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Once I realized that I started focusing more on how I can make myself better and accomplish things that I couldn't accomplish on day one. (Sarah Marcella Photography)

30 Day Hot Yoga Challenge: I came, I saw, I conquered!

I have completed my 30-day hot yoga challenge at Mind the Mat Del Ray, which basically turned into a hot pilates challenge because I fell in love with hot pilates in the process. I will start off by saying if you can do a headstand without practice or go from a crow position to a chaturanga simply by just floating through the air, I do not like you because you are not human.

When I went to my first hot yoga class, I was a little intimidated by the amount of people who showed up decked out in their Lululemon gear, ready to sweat, but I quickly realized there is always someone in class who is a bad as you -- thank goodness.

Once I realized that I started focusing more on how I can make myself better and accomplish things that I couldn't accomplish on day one. In the last 30 days, I have taken 14 hot pilates and hot yoga classes and I have seen not major, but minor improvements in my flexibility, core strength and my triceps and bicep definition. Also, if you have bad anxiety or are stressed out about something, hot yoga is the perfect way to sweat it out and forget about it.

Here is a breakdown of what I learned during my challenge:

Week one:

  • I thought I could take kickboxing on the same day I took hot pilates. Quickly did I learn never to do that again.
  • I liked hot yoga, but hot pilates was where it was at!
  • If you don't drink enough water before, during, and after class, you will get a very bad headache.
  • My core was not as strong as I thought it was.
  • The instructors at Mind the Mat will help you into the right position if your form is wrong. (They do not care that you are covered in sweat)

Week two:

  • Pilates and yoga are all about the core.
  • C-curve position became second nature.
  • Pulsing and repetition in pilates will literally make your muscles scream. (But, it's so worth it -- think Michelle Obama arms)
  • Never be embarrassed to move into child's pose.
  • You must listen to your body. If you can't do a certain pose, try the modified pose.
  • After a long day at work or getting up for a 6 a.m. class, Shavasana is the best thing that could happen.

Week three:

  • Practice will make you better, not perfect, but better.
  • I could feel and see more definition in my arms and back muscles. (Apparently having toned back muscles is the new six-pack)
  • If you take Megan Brown's hot pilates class it will feel like you are in a dance club and she WILL call you out if you are not pushing yourself. (Her class was my favorite)
  • Breathing patterns are SO important and will help you get through class.
  • Finally figured out how to correctly do a pilates bridge. It's a lot of pushing in, pushing out and squeezing things that you didn't know could be squeezed.

Week four:

  • Realized why my neck was killing me at the end of every class... I was not gently resting my head in my hands correctly.
  • Looked in the mirror and thought "hmmm.. maybe this is working."
  • Improved balance in yoga class.
  • Improved stamina in pilates class.
  • Feelings of sadness when I realized my challenge was over :(

Now, if you are still reading this and questioning whether or not you want to try out a hot yoga or pilates class, I would say you should absolutely give it a shot! Not only will you see improvements mentally, but if you are consistent you can expect to see physical improvements as well.

Personally, I love getting my heart rate up with cardio based workouts like boxing or cycling, so continuing on I will likely add hot pilates into my schedule on days when I just don't feel like having a high-intensity cardio workout... because we all have those days.

If you or someone you know would like to take a class at Mind the Mind, click here.