I voluntarily drove to Hot 8 Yoga and walked into their artificially heated studios three mornings in a row at the exact same time that my husband was escaping the humid heat of Ahmedabad’s streets in India, finding relief in his air-conditioned hotel room. While he’s dreading the high temperatures of his Indian business trip, back home, I’m paying to sweat.

Photo courtesy of Hot8 Yoga.

I was looking forward to feature this Old Pasadena yoga studio because I couldn’t wait to just sit and relax. I couldn’t predict that the only comparable experience, in terms of physical efforts, I could think of coming out of my sixty-minute long Hot Yoga Barre class would have been that of delivering a baby.

There are substantial differences, of course. First of all, you can have a break.

“You can stop anytime to rest if you need to,” the 23-year-old yoga teacher Cindy Gannon said. “The more you practice, the more you know what’s going in your body and mind. The goal of our classes is to feel good and relieved when you walk out of the room, not defeated.”

The Hot Yoga Barre’s class is described by the studio as an intermediate level class practiced in a room heated up to 110 degress with 50 percent of humidity. It’s a fusion of yoga, body sculpting, barre work and non-impact cardio that focuses on buttocks, abdominals, thighs, and arms. It mixes strengthening postures at the barre with yoga postures on the mat.

Not being used to any kind of cardio or strengthening physical exercise, my weakness was in full display. But the heat felt good and it helped me deepen the little stretching my body was willing to offer.

“Yoga has changed my life, especially hot yoga,” the community outreach manager Tim Oakes said. “The heat adds an extra layer that makes it easier for us to enter that state of presence and mindfulness because you can’t focus on any other things than yourself.”

All five Hot 8 Yoga studios in the Los Angeles area – the others are located in Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach, Beverly Hills and Sherman Oaks –  have fresh air pumped in to prevent carbon dioxide poisoning and the hot air is disinfected using ultra-violet light. A humidity system keeps humidity levels of 40 to 50 percent and the floor, designed for hot and humid environment is made of PVC and has thermal properties that accelerates evaporation helping the floor to stay dry.

The Pasadena studio opened last July and it isn’t crowded early in the morning. There are few yogis here and there in the hall, some entering classes with bottles full of liquids in their hands and others coming out of a heated room with bodies dripping wet and reaching for the closest water fountain. Some are getting their salt shots – its minerals help hydrate the body quickly –  and when I see the salt’s box next to the small glasses on a counter I automatically look for the tequila bottle.

The feeling you get after sweating so much and then taking a shower in a clean and new changing room is quite invigorating and I kept exploring other classes.

Having to choose from Hot Yoga, Power Yoga, Yoga Sculpt, Hot Yin Yoga, Yoga Vibe, Hot 8 Yoga Extreme, Hot Power Fusion and Meditation I tried the last two.

Photo courtesy of Hot8 Yoga.

The Hot Power Fusion class was taught by dancer Alexa Palminteri and it’s closer to a regular yoga class with core work, hip openers and inversions and it’s all level welcomes. It’s less about building muscles and more about stretching and balancing. It was challenging but I was more in my comfort zone and had more space to enjoy it without fearing of collapsing.

The 15-minutes long meditation class was guided by Sarah Helt and held in a “low heat” – only 105 degrees – room with 40 percent of humidity.

Finally I could just sit and relax. I look at meditation as a healthy exercise of both detachment and presence to oneself. It requires lots of participation but not expectation, it must allow everything to flow but nothing to stick.

They offer it everyday at 8:35 a.m.

Hot 8 Yoga is 2.4 miles away from PCC, 11 minutes by car according to google maps, and parking is free for the first two hours. Everyday their first class is at 6 a.m. and the last one at 8:15 p.m. The first week of classes is free and if you enroll within those seven days your first month of unlimited classes will cost you $50. After that, you’ll pay monthly membership of $140.

“We don’t currently offer discounts for students,” Oakes said. “But that’s something we could be interested in providing.”

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