Do you yoga? It’s always been one of those things I “know I should do”. And – when I get round to it – I love it. But for various reasons, it’s never stuck. However, the older I get (especially since I still lift pretty heavy), the more I “should” do yoga.
So when a new hot yoga studio (Hotpod Yoga Folkestone) opened up a 5 minute walk from my house, I was excited!
And then I realised the owner was a schoolfriend of mine who I haven’t seen since the 90s (no, not the 1890s, although sometimes it does feel that long ago).
I booked myself in for a taster session, not knowing what to expect. Would it be too hot? Would I be able to do it? Would it actually hold my interest more than any of the gym studio/village hall yoga classes I’ve previously done?
Verdict: I loved it! So I took Hotpod Yoga Folkestone up on their intro offer (a 10-day pass for £14)…. and challenged myself to going every day for 10 days. Because we all know I don’t do things by halves, and a 10-day pass is like a red rag to a bull. (A chilled out, zen bull, obvs.)
I didn’t end up making 10 classes in 10 days (but I’m totally chilled about it…!) However, if we count my taster session, I did 10 classes in 11 days.
(The day I missed was due to doing Stand-up Paddleboarding so….hopefully that’s a good enough excuse).
Here’s how I found it – and what I learned from doing 11 hot yoga sessions in 10 days.
(I’ll write a Hotpod Yoga FAQ type post soon – but if you have any specific questions, leave a comment and I’ll answer)
Day 1 (Sunday): taster session
Ooh, this is a bit different to yoga in a hall. The hot pod itself is like a big, room-sized inflatable inside the studio building. Intriguing. Inside, it’s warm – very warm, but lovely. The pod is dimly lit – which is nice because it means I can zone in and focus on myself without worrying what anyone else is doing. No mirrors – I like that. 10 minutes later: man this is hot! So sweaty! Note to self: bring a larger towel. 60 minutes later: I LOVE that. I could do it (it was challenging, but everything was explained well and lots of options given). I feel relaxed, energised, stretched, and like I’ve had a good workout. I haven’t been this sweaty in years. How is there sweat in my EARS?
Day 2: Monday morning
I’m legit excited to get to yoga. I haven’t fallen in love with a new form of exercise like this for ages. Monday morning session is an incredible way to start the week. No phone, no notifications, no chance to check anything or be distracted. Time for me, to focus on myself, and to start the week with a calm, clear mindset.
Day 3: Tuesday lunchtime
Today’s session seemed slightly easier, and I didn’t sweat nearly as much. Is my body getting used to it? Will I eventually stop sweating altogether during class? (This saddens me – I like the sweat).
Day 4: Wednesday morning
Lovely session today, these classes are already becoming a highlight. Part social, part switch-off, part exercise. We did some balances – and I managed to stand on one leg holding onto my outstretched foot. No mean feat for me!
Day 5: Friday evening
I’ve only missed one day but I can really feel it! Physically, but mentally/emotionally too. Hotpod yoga really is such a lovely short escape from the outside world, my to-do list, phone, noise, and stimulation. I’m having the most stressful work week in living memory, and I actually don’t know that I would have coped without hotpod. Today’s class was wonderful – the teacher is obviously trained in mindfulness and the emotional side of yoga, too, and her words really resonated with me.
Day 6: Saturday morning
A very hot and sweaty class (my theory from the other day was completely unfounded!) The flow (the main section of the class) was a lot faster than usual. Each teacher does things slightly differently, although the structure of the class and the core poses are the same. Note to self: bring a second towel (big one to lay on the mat, small one to actually mop self with). I went to the gym later in the day and the session felt very hard. Must drink more if I’m training and doing hotpod on the same day.
Day 7: Sunday morning
Finally – a class with my friend Ruth, owner of Hotpod Yoga Folkestone. Bought a proper yoga towel (little rubber dots on the underside so it doesn’t move around on the mat). Shit’s getting serious!
Day 8: Monday morning
Ahhh my favourite class. I really like this teacher’s style and the way she adds some mindfulness in, plus the Monday morning timing means this class is pure me-time, a pause to set the week up properly before life rushes in. It’s calming and grounding. Back at home, my work stress continues apace but I actually took time out to lie down for 5 minutes in a yoga pose, and do nothing. I would normally have carried on stressing (and wasted more than those 5 minutes just being stressed).
Day 9: Tuesday morning
At yoga for 7am, who even am I? I don’t get up for 7am anything unless it involves an overseas flight or perhaps a good breakfast. This class was very sweaty. So a) my body isn’t getting used to it and b) first class of the morning sessions can be hot! My body is looking and feeling different – leaner? I know the heat doesn’t sweat fat away or anything like that (!) But I can notice subtle changes since starting yoga and doing slightly less gym work.
Day 10: Wednesday morning
Feeling slightly bereft at reaching my final day of the 10-day pass. Hotpod yoga has me hooked. I love it. LOVE it. It’s changed the game for me: physically (more flexible, that persistent bit of my back which always needs cracking has GONE, even my “arthritic” toe is amazingly better), strength wise (I’m doing body weight moves I haven’t tried in years), peace, calmness, focus, clarity.
7 Lessons From 10 Hotpod Yoga Classes
1 Yoga is not a cop-out.
Yes, yoga is relaxing, quiet, and tranquil. But it’s doesn’t have to be easy (unless you want it to be). My 10 sessions of yoga worked me hard. Some days, my triceps still hurt from the day before (all those chaturangas!) After day 2, my abs hurt in new and interesting ways (serratus?) My hamstrings, shoulders, glutes all felt the benefit.
2 Sweating is lovely
I might not be able to convince you on this one if you’re squeamish about sweatiness. But I love it (as long as I can get a shower and a change of clothes reasonably quickly). The intense sweatiness of the 37*C heat (plus humidity from a steam machine thingy) leads to unbelievable sweatiness. This helps you get deeper into the poses, wasting less time on warming up. As a bonus, my skin was really lovely after just a couple of sessions!
3 Hydrate properly
Don’t underestimate how much you need to rehydrate after hotpod yoga. I took a 1.5 litre bottle to every session and got through it easily. I started just taking my traditional “weak apple squash”, but soon graduated to an electrolyte drink or coconut water (I used this from Project E2 – full disclosure, they’re a client so I got it sent free, but it is very good! – and this coconut water powder from Bulkpowders). Fluid isn’t enough – use electrolytes, especially if you need to do anything else active that day.
4 Your appetite will be affected
Well, mine was anyway. I lost a bit of weight over the couple of weeks I did hotpod yoga, but it wasn’t to do with the yoga itself (and definitely not to do with the heat/sweating – you can’t sweat body fat away!) It was to do with a bit of extra walking (I walk there and back), plus the fact that my appetite was noticeably reduced. I don’t know if this due to the heat and sweating (ever noticed how you want to eat less on hot days?) Whatever the reason – the circumstances and knock-on effects of adding yoga into my routine meant I ate less.
5 Two towels
I really advise two towels. A big one to lay on your mat (hotpod provide the mats btw). But a smaller one (hand towel size) to use as and when during class. You’ll probably want to wipe your face, and dry off your knee/shin before you try to hold on for balances!
6 Hotpod compliments other training
During my 10-day stint, I did significantly less gym training and cardio. But I didn’t lose any strength, size, muscle tone (and nor did I suddenly pile on 20 stone). If you think yoga is “just stretching”, think again. It’s essentially a series of bodyweight exercises done over and over again. I ached from it. I felt it in my triceps, shoulders, upper back, quads, hamstrings, glutes, abs, core. But it’s also wonderfully restorative and healing. My 10-day run of yoga cured an annoying “click” I’ve had for years in my thoracic spine (and it hasn’t come back!) My arthritic/whatever is wrong with it toe has more range of movement and hurts much much less than before. I can turn my neck further than before. I can move my spine more easily than before. I just feel… more athletic.
7 You might “have a release”
Not like that! Like this. OK, so this is weird, but apparently not uncommon so I don’t mind sharing.
In one class early on in my 10 day stint, the teacher was doing a bit of mindfulness chat with us. Out of nowhere, a word came into my head. An emotion. It’s not something I’ve ever associated with myself before. It’s not something I was aware that I was feeling. But it was a very strong feeling and made me… not upset, exactly, but definitely thoughtful. Luckily, the pod is a very calm and safe feeling place to have a “moment” – a bit dark, quiet, enclosed, and private. On the way home, I rang my yoga-loving friend and told her about my odd experience. Ooh, she said. You had a release! (It’s a thing)
I have since had another release (not that – stop it). This was in a Friday evening class, at the end of a full-on week, and before a significant weekend. The teacher was saying a few lovely words which really resonated with me. Suddenly, as I lay there on my back in savasana, I started to cry. Not out-loud “boo hoo” type wailing. Just tears coming out of my eyes and trickling down my face. It felt fine. I just let it happen. And there was so much sweat all over my face and neck anyway that it hardly mattered. Afterwards I felt calm and as if my brain had sorted a few things out.
So – there you have it. Hotpod yoga UK is an amazing new addition to my life. It’s helping me maintain strength (in different ways to weight training). It chills me out on stressful days. It gives me an escape from the bleeps and bloops of phones and outside distractions. I love it!
If you’re local to Folkestone and want to try a free class, click here. Select single class pass and enter code THEFITWRITER in the discount box – and your class with be totally free.
Stay tuned for a hotpod yoga FAQ. If you have any questions about the classes, how it works, what to expect – leave a comment or message me.
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 14 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.