Sweating the details on hot yoga
There are several options for hot yoga in the city, including Bikram Yoga (the original hot yoga), hot yoga and those studios offering both heated and unheated options. Hot yoga is yoga that is performed in a heated room, with Bikram studios being heated to a temperature between 39ºC and 42ºC. Other hot yoga studios normally keep their temperatures a bit lower.
Bikram Choudhury developed Bikram yoga in the early 1970s at his Yoga College of India. Bikram yoga is based on a 26-posture sequence in a heated room, and most yoga teachers mix up their classes as they do not always consistently do the same postures in the same sequences.
Because yoga is a tradition dating back thousands of years, the poses being performed are not going to change much from one studio to the next. What does change, however, is how fast the postures are performed and how long they are held for, how much meditation or relaxation is added into the class, and the studio’s general atmosphere.
Unheated yoga is yoga performed at room temperature, with no extra heat added, such as that offered at SAIT. In hot yoga, participants wear shorts and a tank top, and men often forego wearing shirts altogether. Conversely, when one is not actively participating in the physical aspect of yoga, unheated yoga requires more clothing and the use of blankets.
Yoga sessions, whether heated or unheated, start slowly and normally end with a relaxation sequence. If the room is unheated, the body can cool down very quickly after a workout.
According to Bodhi Tree manager Catherine Nelson-Reid, “participants are encouraged to mix up their practice with heated or unheated practices.”
Even in the hot yoga classes, there is no set sequence. The classes are themed by the teacher and are constantly changing, with some classes running at a slower pace, and other classes presenting more of a sweat-inducing workout.
“The skin is the largest organ of the body and the extra sweat produced in a hot yoga practice is best way to detoxify the body,” Nelson-Reid said.
“Because the room is warmer, the participants become warmer faster, which allows the muscles to soften with less work.”
An added bonus to the trendy hot yoga practice is its comforting rooms, which can be particularly welcoming on a cold autumn or snowy winter day.
In Calgary, with winter fast approaching, this can be an attractive aspect for those considering yoga’s heated alternative.
Nelson-Reid said the Bodhi Tree Centre opened 10 years ago as a Bikram Yoga studio but changed its focus to not be tied to a specific name or style.
Nicque Winstanley, who has been going to Bodhi Tree for two years and now works at the front desk, said that yoga has become her lifestyle. She said that she is now more confident and has greater awareness, physically, emotionally and spiritually due to her yogic practice.
Winstanley previously tried both traditional and Bikram yoga before coming to Bodhi Tree and the studio’s more relaxed atmosphere and different types of classes are what keep her coming back. She suggested that those looking for only heat and an intense workout would likely prefer Bikram Yoga.
However, it ultimately comes down to personal preference. If you want to pay more money and practice a regimented style of yoga, then Bikram is for you. There are three Bikram studios in Calgary: Bikram Yoga South Calgary, Bikram Yoga Marda Loop, and Bikram Yoga Calgary.
On the other hand, if you want special student rates and more diversity in your yoga instruction, there are a number of options available with hot yoga studios offering different classes in varying styles and prices across the city.