It’s Saturday and I’m spending a rare weekend in London. Rare because I’m a country gal, and there’s nothing quite like a fresh, country walk at the weekend to ensure you return to London adequately smug. And rare because although the weekends in London usually begin with good intentions, it doesn’t take long before your bank balance starts to cry and you resort to a Come Dine With Me marathon with Lidl’s own brand chocolate.
This morning I rolled out of bed and tried not to think about last night’s cheese and wine night. Mainly because if you add it all together, I actually consumed more than an entire block of cheese.
Earlier in the week, health-obsessed me decided a HotPod Yoga class would be a fun Saturday morning activity, because ‘it’ll stop me drinking on Friday night’. Clearly I don’t know myself at all, and a couple of G&T’s and a fair few glasses of red wine later, it was too late to cancel.
In another random act of insanity, I decided to walk there. Half an hour there, an hour of HotPod yoga and then half an hour back. I kept myself entertained during the walk by listening to Radio 4’s Desert Island Disks. If you’re wondering when I turned into a middle-aged woman it’s around the same time I started doing wine and cheese nights on a Friday evening instead of going out.
I’ve been wanting to join a yoga studio since being in London but have always stopped myself. My reasoning for this is that yoga is something I can generally motivate myself to do in the evenings as a lot of my practise requires very little effort (lying flat on my back and trying not to think about Brexit/Donald Trump/global warming). I probably get a yoga session in 5 times a week, which probably says more about my lack of social life than it does my motivation.
However I wanted to check out what was around and after discovering that the cheapest gym in my area is £80 a month and knowing I should save that money for stage 2 of my quarter-life crisis where I sell all my belongings and book a flight to Nepal, I vowed to find something cheaper to pass the time.
It was to be either yoga or therapy, and after a quick Google search I found HotPod Yoga. They offer a first timer intro week where you pay £15 – I believe it’s cheaper if you made far better life choices than me and live somewhere other than London, and you can go to unlimited classes for that week. So of course, being the gal of excess that I am, I cancelled all my plans (I didn’t have any anyway) and booked myself 6 HotPod Yoga classes for that week.
The best thing about the Intro week is that you can choose which teacher’s style suits you best and then, if you decide to get a membership, you know roughly what you’re going to get in each class. While the majority of the classes are just classic Vinyasa Flows – think lots of sun salutations, twists and backbends, each teacher puts their own spin on it. A few HotPod Yoga classes are more relaxing, others run more of a workout-like class, including core work, inversions and more challenging poses.
The HotPod Yoga ‘pod’ looks a bit like a bouncy castle flipped on its side and you enter the pod by a little droplet shaped entrance, which is then zipped up to ensure maximum sweatiness. It’s heated to 37 degrees which, as far as I’m aware, is slightly less hot than the temperature of Bikram yoga but don’t let that fool you, it’s seriously hot. Within roughly 5 minutes you will be sweating, and after the hour long session you will have excreted enough moisture to fill a large paddling pool. I have worked out in the past, I know what it’s like to be sweaty. HotPod Yoga is a whole new level.
The classes generally begin with a meditation, which is great if you’ve had a long and difficult day of refraining from murdering your colleagues. I like to engage in a quick visualisation at this point in the class, which someone told me to do years ago if you’re feeling stressed. It sounds ridiculous but honestly, this works. I imagine myself putting all my worries and thoughts in helium balloons and releasing them into the sky. Yes, some people may laugh at this, but don’t come crying to me when you can’t get through your yoga class because you can’t stop thinking about racial inequality or Donald Trump’s travel ban. Put it in the balloon, and let it go.
After the introduction, it’s time to get into the nitty gritty. The 45 minutes of HotPod flow where you release more moisture than you even knew you had in your body, and you are actually too hot to think about anything other than the fact that you can actually feel your heart pounding and no, you are not going to die. Towards the end of the class there’s usually inversions, so shoulder-stand for beginners or headstand if they’re something you’re confident with, and backbends. Finally there’s a time to lie on your back and have a proper chill out, usually for around 5-10 mins and I’m not ashamed to admit this is when I am at the absolute peak of happiness. The hot air honestly seems to wrap you up in a little blanket of love and happiness, much like I’d imagine it feels to be back in the womb.
The teachers are all lovely and encourage you to take sips of water to rehydrate during the practise. I occasionally forget as I become so absorbed in what I’m doing, resulting in me frantically downing 2 litres as soon as the class is over in order to prevent imminent death. The teachers also encourage you to add in more challenging poses if they’re in your personal practise or, if you’re finding it too tough, to just take a time out. I generally hang around for a few minutes after the class because I need to wait for the sweat patches on my leggings to dry before I walk home again.
HotPod Yoga is something I would recommend to anyone, whether you’re a hardcore yogi or are about as flexible as a MacBook Air – this is literally the first object I saw when looking for something not-bendy. It’s definitely a tough workout, with some people claiming it burns up to 700 calories in an hour. I try not to think about calories, but I always leave feeling cleansed, relaxed and ready to take on a new day. I practise yoga a lot at home anyway, but somehow this feels different. The hot air immerses you so much that it actually is impossible to think of anything else, I rarely find my mind wandering to what I’m going to have for dinner or when my car insurance is going to run out.
I bought the £35 membership which lets you go to one class a week. This is far better for my mental health than a gym membership, which is always a slippery slope towards a ruined social life and just general self-destruction. There’s loads of other options available on their website and they run HotPod Yoga classes in most UK cities.
Anyone who wants to start on their journey to becoming more relaxed during the week and, in some absurd oxymoron, also experience what it’s like to be on the cusp of death, I’d recommend HotPod Yoga. If you refer a friend they will get the class for free and you get £5 off your membership so, as I’m such a charitable soul, let me know if you fancy seeing me at my absolute sweatiest and coming along to a class with me.
Have a look at HotPod Yoga’s website if you want to give it a go.
Take a look at this post if you want to read about my experience trying Kundalini Yoga which I can assure you, is a whole new level of crazy (but equally wonderful).