Despite the fact that it was 10 years ago, I remember my first yoga experience like it was yesterday.
I went to a hot yoga studio that has long since gone out of business with two good friends and zero expectations. And zero understanding of what I was in for. As it turned out, I showed up for a 90-minute hot Bikram class for advanced yogis.
During that class, I felt lost, confused, and so dizzy that I nearly fell over more than once — take it from me and never go to a hot yoga class dehydrated. By the time the class was over, though, I knew I had to go back. I wanted to have a better experience than I had during that first class, and I wanted to learn how to move my body in all of the beautiful and tricky ways.
Since then, I’ve gone to yoga classes frequently but without consistency. I’ve tried many different studios in and around Edmonton, and I’ve tried “regular” (in other words, not heated), warm, and hot yoga. By far, my favourite type is hot yoga.
The heat of the room helps me relax and warms up my muscles to help me get deeper into poses. Plus, it’s a great way to warm up during our frigid winters.
I truly fell in love with the practice of yoga in 2013. I decided I wanted to challenge myself physically, so I chose to do 30 yoga classes over 30 days. If you think this isn’t a challenge, it’s probably only because you haven’t tried to do it yourself.
During this challenge, I chose to mostly do hot flow classes, which involve a lot of balance and use muscles I didn’t even know I had. Occasionally, I did a yin class that is more about deep, prolonged stretching, which was necessary on the days I did multiple classes.
I completed my challenge and got all 30 classes in over 30 days. I loved how my body felt during and after the challenge, so I decided to incorporate yoga into my fitness routine from that point on.
Many people, especially students, can benefit from taking yoga classes. It’s not only a good way to keep physically active, but it also helps strengthen muscles, improves balance, and reduces stress. Plus, it helps with back and hip pain that many students and desk workers get from sitting all day. John Hopkins Medicine has also found that yoga can improve sleep, which all students can benefit from.
If you’ve never gone to yoga before and are nervous about trying it out, my first piece of advice is don’t be nervous. The yoga community is kind and supportive, and if you’re nervous before your first class, show up early and speak to the instructor so they can help put your mind at ease.
Also, know that you don’t have to be at any particular level of fitness or flexibility. The beautiful thing about yoga is that it’s for everybody and every body. You can challenge yourself regardless of fitness level, and there are always modifications available if you can’t quite get into a pose.
Taking yoga classes can be beneficial for both your mental and physical health. Some studios in Edmonton even offer discounted student rates, so be sure to ask before you sign up for a membership.