I Tried Infrared Yoga: Here’s What Happened
I think I have pretty relatable wellness goals—I'm not training for a triathlon but I would like my butt to point upward and my heart to carry me through a substantial retirement. I'm therefore willing to try any new fitness craze that promises results, even if it means microwaving myself in a yoga studio.
What Is Infrared Yoga?
The hipper younger sister of hot yoga is practiced in a room heated by infrared technology. Rather than blasting steamy air at you (like a typical hot yoga studio), the heaters actually warm you on a molecular level, from the inside out. The difference is meant to provide benefits like increased blood flow, intense detoxification and digestion stimulation in addition to boosting your metabolism and burning calories at an alarming rate. I'm sold.
My First Class
Infrared yoga studios are popping up all over the country. I chose Y7 Studio in West Hollywood because they use music as an integral part of the practice—chart-topping hip-hop to be specific. I arrive, nervously stash my bag in a locker and try not to recall the countless yoga classes I've bolted from midway thanks to mild claustrophobia and a propensity for anxiety attacks. I settle into a safe dark corner and wait in the dim candlelight. After 25 other bodies (including five man buns) have assembled, our instructor, David, emerges and the class begins. A few verses of The Weeknd accompany our warm-up before he saunters toward me to crank up the infrared, which is when I realize I've positioned myself directly in front of a heater.
"I try to ignore the suspicion that our instructor has actually lured us here to cook us and eat us."
My sun salutations turn into Hail Marys as I feel my knuckles start to sweat, and I pray desperately that my sweat-wicking leggings will live up to their reputation. Thirty minutes later I'm on the verge of fainting, using every chorus as an excuse to return to child's pose. I'm clearly not alone; multiple attendees are also struggling, which is equal parts comforting and terrifying. I try to ignore the suspicion that David has actually lured us here to cook us and eat us. We push through a few more fast-paced poses as he shouts over Kanye West, "I reserve this playlist for the extra hard workers!" I'll admit the pumping music does help motivate if not distract you. The only thing stopping me from singing along is the fear of imminent death.
Yes, I Survived
It was touch and go for a while, but I did make it through the class without passing out and felt a tremendous rush of endorphins as I left. It's incredibly intense in the moment, but the poses in the vinyasa class are beginner level, so the struggle is mainly against the heat. You sweat out everything—which feels great and makes your skin glow—and thanks to the loud music and dim lighting you never feel self-conscious. I noticed a lot of my muscle and joint aches eased, and I slept like a baby that night.
Is It Worth Trying?
Yes. If you're anything like me, fitting in a workout is challenge enough, so it had better yield results in a short period of time. After only a few classes I feel more flexible, energized and in tune with my body, my skin is clearer and a lot of my omnipresent muscle tension has subsided. While I still rely on a barre class or two to tone my core, the combination of detox, endurance and cardio I get from the infrared practice has finally whipped me into shape and gotten me into a regular workout schedule. And yes, gangsta rap made me do it.