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The Sweltering Yogi: Lake Placid Hot Yoga

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HOT YOGAIn Lake Placid, the emphasis is often on winter sports–skiing and skating, along with summer pursuits like hiking, cycling and other outdoor activities. Hot Yoga, a form of yoga that combines 26 yoga poses with 105 degree heat, is an excellent addition to these, especially in the frequently cool weather of the mountains.

Hot Yoga is a broad term for any yoga practiced in a heated environment, but Lake Placid’s Hot Yoga classes are modeled after Bikram Yoga’s method of 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises. Founded by Bikram Choudhury, Bikram Yoga became popular in the early 70s and lately is becoming more widely practiced, partially from endorsements by celebrities such as Madonna, Jennifer Aniston, NBA star Mike James, and the New York City Rockettes. According to Choudhury, the goal of Bikram Yoga is deeper stretching, injury prevention, and stress reduction, along with increased circulation. This style also assists in detoxing the body and weight loss.

As a winter sports athlete (figure skater and speed skater), the idea of exercising in high heat is simultaneously thrilling and scary–thrilling because it’s a chance to warm up after skating outside or in the rink, and scary because of the adjustment to higher temperatures. Friends first mentioned Hot Yoga a year ago, telling me it was their favorite activity and made them stronger and more flexible. I was a bit apprehensive (even though I was a person more suited to hot weather than to cold–despite my choice of sports), I was unsure about my ability to withstand yoga in 105 degrees for 90 minutes. Also, I’ve practiced Hatha Yoga, and dreaded downward dogs (luckily this isn’t present in Bikram Yoga). However, I finally decided to try it last week. When I walked into the studio, I was hit with a wave of heat. At first, the climate can feel oppressive, but a first time participant should come to class a bit early and spend time in the room for a few minutes to get used to the temperature. Also, if you feel dizzy or light-headed during class (which can happen–this is a sign of detoxification–and is common for the newbie hot yoga practitioner), you are allowed to leave the room. Class starts with a breathing exercise to help enhance lung capacity, which will absolutely help for the rest of the approximately 80 minutes. Then the poses start; first the half moon, a position where you bend sideways, arms stretched overhead (which is more challenging than it sounds if you do it right); the positions becoming progressively more challenging until the second to last pose–the spine twisting pose–designed to help stretch the muscles surrounding the spine. By about 5 minutes into the class you will start sweating, even though you’re only practicing breathing exercises. The last official movement is another breathing exercise, and then we are left to a two-minute meditation. By this time, expect to feel depleted and sweaty but rejuvenated….although you might be sore the next day! I am very flexible from my years of ballet, stretching and figure skating, but even I felt stiff the next day. Still, I absolutely enjoyed this new form of yoga, and plan to continue attending classes. Despite my initial apprehension, I’m hooked!

For more information about Lake Placid Hot Yoga, visit

–Christie Sausa is a Contributor to The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our new City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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