Winter warmers: Hot Yoga Ibiza

Baby it’s cold outside… but it’s certainly warm in the studio at Hot Yoga Ibiza, where experienced Ibiza yoga instructor Sebastien Carincotte leads his dedicated students through a demanding series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises each day.

The practice of hot yoga is famous for its many benefits to the mind and body, from improving posture and spine alignment, pain relief, overall improvement in health and weight loss to improved concentration, energy levels, mental clarity and much more. Commonly known as Bikram yoga, in relation to its founder Bikram Choudhury, the 90-minute classes are suitable for all ages and levels of ability and Sebastien teaches each class half in English, half in Spanish to ensure all Ibiza residents and visitors can follow the sequence and enjoy the experience.

But we’ll be honest. On your first try, you’re going to find it hard. You might feel the temptation to leave the room. Bikram himself has even been known to refer to the steamy hot studio space as his ‘torture chamber’. You’re going to sweat – a lot. You’re going to use muscles you didn’t even know you had. Your mind will be telling you, ‘it’s too hard, it’s too hot, I can’t do this, I’m going to die,’ – but it’s all in the mind. Sebastien says if you can just manage to stay in the room for the first class, then you’re already on your way to experiencing the benefits of Hot Yoga.

Despite the initial struggle of your first session, there’s something strangely addictive about the practice of Hot Yoga. The challenge is as much mental as it is physical, and you’re going to want to get back in that studio and complete another class just as soon as you can. The sooner the better, according to Sebastien, who says it will take your body just four consecutive classes to become accustomed to the heat. Before you know it, what felt unbearable on day one, is a pleasant winter warming experience. Sebastien encourages new students to totally embrace the experience with a seven-day trial pass available for just 35€ to island residents and seasonal workers, explaining that you can’t judge the practice after just one class. “You need to listen to your body – after the first class, you will ache, but this is good. It’s your body changing with the practice. You will notice a big difference in the way you feel after one week,” he says. Keep up the practice for 30 or 60 days, and the physical benefits, in addition to the mental benefits, will be profound.

‘But I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible enough,’ says your mind. Wrong. “If you can breathe, you can do yoga,” says Sebastien, who believes that the pranayama (breathing exercises) are equally as important as the physical asanas (postures).  ‘But I don’t have the right clothes and equipment.’ Wrong again. All you need are some comfortable unrestricting clothing (whether you op for less-is-more loose fitting options or stretchy comfy fitted clothes is a matter of personal preference) and mats and towels can be included in the cost of your class (good news – no excess laundry and no need to lug a mat around all day). ‘But I don’t have the time.’ Oh stop it now – these are all excuses. Classes take place at different intervals through the day, so there is a session that is as suited to mums after the school run, busy office workers or night owls alike.

In addition to Hot Yoga, Sebastien also offers a variety of other classes to students, including the fast-paced, flowing Ashtanga Vinyasa Flow classes twice a week; the CORE 40 classes, a sequence of 40 therapeutic Hatha yoga postures practiced without heat, starting from your spine and working from the inside out to rejuvenate and care for your central nervous system created by Tony Sanchez, a former Bikram student. Finally, there is also Warm Hatha Yoga, a one-hour class that is a beginner’s level class designed around the principles of CORE 40 and Bikram, practiced in a mild heat.

Yoga is for every body and you can read Sebastien’s blog to hear the story’s of some of his students, or learn more about the history and philosophies of the practice. There’s no better time than right now to give it a try (it could be a Christmas treat to yourself or perhaps a New Year’s resolution!). If you think you’re not a natural born yogi, read the ‘Accidental Yogi’ blog on  Hot Yoga Ibiza website and follow the progress of one of Sebastien’s more reluctant students, who has recently embarked on a 30-day Hot Yoga challenge. And last but not least – it’s cold outside! What better reason than to take shelter in a toasty warm studio* in the heart of Ibiza?

*Ashtanga and CORE 40 classes are practiced without heat – but your body heat will keep you warm from the first minute of practice!