Monday, 11 March 2013

Moksha Yoga - One Newbie's Heavenly Hour

In my continuing quest to improve my flexibility and decrease the soreness I was feeling in my legs after Saturday's long run, today I tried another hot yoga class. This time I visited Moksha Yoga in Barrie. I was a little late for a morning class, but luckily Moksha has an abundance of time slots available as well as a variety of class types. Being a beginner, I chose to start with a basic one-hour Moksha class that was offered at noon.

Because I had dropped by the studio in plenty of time before the noon class I was able to chat with Sarah at the front desk, who cheerfully and efficiently got me registered in no time at all. Like Bikram, Moksha offers new students one month of unlimited classes for $40.00. It's a great deal and really allows you to get a feel for the studio and the different types of yoga classes offered. Moksha offers level one and level two classes and several variations ("Moksha Mix," Moksha Flow" and "Yang Yin Moksha"), Hot Pilates, Yin Yoga and even a dance fitness class called "Body Groove."

As recommended, I arrived about 20 minutes before the Moksha class began. I met a few beginners like myself and also spoke with a regular student, who, like myself, is a long distance runner. Many students (the seasoned veterans, no doubt) took these few minutes before class to get settled into Savasana (the relaxing "corpse pose"), take a few cleansing breaths, and get acclimatized.Conversely, after unrolling my mat and towel in the studio, I quickly left it again for the coolness of the hallway with my fellow newbies, clinging to the "normal" air temperature for as long as I could before diving in to, well, India on a cool day?

Finally, I entered through the studio doors again into the "quiet zone," and found my place on my mat. The radiant-heated room, comfortably large and airy, was dimly lit with a mirrored wall along one side. It felt wonderfully warm and inviting (not stifling) and lovely peaceful music was playing on low volume. A single candle burned alongside the mirror at the wall's centre. This, I soon learned, was the base from which our instructor, Lisa, would often meander during class, ensuring everyone was getting the most out of the postures through gentle guidance and encouragement.

Interestingly, although I felt warm, I did not feel dizzy this time, or nauseous. For me, I think this pace felt a little better. The Moksha movements, while challenging, were accomplished quite slowly and steadily and felt very manageable for a rather stiff newcomer like myself. I was able to gently push myself deeper into many poses, without feeling rushed. The first half of the class we worked on postures that required us to stand, while the second half of the class was devoted to ones where we remained seated or stretched out on our mat. Lisa reminded us to take clarifying breaths throughout, and had a positive, spirited way about her that seemed to encourage one to find the gratitude in the moment: to quiet our wandering minds. By the end of the class (an hour is the perfect length of time for me), I was pleasantly drenched in sweat but did not feel the need to hurry from the room. I took Lisa's advice and stayed in Savasana for a little while before quietly leaving the room.

What I have noticed already, since returning home, is a big change in the way my legs are feeling. Since Saturday's 25 kilometre training run, I was walking around like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. My quadriceps were achy and sore and my ankles felt stiff. That has all gone away. I feel fantastic. Oh what a little heat and an hour's worth of gentle stretching and "opening" can accomplish! I think I may be hooked.

If you've ever been curious about hot yoga, I recommend giving it a try. Check out the the different studios close to your home and talk to the teachers about what types of classes they offer. See if they have special introductory rates for newcomers. Find the one that resonates best with you and your schedule. Read testimonials (Moksha offers up some testimonials on their web site). If budget is a concern, the two studios I have visited in Barrie both offer Karma classes every Friday night where you can take in a class for a minimum $7 cash donation, which gets donated right back to local charities.

To find out more about Moksha Yoga Barrie visit their web site at You can sign up for classes online, or you can drop by their studio at 411 Huronia Road, Unit 6, Barrie. (Shoppers be forewarned: the boutique-like front foyer sells yoga apparel and accessories galore!) 

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