My first little ‘review’ style blog post – how exciting! Over the past few weeks I have been on an introductory membership at Hotpod Yoga in Bristol, and I thought I would give a little run-down on my experience and initial thoughts. It’s a post that I would loved to have read myself before trying out hot yoga, so hopefully this will be helpful for you if you’re thinking about giving it a go!
In my 25 years so far, I have partaken in a grand total of one yoga class. And even that was more of a glorified stretching session at a Centre Parcs, in a room that smelt a bit like feet. I’ve also tried on countless occasions to follow Yoga tutorials on YouTube and subsequently given up because trying to keep an eye on a laptop screen, whilst simultaneously figuring out your downward dog and also remembering to breath and remain #zen, was virtually impossible. I’m a gym-gal, and that where I was comfortable.
If you hadn’t already figured it out, I’m not your seasoned yogi.
However, about a month ago I had the opportunity to attend the most recent HBC Bloggers Event in Bristol. The venue: Hotpod Yoga. You could say it was a ‘timely’ opportunity – I was looking to step out of my comfort zone more frequently, try some new and different ways of moving my body and (hopefully) meet a few new lovely people. So, along I went.
Having never set foot in a Yoga Studio before I had no idea what to expect, but on entering Hotpod Yoga, tucked away on Fairfax Street in city-centre Bristol, I immediately felt at ease. To borrow a phrase I think it quite apt for this description, the studio is “small, but perfectly formed”, warm (speaking strictly in terms of ambience here), bright and colourful.
Shoes come off immediately when you step into the studio – maybe it’s just for housekeeping, but like taking your shoes off when you get home at the end of a long day, I find there’s something quite comforting about the exercise. Then with water, towel, mat and strap in hand (all the gear, but no idea) it’s into the pod. Imagine a kind of inflatable igloo, big enough to house 20 yoga mats, and maintained at a cool 37 degrees, and you’ve got the Pod. Its deep purple interior, paired with the soundscapes and heady aromas, were quite intense at first but very quickly I found myself relaxing into the environment, breathing deeper and enjoying the heat.
I’d alway been pretty sceptical of yoga, writing it off as something that just ‘wasn’t for me’, but that class with the HBC Crew completely changed my mind. Since that first foray into the Pod, I have been to another five classes (and I can’t wait for my next). I even managed to get my boyfriend to a couple of classes and, for the record, he also loved it!
It’s safe to say I have caught the Hotpod bug.
And I think there’s a few reasons why:
As I mentioned previously I have little, to no, prior experience of yoga teaching so I can’t offer too much in terms of comparison. However, I can say that the Team at Hotpod are quite possibly the nicest bunch of people that I have met for a long time. So welcoming, so friendly, and so happy to meet newbies to the Pod. For anyone thinking about going along on there own, like I did initially, there is absolutely nothing to fear.
My biggest worry is that I just wouldn’t be able to do it. Any of it. But, you can take the class at your own pace and make the practice your own. You can build upon movements if you know how, but you’re also actively encouraged to take breaks as often as you need. I definitely took this on board, taking time-out pretty regularly during my first few classes, without feeling like anyone was judging me or my ability.
Hotpod also has quite a ‘hands-on’ approach, with teachers offering physical adjustments throughout the class – moving an arm or leg here and there to help you achieve your optimum movement, balance or pose. For a yoga novice like me, this has been super helpful and encouraging, but I understand (as do they) that it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. If this is your idea of a ‘worst nightmare’ situation, don’t fret – whilst everyone has their eyes closed at the start of the class, you’re given the opportunity to signal a silent “no thank you” cue to the teacher. No embarrassment or singling yourself out.
Unlike the (usually) testosterone-filled gym environment, I have learned that the Pod is not a place for egos, personal bests or competition. Whilst at the gym, I’m always pushing for that ‘one last rep’ but in the Pod, have found I’m much kinder to my body and much more gentle in how I make it move. I can appreciate that there is nothing to be gained from holding a pose that feels uncomfortable, or pushing yourself through a flow that is right for you.
I also love that, whilst in the Pod, everyone seems to be in their own little yoga bubble. The internal focus makes Yoga an incredibly mindful activity. Mindfulness is something I struggle with – I’m much better at being ‘switched on’ and busy, so to spend an hour thinking only about my own body, and what it is doing in that present moment, is a hugely valuable – particularly when all other aspects of my life are so busy.
I could go on. There are so many reasons to love Hotpod (I mean, I haven’t even mentioned Maggie yet, Hotpod’s resident Puppy). But its safe to say, as far as first-experiences go, it’s been an extremely positive one.
Moving forward, I hope to be able to balance time in the Pod alongside my usual gym routine, not only for the benefits I think it will give to my strength and mobility, but also for the experiential, mind-emptying cleanse I feel that it offers.
10/10, would recommend to a friend.
If you have any questions about what to expect from Hotpod, drop me a DM on instagram (@moll_eatsandlifts) or leave me a comment below. If you’ve tried it already, I’d love to hear your own experiences!
Until next time,
Photo credit for all images to @gemmashootspeople @hbloggerscom.bristol @HotpodYogaBristol