There are definitely certain times of the year when everyone promises that they are on a health kick for the foreseeable future and the lead-up to Christmas is definitely one of those times. We all want to look good for the office Christmas party, feel more comfortable for the family meal with the in-laws or whatever it is that you want to look your best for.
Christmas is getting closer by the minute (quite literally) and it will soon be upon us and although we want to get excited for the festive season, we can’t help but think shifting those extra few pounds, toning up, releasing tension or relaxing before the busy Christmas period is in full swing, would really improve our festive mood.
We know that the quick way to success is to eat the occasional lettuce leaf and to exercise all the time, however, that is just not practical and it is not for us. Exercising, within our limits, sensibly and often is something that we can handle (we think!) And it makes us feel less guilty about all the Afternoon Tea that we consume.
So, we aren’t self-motivated but that is what is so good about the Stoke Park Gym, they have more classes than we have excuses so we have to go... Over the next few weeks, I will be testing out some of the many gym classes on offer here at Stoke Park.
On Wednesday evening we decided to attempt to try ‘Hot Flow’ which was an hour long class, before going in we read the class description which was:
‘Hot Flow classes can be understood as linking breath and movement. Through its creative and fresh sequencing this form of Yoga is continually challenging. Adjustments made through touch allow the teacher to help students prevent injury, relieve stress, feel encouraged and be inspired.’
We all know that Yoga is not a huge calorie burner but research has showed that although not a huge weight loss, there is evidence of some weight loss and other, potentially even better, long term effects come from Hot Yoga – balance, flexibility, posture, relaxation etc.
If/when I exercise I require air conditioning to be surrounding me, windows open and fans on as I am a naturally hot person and I love cold air to make me feel cool and less sweaty. So naturally you are already thinking Hot Flow is not for me, but I will try anything once...
At 6:15pm, a friend and I (I wasn’t ready to take on the challenge alone) arrived with scepticism about what we should be wearing? Would everyone have been before? How hot is hot? Will they mind if we are beginners? Does everyone wear short shorts or a bikini to combat the heat? Or is the idea to wear more and sweat more? We had no idea but we were about to find out...
Luckily, there were four of us in the class, all dressed similarly in long trousers and a usual gym lightweight top, we took note that the surrounding people were barefoot and then swiftly followed suit. Both of us had forgotten our water bottles, but we took some plastic cups filled with water so that we didn’t dehydrate. Note to self: Always remember the water bottle when attending any exercise class, never mind one that is intentionally hot!
We met the instructor, Matthew, who checked if we had any injuries, whether we had done yoga before, all the necessary requirements and gave us a quick briefing before we started. The first ten minutes were consumed by relaxing, releasing tension and essentially meditation. I noticed the heat, but apparently this class is not as hot as some of the others (which I will not be attending) and the heat is supposedly good for what we are doing and there is method behind the madness.
Although at the time I felt ridiculous, it is true that in modern day to day life and society we are never completely relaxed and free from our overactive minds and busy thoughts. Just as I was getting used to sitting in the unnecessarily warm room which was slightly dark cross-legged with my palms facing upwards, it was time to start the actual workout.
So copying Matthew and the more-experienced women surrounding me, I bent double, forward-folded, did the cobra, the downward dog, three-legged downward dog, reverse warrior, sun warrior, tree pose, child’s pose, high lunge, low lunge, the plank and various other positions. Luckily I have dabbled in Yoga, Pilates and Body Flow in the past and therefore I have a brief understanding and knowledge of the various positions. Matthew was very helpful, explaining each position when necessary, correcting our positioning to ensure that we didn’t injure ourselves and facing the direction in which it was easier for us to copy him. At one point he did make an outrageous suggestion that we attempt to lift our bodyweight off the floor, I tried, I failed but I was reassured that it will come in time if I stick with the Hot Flow classes...
Some of the poses and positions were a bit beyond me but I did what I could and Matthew was very helpful, and as a self-confessed hater of the heat – I coped. In fact, I more than coped and this could potentially be a new regular class for me to attend.
With Yoga, it takes time and patience and I am told that flexibility and complete relaxation will gradually come in time, but it’s great for your posture and you feel good the next day.
Instead of waking up with the familiar aching pain which you can feel after high intensity exercise classes or after overworking your body, I woke up feeling less tense than usual, the feeling was not too dissimilar to the après-massage relaxation which is always a lovely start to a Thursday morning.
At Stoke Park, both Hot Yoga and Hot Flow classes are available at various times throughout the week and we highly recommend that if you haven’t already tried it, give it a go!
Our classes are available to our Health Members and you can attend certain classes if you’re visiting us for a Spa Day. For our full class list and class times visit our website: http://www.stokepark.com/health/studio-class-information.html