How Hot Yoga Changed My Life
Many people start yoga for the purpose of assisting in rehabilitation or prevention of injury from all of the other activities they love. However it's when you really open up and allow the practice to consume you, that you'll notice a change in your attitude towards the practice and end up making IT the priority.
Gail Absell, co-owner of Upstate Yoga, first started practicing hot yoga to relieve the pain from bulged discs and scoliosis, something she'd been dealing with for a very long time. This led to a love affair with Bikram Yoga which turned into a teaching qualification, which turned into owning two studios with her sister. She literally fell in love with the practice and wanted to be able to share it with others!
"I had never heard of Bikram Yoga the day I did my first class," said Gail. "I saw people heading up the stairs at the Richmond studio with their mats and just decided to give it a go. I didn't even realise it was hot yoga – let alone 40 degrees."
"The combination of a physically challenging class, the focus on stillness and breathe and the release of physical pain had me hooked right from the beginning," said Gail. "From the first week of starting Bikram Yoga I noticed improvements. Within 6 months there was a notable difference in my posture, less rounding in my shoulders, standing taller and straighter."
After she committed to practicing five times a week she felt like there was still a lot to learn. She did her Bikram Yoga teacher training 10 years ago to learn more and become better but never anticipated leaving her senior role in a corporate company, which she'd worked so hard to achieve. However, it was after she taught her first class, that she realised that this was her calling. "I loved the energy, the opportunity to help other people and to share the benefits of yoga was overwhelming," said Gail.
Hot Yoga is more of a broader term that literally means yoga in a heated room. It has all the amazing benefits of a heated practice however it offers variety unlike Bikram which is a set sequence of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. Although Gail's practice stemmed from Bikram, she has now moved into other types of yoga and pilates teaching.
Hot Yoga offers different benefits for different people, depending on what your body needs. Whether it be flexibility, strength, balance, release, mental focus or clarity. "Expect to be challenged physically and mentally, to sweat (its such a great detox for your body) and to walk out feeling amazing," said Gail. "Have fun, don’t take yourself too seriously and don’t worry about how you start."
"Not only have my sister and I experienced amazing results (she also suffers from the same spine degeneration), I have seen people transform," said Gail. "Most people loose weight, leaner longer muscles form, their posture improves and improvements in arthritis is common. The biggest change I notice and love to see is the mental changes. Practicing yoga is amazing for mental health, stress and anxiety."
Within 7 years, Upstate Yoga has expanded from their first studio in Geelong to now include a stunning second studio in Torquay offering a wide range of yoga and pilates classes as well as an athletic apparel store. "Teaching is the greatest gift, our students inspire me in my own practice," said Gail. "We love fostering a culture of positivity and gratitude and sharing our love of yoga in the community. We want people to live happy, healthy, lives and we think yoga, positivity and connection is the way to achieve that."