We do love a bit of yoga. Whether as part of a class or in the comfort of our own homes, there’s just something about grabbing a mat, turning our phones off (which, these days, feels like shutting the world out) and stretching until our bodies feel looser and our minds feel a little freer. A little bit of ‘om’ is good for the soul.
There are a ton of classes on offer here in the region, dedicated to all kinds of yoga, but there’s one type that, until recently, we’d heard very little about – and that’s the kind offered by Hotpod Yoga.
Hotpod is Europe’s largest yoga business, with over 50,000 classes taking place in 35 locations across 7 countries. It arrived in the North East in May 2017 and now offers classes in Jesmond all week long – and they’re suitable for all ages and all abilities, including die-hard yogis and complete beginners.
What’s unique about them is that they take place in a 20-person inflatable ‘pod’ – something between a giant marshmallow and igloo, if you will – which is heated to 37 degrees to help supercharge your yoga experience. Oh, and to make you sweat buckets.
Turns out, though, that’s the best part. You might not think it, but sweating makes twisting and turning easier – as if warming your joints and your bones, so that you’re able to move into your poses with ease and more gently.
The guy responsible for bringing Hotpod to the Toon is Alex Hurley who, after finishing university in Hull and spending a decade working as an exercise rehab instructor, discovered yoga thanks to an at-home DVD. After 10 minutes spent giving it a go, he fell in love – and embarked on a new, more zen-like path.
Soon, he discovered Hotpod Yoga, travelling to London to try it out for himself. The business passed through Newcastle on tour last year and after getting involved, he was soon on board with the company – and responsible for helping introduce it to the region on a permanent basis.
There are three classes to try – all of which work your core, your limbs and your heart. They make for a great work out and the relaxation element really tops off your day. You leave feeling totally restored, de-stressed and fully prepped for a restful nights’ sleep – we slept like a baby after each one.
Here’s an idea of what to expect, depending on which one-hour class you go for:
Hotpod Flow (ideal for beginners/intermediates)
The signature class. The 37-degree heat and immersive ambience melts you deeper into your practice, while your Hotpod instructor carefully and personally guides you through a flow of both passive and active postures that open your body, work your heart and calm your mind in equal measure.
Nurturing Flow (suitable for all abilities)
This is Hotpod’s most calming, restorative class, with a stronger focus on the passive postures and the meditative calm. Absolutely open to all levels, guys and girls alike.
Dynamic Flow (good for intermediates/well-experienced)
This higher tempo, more challenging class builds on the signature Hotpod Flow class and is recommended for those with some yoga experience – and ideally five or more Hotpod classes. Less explanation, more flow – the class will get your heart rate up, challenge you with more advanced postures, but still leave you plenty of time for some meditative calm.
For us, the Nurturing Flow class ticked all our boxes. We loved how relaxing it was and we found the poses to be the most beneficial – nothing too complicated or hard on the joints. In fact, our back (which often becomes tight), felt tons better after just an hour’s worth of stretching. A lot of downward-dog action helped the old hamstrings, too.
The Dynamic Flow class was a toughy, but still fun. Just remember to breathe and take the time to swig water as you go – it’s not the place to become lightheaded. Fitness-lovers will love it – you can really feel your heart pumping as you move through the poses – and you come out feeling stronger, somehow.
Another good thing to note is that if ever you feel like you need a break, or some fresh air, you’re welcome to sit out or step out at any time. Here, you’re encouraged to do what you can and discover what works for you, rather than try and play catch-up with your fellow stretchers. Mats are included, too, so no need to worry about that. Don’t forget your towel, though!
Kudos to the teachers, too. Not only are they an incredibly friendly bunch, they’re damn good at what they do; from the way they lull you into a sense of total peace and stillness just with their voices and manner, to the way they conduct the classes. Step-by-step, they’re on hand to make sure you get what you want out of each experience, whether that’s nailing a particular pose, or simply allowing yourself to surrender to an hour’s worth of calmness. Expect no loud voices (or music), or strict instruction here.
Oh, and if you’re wondering what it’s like to be cocooned in 37-degree heat for an hour, don’t fret – it’s nowhere near as claustrophobic as you might think. Inside, it’s surprisingly airy and spacious and it smells wonderful – a bit like essential oils. We loved the dim purple hue, too – super soothing.
Anyone interested in trying out a class should check out Hotpod Yoga’s website below. Now’s the time, as we’ve teamed up with them to offer you a free single pass, on offer until January 31, 2018, using the discount code LUXEMAG. Happy stretching!