Why hot yoga? Well according to Gyan Hot Yoga, you don’t have to be flexible to learn, you will gain strength and flexibility, lose weight and calm your mind, plus it is great for beginners. Why did I choose hot yoga? Simple…I was repeatedly recommended to give it a try by doctors –after various freak injuries (including a dislocated shoulder which resulted from getting a high-five). Evidently, I could use all the help I can get with balance and strength.
So, earlier this summer, my friend Margot (M) and I had registered for a deal, through WagJag, that gave us 20 Hot Yoga classes for 30$ at Gyan Hot Yoga, for newbies only. We figured: how could we go wrong with that price?!
I kind of procrastinated all summer to make it to my first class…it was hot, I was busy, sweaty yoga just wasn’t appealing to me at the moment…I made all kind of excuses for my “lazy”. But finally, I woke up and decided to hit my first class and M was up for it too. We chose a 60-minute Gyan Core class. It was really only chosen cause it suited both our schedules.
We get to Gyan and I think it was written all over our faces that we were newbies. I was really surprised about that, cause I had taken the time in the morning to google “what to wear at hot yoga”. I then changed out of my gym pants and t-shirt (my regular gym clothes) and into bike shorts and a Nike fit-dry T-shirt. When we got to Gyan, they asked us if we had the list of 3 things we need for yoga i.e. a mat, towel and water. I had my brand new shrink-wrapped yoga mat and a towel but was missing water, which I was able to buy on-site. M was prepared…she had her list of 3. We also rented a lock (which we didn’t seem to need as there really was about 12 lockers available and most just kept their clothes out). When we got to the change rooms, M said “I think they were laughing at us”. She may have had a point….we looked pretty green.
So we get to the top of the stairs, where our class was going to be held, and there are 2 doors, both have signs on them noting “PLEASE MAINTAIN SILENCE IN THE PRACTICE ROOM”. M opens up one of the doors….it’s the emergency exit leading us outside….yeaap, so much for the silence, we both started laughing. The next door leads us to our class…and we are in a room filled with people already set up to bend and sweat. The class is a mix of women and men and everyone is in fairly good shape….some r-r-r-ripped. We find a place for our mats with the help of Gourav, our yoga instructor and class begins….no fooling around, my friends.
There was downward dog, sun salutations, more downward dog, then something that was like a push-up…but harder, some lunges, switching of feet, more lunging, stretching, and we were told not to forget to inhale and exhale. IT IS DAMN HOT!! I’m sweating buckets (it’s not stopping!!)….I’m looking at M, and so is she (trying not to drown, I’m sure, from the sweat making its way into her nose)…everyone is dripping with sweat. Occasionally, we pause for water and to wipe ourselves off with our towels. I realize that my tiny little towel is not big enough…and M realizes she should have brought a tiny one. In reality, we should have had 2 towels each, one big one for the mat (I kept slipping off it…must have been all that sweat) and one little one to wipe the sweat off us. I look at our instructor, Gourav…he must be from another planet…the guy is NOT SWEATING…I didn’t see one drop!! How is this possible??! Gourav is really THAT FIT! (Well, he’s been training in yoga since he was 10 years old and went on to teach in India and now Canada.)
Back to bending and balancing on one leg….lifting that leg up…way high…and then of course…I fall. How does one not laugh…when stuff like this happens? That and the breathing….I swear it sounded like Darth Vader was in the room. I wanted to turn to M and say to her “Luke, I am your father“ in my best Darth Vader impression…but for some reason…she just would not look at my face…it was probably for the best, as I kept laughing (silently) when our faces did meet, cause all she could word to me was ”Oh MY God! Oh MY God!”
In a later conversation with Gourav, I asked him about the breathing and he stressed that deep breathing is important in yoga and that the studio teaches a technique called Pranayama in their Curative Yoga Classes. He went on to say that students often forget to take deep breaths and he often finds himself repeating “breeeaaathe” in class. Gourav and Rishi opened up Gyan Hot Yoga in March 2010. When I asked the brothers what inspired them to open up the studio, Rishi said that they “had found yoga too expensive in Canada and wanted to open a studio that would make it affordable.” Gourav added that they ”wanted to teach authentic yoga, with no modification”.
Yes, we made it through the 60 minute class. And I think I may have lost 10 pounds of sweat in the process. One thing I can say…the room did not reek, like I had assumed it would. You’d think a heated room with 20 people sweating buckets would stink, but it wasn’t as bad as I had thought. It was just HOT. Gourav put the fan on at one point, but it was like a slow-motion fan…you felt nothing. I think he may have been toying with us. Evil man. He’s actually a great instructor, unbelievably fit…even a beginner can enjoy a class with him. Check out Gourav in clip below, but note this is NOT what we did in our class (phew!):
So, one class down and 19 more to go. I’m looking forward to it. I guess if I want to survive the rest of the sessions, I need to bring a big towel, water, use the right door, try not to look at M and not concentrate on the Darth Vader breathing. If I can do all this, I’m on the right path. These are the things they don’t tell you.