Posts Tagged ‘hot yoga’

Hot yoga can be a messy business. You can’t be afraid of a little or a lot of sweat. But we’ve all heard the tales of people getting sick from communal mats. In fact, the concern at one point seemed to be so widespread that the New York Times covered the story a couple years back.

Communal Yoga Mats: Beware of Germs, by Abby Ellin. “In the last two years, Dr. Cohen said, he has seen a 50 percent spike in patients with athlete’s foot and plantar warts. The likely culprit? Unclean exercise mats, he said…

Research has not confirmed the link between unclean yoga mats and fungal, bacterial and viral infections better known as jock itch, plantar warts and staph infections. Nor can dermatologists and podiatrists conclusively trace these ailments to dirty yoga mats.

Still, some are making unofficial connections.

I must say in the past two years, it seems yoga studios have stepped up they’re cleaning protocol on communal mats. At Jivamukti you put your mat in a laundry bin following class to be washed before the next person uses it- and they’re not even a hot studio. At YogaWorks you also hand your mat back to someone at the front desk, but I honestly don’t know what they do with them once they’re handed over. Most common is the spray bottle solution. Studios like Prana Power Yoga offer spray bottles with cleaning solution but it’s up to the individual to decide how diligent they are going to clean up after themselves. Unfortunately, Prana also offers paper towels…yikes…SO not green. Where can we find compromise? Shiva Shakti in Northampton, MA offers spray bottles with sponges. But I question how much bacteria a sponge can host and transfer from mat to mat? I’m no scientist so I say invest in buying and bringing your own mat! Especially if your studio has mat storage. No one wants to grab that rented mat and have to wonder if it’s wet because it’s been cleaned or because it has been sweat on, ew.

And, I know studios make it a habit to try and clean the floors in between each class but some transitions simply don’t allow enough time to mop the floors before people swarm in. But really, there’s nothing like stepping in a puddle of someone else’s sweat that gets you off on the wrong foot (really, no pun intended).

As for cleaning your own mat, Yoga Journal’s advice is this:

If your mat is lightly soiled, use a spray bottle, damp sponge, or terry cloth rag to apply a solution of two cups of water and four drops of dish soap. Rub the soiled areas. Wipe the mat with clean water; then rub with a dry terry cloth towel. Hang to air dry.

If your mat is heavily soiled, submerge it in a solution of warm water and mild detergent; use very little soap as any residue may cause the mat to become slippery during future use. Thoroughly hand wash the mat and rinse in clean water. After squeezing out the excess water, lay the mat on a dry towel and roll the mat and towel together. Stepping on the rolled up mat will squeeze more moisture out of the mat and into the towel. Then unroll and hang to air dry.”- Donna Raskin

If you’re looking for an even deeper clean, visit the sight of your mat’s maker- often times your mat can handle a trip through the washing machine and even dryer!

Stay clean!


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Uh…I feel bad doing this, because I feel that I keep bashing yoga instructors, but- eh, I’m doing it.

This Saturday morning I went up to Some Like It Hot for their 11:45 vinyasa class that I usually go to. Isauro Fernandez, who usually teaches this class, was not there, and his substitute was the studio’s owner, Yola Romeo. I was a little bummed, because I was excited to just sweat and move, which is always guaranteed with Isauro, but went into class with an open mind.

We started in frog pose (for those of you who have been wondering, I nixed the 30 day frog pose challenge- I decided pain sucks). I must mention 2 things a) I’m a runner and b) I have this mysterious hip/back injury that acts up from time to time and makes me writhe in excruciating pain. To start a class in frog is my hell and to hold it for 5+ minutes is essentially the worse layer of Dante’s Inferno multiplied by 347 gajillion. But- open mind, I threw my ass up in the air and sank into my iron-clad, locked hips. Yola, noticing my hips were no where near touching the ground, came over to me and told me to move my hips wider. “They don’t go wider,” I gasped through my tears of pain. “I’m looking at your body and they do go wider, ” she told me. Oh sage and all-knowing Yola…thank you for your words or wisdom. Believe me, they didn’t go wider. She brought us through a series of poses (no flow) and corrected us, which was actually nice. I don’t love pain-stakingly long explanation of poses, but every once in a while (even if it isn’t by choice), its a good thing to do. And don’t get me wrong- this was hard and I felt it the next day. As much as I like to move in yoga, I realize that holding postures longer can be great and strength building. So all was well. Until lizard pose.

As you can see, this is a difficult pose for people with tight hips. I for one, cannot put my arms down flat like this nice lady above- my arms are straight in this pose. Yola would not have this. I told her I had a hip injury. My injury is somewhat complicated, no one really knows what it is and I’ve had the problem for years. But I didn’t feel the need to explain the logistics in front of the entire class- I know what is right for my body. But she continued to press me about it and came to her own conclusion about what my problem was in 20 seconds after years of doctors checking me out. For the rest of class, she kept on me constantly, telling me to lift my shirt in front of the mirror, that I was doing postures incorrectly, etc, etc. And with this majorly, self-righteous attitutude. Just what I wanted on a hot Saturday morning.

There was 1 guy in class, who Yola yoga-molested for the entire hour and a half. She laid on top of him, held his pelvis, and caressed his legs non-stop. At one point, while she was “adjusting” him, a woman in the back of class yelled out, “can we switch poses yet?” Yola had left us in some pose for an inordinate amount of time while she got her freak on.

Her speech at the end of class bordered on insanity…she talked about one thing, then another, none of which had any relation about it each other. She even mentioned at one point that there were a lot of people who came to her studio that had a lot of money and they were certainly not happy people. As if that is necessarily related… Though my mind may have not been all that open, hers was most definitely not and made for a VERY unpleasant class.


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This post is long overdue…it should have been the first thing I ever put up on this blog. I’ve been to many, many studios in New York and have found that there aren’t a whole lot of classes that I like. Initially I was turned off by Some Like it Hot, for 2 reasons- its on the Upper East Side (I live in the West Village) and its expensive.  A drop in single class is $25. But eventually I made it over there and found my little yoga utopia.  First of all, there isn’t a bad teacher on the schedule- I prefer a few, but I have never taken class there that hasn’t been challenging.  Secondly, they play music! And not just Krishna Das (who I love…but not all the time), but modern music. The studio is also has a sort of hippy arts and crafts vibe- there are yoga-ish murals on the walls and a shrine set up in the front of the room. There are also big windows which let in great light- something that I have always appreciated. And when you get down to it, the classes are much cheaper when you buy a series, plus they give you towels for free (many NY studios do not), and clean and store your mat.

The room is hot and temperature definitely varies depending on the teacher. Generally the classes are a good flow, they usually include some type of inversion practice, and a limited amount of stretching. They aren’t super focused on form, which I guess isn’t great if you are a beginner, but for those who have a solid practice, its a nice change to not have to constantly listen to explanations of poses. There are 3 teachers that I really like, although as I said before, there isn’t a bad teacher there. Kristi Clark is a total rockstar- she teaches a hard class and has an amazing practice. She is light hearted, but knowledgeable and always puts together a great flow. Isauro Fernandez is also great- although be warned, he has his own style that takes a little getting used to. He assimilates martial arts into some of his poses and borrows certain breathing techniques, which I found to be a little harsh when I first starting taking with him. He also has the tendency to play some bad 80s/90s music, but he usually makes up for it with some really eclectic and cool world music. His classes are challenging though and I think he has a very sweet demeanor about him so his classes are definitely worth a try. Lastly Erica Gross is also great. She’s the kind of girl you would be happy to go to brunch with, but in fact, has a strong Baptiste background and is always pushing the limits with new things she has learned.

Some Like It Hot’s owner Yola and her dog Romeo are often at the studio and offer a sense of community and caring that is lost at many New York studios. Yola makes it a point to introduce herself to new students and really interact with the regulars. Some Like it Hot also offers classes at many different times, another downfall for most New York studios. And for all of you who work late like me, there is a 9pm class that is both challenging and relaxing!


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I took another one of Julia’s classes this evening at Prana Power Yoga in Union Square. Another tough class- this time a faster paced sequence. She did not let up despite the intense heat wave we’re experiencing. The class was wonderful and the intensity level with the heat was exciting and energizing. Julia often speaks of how hard it can be to get to your mat, but once you’re on it you feel like you’re home. Today was certainly a hard day to take the mat but I was so happy once I was on it and sweating buckets.

However, a word of caution when it comes to working out in high levels of heat and humidity…made sure you stay hydrated + add an extra dash of salt to your diet for replenishment. I urge everyone out there who is exercising at their usual rate of intensity in this heat wave to take into consideration a few tips and tricks:

1. Drink up! (Water that is)… smart water is great for that added electrolyte replenishment.

2. Eat smaller meals more frequently- you may feel as if you’re less hungry in high temperatures but your body still needs the energy. Fruit is great because it helps with the hydration.

3. Wear breathable, loose cotton clothing.

4. Wear sunscreen if you’re practicing outdoors.

5. Consider moving your workout earlier or later to catch cooler parts of the day.

6. Consider the amount of work you did the day before- your body may need extra time to recover from workouts in extreme temperatures.

7. If you’re taking medication talk to a doctor as some may affect you differently in the heat (e.g. cause you to dehydrate faster.)

8. Most importantly, listen to your body. Take a break if you need one or ease up if you have to- no reason to force a breakthrough on a particularly hot day if it means risking injury or illness!

…the one great thing about hot yoga in the hot summer is there’s no need to acclimate. It’s usually just as hot outside as it is inside the studio!

Happy, healthy yoga everyone!


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