What are the benefits and what is all the sweat about…?

Amy Leonard - Director and Teacher at Yoga Corner

Hot yoga, like any form of yoga seeks to balance strength with flexibility from a physical standpoint, and the intensity of the heat helps improve cardiovascular endurance and circulation. You won’t know until you try it, but balancing on one leg for 1 – 2 minutes can make you sweat like crazy and raises your heart rate in a room heated to 37C. The practice requires focus, a clear head, and determination to hold and link the poses, and this concentration on the yoga mat translates to incredible improvements in attention span and focus off the mat too.

The heat in the room reflects that of muscles and fluids in the body once it has warmed up, and so the body relaxes and you can move it further and with less risk of injury. As you begin to move deeper into these poses, the muscles, joints and internal organs gain greater strength, flexibility, and capacity to function respectively. By boosting circulation and the body's innate healing capacity, a regular hot yoga practice will improve health problems such as asthma, arthritis and diabetes.

Yoga has been the only form of physical exercise that has kept me constantly engaged and interested over the years, and I attribute that to the philosophy that sits behind the modern day form of exercise. Although you work up a sweat, strengthen your muscles, become more supple all over, and can even lose excess weight with regular practice, the philosophy behind all of it adds aspects of mindfulness, accepting yourself and practicing compassion. Through my own practice I have noticed myself becoming more compassionate with myself and with others – and through this I believe yoga goes so far as to help us improve our relationships in life. 

Hot yoga is an intense experience, and if you speak with most teachers and traditional yoga practitioners they’ll all tell you that the physical practise of yoga was never designed to be easy. Yoga challenges the body to keep the mind engaged in the present moment, and we work to seek a balance between effort and ease in each posture. Your practice progresses only so long as you continue to breathe easily. Finding this balance creates a deeper understanding of your limitations on any given day, and keeps the practice free of ego and competition with others and yourself. You'll find that once you are able to accept where the body is at, rather than pushing it further than it's ready for, only then will the body relax and allow itself to open further, become stronger, and allow you to progress to the next stage of the pose, and therefore your practise. Yoga is a practise in mindfulness, as well as a fantastic workout for the body.

Studies have shown and it is now a widespread truth that practicing yoga initiates a process that turns off the 'fight-or-flight' response in the body inducing relaxation, and hot yoga does this after first getting your heart rate up and making you sweat more than you ever have before. This connection and the importance of the breath makes it much more than just a physical workout or stretch class, and you can feel the benefits, both during the practice, and after Savasana, the final relaxation at the end of class.

For all of these reasons, and for wanting to make a regular hot yoga practice accessible to city professionals, a life I have known all too well, I have opened Melbourne CBDs first dedicated hot yoga studio. Seeing people try hot yoga for the first time, and then continue to come back day after day, is all the proof I need to know I am not alone, the practice makes you feel amazingly cleansed, energized and empowered, as well as giving you that much needed time in your day connecting with yourself away from the stresses of work and life.

At Yoga Corner we emphasise taking the class at your own pace, resting whenever you need, and there is no strict dogma or pressure to perform. The intensity is what keeps the mind engaged and continues to challenge you both physically and mentally each time you come to the mat, for a lifetime. Classes are scheduled around the typical working day, and all classes are 60 minutes to make it accessible for those with hectic lives. Our brand new showers and changing rooms make it easy to get freshened up and back to your day quickly, and we provide free mats as well as towels to hire so as to create a seamless experience.

Convenience is an important aspect of our offering, because we understand the lifestyle of busy professionals, which make up the majority of our clientele given our location on Little Collins St. Our classes are designed to suit every level, and our teachers will always have the beginner in mind, we all have to start somewhere, and we’ve all been that uncertain first timer hiding at the back of the room. Hot yoga is something that might seem a little scary to try at first, but in my experience, most people end up loving it, and it consistently gives back. It is so much more than just a great workout.