Practice or Theory?
Results in hot temps
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 21:10
There isn’t anything about John McFeely’s yoga studio that says hot.
The elongated rectangular room has a cool, dark blue carpet; white walls; frosted windows and a wall of mirrors that helps the white light bounce around the room.
While the studio says cool, the six large space heaters that hang from freshly-painted walls and glow deep orange scream hot. The room averages 105 degrees.
When McFeely enters the room, his students are already sweating from lightly stretching on their yoga mats. He walks to the front, his back to the mirrors and begins his teaching.
From there, the heat is on.
McFeely recently opened Hot Yoga at 1 Broad St., and offers daily — you guessed it — hot yoga classes. The idea behind the exercise is simple: detoxification of the body through deep breathing and blood flow manipulation.
The science behind it is more complicated.
McFeely, the studio’s director, teaches vasodilatation, which occurs when the heat of the room opens up the veins. From there, yoga poses help joints move in directions McFeely said they normally wouldn’t. Those poses also act as tourniquets, restricting the blood flow. This causes students to feel pins and needles in their arms, hands, legs and feet as they come out of the poses, which allows the blood to freely flow again.
McFeely said hot yoga rose to popularity in the United States during the Nixon presidency, when yoga guru Bikram Choudhury helped Richard Nixon with a leg problem during a visit to Asia. Cured, Nixon offered Choudhury a visa to start a yoga studio in Los Angeles.
From there Choudhury established the Bikram Yoga brand, which McFeely studied in Los Angeles before opening his first studio in Carle Place, N.Y. He and a partner opened another studio in Smithtown, N.Y. before McFeely went north to live in Lake Placid, where he opened a studio two years ago.
He officially opened the Broad Street location Oct. 13 with the idea that he might be able to attract more business in a college town.
Dakota Flynn is among the few college students who take the classes. Flynn, who is originally from Lake Placid and now attends Clinton Community College, has been taking the classes for two years. She said the experience is relaxing.
“Everything you have to worry about, you don’t,” she said. “It’s a second to escape from reality.”
McFeely said he is preparing to begin taking Cardinal Cash for the $12 classes, a $3 student-discount off the regular $15 price. He also offers a 10-day, $100 unlimited class package and said he has plans to hold student-only off-hour classes for $8.
Though the price for 10 classes is more expensive than the Plattsburgh State Fitness Center fee, practicing hot yoga may be worth the price.
“When you go to the gym, it’s crazy. Here, it’s like you’re in your own little world,” said Megan Briddell, who graduated with her master’s degree in special education from PSUC last summer.
Briddell, who was at her first yoga class of any kind Wednesday, said the proximity to campus and the relatively small class size are also positives.
At Wednesday’s class, roughly 20 people filled the room and created enough extra heat that McFeely sporadically cracked the windows to regulate the temperature.
The 90-minute class was split between standing poses (such as Dandayamanan-Dhanurasana, or Standing Bow Pulling Pose) and floor poses (such as Bhunangasana, or Cobra Pose). After only a few poses, the people in the class, three of whom were men and most of whom were 30 or older, looked like they had taken a dip in the pool at Memorial Hall.
As sweat steadily dripped from their faces onto their yoga mats, McFeely instructed his students how to keep their spines aligned, breathe and stretch to increase blood flow before cutting it off again.
At the end of the class, McFeely shut off the lights and instructed students to lay on their mats and focus on their breathing, looking straight up toward a point on the ceiling and letting the Indian music that had been playing softly throughout the class waft over them.
Though McFeely said first-time students often get lightheaded or nauseous during some of the poses, all participants at Wednesday’s class made it through, and McFeely encouraged them to return. He said those who plan to try out a class should do the same because nausea and faintness are part of the detox that occurs over the course of a few classes.
“Some people say, ‘Oh God, I feel horrible. I want to throw up,’” McFeely said. “Others say it feels so great.”
Though long past her detoxification phase, Flynn said students should give the classes a go because regardless of how the detox process feels, it’s a good workout.