Hot yoga has been around since the 70s but it only slipped into my radar about a decade ago. Friends who have tried said it was satisfying to perspire that much, but no one could really confirm if it had added health benefits to other forms of yoga. Still, the novelty factor got me intrigued and lately I had been under the impression that I was fit enough to give it a shot. It was a deluded one, I soon realised, but the thrill of trying a new interesting class in a new environment and this time in a new city was irresistible. I booked myself two types of Hot Yoga classes at DYRP Yoga (catchline being Hub of Sweat) through my ClassPass app (an app which introduced me to my phenomenal barre teacher in KL, and which I’m hoping to put to good use throughout my travels in the upcoming months) and braved myself on two non-work mornings to get comfortable in uncomfortable positions.
DRYP Yoga studio
The studio is located Orra Tower in Dubai Marina, which is about 1.3 km away from Dubai Marina Mall. It’s easy to get through various ways – I was based in The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence and it was a less than a 10-minute walk from my Airbnb. It’s a 20-minute walk from the DMCC Metro for those who live in Jumeirah Lake Towers. Of course in the summer months, Dubai gets very hot and touches 40+ degrees so lashings of sunscreen and a sunhat would serve you well in these short walks.
The studio itself, as with most things in the city, ran like a well-oiled machine. It’s not particularly plush or fancy, no great view of the marina or beach etc but it felt efficient and precise and there was sufficient space for its purpose. The reception faces you the minute you enter and newbies are given a basic biodata form to complete, to convey which classes you are taking, any specific health concerns etc. You get a locker, a towel, and yoga mats are also provided should you not have one. They sell yoga outfits, healthy food and drinks near the counter. The locker room has all that you need if you plan to go to work/ head for another appointment after – showers, lavatories, hair dryers and even a hot iron curler.
The Yoga Sculpt class was the first class I took on a Saturday morning at 10.30 am and much much tougher than I thought. The first half-hour of Yoga Sculpt was the more traditional yoga poses – (chair, downward dog, warrior poses, triangle, different types of side planks) but with some element of ‘aggression’ and repetition. For instance, when we got into downward dog, our instructor Bernadette got us to lift both one leg and arm high off the ground so we are essentially loading all our weight on our core, one leg and one arm. And then we would have to keep pushing the levitating knee to our chest, then back high up to the ceilings, over and over again. I did not do well in these more advanced level poses. When the first half-hour ended and I was perspiring like a waterfall, Bernadette announced that our ‘warm up’ was complete and my heart sank knowing what was to come would be even more demanding. Indeed, we then moved on to the higher intensity strength training part of the class with dumbells and thigh bands. These movements had a more Pilates-HIIT vibe to them with squats, glute bridges, star jumps etc. Admittedly by this point, I was mainly putting in 50% of the effort and in some cases couldn’t quite complete the movements or didn’t try at all. The room was on 40% degrees heat and heart rates were soaring to 180 bpm. It’s critical that we drink enough water throughout the class because there were moments when I thought I would pass out (memories of my last fainting episode in a yoga retreat came rushing back).
The next class I signed up for the following week was an 8.30 am Wednesday Vinyasa class with Dionne. This was more bearable as the notion was about keeping with the flow of the movements, staying inside the movement, and maintaining balance and flexibility. I found Dionne’s yoga narrative also very soothing – a calm voice in the morning that persuades us to connect with our consciousness, mindfulness and inner fortitude. While I still couldn’t follow through with 100% of the movements, I was panting less and staying as strong and balanced as I possibly could. It was a class that left me reinvigorated and peaceful by the end of the hour.
For both classes, I would say that one of the things that they could have incorporated which would have been helpful was to provide an option for beginners or those with injuries etc a modified version for the more difficult poses. A reminder of which part of the body should feel the engagement could also help students have a sense of how to maximise the pose or movement. If the class wasn’t so full, it would be great too if the instructors could take more time to connect with the students and check in on their moves to ensure that they were doing it the right way.
Apart from that, it was a really positive experience. It dawned on me finally, how fitness and wellness is a very special way to connect to a community. There were friendly faces from instructors and learners alike and through striking up a few conversations, you feel welcomed into a network of people who are looking to improve themselves and build each other up. I’m still not sure if Hot Yoga actually burns much more calories than other yoga or Pilates classes. According to my apple watch, both classes burnt about 300+ calories so not that different to my usual Pilates class which closes with 8 minutes of HIIT. But I did perspire a lot more than I would have in my usual Pilates class or a long walk, and that in itself gave me a great feeling of having flushed away a lot of toxins. I also thought that it gave my skin a warm healthy glow (or so I’d like to believe) and as I tucked into lemon and strawberry infused water after class, followed by a hot cup of latte, the endorphins that flowed through my pores were hard to beat. If you are into trying out a more challenging form of yoga, then DRYP is highly recommended.
(First Cover image from Pexels)