Positive vibes during crazy times.
With many individuals not having the ability to, or choosing not to, participate in team sports there has been a silent cry being heard for a new way to maintain one’s fitness. As a result many people have been turning to the practice of yoga to fulfill this need. I had the opportunity to speak with the owner of the North Oxygen Yoga Studio, Rachel, about her motivation for opening the studio a few years ago and the benefits that come along with her studio.
Originally discovering the franchise when she lived in British Columbia, Rachel had fallen in love with the unique environment that the company offered. Not only do they offer yoga classes but they also have various fusion fitness classes for members to enjoy.The fusion classes incorporate movements from both a yoga practice and what you would consider part of a standard workout. All of the classes offered take place in a far infrared studio environment. When Rachel found out that life was bringing her back to Saskatchewan she went looking for a studio that had the same environment but came up empty handed. Realizing that there may be others interested in taking advantage of that style of space, she decided to take the plunge and approach the company’s CEO about opening a branch in Regina. That was four years ago and she has not looked back since.
Now you may be asking yourself, what is far infrared heat? It is a non harmful light wave that focuses on heating up the objects in the room instead of heating up the room.This is a dry heat technique which allows for the room to maintain an even temperature for the entire duration of a class. Where many heated studios will use a technique that heats you from the outside through a wet, humid heat, the far infrared will heat the participants core temperature. The intensity of the heat then depends on the intensity of your movements and not on the external environment.
Although they prefer to focus on how you feel rather than looking at how much weight you have lost, the studio environment has proven to help in many areas. The heat increases your metabolic rate and keeps it up for a period of time after you leave the studio which is beneficial if you are trying to lose weight or maintain your current weight. There are other exclusive benefits as well such as a reduction in joint inflammation and increased levels of pain management. Rachel went into detail stating that the heat does wonders for her arthritis and helps to lessen how sore she feels the next day after their fusion fitness classes. On top of that, it helps with detoxification, purification of the skin, lowering stress levels and improving sleep patterns. Many members with asthma have also made comments that the studio climate allows them to breathe easier than when they do the same exercises in a cooler or wet heat location.
Even though it comes with all these amazing benefits Rachel did detail some health concerns that they are always mindful of when leading classes. As we all know from being outside too long in the summer, heat exhaustion and dehydration are very real and unpleasant things, which is something that the instructors need to keep in mind. They have found effective ways to combat this by prompting repeated water breaks for members, having fans that can be turned on in classes and by structuring classes so they build to a peak and then decline back to a safe resting point. With the room heating your core temperature they do not have to worry about the temperature lowering with the fans, it just provides a nice breeze while still ensuring your body maintains that higher core warmth.
With the unique environmental factors to keep in mind, the instructors have to undergo a specific kind of training. They undergo a 200-hour certification that teaches individuals how to lead people through their practice using specific transfers and poses to maintain members’ safety in the heat. Those who may already have some sort of certification undergo a five-day course that teaches specifically about leading in the heat. They focus on transitioning people slowly from standing poses to floor poses and back up, never jumping up and down rapidly. These slower transitions ensure an easier time at protecting joints and lowering the risk of members becoming faint. The course also teaches instructors poses that are relevant to ‘today’s body,’ meaning that they are movements that we make in our everyday life like twisting, crouching and bending. Yoga has been a practice that has been followed for many years and the way that our ancestors’ bodies used to move their bodies was not the same as how we move ours, therefore the practice needs to adapt as our society evolves. The update in practice ensures that you strengthen the muscles that are applicable to your everyday movement and lowers the risk of injury as you are not moving your body in unfamiliar ways.
Besides the unique atmosphere that the studio’s physical environment provides, it also provides a strong community environment that can be difficult to find. Even when they had to shut their doors at the beginning of COVID, they made sure that their members had what they needed. By offering free online classes every single day through their Facebook and Instagram accounts and allowing members to purchase equipment they did everything they could to ensure people could maintain their practice at home. Now that doors have reopened the feeling of community has only grown between members and instructors as the value of being together in the same space has been reaffirmed for all parties involved.
There have been many studies proving how yoga can help reduce stress and increase flexibility, but that is nothing compared to doing yoga like this. It leaves you with their signature “Oxygen Glow” and you will never feel more uplifted and supported. Inhale the good, exhale the bad; namaste.