Focus through the Summer:
Why Open Door is the perfect studio to continue your Hot Yoga practice despite summer heat.
After 8 years of running Open Door and a combined 12 years of being involved in running a yoga studio, I can say one thing with complete confidence: the weather is probably the single biggest factor that effects the practice patterns of studio members. If the weather is bad: dedication is high, enthusiasm is out the door! If the weather is nice: Yoga? I think I’ll do savasana in my pool lounger, thank you.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE fan of outdoor living…soaking up every moment I can get in the sun. Bike rides, gardens, hammocks, beaches, hiking, boating, napping. In fact, when we renovated our ancient house, one of the first things we did was tear down a shaky back deck and add a screened-in porch which is now the biggest room in our house. We often end up living most of the summer out there. But, I have also learned that if I don’t maintain at least a minimum practice regime, my body has a hard time coping with all the other activities. Sleep and relaxation get harder, digestion suffers and I end up spending more time sitting in a chair than staying active.
I have also seen this in the student population at Open Door over the last 8 years. Those of you who take the summer off usually come back with a sheepish grin and achey joints once the weather turns. And for many of us students…coming back from a break can be a huge mental hurdle because we KNOW that it will not be physically easy after months out of a regular practice. I KNOW you KNOW what I’m talking about:)
I have thought hard about how to encourage folks to keep up some sort of practice without feeling the pressure of the hot room when a lot of folks are already sweating more than usual due to the changing season.
When we expanded Open Door, this struggle was a large influence in the way the heating was set up. Did you know that Open Door is one of a just a handful of Hot Studios on the east cost that uses actual fresh outside oxygen when ventilating the room? Most studios simply recycle the air in the hot room, decreasing the oxygen levels and creating that “hard to breath” feeling as the humidity rises beyond necessity. This makes it very hard to recover post practice and can often leave folks depleted for days! Yoga should make you feel alive, energized and ready for life! Unless, of course it’s the end of your day…then go home and rest!
Other than the ventilation issue, I was very determined to make sure that folks could experience a heated class in different intensity levels because it had become very clear to me over the years that some folks really needed higher temps and some didn’t. Plus, having less intense heat is great for certain health conditions like auto-immune and thyroid issues. With a few exceptions, I do not think it’s beneficial for folks to be so challenged by the heat that surviving class is the main focus versus having enough energy and breathing capacity to work hard in the poses. Otherwise, a sauna or steam room seems more practical 🙂
So…to get to my point about practicing in the summer. If you are one of those folks who typically disappear in the summer, I want to issue an optional challenge: come to just ONE class a week. Just one. Any class. Restorative, unheated flows, silent Hot 60…what ever seems appealing. It doesn’t need to be difficult to do to be effective. And, the more appealing it seems to your inner summer yogi, the more likely you are to show up. And, then search around for outdoor classes in the area. YogaFest often holds them downtown for special occasions and there are various MeetUp groups dedicated to free or cheap classes held in locations in the area.
As far as making your beloved Hot Practice functional for the summer, here are some practical tips that may be just what you need to keep it up.
1) Hydrate! Summer brings lots of sweating and fun drinks. My habit is to keep a glass at my kitchen and bathroom sinks. Every time I am at the sink for some reason, I throw back a glass of water…it’s maybe 8 ounces. But, it adds up. And hydrating over a period of time is more effective than chugging a bunch of water at once.
2). Watch your electrolyte input. Your sweat is mostly salt and it’s the loss of electrolytes that tends to make you feel bad when you are dehydrated. There are all sorts of products to help replace electrolytes, but my favorite is good quality sea salt. I add it almost every meal I make…try dark sea salt or himyalayan pink salt…they tend to include other essential electrolytes and minerals.
3) Try some unheated classes. Most of us who love Hot Yoga tend to pass up more gentle or restorative practices, but I am here to tell you that doing some yoga that seems the opposite of your preference will only add to your preferred practice. Stay open minded and remember that maintaining a practice is about trying things multiple times in order to learn as much as you can about them. Adding restorative yoga or an unheated flow class could make your beloved Hot practice 100 times more effective.
4) Come early! Our early morning classes have a small but very regular following. These folks have discovered the beauty of yoga before sunrise! Is it easy? No way, you have to get your butt out of bed! But, it is so worth it. You walk in to the world by8am all stretched, squeezed and twisted to perfection. And the energy levels and sleep benefits are amazing.
And, just to give you even more support in maintaining your practice through the summer, we are having a big sale on ALL class passes during the Memorial Day Weekend, May 21st-May 25th. Use the promo code “SummerYoga” and get 20% off all passes!
Take it easy my friends, work hard when you need to and rest just as often. See you this summer!