One Week of Hot Yoga: The Good, The Bad, and The Sweaty

For those who don’t know, CorePower Yoga, one of the largest yoga chains in the country, offers a free week to first-time visitors. After procrastinating for over a year because lifting, running, tabata, dancing, ANYTHING is more fun to me than yoga, I decided to commit to my free week. Moreso, I decided to make an experiment of it. Instead of just dabbling in classes, I wanted to try hot yoga every night. I wanted to try other classes, but I wanted to see how daily hot yoga for a week would affect me. 

Clearly, I struggle with relaxation. It could be because I don’t have a favorite couch or a big comfy bed to relax on (I’m a broke bish still in dorms), but I also don’t find binge watching Netflix to be particularly relaxing or enjoyable. In pursuit of finding other ways to relax, candlelit hot yoga at 9pm is a viable option. 

What better week to partake in such an experiment after an indulgent weekend at home for the Morgan County Fair. Copious amounts of vodka and fair food can hopefully be sweated out of my body to “detox” (I actually hate that word so I say this sarcastically, but the written word doesn’t always portray my sense of humor well). I don’t like to weigh myself so I don’t, but it would be awesome to feel less bloated and more refreshed after this week. All of my dance teachers have always discouraged against hot yoga because your body should heat itself from the inside out, but after my first class a couple weeks ago, I think it’s definitely manageable as long as participants know their limits. For being a dancer, I’m not very flexible, and a hot yoga class isn’t going to deceive me to think otherwise. I’ll take my chances and try it out.

My friend Brittany and I finished our Monday with Hot Power Fusion, CorePower’s level 1 Bikram (hot) yoga. Although I don’t have much sense of smell after my sinus surgery, I was able to smell the sauna-like scent which was immediately relaxing. I quickly realized my clothes were not going to last, so I stripped down to a sports bra and shorts. Although I brought a towel for my yoga mat as well as a hand towel for my face, my shirt was a nice additional wipe. Did I mention I sweat a lot and maybe hot yoga is silly for me?

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Day 1’s instructor. It was a pretty basic yoga class, just with a warm, sweaty room, but I was not digging the yogi’s vibes. I tried crow’s pose for the first time that week, and quickly realized crow’s pose on my sweaty AF elbows is impossible and should not be attempted again (foreshadowing: I tried it every day). The second we walked out of class, we were greeted with blasting AC, so our sweat dried pretty quickly. I was hoping to feel super relaxed and ready for bed after class, but of course, I had too much energy for my own good. I walked to Trader Joe’s for some groceries (P.S. if you go TJ’s right before closing at 10pm, everyone there is foreign and seems to be on a totally different time clock. It’s a weird atmosphere) and also caught a few Pokemon along the way. I felt lighter and more cheerful post-yoga, but not necessarily relaxed.

Day 2, I tried CoreCardio Circuit in the morning before work. As a self-proclaimed circuit junkie from my own teaching and from attending many others, I was not a fan. There were trademarked CorePower workouts taped on the mirrors, so I could tell corporate was distributing these workouts and they were not individually constructed by the instructor. This is fine, but the instructor kinda seemed in her own world. I got a decent workout, but I’ve had way more fun in other circuit classes basically anywhere else.

Tuesday evening was rough for me personally. On top of dealing with actual issues, my period had just started so I was crabby and moody. After work, I crawled in bed and cried and was very unlike my usual hyper self. Still, I forced myself to go to HPF. This instructor was better, but it was a difficult class for me. At one point in child’s pose, I even started crying. After being an overly emotional child, I don’t ever show emotions in public anymore, so this was weird and I was thankful for the dark, sweaty room. The instructor’s intention stuck with me though. The things we try to control often control us. There are so many things we can’t control, so we may as well learn to love the process and journey of ups and downs. They’re what make life interesting and leave us stronger and better. Again, I finished class not relaxed and went to the dance studio to freestyle for a half hour. Reminder, I don’t drink caffeine because I already have too much energy.

Wednesday, I decided to try Sculpt Yoga. I expected a yoga with dumbbells, but I did not expect it to be hot yoga as well. Holy sweaty Betty! This was one of my favorite formats of class. There was typical, relaxing yoga, but we also did some cardio kickboxing (yaaaaaas!) as well as strength training. No pulses were involved in the duration of this class, which I approve of. We went back and forth from listening to relaxing yoga music to the Wobble. It was a cool way to start my morning.

Thursday, I had another shitty day. I left a 12 hour work day feeling BLAH and not wanting to go to the three classes on my schedule for the evening. I wanted a quick nap beforehand, but I told myself to get ready first then lay down. Once I changed and braided my hair, I thought “Zayummm you are a badass about to kill these workouts!” I was no longer blah and was energized for the rest of the evening (endorphins are an amazing thing).

(I first used my last Hardpressed Conditioning class. Sprints, sleds, battle ropes, squats, and more. OK. Then I walked to Nike for an NTC Strength class. Nike Training Club revamped its entire format and programming, and this was the first week. NBD. The class began with 30 minutes of low-impact preparation. I’m talking breathing techniques and foam rolling for 15 minutes at least, then static holds and other preparations. Instead of amping us up, they wanted our cortisol (stress hormone) levels to drop so that our muscles could reach true potential in the workout. Interesting approach to a workout, amirite??? After 30 minutes of relaxing exercises and trying to smile for the camera, we went upstairs for the workout. We began with therabands around our thighs and prepping drop squats to improve our explosiveness. Then, we began our 5 circuits: deadlifts, pushups, resistance band partner pulls, split squats, and planks. We did one minute rotations, three times through, with a different progression each round. Then, we ended with agility drills based on the coach then with our partners. It was super fun and a great finisher!)

I ran to my apartment to grab my yoga mat and met Brittany at HPF for our favorite class of the week. The instructor was an angel and made our small class more personalized and sincere. I loved her intention too: Always be your best. When you are your best, others notice, and most importantly, YOU notice. By being your best, you are allowing yourself to reach new levels of potential. This stuck with me as I’m forever comparing myself to others. This class was a great reminder that I am doing my personal best, even if I still can’t get crow’s pose and the back of my arms is extremely bruised at this point.

Friday, I did not do any yoga unfortunately. I had Hardpressed Strength in the morning, and after work at 7, I knew I wasn’t going to make their last class. I ended the day missing my Hot Yoga and wishing I had a way to relax and sweat out the day’s worries, because I felt so groggy at ENRGi – which never happens!

Saturday morning, I ran 6 mile with Nike Running Club. I planned to run 4 miles, but ended up doing 6 and stuck with the 9:00 mile the entire time — holla! I walked to Millennium Park after to meet with Brittany and my other friend Lizbeth for free yoga. This is our Saturday ritual, and although beginner, we love it so much. The experience is so perfect, and I highly recommend it to everyone in the city. Brittany finally got her crow’s pose! I did not, but I got a picture of her doing it! After, we got breakfast before I had to work, and the rest of the day was absolutely fabulous with such a positive mindset. Why don’t I do yoga every day?

Sunday morning, I took C2, which is CorePower’s Level 2 yoga class. Again, this is Bikram hot yoga as well, and I was not prepared with enough towels. This class was definitely more advanced, but I loved it. It gave me a preview of the next step of yoga and where I want to work towards. This yogi was awesome, and his intention was to remember that we are always stronger than we realize, and we can do far more than we think. This was such a great reminder after a challenging week, and it was a great tone to start this next week.

After a week, I’m sad that I won’t be doing the same this week. I’m realizing how horrible my posture is, especially after working the 9-5 cubicle life. I constantly need to be stretching and opening my body! I will also miss the meditation and self-awareness that comes with shavasana. I hope to still set intentions for each day to keep me self-aware, reflecting, and improving.

After a week, I definitely felt less bloated, which was shocking for being on my period. My skin also seemed to be clearer with less acne.  I think it is mostly a mental thing, because I feel lighter, less stressed, more carefree and open to new experiences, and so much more grateful.

Bottom line, I think most people need to do more yoga. Trust me, I used to hate yoga too. I became a PiYo instructor but hated yoga so much. I still don’t really see it as a workout, but I see it as a necessary complement to any exercise regimen. Recovery is absolutely necessary, and yoga is a great way to actively rest. You also become aware of any muscular imbalances and what you need to work on. Everyone needs reflection and meditation, and yoga is a great way to prioritize and allot time for that specifically.

Now, I’m trying to figure out how to maintain yoga more than once a week at Millennium Park, or *cringe* when it gets cold outside. ENRGi offers yoga on the weekends, but I often work during the classes. Either I will purchase a small membership to a yoga studio, or I will invest in ClassPass. Or, I will use Yoga Six’s free week by the end of this month to keep the free yoga classes flowing.

Would I do hot #yogaeverydamnday for the rest of my life? No, but I recommend it for stress relief, improved flexibility and performance, and for overall self-awareness. How empowering is it to be self-aware of the body? Try your week at CorePower today!

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