How "hot yoga" can make you feel like a goddess (or god!).

I stepped into a desert last Thursday for a workout I had never tried before. Annapolis Power Yoga offers a Vinyasa Power Hour in their 90-degree studio. In case you don't know, vinyasa yoga refers to a flowing sequence of yoga poses that incorporate breathing exercises. So not all vinyasa sessions are held in heated studios. But this one was, and it was hot, people!

But it was also wonderful. With spring around the corner, the temperatures outside are fluctuating from warm to chilly, delightful to death-by-frost, so it was a nice change of pace to strip off the sweatshirt and wear a tank top. Most women went full-on just a sports bra, but I do not have the body confidence for that.

There were probably about 15 of us in the room -- 13 women and two men. I'm not sure why there was such a gender disparity. Yoga provides relaxation, strengthening, and stretching for all kinds of athletes, and a great thing about the class is that all levels of ability are welcome. There were the inflexible, balance-challenged yogis (hi, yes, that would be me!), and there were yoga queens. I'm talking balancing on one leg while the ankle of the other leg towers way over their head. I can only dream of that kind of flexibility.

Annapolis Power Yoga

Please note: This is NOT me. Courtesy of Annapolis Power Yoga and facebook.com.

It was hard not to feel like I was excelling, though (despite my frequent failures at the lower chatteranga -- fun to say, not fun to do). Sweat is a sign of strength. You know you're exerting yourself when you're sweating, and it was awesome because EVERYONE was sweating. Exercise in heat is not easy, so no matter where you are on your fitness journey, you're getting a lot out of this workout. Pro-tip: bring a towel and a bottle of water. If you don't have water with you, station yourself next to the water fountain (like I did).

Sometimes I feel like it's hard to measure how hard I'm actually working out if my heart's not thundering in my ears. Vinyasa Power Hour was not so much of a cardio workout, which is something that usually throws me off a little bit. But the sweat and the shaking muscles told me that my body was hard at work. In fact, if you're not sweating in a hot yoga class, what are you even doing there? Those salty beads of exertion are little badges of honor ... running all down your face. My hair frizzed so hard -- I had the hair I usually do in mid-July, only it was the middle of March. 

The benefits of hot yoga are these: less injury because the heat is protecting your muscles from getting too cold and stiff, more flexibility (for the same reason), and better blood flow. All these things combined to make me feel healthy and strong, even if I'm not a yoga-guru. Plus, when I walked out of the studio after that workout, that March breeze was a welcome breath of fresh air.

What do you think? Would you ever try heated yoga? Let us know in the comments below!

The Run-Around is a weekly feature, focusing on fitness in and around Annapolis, MD.

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