Last week I was invited to Notting Hill to indulge my inner Yogini in a morning of sweaty spirituality. Still awaiting my William Thacker meets Anna Scott moment – I didn’t hesitate to accept.
HotPod is the area’s balmy new opening, describing themselves as ‘offering a real-life approach to hot yoga, in an other worldly setting’. By ‘real-life’ I imagine they refer not just to the convenience of the booking system but also the intentions of the clientele – whether it be working off a hangover, losing some water weight before a big night or snapping your spine back into place after desk-induced kyphosis.
What Hotpod Yoga Offers:
- Lockers for hiding the shameful snacks you bought on the way over
- Changing rooms so that no one can witness your spandex struggles
- Showers to spare those around you on the commute home
- Hairbands for the ill-prepared
The pod is more accurately a giant inflatable studio, with the addition of soft music and glowing mood lighting to welcome you aboard a space-craft of zen. The temperature is kept at a controlled 37 degrees, low enough not to induce a febrile seizure but hot enough to give your mat the whiff of a successful workout.
As the event was sponsored by TheBigBottleCo, we picked up two of their containers which was a workout in itself, carrying 2.2L of BPA-free hydration-juice each. Moistening your membranes is straightforward with the hand-held water tankard design, more importantly I approve of their sustainability via reduced plastic consumption. This is how much water you should be drinking on a daily basis:
Factor in spending an hour in a pod containing the climate of India and affix an extra 1.5-2.5 cups to the day.
There are 8 styles of Yoga I would recommend for beginners:
- HATHA: basic moves held for a few breaths. Slower paced, gentler and good for perfecting posture
- VINYASA: dynamic, faster paced, continuous movement
- LYENGAR: precision and detail when it comes to body-alignment. Prop-heavy using blocks, straps, blankets and ropes
- ASHTANGA: six series of specifically sequenced poses that are the same in every class.
- BIKRAM: 90 minute sequence of 26 poses in 40 degree heat (HotYoga is not confined to the same 26 poses)
- KUNDALINI: combines repetitive physical exercises with breath-work, chanting, singing and meditating. Has an almost cult-like following.
- YIN YOGA: poses held for several minutes at a time. A meditative practice that improves flexibility.
- RESTORATIVE: Mellow and slow-moving, personally I feel like you’re not doing much but I think that’s the point…
HotPod specialises in Vinyasa, which has a dance-like quality. I mean that in the sense that it’s beautiful sequence of seamless moves are in practice, a lot harder than they look. Our instructor glided through plank-warrior-childs pose like a snake through grass, whilst I struggled to maintain balance between series. Anyone who still believes that yoga entails sitting crosslegged in prayer and chanting Ohm, needs to sign up.
Is it worth working up the extra sweat? The heat in HotYoga makes you feel as though you can move deeper into some poses, however it can be easy to overstretch so don’t push beyond capacity. Research shows that consistent yoga practice can help to alleviate migraines, as well as improving stress management and sleep through its mindful breathing exercises. In general I thought the higher temperatures seemed like a good way to loosen up, improve flexibility and circulation. It also saved me a post-gym trip to the steam room.
Like damp butterflies emerging from our cocoon, we gathered our belongings and headed back up the stairs onto ground-level. I’ve never been so grateful for the rush of gusty London atmosphere. The appeal to visiting in winter is evident, however until then the need for added motivation comes in the form of Farmacy restaurant, located about 20 minutes down the road.