Hotpod Yoga FAQs: What You Need To Know Before You Go

June 6, 2018

If you read this post, you’ll know how much I’m currently loving hot yoga. (And if you know me IRL,  you’re probably sick of me banging on about it whilst standing on one leg bellowing “look! I can do this pose now!”)

The type of hot yoga I’m doing is a specific “brand” called Hotpod Yoga. It’s not regular yoga, and it’s not Bikram. You might not have a hotpod in your town. But, if you do, and you fancy giving it a try, scroll down for my handy guide. Let’s om shanti this shiz.

PS If you’re in/near Folkestone and want to try a free class at Hotpod Folkestone, just click here. Select “single class pass” and enter code THEFITWRITER in the discount box – and your class with be totally free. You don’t have to have membership.

Hotpod Yoga: WTF Even Is That?

What is it?

Hot yoga is yoga in a heated room. I’ve been doing something called “Hotpod Yoga”, though, which is a specific style. If you want to actually do hotpod (which is what I’m going on about in these posts), you’ll need to find your local “pod” (here).

So… it’s yoga in a hot room?

No. It’s yoga, inside a heated up “pod”, which is itself inside a room. Basically: you go into the building from outside, get changed/hang your stuff up/check in, then enter the pod before the class.

How big are the pods?

Much as it would tickle me to tell you that they’re individual – like in the film Cocoon – this is not true. The pod is a big inflatable – room sized, really – but slightly dome shaped. It’s large enough for about 20 people to stand up straight, lay down flat, and stretch their limbs out without getting overly familiar.

How hot it is? And is the temperature consistent throughout the class?

Hotpod yoga is heated to 37*C (done via special heaters all around the inside of the pod), and it’s a humid atmosphere rather than dry. The 37*C is consistent, but the pod does warm up as the bodies do. The fuller the class, the hotter it tends to get.

Is it the same as Bikram?

I didn’t know the answer to this at first, because I’m a yoga dunce and don’t know what Bikram is. Turns out the answer is “no”. Bikram is a very specific system of yoga, which follows the same set poses every single class (and it’s heated to 40*C, not 37*C). No, this is not Bikram. 

What kind of yoga is it?

Hotpod calls itself a Vinyasa Flow style. Allow me to explain that in beginner newbie terms (for myself as much as for you). This means you do some warm up stuff to mobilise through the spine and get yourself calm and focused. Then you move into the main part of the class, which is a series of “flows”. You might recognise some bits of this: it involves things like Downward Dog, chaturangas, Warrior poses, and Triangle pose. Then there’s usually some kind of balance section, some forward folds and back bends, some ab/core focus work, and some seated stuff like forward folds and twists.

Why is it better than just regular yoga?

I’m not sure anyone is saying it’s better, just different. I’ll tell you why I find it better. First of all, it feels more like a workout (due to the heat, the sweat, and the fact that you can get deeper into the poses and work harder). The atmosphere is really special (the pod, the dim lighting, the music, and the nice aromatherapy smell). I know full well that sweating doesn’t burn fat or burn more calories (etc) but I do think that working in a hot environment enables you to get into the workout more quickly, work more deeply, and push a bit harder.

Do I have to be bendy to be able to do it?

Absolutely not. There are people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and yoga levels there. I’m not especially bendy, but I’ve got tons better.

I’ve never done any yoga, will I be OK? 

Yep. The teacher gives instructions throughout, and walks around the pod watching and making adjustments (if you don’t want to be touched, you always have the opportunity to say so before the class starts). If you get confused, drop back down to a basic pose (you’ll be shown this) as just watch or call the teacher over.

I have low blood pressure and get dizzy in the heat. 

Me too man. And I have had slightly dizzy spells – only when standing up straight from a forward fold (hardly surprising!) Just take it very slowly – you are encouraged to do this anyway, for the sake of your neck and spine. Keep sipping your drink, and drop down into a basic pose if you need a break. I have postural hypotension and haven’t had any dodgy moments in class.

What should I wear?

As little as possible without causing any consternation (to yourself or others). I started out in leggings, sports bra, and a vest top. I’ve since graduated (in confidence and IDGAF levels) to either sports bra and leggings, or little shorts and vest top.

Is it claustrophobic in the pod?

I don’t think so, but then again I don’t get claustrophobic. I guess you’d have to try it. It’s not small. It’s more like being in a dark marquee (?)

Is it stinky?

Not at all. In fact our hotpod uses aromatherapy oils in the pod (not sure if they all do this).

Do they play music or anything?

Yep. Not dance music obviously.

I’m a bit embarrassed, I don’t want people watching me.

They probably don’t want you watching them, either. The good news is that the pod has subdued lighting and no mirrors. Everyone will be focusing on themselves anyway. And you’re in downward dog a lot. I tend to have my eyes closed for much of the class – perhaps everyone else does, too?

Do I need a mat or do they provide them?

They provide them. 

Do I need a towel?

Yes. Take a big one (yoga mat sized) plus a smaller one (hand towel sized) for general moppage.

I’m a runner/bodybuilder/spin addict, do I really need yoga?

Check you out with your existential questions. Do any of us really NEED anything? I don’t know. I like to have more of a rounded, athletic approach to fitness. I think training should include some resistance/strength work, some cardio, some yoga or other restorative work. So – yes. But it’s up to you obviously. I will say that hotpod yoga has without a doubt helped my weights training (and recovery).

How sweaty will I get?

Very! Like you’ve been hiking in a rainforest.

Are there toilets and showers?

There are at Folkestone Hotpod but I guess each one differs – best to ask them directly. Probably though.

Should I bring water?

100% Bring a big bottle, and think about bringing some kind of electrolyte drink especially if you do other training or are planning another hotpod session the next day.

Hope that helps! If you decide to go, I really hope you love it as much as I do.


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.

10 Hotpod Yoga Sessions In 11 Days: What I Learned

June 5, 2018

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).

Done deal.

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.

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Budokon yoga, Exhale recovery shoes

January 27, 2011


I’m off to India with my bezzie mate tomorrow (yippee!) so I’ll keep this short (ish) and sweet: here’s another “fitness kit I’ve tested this week” post for you. By the way, I have a great selection of guest posts lined up whilst I’m away. I hope you enjoy them; please feel free to let me know (either way!) in the comments.

OK, without further ado: fitness kit I’ve tested this week.

Budokon yoga

When I was invited to have a 1-2-1 session of Budokon yoga, I’ll admit that I rocked up without having done my research. I thought it would be stretchy, lying-downy kind of yoga, ideal after the day I’d had (basically wasting several hours of my life going through the rigours of obtaining a Visa to go to India. Top tip: don’t admit to being a journalist! Although I’m not really sure why it’s a problem…)

So I arrived at the beautiful Evolve Wellness Centre in London (if you get a chance to go, do. It’s fantastic!) for my Budokon lesson with Ryan Carldon-Miah, Budokon’s UK Director, thinking I was in for a lovely relaxing time. I was wrong! Well, that’s not quite true. I did walk out of Evolve incredibly relaxed, but it wasn’t from lying down in corpse pose.

Here’s what Ryan has to say about Budokon:

Budokon was created in 2000 in Los Angeles. It’s a blend of martial arts, yoga, meditation and “animal movements”. The combination works to provide a fun and challenging workout with a varied array of exercises, giving a well-rounded practice. For those looking for the ultimate challenge we offer the Budokon Academy, taking participants from White to Black belt through our six-pillar system which focuses on thought, emotions, relationships, nutrition, environment and fitness.

All of the techniques in the system are designed to create power, strength and muscle tone whilst also providing flexibility, range of motion and core conditioning. Combining the animal movements with the yoga means a class can give you a fast and furious cardio blast along with the relaxing and restorative properties of yoga in one workout.

My verdict? I LOVED it. And I don’t say that often about new (to me) forms of exercise which I can’t go and do quietly by myself. I absolutely loved the way Budokon blends the flowing, graceful moves of martial arts and the strong stances of yoga, and the animal poses were great fun and very hard work! I found it challenging, fun and energising, and it totally turned my mood around.

This is what we covered (you can view videos – not of me! – here)

(Martial arts) – Pivot punches and knee strikes

(Yoga) – Rolling Wave, Floating Frog and Dancing Dog (look on youtube for these if you’re interested – they look beautiful when done properly!)

(Animals) – Komodo dragon and leaping leopard (I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to do the latter but, surprisingly, I could one of those things where you just have to give it a go without overthinking it).

If you get the chance to try a Budokon class, taster session or course, please do. I hope you’ll love it as much as I did. Thank you to Ryan for his time, good humour and patience!

Exhale recovery shoes

You know those items you would never have thought you needed until you got them? And then you wonder how you ever did without them? These shoes are one of those things. The idea is simple: plenty of us go to the gym and do a massive legs session, or go out and pound the pavements on a long run and then come home…and put our slippers on. Or walk around the house in socks. Our poor feet and legs! Do we really expect to make the transition from high-impact, repetitive sport in supportive shoes to….no support at all? Well, yes, we do. I certainly did, until I tried out the Exhale recovery shoes from Sole.

Now, these shoes are not the sexiest things you’ll ever have put on your feet, that’s for sure. But they’re not for wearing out and about. They’re for popping on your feet when you get back from running or the gym, and they’re great for that. They’re cosy, with fluffy insides, and have mouldable footbeds and support all the bones in your feet, as well as your arches. Here’s the blurb:

The Exhale features the same wear moldable, orthopedic platform as our original Sport Flips. This slipper/shoe hybrid is perfect for all sorts of activities, from après-ski to lounging around the house. A Sherpa lined footbed and fold down heel panel offer slip-in comfort. A uniquely styled upper made with mini-ripstop polyester featuring insulated baffles guarantees maximum coziness. An inner PU coating makes these water-resistant and Polygiene® helps combat foot odor. All SOLE Custom Footwear is wear moldable, to conform to your feet.

Yes, they look weird (I advise you get the black!) but it’s not about what they look like. It’s about looking after your feet after you’ve asked so much of them during training, not just getting home and clomping about the house. I really like them.

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Budokon yoga, Exhale recovery shoes is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Fitness DVD review: Ultimate Power Yoga

January 3, 2011

As I mentioned in a previous post, my friends and I kept some semblance of training going over New Year, despite all being together on the type of holiday which centres around a daily evening ritual of a huge dinner, cheese, port and…oh….it pains me to think about it. I believe the word is over-indulgence.

Anyway, we really did do our best to off-set some of our intake (or at the very least to sweat some of the hangover out) by exercising once or twice a day. Some mountain biked. Others walked. My friend Jo (a PT) and I, along with our friend Penny on a few occasions, chose to train indoors. In the following series of blog posts, I’ll review the bits of kit we used and the DVDs we tried out.

On Wednesday, Jo and I had a date with Rodney. That’s Rodney Yee, of the Ultimate Power Yoga DVD. Neither Jo nor I do yoga (the occasional Body Balance class is the closest we get) although we are both familiar with some of the more common yoga poses and terminology. We’re both fit but not particularly bendy. So it was with some trepidation that we popped Rodney’s DVD in: it’s 90 minutes long.

Here’s the blurb:

Build strength, relax the mind and boost energy with Rodney Yee’s Power Yoga DVD/

Improve strength, flexibility and focus with this challenging yoga practice. Designed to guide you to the next level, each routine is performed in rapid sequences providing greater cardiovascular benefits.

Rodney Yee’s Ultimate Power Yoga DVD consists of five unique sessions that can be undertaken individually or together as a full yoga programme. You can choose either detailed or minimal instructions from Rodney, making this DVD perfect for all yoga skill levels.

Use the Power Foundation practice to wake you up in the morning, increasing core stability for increased balance and stamina. Alternatively, the flowing sequence of Sun Salutations will help build both strength and flexibility.

Increase power and focus with Sculpting Standing Poses or strengthen and restore your spine to its natural alignment using a series of Broadening Back Bends, improving your range of motion and stamina.

The Ultimate Power Restoration enables you to release built up tension with a series of relaxed forward bends and slow, elongated stretches helping you get the most out of your yoga practice.

Whatever your skill level, get your yoga mat out today and work towards a stronger, more focused you with Rodney Yee’s Power Yoga DVD.

Jo and I decided to do the whole thing in one go rather than choose bits and bobs. It was quite a challenge, creeping up on us slowly until we realised that, actually, 90 minutes of yoga is really rather a lot. Jo opted out of the back bends track (in order to protect her sore back) but I battled onwards, taking one for the team.

The DVD opens with Rodney and his yoga mat chilling out against a stunning backdrop (Hawaii?) and, of course, Rodney is extraordinarily bendy. He’s also of indeterminable age (as Jo suggested “we’ll probably find out he’s actually 306”) and is a gentle, encouraging instructor throughout. Here’s what we thought:

– this isn’t a yoga DVD for complete beginners. Rodney’s instructions were clear and we only got lost once. However, it is quite a fast routine.Although neither of us are yogis, and Jo had never done a yoga DVD before, we have both done plenty of yoga in our time. So we were able to follow Rodney’s instructions without looking at the screen (always handy during yoga!)

– It’s long. You might think “oh 90 minutes, I can do that”, thinking that a chunk of the time will be lying down not doing very much. Don’t be fooled. Rodney is pretty badass and worked us hard. To be honest, by the back bends section, I was beginning to wish we’d only chosen to do a few tracks.

– the back bends section is very strong. My back is fine, but it was aching towards the end of this track, to the extent that I thought “uh oh….” My fears were unfounded, though – the next day I felt great and no soreness remained. You’ll need to know your own body pretty well, though, in order to assess how far to take the poses in this track.

– we wished Rodney had given us more options for some of the poses (perhaps a low option and an advanced option).

– make sure you have ample room to the left and right as well as in front and behind. We were doing this DVD in my bedroom and were a little squished for room at times. Make sure you have water and probably a towel – we worked up quite a sweat.

– be prepared for a bit of yoga-talk. One line that’s stuck in my mind is “your legs are rivers leading to the temple of your heart”. There’s a bit of meditation at the end but not much – most of this DVD is movement-based rather than yogic breathing or meditation, so it’s a good choice for anyone who likes their yoga to work them hard.

All in all, I think both Jo and I would recommend Rodney Yee’s Ultimate Power Yoga. It would be interesting to try it in sections, as a kind of “mix and match” format, rather than straight through as we did, because I realise that it’s not every day you have 90 minutes to devote to a yoga DVD.

Fitness DVD review: Ultimate Power Yoga is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

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