I have always been a yoga lover. I started in college by doing online yoga classes to help with stress and stretch each day. I continued for a few years after college but let my practice fall by the wayside, in favor of running and strength workouts. A few years into working, my coworker and friend told me about a yoga studio near our school in Chicago that offered yoga sculpt classes. Core Power Yoga She encouraged me to come try a class.
I went with and was shocked and amazed at what I experienced. The studio was packed full of women and men, all clad in trendy, expensive yoga clothes. I was wearing a t-shirt from grad school, and running capris. I immediately felt intimidated. I was in fairly decent shape from running and doing strength workouts, but I looked around the room at the toned and buff yogis all stretching on their mats before class started, and questioned what I had gotten myself into. I had never taken a hot yoga class, and was a bit put off by the heat. I was already starting to sweat and we hadn’t even begun. I quickly began to make my exit strategy if needed. I would simply tell my friend that I hadn’t eaten enough that day and was feeling too hungry. I planned the path I would walk through to get to the door. I even calculated how fast I could get home and in the shower and on the couch. Tomorrow morning I would pop in one of my workout videos and return to the safety of my comfort zone.
All these thoughts were running through my head, when the instructor walked in and instructed us to get into child’s pose. Luckily, I had done enough yoga in my past to know the poses and not look a complete buffoon. As we moved through the warm up, I thought, okay, so far I don’t need to flee. But we will see. I was beginning to enjoy the class- the instructor was incredibly positive and encouraging, and played music that I had on my own playlists. This particular class was a yoga with weights class, so it was not a typical vinyasa-style yoga class. Many yogis would say that it’s not a true yoga class, but I didn’t know any better at that time. (And still love this type of class today!)
When we started adding in the weights, the music started picking up it’s pace, and pop and dance-style tracks started playing. I was surprised, and always thought of yoga as just stretching with calming music. Boy was I wrong! The energy in the room was contagious. Everyone was working hard, and there were even cardio bursts thrown in, with everyone doing high knees, mountain climbers, and burpees. I was sweating like I had never sweat before, and hurting like I had never had before. I truly realized I had never had a workout this hard, yet I was loving it. As the class continued, I realized how I never pushed myself this hard when I worked out at home. I realized the group mentality was something I thrived on. I also realized that I was HOT! Eventually the vinyasa and weights calmed down, and finally we were done with weights. We continued to flow, but we were cooling down. The room was still incredibly hot, and my heart was racing.
Before we even went into final savasana, I knew I was hooked. Before we even left the studio, I signed up for a package of classes. Within a few weeks of going, I became an unlimited monthly member. Although I now practice many other types of yoga besides vinyasa with weights, I still remember my first class. I was so surprised that yoga could be so diverse. I didn’t know there were other types of yoga that were a full body workout, and that encompassed so many other types of exercise but still had the main aspects of a vinyasa class.
Yoga is still my preferred type of workout, and one of my favorite things about it is the fact that I can do a hatha class and just relax and stretch, or I can do a hot vinyasa with weights, and get my booty kicked! I have tried lots of studios throughout Chicago, and love the small independent ones. I also simply practice yoga at home a lot. I am glad that my planned escape at my first yoga class was not necessary, and I am even more happy that I didn’t chicken out and run away because I would have been missing out on my favorite type of workout. I also learned since my first class, that there are all types of people who do yoga- old and young, thin, buff, average, and overweight. It’s not necessary to have the fancy yoga clothes, or yoga gear. All you need is a mat, and some workout clothes, an open mind, and a desire to work hard.
If you are a newbie yogi, or are stuck in a rut and haven’t tried other types of yoga, step out of your comfort zone and try something new! A hot vinyasa-style class requires a mat, a towel, and workout gear. Some of these classes include weights, but the weights are provided by the studio. Always practice hatha? Why not try a vinyasa class? You might be surprised that the calm and stretch you get from yoga, coupled with more intense work for your muscles could be just the thing for your body.