I must preface this post by saying that not all hot yoga is bad – just most of it. And while, I have been to a few decent hot Vinyasa flow yoga classes, where the important core qualities of a yoga class are present (Savasana, teacher demonstrations, assists, etc.), most hot yoga classes that I’ve attended have left me severely dissatisfied and disappointed.
Call me crazy, but I just can’t get on board with the notion that I’m working harder just because I’m in a room above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You’re sweating because it’s HOT, not necessarily because your body is doing anything out of the ordinary. I, personally, sweat profusely when I’m just standing and it’s 103 degrees.
Yoga is about finding your edge, and exploring it. I cannot possibly find that edge if my so-called yoga teacher is sitting on a stool at the front of the room shouting out commands like a drill-sergeant without giving any modifications.
But, the main reason I absolutely despise hot yoga is because of the way that it’s affected the perception of yoga within our society. The idea that I have fellow yogis out there in the world that have only practiced hot yoga, because that’s the only type of yoga available to them makes me so sad. There’s so much more to yoga than holding Navasana (boat pose) for five minutes or sweating until you pass out.
Call me a yoga-nazi, but I want more out of my yoga class than body sculpting. I want to be reminded to focus on my breathing, and I expect to be invited to come out of any pose that doesn’t feel right for my body in that moment. I need to be pushed to my edge, but feel comfortable in wherever that edge may be without my instructor making me feel that I’m not working hard enough.
A yoga class is supposed to feel like a sanctuary, not an aerobics class. Now, don’t get me wrong – I ADORE physically challenging yoga classes. I love the feeling of pushing my body to do things that my mind wouldn’t think possible. But what so many studios and teachers are increasingly forgetting is that teaching a physically challenging class does not have to be mutually exclusive from all the other stuff, like Savasana and reminders to focus on the breath.
A part of me is grateful that yoga has become such a widespread and loved activity in our society, even at the cost of degrading the qualities that I value most. All that matters is that more and more people are making their way to a mat. But, unfortunately, that part of me is very small. If a teacher refuses to honor any of the Sanskrit names, doesn’t insist upon cultivating a minimum 7-minute Savasana, cheers on her students like a spin instructor, and encourages the use of weights – WHY IS THIS CALLED YOGA?
I have no problem with the idea of aerobics teachers or personal trainers employing typical yoga poses in their work out classes – just please, for my sanity, don’t call it yoga, and we can all live happily ever after.