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Winnipeg a haven for hot yoga options

Bikram Yoga Winnipeg studio owner Cathy Huntrods demonstrates head-to-knee pose.
Bikram Yoga Winnipeg studio owner Cathy Huntrods demonstrates head-to-knee pose.Photo courtesy of Bikram Yoga Winnipeg

With winter looming for several months each year, it’s easy to feel chilled to the bone. If you don’t have time or budget to indulge in a tropical vacation, one way to experience ultimate warmth is in a hot yoga studio.

From my own personal recollection, hot yoga has been in Winnipeg for at least 12 years. My first encounter happened when a friend invited me along.

We drove to a non-descript industrial building in St Boniface, walked through a functioning factory full of machines and workers wearing goggles, and climbed a steep steel stairway with yoga mats in hand. It was bizarre.

Upstairs was a private soundproof room, which didn’t belong there at all. It was pastel pink in colour, hot in temperature, and quickly filled with a few dozen people. They came in, stripped down to nearly nothing, laid out their yoga mats, and stood there, silently waiting. It was all pretty weird, and I wondered what the heck I had gotten myself into.

Then someone pressed ‘play’ on the CD player and a voice filled the hot air, welcoming us to Bikram Yoga. We spent the next 90 minutes listening to instruction, contorting ourselves into pose after pose, and stretching every body part, nook and cranny in sometimes tortuous ways. The heat intensified it all, making it difficult, and a bit scary. I didn’t know if I would make it out of that pastel pink room alive.

When the longest 90 minutes of my life was finally over, I emerged feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and better than ever. My body felt free and light. I was breathing deeply and calmly.

I was hooked.

Shortly after, Winnipeg’s first hot yoga opened. Bikram Yoga Winnipeg is a bright and spacious studio built specifically for hot yoga. They have 34 Bikram classes weekly, each one a series of 26 poses done in the same order, challenging you to push, pull or twist beyond your comfort zone.

While the 90-minute session is physically demanding, it’s equally mentally challenging to shut off your mind off to the outside world and allow yourself to stay in that hot room. But the long-term physical and mental benefits far outweigh the short-term pain. It’s worth it.

Another option for heat is Moksha Yoga, which began as the vision of two individuals, and since grown into a worldwide community with studios around the world – counting three in Winnipeg. Moksha Yoga offers hot Moksha, Hatha and Yin classes, designed to stretch, strengthen and tone the body, while calming the mind.

Yoga Public is “Canada’s largest yoga playground.” Four spacious studios and 110 weekly classes offer fitness, yoga and meditation all under one roof. Hot Yin is a great restorative option, with gentle stretches done in an infrared room. Using passive postures held for longer periods of time, this class invites deep opening in the connective tissue. The heat, ambient lighting, relaxing spa music, and meditative breathing helps you relax you into each pose, making the hour fly by.

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