Hot yoga is not for the weak

Haley Alvarez-Lauto | Senior Graphic Artist

To me, there is nothing better than a boutique workout. 

I truly love nothing more than spending $20-30 for a class, arriving 15 minutes early to a brand new place and bracing myself for a new workout experience surrounded by women who seem to somehow know exactly what they’re doing. 

Moving to Boston — a much larger city than my native Atlanta suburb — has made embracing this guilty pleasure a little too easy. 

My latest fitness find has been Brookline’s Down Under School of Yoga. Just a ten minute walk from Warren Towers, Down Under serves the Brookline area with dozens of classes offered throughout the day. In some of these classes, the room is heated up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit to provide a full detox and a mental challenge. On the quest for a great workout, I decided to give hot yoga a try.

On a recent day my friend Lily and I walked anxiously down St. Mary’s Street in anticipation for what the next hour and fifteen minutes would involve. Both hot yoga virgins, we wondered just how hot it was going to be. Lily told me her mom warned her to go into the class super hydrated. This worried me because I had definitely not hydrated well throughout the day. 

But the $25 had been spent, and there was no turning back. 

We arrived at the studio, checked in, rented yoga mats and made our way into the downstairs studio for class. This is where it hit us. Immediately, we were both taken aback by the incredible heat and humidity of the space. 

It sounds silly to say hot yoga was hot, but the feeling was shocking. Lily and I looked at each other and assured each other we could do it. We decided to lay down our mats toward the middle of the room, joining several people already stretching on their mats so intently you’d think they were in prayer. 

We still had about 10 minutes before the class began, so I went upstairs to use the bathroom before we started — partly because I had to pee, and partly because I needed to take a minute in the air conditioning. 

Once the class started, the sweat was truly unimaginable. I don’t consider myself a sweaty person, but it would be impossible not to sweat buckets under those conditions. Within no time, I felt sweat rolling down my temples, back and stomach. My sports bra was soaked, and my yoga pants were rolled up to my knees before we were even half way through. I didn’t care that it probably looked ugly. There were moments toward the end when I’d find a downward dog and the sweat would literally roll from my chest to my chin and into my mouth. I had, without a doubt, never felt a sensation like that in my life. 

I was surely not alone. All around, water visibly dripped off limbs and faces. In front of Lily and I were two middle-aged men who were impressively strong. At one point, we put our arms out to the side, and I watched as sweat poured from both of their arms like rain. 

When we left, I had to step around puddles. 

The actual class itself, though, was not ridiculously challenging. The yoga poses were not too advanced, and the instructor struck a great balance of encouragement and acceptance of everyone’s pace. This is where the challenge of the heat inherently lies. 

Going through simpler poses feels super hard under the circumstances, but you know mentally your body is more than capable of existing in these positions. The push through the heat made yoga — something I find mundane — exhilarating. 

Lily and I exited Down Under Yoga along with at least 30 other strangers proud of ourselves and each other. We had made it through an hour and fifteen minutes that, at one point, felt impossible, and that was a great achievement. High off of our endorphins, we decided to take the T a few stops to Coolidge Corner and treat ourselves to a Trader Joe’s run. 

I will be giving hot yoga another chance soon. I’m fascinated by the practice. The challenge I faced makes me wonder what future classes might be like. To anyone looking for a new fitness area to explore, I highly recommend giving Down Under a chance. 

Plus, if the heated classes sound scary to you, they offer other great yoga classes that include AC.


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