Week 3: Hot Yoga at Yoga Haven

After a two month hiatus with a broken foot I am finally back in action! For the last few years I don’t think I’ve gone more than a couple of days without exercising, so suddenly being immobilised was a bit of a shock to the system. I always thought I’d go crazy if I couldn’t exercise for an extended period of time, but it actually hasn’t been too bad at all – in fact, it’s taught me a few interesting things:

It’s really easy to get into the habit of not exercising

For the first couple of weeks I was desperate to get my heart rate up, but I quickly got used to life at low intensity. I’m lucky that I know I feel best when I move lots, so I’m determined to get back into it, but I can see how easy it is to think… I can’t be bothered with the gym today. My mantra has always been *you never regret a sweat* – so I’m jumping back in!

Working out sucks when you’re unfit!

When it comes to basic grunt work, normally my body does what my mind tells it to – so as long as I’m mentally focused I can push through a bit of pain. When you’re less fit, however, it’s frustrating as hell when your lungs are burning and you’ve barely even got a sweat up! To keep my motivation up I’ll be logging and repeating some basic workouts so I can see the improvement over the coming weeks.

You lose fitness quickly…

… but you can get it back quickly too. I’m giving myself 8 weeks to get the engine back!

For a bulletproof immune system, exercise regularly

I’ve had more colds in the last two months than in the previous two years. I’m convinced this is largely due to being inactive.


Anyway… onto my first foray back into my challenge to try a new fitness class, craze or fad every week for a year!  It’ll be a slow and steady return… no running or jumping quite yet, and what better way to get these stiff limbs moving again that with a hot yoga session!

I’ve been meaning to go to Yoga Haven for months and I’m so pleased I finally got around to it – this place is truly wonderful! I booked into the Hot Yoga Basics class.


What they say:

We believe yoga is magical and fun – that’s why we teach a unique style of hot yoga called ‘leela’, meaning ‘play’ in Sanskrit! Challenge your mind and your body whilst developing strength and flexibility in a safe environment.


My experience:

I’m a closet wannabe yogi. My limbs are anything but willowy and, when I’ve tried yoga in years gone by, I’ve spent the whole time wondering why everyone else seems to be finding it a breeze while I’m contorted in pain. On the flip side, I live in Lululemon gear and have been doing daily breathing practise for the past year, so I think it’s about time I gave it another shot!

I have a yoga mat (all the gear…) and toyed with the idea of taking it with me; people do that, right? I see yummy mummies sitting in coffee shops with rolled up mats all the time. I’m pleased I didn’t, as no-one else did and I would have looked like a prime dick. Everyone else did bring their own towel though (you need one for the sweat) – you can hire them if you don’t have your own, so that was all groovy.

The lady on reception was very welcoming and made me feel immediately at ease. The changing rooms were zen and calm, and the studio itself truly feels like a haven away from the nearby busy streets. With mirrors down the length of one wall, and frosted windows covering another, it was heated to a lovely temperature… warm enough to make me want to doze off, not so hot that I was gagging for ice cubes.

On entering the studio, the lights were off and the other class members (half men, half women) were sitting or lying with their eyes shut, getting in the zone. Our instructor Liz made me feel comfortable, explaining what to expect and telling me I could stop and rest any time if I needed to. The class started with a full body warm up – holding a series of poses for a couple of breaths at a time. Liz then led us through a series of standing and seated active poses; guided by a constant relaxing commentary – and with a great knack for cueing individuals and the class as a whole in an unobtrusive manner.

I’m not very bendy, but it really didn’t matter; I quickly realised that this isn’t about getting full range, it’s about getting the range that’s right for you. At several points during the session Liz told us we could do our own variation of a given pose if we were working on something in particular, and I can see how you could make this as challenging as you want it to be. The focus on breathing and clear directional cues sent me into a semi-meditative state. All thoughts of the outside world disappeared and when we got to the final position I honestly had no idea whether I’d been there for 5 minutes or two hours. We moved through positions slowly enough that there was time to focus on positioning and breath, but quickly enough that I didn’t once think “aghhh…. I can’t hold this any more!”.

For me, this was the perfect introduction to yoga, and I will absolutely be going back. I didn’t feel like a useless newbie at all.

As I headed out into the cold, foggy air, I felt light, airy, clear-headed and a little more supple than I did this morning! I think it’s possible that this one session may have converted me; I’m already looking forward to my next class and can see hot yoga quickly becoming a regular part of my fitness regime.


In Summary: Quite simply the perfect introduction to yoga. This is a calm and focused workout that will leave you feeling rejuvenated, strong and supple.

Where: Yoga Haven Richmond (there are also studios in Clapham, Islington, Brighton and Birmingham)

Cost: trial pass £15 for three sessions (to be used within 10 days)

How to book: http://www.yogahaven.co.uk

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