinely a climate that people practiced yoga in.
And then came the whole Bikram phenomenon....
For my personal practice I enjoyed and felt at peace doing the traditional Hatha, ashtanga and Iyengar etc and never really thought twice about doing anything like this in a hot room. Reluctantly, whilst in Vancouver, the hub of all things yoga, where various yoga studios compete against each other and lululemon (Canadian yoga brand) fashionistas roamed the streets, I decided to give it a go. It was at Y Yoga that I tried my first hot class and at first I was convinced I would pass out or have to leave the class early. I had no idea what to expect or no idea what I would feel like. I had heard horror stories of teachers not letting you drink water or ignoring passed out students on the corner.
Little did I know that this was the beginning of a whole new practice for me. I began to attend regular power and hot yoga classes and then eventually joined a hot yoga studio which I went to almost every day. For me, I enjoyed the feeling of sweating, of feeling more flexible, of feeling strong and of clearing my mind all at the same time. The only thing I disliked was that at my studio which was basically a Bikram studio we practiced the same sequence every day intentionally. I preffered diversity and I preffered the sweet meditative savasana, to close my eyes in poses and the meditative side of yoga - so this style wasn't entirely for me.
One thing I do enjoy is variety in classes but done in a hot room to get extra benefits. Right now, just like at one of my studios in vancouver, I am practicing a mix of power, Hatha, Yin and vinyasa flow all in a steaming hot room, which is seriously challenging. Some classes I attend vary from 60-90 minutes but right now I am loving it and can't keep the smile off my face when I leave a class.
I would say that hot yoga can be addictive but it's also down to the individual and sometimes it's just not for everyone, like anything in life. But what I can say is, go and try it for yourself and let me know your experiences.