Yoga is practiced on such a wide spectrum of intensity levels. It can be hard to find the shoe that fits to be honest. In some “meditation” focused classes you might find yourself feeling like you barely broke a sweat. In others, you’ll leave feeling as though you’ve just swam across the Atlantic ocean, dripping wet, exhausted and on what can only be described as a high of epic proportions.
For students of Soha Panah—who instructs Hot Yoga Barre at the popular Hot 8 Yoga Studio in Beverly Hills— her 6:15am class is like a drug. Attendees line up before the studio opens (as early as 5.30am) to guarantee their spot in the pre-dawn class. The reason? It all comes down to building 3 pillars of strength: Mental, Physical, and Emotional.
What is Hot Yoga Barre?
Hot Yoga is most widely known as Bikram Yoga. The room is heated, sometimes to temperatures around 105-degrees for the duration of the class (classes are usually for one hour).
Yoga Barre is a style of yoga that incorporates dance movements using a ballet bar. Soha Panah’s class combines this with the heat. With her background as a competitive dancer in high school, Panah is a well rounded experienced instructor who uses Hot Yoga Barre to build mental, physical and emotional strength in her students.
So why the heat? “The heat is detoxifying. It allows you to get deeper into the muscles,” says Panah. “The heat allows your muscles to be warm.”
Warm muscles warm heart? Perhaps not always, but a lot of hot yoga barre attendees find that they are able to get that little bit deeper into a stretch within the room, than they could outside of the heat.
“My hope is that I will push you to a point where you maybe are doubting yourself and your own strength and that we overcome that,” says Panah. “I hope to inspire people to believe in their own strength so when they walk out they feel focused and they feel strong.”
Anyone who has participated in any kind of fitness activity or sport knows that the mental game plays a huge part in physical endurance. And, building that mental strength through exercise feeds positive actions in so many other areas of life.
Hot 8 Yoga notes this:
The hot environment demands a sharpening of your mental focus, concentration and determination during class. Students notice an absence of distracting thoughts, during the class, as they concentrate on their breath, the posture, their image in the mirror and the guidance of the teacher.
Yoga is known to give students who practice consistently a lean and toned look. Great for summertime, or anytime for that matter! Even still, it’s about a lot more than physical appearance. Yoga can be a very physically healing fitness practice. One that provides a limberness to muscles that can help prevent injuries and help ease the pain other injuries that have already been sustained.
Panah moved into dance because of a scoliosis diagnosis when she was in the 8th grade. Her surgery limited her from contact sports, so she clung to dance. Her background inspires much of the class she teaches, though it’s accessible to anyone with or without dance experience.
“I want it to be accessible to everyone,” she says. “I think ballet is very intimidating which is why I think what we do here is a really nice middle ground.”
Our thoughts and emotions can do with some funneling sometimes and yoga can help in this department. Yoga involves the mental as much as the physical practice and attendees often find that the meditative aspect of hot yoga barre releases a lot of negative emotions leaving you feeling oddly light – we commonly call this the fitness high.
“There’s rhythm and musicality to what we do and the natural release that you get,” says Panah. “People really love and enjoy it. You become more clear, you won’t be as cluttered, even if it’s just for a second. You don’t have a thousand thoughts going through your head.”
Something to think about.
Hot 8 Yoga studios offer over 200 classes in many variations of yoga styles. Add’s Panah: “If you can sustain the heat and you like to be pushed come try it!”