HotYoga101Those who love hot yoga know there are many benefits, including muscle toning; stress reduction and increased vitality; weight loss; reduction of muscle and joint pain; flexibility and mobility, and strength. In particular, hot yoga helps you to detox by sweating out toxins from your skin. Thus the amazing inner and outer glow of the students coming out after a hot yoga class.

If you’ve never tried hot yoga. If you’re not sure how to start. If you’ve tried it but were not prepared and intimidated. The Hot Yoga 101 workshop on Sunday, January 26 at PranaShanti is for you! Or, if you love hot yoga and want to share your passion, here’s a safe and fun way for your friends and family members to start.

To encourage you to try the hot side, the Hot 101 workshop includes a mat rental, 2 free class passes with 2 mat rentals, a PranaShanti tote bag, plus a handout on Hot Yoga for you to take home. The cost is $40.00 per person. The workshop takes place on January 26 from 1:30 pm -3:30 pm at PranaShanti. Register at the front desk or sign up on-line.

Caroline Ishii recently had the chance to have a cup of tea and conversation with Stéphane Ippersiel who is leading Hot Yoga 101.

What would you say to someone who is intimated about trying hot yoga for the first time?
That it’s okay to take a break during the class. If the heat, the practice or the combination of the two gets overwhelming, have a seat on your mat for a pose or two to regain your bearings. Yoga is about listening to your own body. There is no sense in pushing on beyond what you can tolerate. Over time, you will get used to the heat and the practice, and you’ll become a more confident yogi.

Prepare yourself for your first hot yoga class by drinking water prior to the class (a couple litres over the course of the day), by bringing a towel for your yoga mat and a hand towel to wipe off during the class. And bring your sense of humour, too.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about hot yoga?
That Hot Yoga is all about getting your butt kicked. There are some teachers and students that thrive on the boot camp style of yoga, where you come out wiped. I used to go for that myself, but not anymore. Hot Yoga is a style of yoga that emphasizes the physical side of the practice more than, say, Kundalini or Yin, but the physicality of the Hot Yoga practice also allows for moments of enlightenment, if you allow your breath to guide your mind to the quiet spaces throughout the flow.

What do you love about hot yoga?
I like the feeling of enhanced mobility. The heat warms up your muscles prior to the practice, which makes your whole body more flexible. Over time, I’ve come to love the heat. I used to hate the hot, sticky days of summer in Ottawa, because the heat and humidity made me feel sluggish. Now, the heat and humidity don’t phase me at all. I feel fresh and alert even on the hottest days.

What are the greatest benefits of hot yoga?
The awesome sweat! The sweat flushes out some toxins and the physical practice itself can help you shed weight. One of the sweetest benefits though is that blissful feeling you get walking out of the hot room after a practice that was just right for you.

What is your background with yoga?
Yoga was accidental in my life. One of my friends suggested we try yoga as a group activity after the end of the snowboarding season. The first class we tried was a Bikram class, and it was a total disaster, because we were so clueless about what it entailed and had no idea how intense it would be. And the heat!!! We gave yoga a second chance, trying an Ashtanga class with Laurie Howe the following week. Laurie is such an amazing teacher. She creates a climate of discovery, self-acceptance and playfulness that kind of mask the fact that she is putting you through your paces. That was April 2006, and I’ve been a yoga junkie ever since.

What is your style of teaching?
Adaptive, I guess. My classes have a basic structure but I improvise a lot, which allows me to tweak the practice depending on the energy in the room. On some days, the practice will be fairly intense; on other days the exact same class might be gentler. It all depends on the vibe and the feel in the room on a given day. For me, music is central to setting the pace of the practice, so yogis will be fueled in part by the beats in the room.

What gives you the greatest satisfaction from teaching yoga?
The biggest thrill for me is seeing people walking out of the room with Yoga Brain, where they are totally enjoying the natural high from the practice they just finished. That is priceless.

What is something people often don’t know about you and are surprised when they find out?
People are often surprised when they find out I spent nine years in the army reserves. I was a sergeant in Le Régiment de Hull, an armoured reconnaissance unit. I have found many parallels between my army experience and yoga, mostly around the idea of going beyond the boundaries I had placed around myself. Both the army and yoga put me into situations that pushed me way beyond what I thought were my limits, for which I am eternally grateful.

What will you cover in Hot 101?
The workshop will cover things like the evolution of hot yoga, the effects of heat on the body and the brain, how to prepare for a hot practice and basic survival tips during the practice. We’ll follow that with a practice to put all of this together.

What is the most important things participants will take away from the workshop?
I hope they will come out of it an understanding of the benefits of hot yoga, and that they consider this practice as a good option for them.

Caroline Ishii was the creator and executive chef of ZenKitchen, an award winning gourmet vegan wholefoods restaurant. She is now a chef and consultant on healthy food and lifestyle, and recently completed her Hatha Yoga Teacher Training at PranaShanti. She has launched a super energy truffle line called “Trufflishiis” that are vegan and gluten-free,

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