Doubling Up with Hot Yoga and Power Flow
By: Marie Williams, Yoga Enthusiast
For most people, one 60-minute yoga class is enough to provide them physical movement and mental engagement to help them get through a workday. After all, everyone desires to burn calories, connecting to their breath or learning new asanas through various sequences.
I am not like most people.
My personal preference is to combine one hot yoga class with a flow class and take them back-to-back. I take this combination at least twice a week and have been doing so for the last two years. What I have found is that one class cleanses me, while the other class enlightens me.
I remember the first Hot yoga class I took at SunstoneFIT three years ago. It was during the month of May and I was in the middle of completing my first week of free classes as part of my membership package. I took a 9:30 a.m. class, not knowing what to expect. The first element that caught me off guard was all the heat! I felt like I was walking into an inferno and did not think I would get through the class! As I looked around, I noticed many yogis lying down, some setting up their mats and several stretching. I did not feel good about the class, but knew I had to take it.
Surprisingly enough, I managed to stay in the room for the entire class, copying other more advanced yogis than me. I sweat so much and was quite exhausted afterwards, just thankful I had survived! Ironically, I received my first 10-class wristband later that month, eventually acquiring my 50-class wristband as well. Hot yoga is now one of my absolute favorite classes to take! I have taken 186 Hot Yoga classes at SunstoneFIT.
Sunstone was established on the Hot Yoga series, originally known as Fire, which is the company’s signature yoga class. This class allows a yogi to sweat, stretch and build stamina with a set sequence of static postures in a hot room of 98.6 degrees with humidity at 60%. There are 32 total postures taught by an instructor, with a brief water break given after the warm-up. Examples of postures taught are Chair Pose, Standing Bow Pose and Tree Pose, all part of the Standing Series. Pranayama breathing is done to begin the class, but breathing is encouraged throughout class, with additional emphasis placed on alignment as well.
The heat helps activate higher oxygen flow in the body, increasing calorie burn. By taking a hot yoga class once or twice a week, a yogi is burning calories, improving weight loss and sweating out toxins, while bringing calmness to his/her mind.
I love my hot yoga classes each week, but I enjoy flow classes a little bit more. My first vinyasa-style class was taken back in January 2016, when it was first introduced at SunstoneFIT. I have received four class wristbands: the 100, 200, 350 and 500 focus wristbands. I currently have 192 Power Flow classes under my belt.
Power Flow, formerly known as American Power Yoga, (APY) is a class designed to give yogis a chance to explore many options through different postures and transitions that reinforce being connected to the breath, while staying in the present moment. The instructor coordinates his/her sequence to music and the class temperature is 90 degrees with humidity at 50%. Power Flow classes are excellent to help any yogi work on balance, while developing a strong mental focus. Typically, I prefer to take a hot yoga class as a precursor to help open my body before a flow class.
Each instructor brings their own style with how they design a sequence of postures, meaning no sequence is quite the same at any one studio. My favorite postures involved in a sequence are Crescent Lunge, opening into Warrior II, ending in either Triangle Pose, balancing in Half Moon or Dancing Shiva Poses. My favorite arm balances are Crow, Side Crow into a Scissor Kick and Fallen Angel Poses. When the instructors cue various postures as options to wrap-up the class, I usually elect to do a Wheel Posture, which is an intense backbend, requiring strength and being upside down.
Including Power Flow classes in one’s yoga practice will eventually strengthen the legs and core over time, allowing for an easier transition into most sequences.
Hannah Oates is passionate about many things, including yoga. However, she also possesses a strong connection to martial arts and has found a unique way to interweave some of these concepts into her yoga teaching.
Hannah started practicing martial arts in 2009. She practiced a mix of Tae Kwon Do and kickboxing. As a little kid, she loved watching television shows such as The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Batman and Walker Texas Ranger, featuring Chuck Norris. After viewing these shows, Hannah would run around the house, mimicking various kicks, punches and combination moves. Years later, she would develop a love for such physical activity that also gives her a distinct identity as a yoga instructor.
Coming from kickboxing, Hannah was looking for something to supplement her martial arts practice. One day, a friend decided to invite her to a yoga class and after she took her first Vinyasa Flow class, she fell in love. Afterwards, Hannah took her first Hot Yoga class in December 2010 at the SunstoneFIT Preston Towne Crossing location in Plano.
Three years later, she decided to begin her yoga teacher training in June 2013. She enrolled in an eight-week intensive program, consisting of thirteen hours a day, Monday-Friday. Her training included: physical asanas, meditation, the history of yoga and anatomy and physiology. After completing the necessary requirements, Hannah graduated in August 2013 with her 500-hour RYT Certificate. Immediately following, she began teaching sequenced Power Flow classes at the PTC location.
When SunstoneFIT created a new class where instructors could create their own sequences, Hannah was a part of the first group that trained for these new classes. She says that she finds a distinct connection between martial arts and yoga. She feels that martial arts can easily connect with yoga because in marital arts, the focus is on moving efficiently with strength, but at the same time, finding a lightness in one’s motion. Yoga is like this concept.
She really enjoys teaching Power Flow classes and states it this way: “I love the freedom to be creative, but more than that, I love helping students surpass their previous limitations, while pushing themselves to new levels.”
Hannah’s exclusive style of teaching flow classes has brought a new depth to my practice because she is original in how she creates her sequences, always mixing them up. She pushes me to try new poses or arm balances, which gets me out of my comfort zone. She has taught me a few different variations of Crow, such as a Cross-legged Crow and Crow Pose form a Spinal Twist. I also learned how to do a modified version of Firefly Pose, another arm balance.
Hannah truly enjoys watching students get out of their comfort zones to try new things without worrying about the results. She cherishes each opportunity she gets to watch a student’s face when he/she nails a pose or accomplishes something the student did not think was possible.
“Due to an injury, my practice has been limited, but when I get to help students break barriers and further their practices, I feel like a part of me deepens my practice with them.”
Hatha and VinyasaYyoga classes have played an integral part in helping me develop a strong practice. Hot yoga allows me to detox and sweat out toxins. The class also provides comfort by giving me the chance to bend and stretch various bones and muscles and connects me to my breath, which helps alleviate any stress or discomfort.
Power Flow classes bring out my creative energy, promote open-mindedness to explore and help to keep my core strong and engaged. What I love most about taking this combination is the growth I continue to see within myself. Growth is important in all aspects of life because without it, a yogi cannot make the transitions necessary to tap into their truest potential.
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