As Third Space becomes the first London gym to open a dedicated hot yoga studio, we ask master trainer David Lefebvre Sell why working up a sweat appeals to so many.
Do you have to be a celebrity to practice hot yoga?
Not at all. Yoga really is for everyone. Hot yoga has become a trend of late, but it is really the growth of yoga in general that is impressive. I am seeing more people turn up to my classes every week, especially men. There are many aspects of yoga that are an antidote to modern life: for people who lead busy, stressful lives, it offers balance and time out as well as huge benefits for people who train hard.
How does the heat help?
Hot yoga allows people to experience a slightly more intense practice than a regular class. It’s aimed at people who want to progress with their strength and flexibility. Our juniper log studio is heated to around 32 degrees, so it is pleasantly warm rather than stifflingly hot. The warmth allows the body to move a little more deeply into postures. Working in a heated room also elevates the heart rate and makes the body work harder. For many, just being in a hot room feels good, they actually like the sensation of sweating. I realise it’s not for everyone, but lots of people feel elated afterwards.
How does hot yoga differ from Bikram?
A bikram yoga class is typically much hotter – around 40 degrees – and the sequence is the made up of same 26 gruelling postures. At Third Space we focus on making the experience more palatable. Our instructors offer a different sequence each time, based on the Vinyasa flow postures. We believe our method offers a more balanced and pleasurable workout than bikram.
What are the physical benefits of hot yoga?
Hot yoga, like all yoga, helps increase body strength and flexibility. However the heat is also known to aid relaxation, improve breathing (which helps conditions like asthma) and focus the mind, developing better mental concentration.
Why is it important to have a dedicated hot yoga studio at Third Space?
I am very passionate about creating a proper yoga experience here. The yoga on offer in most gyms is always compromised. It could be background noise that disturbs the class, or the equipment isn’t quite right. We wanted to make sure our yoga practitioners had everything they needed to enjoy the best possible class.
Any tips for first timers?
Immerse yourself wholeheartedly in the experience. I see so many people fidgeting with their towels, sipping on water every five minutes or adjusting their costumes. The trick is to empty your mind and to focus on your body. Many find the sensation of heat a nurturing experience. Try and embrace that.
David Lefebvre Sell has been teaching Hatha and Power yoga since 1999. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, David is also a qualified psychotherapist. He offers counselling in Greenwich and Central London.