We’ve all got our exercise routine. Some jog in the park, some cycle at the gym, and some prefer taking classes (bar, pilates, yoga). But what about the temperature of your workout? Sure, we all like to work up to a heated place in our bodies, but imagine starting your workout in the heat. 90-115 degrees of heat to be exact. Many people need not imagine starting their workout in the heat because they already do with hot yoga. Hot yoga has become popular not only around the world, but also right here in Portland, Maine. The heat brings elasticity to the muscles, revs up your capability to burn more calories, and leaves you with a peaceful purged feeling after, to say the least, working up quite a sweat. After visiting two different Portland hot yoga studios, Bikram Yoga and Portland Power Yoga, I see that Marilyn Monroe may have had it right: some like it hot. Other than leaving both studios profusely sweating (we’re talking dripping sweat), here are my observations on each studio and unique style of yoga.
Portland Power Yoga spells it out in the title: p-o-w-e-r. We’re not only talking Spice Girls mental “girl power” but also kick-but-chadaranga-style physical power. I visited PPY for an early Sunday morning ninety-minute class with a veteran teacher, Alice. If you have read my first article about cattitudes yoga, you may be familiar with my aversion towards early mornings, especially on the weekends. Whether it was the 90-degree heat, the teacher, or that morning, I felt energized and ready to jump into my downward dog. The class was rather fast paced. I was amazed at how many poses we got through in an hour and a half. I also loved the joyful bubbly vibe of the studio, which was echoed by two practitioners near me who giggled their way through many of the poses and Alice’s jokes. I left PPY with a smile in my face and through my body, even if I looked like a drowned rat on the outside.
My Bikram yoga experience was eye opening. As a Vinyasa-trained yoga teacher, I had preconceived notions that Bikram teachers were militant demanding perfectionists. So, taking courageous action, I dragged my friend, Anna, with me to class (I’m a good friend, I swear). We opened the door with trepidation and walked down the stairs to the colorful (already warm) studio to sign in and meet our teacher, Kristen. My heart skipped two beats as I signed my parents’ names and phone numbers in the “emergency contacts” line. There were a few dramatic, “I’m going to die in this class” thoughts running through my head at first, but I lifted my chin, dressed down to my booty shorts, and walked into the 105-degree studio. The class was actually rather slow paced and easy to follow along as we did each pose twice. In no way does the slow pace and repetitive nature make Bikram yoga classes easy. Au contraire, the slow pace only left us holding the 26 asanas for a longer period of time. Hello muscles! Kristen’s attitude and teaching style was the biggest surprise of all: she was nice, calming, and even gave me a little foot massage in between one pose. Boy was I wrong about my previous notion about Bikram teachers! If you’re reading this, I repeat: not all Bikram teachers are scary dictators, especially not the ones at Bikram Yoga in Portland. I left my Bikram class with a purged mind and fire in my belly.
In the words of Nelly, “it’s getting hot in herrrre, so take off all your clothes.” This winter, get out of the cold and jump into the heat with hot yoga at Portland Power Yoga or Bikram Yoga.
What: Portland Power Yoga
Where: 84 Cove Street Portland, ME 04101
Call ‘em up: (207)-761-4328
Price check: $16 Drop-In Class
What: Bikram Yoga
Where: 49 Dartmouth Street Portland, ME 04101
Call ‘em up: (207) 874-9642
Price check: $16 Drop-In Class
Image from Portland Power Yoga