by guest author & freelance writer Hazel Slade
In my early twenties, the only place you would have found me sweating profusely in a room full of people while twisting my body into unusual positions followed by swigging back a green coloured liquid, would have been in a club on a Saturday night.
But now, just weeks away from my 31st birthday, I find myself doing exactly this…. but, this time around, for an entirely different reason.
On Monday, January 23, I will tackle my post-Christmas slump by launching myself into a 40 day Hot Yoga and Green Juice challenge at Hot Yoga Wellington.
This may sound like a massive feat. And it is, I am not denying that. But the concept is simple.
For almost six weeks I will aim to attend 30 yoga classes – that’s an average of five a week – at the Hot Yoga studio.
Opened by husband and wife instructors Claire Szabo-Cassella and Lou Cassella three years ago, the Wellington studio is one of three hot yoga studios created by the pair in a bid to bring this style of yoga practice to New Zealand.
Now I am not new to yoga. I fell in love with it a few years ago. However, when I proudly told Claire I was no newbie, she kindly informed me that you are actually considered a beginner in Yoga for the first 20 years of your practice.
Wow… and there was me thinking I was quite advanced.
For the past few years I have practiced Vinyasa Flow. Keen to try new things, I dabbled in the sweltering practice of Bikram Yoga for a few months while living in London, but found the rigidity of it wasn’t for me. What I did enjoy was the heat.
So imagine my joy when I moved across the pond to ‘Welly’ a couple of months ago and found a hot yoga studio right in the heart of the city. Little did I know within weeks of arriving I would be signed up to spend a month-and-a-half in this warm hearted studio.
When undertaking the 40 day challenge was first suggested to me, I was apprehensive. Petrified even! As much as I love yoga, committing to practising five times a week overwhelmed me. How would my body and mind cope with such a huge change in lifestyle? And would I come out the other end never wanting to practice again?
But a chat with Claire and a sample class at the studio – where I got to try all three types of yoga they offer in one hit – reassured me.
This was going to be an adventure into my mind, body and soul. And, luckily for me, Claire and Lou would be right by my side to guide me through.
For 40 days, I will take my pick of Power Vinyasa, Yin and Hot Yoga classes, ranging from 60 to 90 minutes long, in temperatures up to 38 degrees Celsius.
But the fun doesn’t end there.
I also have the chance to take part in a plethora of workshops and treatments offered alongside the challenge, in a bid to further enhance my experience.
Plus, as some of you may remember at the beginning I said this was a Yoga AND Green Smoothie Challenge. As if the classes, workshops and treatment weren’t enough goodness for my little body, I will also be consuming a delicious green smoothie after every practice to give me a boost from the inside out.
Produced by fellow yogi and Wellington-based businesswoman Janelle Clarke’s company Green Juice Inc, the bursts of vitamin goodness is supposed to be the perfect complement to the regular yoga classes. Before Janelle provided them, Claire used to recommend students make their own smoothie at home during the challenge. But with my blending skills, which make fruits look more like mush than fresh, I am glad Janelle is handling this part for me.
I have to admit, while I am expecting a mixture of pain and pleasure from the yoga, I am anticipating just pleasure and more pleasure from the smoothies.
The smoothies are made up of a mixture of leafy greens and seasonal fruit – and each day is a like a lucky dip, as you don’t know what you are going to get.
“As your body gets used to it, you begin to need more of the greens and less of the fruit,” Janelle explains. And apart from my own delight, the physical benefits of swallowing this wonderful liquid include weight loss, improved digestion and better concentration. My fingers are crossed it does what it says on the box.
I should probably finish off by explaining what I would like to see come out of this challenge -my personal goals – which Claire says are vital to this undertaking.
As a writer I spend an unimaginably large amount of time hunched up over a computer. On top of that my life has always consisted of deadline, after deadline, after deadline. And my body and spirit have often been neglected in place of my work life.
When I told Claire that I would have to fit the yoga around my working day, she looked very amused.
“It’s funny,” the former corporate dog smiled, “I fit my day around my yoga.”
And that sentence pretty much sums up my goal.
I would like to share Claire’s much more balanced outlook on life. To learn more about my body, relax and become energised. Oh and a flat tummy wouldn’t go amiss either.
So, I am ready to take the plunge into the hot yoga and smoothie world. And over the next few weeks, I’ll regularly be sharing my adventures with the Yoga Lunchbox. Stay tuned to see where I resurface.
More on Hazel Slade:
Hazel is a freelance writer who believes that the written word has the power to move mountains.
Growing up in England, Hazel spent many years working as a writer and journalist, before bringing her love for the written word to New Zealand.
Hazel discovered a love for all things Yogi almost five years ago while living in London, but she has never undergone such an immense undertaking as the 40-day challenge.
She’s hoping to combine her passion of yoga and writing for a truly enriching experience for both herself and her readers.
More on Hot Yoga’s 40-Day Challenge:
Held twice a year, a Hot Yoga 40-Day Challenge is a personal commitment to 5 yoga classes a week with 5 minutes of quiet time each session. A daily green smoothie and attendance at special Hot Yoga events expand the Challenge experience. Students discover the power that comes with a sustained yoga practice. Check out Hot Yoga’s website to find out when the next challenge starts.