There was a time when I would go to two or three yoga classes a week. I’d practice most days at home. I became a yoga teacher. And then I had three children in just over four years, and although I still teach a regular weekly class, my own yoga practice was really suffering.
These last few months, I’ve made a real effort to carve out more time for yoga every day – because I know I feel so much better physically, emotionally and mentally when I practice regularly. Making sure I get on my mat, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day, gives me more focus, clarity and patience for family life. Because as much as I love my children to bits, some days are challenging to say the least, and yoga helps me cope with that.
So when the lovely people at Hotpod Yoga Cardiff invited me along to be one of the first people to try out their new yoga classes, I was keen to give it a go.
Hotpod Yoga originated in London in 2013 and takes place inside an inflatable pop-up structure. The classes are an hour-long vinyasa flow sequence (where poses are linked together and you’re continually moving), following a set routine, but with room for the teacher to adapt to suit the class. The semi-darkness of the purple and black pod, and its cocoon-like feel, creates a lovely nurturing ambience, enhanced by the chill-out music playing in the background.
Portable heaters mean the pod is 37 degrees, with the warmth meaning your heart and lungs work harder, and of course you work up a sweat. Mats are provided, although you are welcome to bring your own. You’ll need to bring a small towel though, and a bottle of water.
I’m the first to admit, I’ve not been the biggest fan of hot yoga. It’s a bit like Marmite in that people either seem to love it or hate it. However, it’s been a few years since I’ve practised in the heat though and yoga teaches us to be flexible in mind as well as body, so I was happy to give it another go.
I’m glad I did – because I loved it. I did find the heat a little stifling at times, but every time it got too much we seemed to slow down to some calmer poses, which gave me time to recharge.
Hotpod Yoga has been brought to Cardiff by Aaron Cousins and his wife Liz. I first met Aaron 10 years ago when we both studied on a yoga training programme together. Since then he’s become one of the most popular yoga teachers in Cardiff, teaching a style he calls Ashtanga Infusion. It’s a strong and dynamic flowing style of yoga – and I was worried the Hotpod classes might be too intense for me, because despite the fact I’ve practised yoga for 15 years, I know that my baby years have impacted my yoga ability. It’s coming back, but there are poses I used to do with ease that I’m still working on.
There were challenging elements to the class – but it was suitable for all levels (although a degree of physical ability is needed). The two ladies sat either side of me were both new to yoga, having only been to a couple of classes previously, and they did brilliantly. Yoga teaches us not to think competitively, but to focus on what’s right for us at this present moment – and there are always different variations of poses, suitable for different abilities, as well as the option to sit out anything you are not comfortable with.
As a yoga teacher myself, I know a lot of people worry before they go to a class for the first time that they will not br as good as everyone else, or that they are not flexible enough, or strong enough. You don’t have to be flexible or strong to do yoga – because that’s what yoga will help you to gain through regular practice. Personally, I’ve found the Cardiff yoga community to be incredibly friendly and welcoming and it has grown so much over the last 10 years or to include so many different teachers offering so many different styles.
The special introductory Hotpod Yoga Cardiff classes took place in The Gate arts centre on Keppoch Street – although the pod will soon be offering regular classes at Cardiff Central Youth Club. And due to its portable nature, you never quite know where it might pop up next!
You can also follow my Yoga Sundays (Cardiff) page here, for details of my classes.