Thursday, March 15, 2012

FITNESS : Ooooh, It's Getting HOT in Here

Sweat baby sweat baby…
Trying to find relaxation, for me at least, is comparable to working out hungover; it's miserable until it clicks, and then.... (well, you have to read my article to find out the "and then"!)....

I didn't think that I'd ever be able to release all the tension in my body, despite all the ocean wave sound tracks and deep breathing exercises. At a certain point I gave up, blaming it on genetics (aren’t Jews naturally tense people…oy vay! The stress of schlepping?). And then, one day, I finally tried “hot yoga” (Bikram Yoga)! This consists of adjusting into poses named after animals you usually have no contact with, in a room of 20 people, which is heated to about 500 degrees. And after I got over my fear of dying from cardiac arrest? I really enjoyed it. And then, I relaxed. Yes! It's true. I, Samantha Salis, relaxed.

The class consisted of everything from stretches to abdominal workouts to light weight lifting. There is something about the heat that serves as a catalyst, melding you into positions you that would normally seem unimaginable. The heat turns your body to putty-- it's amazing, the flexibility you achieve. Not only are you stretching out neglected muscles, but boy are you sweating some bad things out of your body! I thought of myself as a wet towel being rung out, sweating out cheap vodka, gross preservatives, and whatever else was bullying in my liver. Your instructor will preach positive attitudes and mantras for living a happy and healthy life ('Your body is your temple. Now Reach. Namaste. Om'), and you will be sweating, thinking, "why did I ever listen to Samantha f****** Salis." And then? And then, you will be able to feel it. You will actually feel as though you are starting the day anew, body and mind cleansed, purified, and so flexible. All I needed now was about 6 showers afterward. Ladies (and gentleman), however many showers, it is worth it.

Throughout the rest of the day, and some days proceeding even, my body could move with ease and much more fluidly. I was more energized, and my skin looked great! I loved knowing that I was actually doing something positive for my body in its entirety: my muscles were becoming longer and leaner, my tension was being released, and my body was excreting harmful toxins and chemicals. In my crazy days of constant movement and productivity, it felt so nice to have an hour set aside simply for the benefit of me.
I became addicted to hot yoga. I was Lululemon from head to toe, running through the parking lot so that I wouldn't miss minute of Bikram yoga.

My advice to you this rainy Friday day? Get over any fears you may have of changing up your exercise routine (or maybe starting it in the first place). Varying exercise is good for you. If you work out the same way, your muscles get used to it, and in no time at all, you aren't exerting yourself enough to call it a good workout. Plus, by varying your exercises? You workout every muscle, not just the ones your worried about or know how to train. 

Hot yoga studios are popping up all over like frozen yogurt chains. The only limits you are likely to have accessing a hot yoga class are those you place on yourself. Even money isn't an issue: Yoga to the People! It's free, people! Make a donation to be kind and show your appreciation, sure, but it is technically free.
Here is some advice for your first hot yoga class:
·      Bring at least one large towel and one hand towel. You will want to put the large towel on top of your mat so you don’t slide around.
·      Drink a lot of water before and after. Obviously have a bottle of water at the class as well.
·      Go with a friend! Trust me its really fun to make pained faces at one another or laugh at him/her when he is rocking back and forth in “happy baby”
·      Wear tightly fitting clothing (Trust me, you will be much more comfortable in the positions. Also loose wet clothing will just make you hotter.)
·      Don’t be self conscious of your sweating. Everyone is going to be coming out of the class drenched, and there is bound to be someone grosser than you (let’s hope).
Good luck!

If a cat can do it? Ladies (and gentleman), so can you... !
The Woman Behind the Fitness Section:
Samantha Salis is a Psychology Major and Political Economy Minor at UC Berkeley. She is a dedicated young woman, ambitious and sharp as a whip. Our dear Samantha tutors high schoolers and works at a Psychology lab at UC Berkeley. Even with this busy schedule, Ms. Salis creates the time to divulge to us her passion about the fitness and health of women, and is (fortunately for us) very well informed on these topics. Enjoy!

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