Eleven years ago I wrote about the newly opened Bikram Yoga Studio on H Street NE. Bikram Yoga was the latest craze that migrated here from the west coast. The classes were hot (105 degrees) and crowded with sparsely-clad yogis. I struggled through the 26 Hatha yoga postures and two breathing exercises feeling elated that I completed the class without passing out. No matter which class one attended participants were guaranteed to get the same postures in the same order every time.
These days you can still get your Bikram yoga fix on H Street, the 90-minute series crafted by Bikram Choudhury more than 30 years ago, but you can get so much more at the newly named studio, Hot Yoga Capitol Hill.
“Our Bikram-style class is the base but we now have Vinyasa classes (flow), yoga nidra (one hour meditation) and restorative yoga (it’s in a warm room but not hot),” said Lara Atella, the co-owner of the studio who joined forces last year with the studio’s original owner Elizabeth Glover.
Lara first practiced at the studio for a year, then became a teacher seven years ago. Before becoming a co-owner she was a neuro-behavioral scientist at Johns Hopkins and National Institute of Health. One of the new programs at Hot Yoga Capitol Hill is her brainchild – Body Composition and Fitness Assessments – and it is one of the best deals in town. “We’d like you to be your own health guru,” explained Lara. “We give people on idea of where they are and want them to use the information to take more responsibility for their own health.” The assessment provides you with detailed, quantifiable information about your current body composition, flexibility and tissue health that you can track over time. Body composition numbers include percentage of body fat, metabolic rate, blood pressure, heart rate, flexibility. A post assessment consultation is also included.
Another new offering at Hot Yoga is a “Hot Pilates” class. “It’s a high-intensity Pilates-inspired workout in a room about 90 degrees,” said Lara. They’ve also got a hip yoga class – Club Yoga (happy hour yoga on Fridays at 6 p.m.) with music and lights. If that’s too calm for you try “Glowga.” Lara explains. “On the last Friday of every month we offer a hot yoga class with black lights. By changing lights it changes where you perceive yourself in the room. Research has shown that by changing proprioception new neuro pathways are created in the brain and body. The class is also a lot of fun!”
Another offering, ‘Barrelates’ is a combination of classic Barre work and hot Pilates.
Programs for Children
Yoganastics is a class where kids ages 5 to 8 can learn gymnastics and age-appropriate yoga stretching and postures, mindfulness and meditation. Children can also acquire a sense of how the mind and body are connected and improve their proprioception.
Hot Yoga also has a non-heated yoga class for children 2 to 7. Parents can participate in the class as well.
Hot Yoga prides itself on its comprehensive work/study program. Work Study students help make Hot Yoga a very special place to practice yoga. Work Study was created to help those with difficult financial situations and/or students who are planning to attend Teacher Training. Students in the program are able to attend unlimited yoga classes.
Hot Yoga reaches out to members in the community in creative and innovative ways. “We have pot-luck dinners. We have movie nights for kids where parents can drop off their children and have a date night. We also have adult movie nights. Often families come with pillows.”
“In the spring we will have a party at a night club. We rent space, dance and have fun together.”
In what is perhaps the most unconventional activity Hot Yoga offers is their collaboration with One Breath At A Time, an organization that combines effective teachings of yoga, mindfulness, stress reduction techniques, breath work, and present moment awareness into every interaction for children and adults attending its programs.
Hot Yoga Capitol Hill and One Breath At A Time will once again hold a Women’s Empowerment Forum which uses yoga and mindfulness to help underserved women and their children in the community. The forum is free of charge and will serve as an educational and inspirational platform for holistic wellness and empowerment.
Next month Lara and another instructor will be taking a group of yogis on a return retreat to Casa Om in Puerto Morelos, Mexico. The trip includes two hot yoga classes daily, meals prepared by a master chef, hot Pilates and relaxing on the beach.
For more information on programs at Hot Yoga Capitol Hill visit the website: www.hotyogacapitolhill.com.
Pattie Cinelli is a holistic personal trainer who has been writing her columns on leading edge health and fitness topics and practitioners for more than 25 years. Email her questions or comments to: [email protected]