Looking to work up a good sweat?
You can do that ... in yoga class.
Kristina Reese and other instructors teach hot-yoga classes at Mettler Center in Champaign.
"The heated yoga is kind of a novelty experience," she said, adding that the idea is that the heat will make the body more flexible and help flush waste products from the body through sweating.
"If you enjoy being in a sauna or being in a steam room and actively seek out being hot, it can be a really good experience," Reese said. "As your muscles warm up, you can really feel that deepening of your stretches. Stretches that didn't seem as attainable, as you relax into it, can be more effective and possible."
Molly Pankau of Urbana tried a hot-yoga class this summer for the first time.
"It intrigued me," she said.
Pankau also wanted to add the stretching of a yoga class to the physical therapy she's been doing for plantar fasciitis (in which the plantar fascia or ligament on the bottom of the foot is inflamed).
"The benefits of the heat and the loosening of my muscles were the main reasons I went with the hot" yoga, she said. "I felt my muscles were so tight, I needed the extra stretching. I did notice a big difference in how much farther I could stretch."
Mettler has been offering hot-yoga classes for the past year, and it's proven to be popular, said Joy Sheehan, manager of membership, fitness and wellness and the group fitness coordinator.
The class is not the same as Bikram yoga, a specific sequence of 26 poses done in a studio heated to 105 degrees. Mettler's hot-yoga class is yoga done in a studio heated to 95 degrees.
"Once you get bodies in there, it heats up a little bit more. That's hot enough," Sheehan said.
"People love it in the winter. But, she said, "to do those poses in the heat like that, it's not for everyone. You have to know your fitness level."
Sheehan and Reese said yoga-class members are encouraged to drink water before, during and after the class to stay hydrated. Reese said anyone who feels as though he or she is overheating is encouraged to sit down or get into a restful yoga pose.
But Pankau said the extra heat in the room didn't bother her.
"It wasn't near as intense heatwise as I thought it would be. Your body adjusts pretty quickly to it," she said.
Reese said she also cautions class members against pushing too far by overstretching their muscles. It shouldn't hurt, after all.
"I definitely always encourage people, not just in hot yoga but all yoga, it's about finding your own comfort level and abilities. You can't 'win' yoga," Reese said. "The whole philosophy of yoga really encourages listening to your body."
Another aspect of the class Reese likes is that the lights are dimmed throughout. She believes it is less distracting.
"I think that low lighting encourages people to be in their own personal practice and not have the tendency to look around and see, 'How are they doing this? What do they look like doing this?'" she said.
Those interested in hot yoga don't need to be a member of the Mettler Center to sign up for a class. It is offered in six-week sessions, with another session beginning the week of Sept. 16. Classes are offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays. Those interested in trying it out can do so at a free class from 5:45 to 6:45 p.m. Friday at Mettler's open house.
Jodi Heckel, News-Gazette magazine editor, is a runner, swimmer and occasional triathlete. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her at twitter.com/jodiheckel. Her blog is at http://www.news-gazette.com/blogs/starting-line/.