Yoga in Downtown Phoenix

Have you ever felt like you’re in a slump? Is your energy level on a constant decrease as your workload increases? After all the coffee and energy drinks you consume, do you still find yourself feeling tired or really just dead? Well I have a solution for you.

Inchworms. You'll learn to love them. Photo via Evie Carpenter

Inchworms. You’ll learn to love them. (Photo by Evie Carpenter)

Exercise!

Now, don’t get all hot and bothered. If traditional exercise like getting on the treadmill or elliptical just isn’t your scene, yoga might be your best bet.

As you’ve probably heard before, yoga is not only beneficial to your body in terms of muscle toning, it also helps release toxins that can be harmful to your health if built up in less-than-proportional terms.

So, what are you waiting for? If you want to rejuvenate your schedule and throw a fun, healthy activity into your routine, try yoga!

There are several downtown or near-downtown options that can cater to your yoga needs! Refer to the list below.

Urban Yoga: This yoga option is the most versatile in price variation and yoga type offered. They offer student and other categorical discounts, which is really great! All classes are done in rooms that are 80-85 degrees to promote better muscle mobility. It also does good for the community by donating select proceeds to local charities.

Sutra Midtown: Sutra Midtown is honestly one of my favorite places. Its motto involves mixing the traditional parts of yoga with a modern flair, and that’s what really sets it apart. They offer eight different flow yoga options: vinyasa, power, core, basic, slow, candlelight, power hour and yin.

Yoga Phoenix: The main type of yoga practiced at Yoga Phoenix is Kundalini Yoga, which is a combination of yoga poses, chants, and breathing exercises. Focus is placed on the spiritual part of yoga as equally as the physical benefits of yoga. Partaking in yoga at this nonprofit yoga option is sure to pay off.

Desert Song Yoga: This yoga option places a lot of emphasis on the body and soul healing combination and also stresses community health. Essentially, a lot of the classes offered at Desert Song Yoga are structured to build bonds between classmates and really take the spiritual part of yoga to the next level.

Yoga Pura: With two Valley locations, this might be a great option for those of us who commute between two places often like a dorm and your parents’ house. The structure of Yoga Pura’s classes has three categories: fundamental, active and gentle. They cater to all levels of yoga knowledge.

As you can see there are tons of yoga places near downtown Phoenix! So get out there and experience something new. Seriously, yoga is really a great option for stressful lifestyles.

Stay healthy, my friends!

Hot yoga: Is it just a fad?

You’ve probably heard the illusive term “hot yoga.” What comes to mind?

Do you envision a crowded room filled with artificial light and sweaty people simultaneously engaged in poses that stretch convention?

Or do you envision something more private — perhaps a small group that practices in a low-light sauna, each bead of sweat produced a testament to their commitment to health?

Om.

Om.

The truth is, there are many different ways to engage in hot yoga. You can do it in classes with more than 200 people; you can do it with 10 people. The lights can be recessed lighting or candles — the options are endless.

But one fact remains constant: hot yoga is one of the best things you can do for your body.

Doing hot yoga in a room that’s anywhere from 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit increases your pulse and metabolism. This, in turn, allows for better circulation throughout the body.

So when you sweat a lot, that means you lose more weight, right? Not necessarily! Studies have shown that the fact that you sweat more in hot yoga does not mean you will lose more weight than you would at standard room temperature. However, more harmful toxins are released during hot yoga through the greater amount of sweat than with yoga done at standard room temperature.

By far the greatest advantage to doing hot yoga is the fact that your body will surpass the expected level of flexibility that currently defines how you pose. The heat loosens up tight muscles and knots, also lubricating joints that would normally inhibit your body from reaching its full potential.

However, while there are many advantages to doing hot yoga, you still need to take certain precautions. Staying hydrated is essential! It’s recommended that you drink at least 2-3 liters on top of the required eight glasses of water daily if you plan to commit to hot yoga as a fitness routine.

Also, food intake needs to be monitored. It’s recommended that you eat a small snack before doing hot yoga — too empty or too full of a stomach is detrimental to the hot yoga experience.

But, the most important thing is to listen to your body while doing hot yoga, and be careful not to overexert yourself. Oftentimes, you want to ignore the minor things you feel in a workout routine, but with hot yoga, the risk of passing out is higher than normal. It’s vital to take breaks when needed.

But, holistically speaking, hot yoga is a great fitness routine to get into. Not only will you burn calories and increase your flexibility, you will also put your mind at ease and keep your mental health in check! So, the verdict has been passed. Hot yoga is not just a fad. It’s arguably the best way to practice yoga because of all the added benefits. So get out there! Grab a buddy and sign up for a hot yoga class. The experience will be unforgettable, and your body will love you for it!

The Sun Devil Fitness Complex: A Diamond in the Rough

The Sun Devil Fitness Complex that just opened on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus has done nothing but ‘wow’ Downtown students who were relying on the YMCA previously.

Night swim, anyone?

Night swim, anyone?

While the downtown YMCA was a pretty good place to work out, it definitely doesn’t compare to the new SDFC in terms of enhancing the relationship students have with the greater ASU community.

Not only does the new center have four floors full of equipment and fitness class rooms, it also has a rooftop pool that overlooks the greater downtown area. If the rooftop pool doesn’t cut it, I don’t know what does!

The first floor of the facility is home to an array of workout machinery, including but not limited to elliptical trainers, treadmills and other core-enhancing machines. The second through fourth floors house various fitness classrooms, multipurpose rooms and even a track.

While the amount of workout equipment is nice and all, I’m more of a fitness class junkie. Whether it’s Zumba or yoga, fitness classes appeal to me a lot more than treadmills or ellipticals do. So, if you’re like me, the Sun Devil Fitness Complex has just what you need! You can start off by doing a little cardio on the machines on the first floor and then make your way upstairs to one of the many fitness courses offered.

Generally speaking, there are three different types of fitness courses available: strength classes, cardio classes and yoga classes.

The best way to get in shape and do so with the most variability in workout style is to go for the strength/cardio combination classes. This category includes “Power Hour,” “Insane Intervals,” “Total Body Blast” and “Mix.” Each of these classes are high-intensity total-body workouts.

If you’re looking for just strength training, the classes offered are “Totally Toned,” “Raise the Bar” and “Awesome Abs.” Strength training is good if you’re already in shape and you just want definition.

Cardio classes are best for people who want to lose those extra pounds and get back into shape. The classes offered in this category are “Zumba,” “Cycle, Rise and Ride” and “Total Knock Out.”

My personal favorite fitness class — after kickboxing, that is — is yoga! The yoga classes offered are “Flow Yoga, Sunrise Yoga,” “Gentle Yoga” and “Power Yoga.” These yoga classes will help calibrate your body in physical and spiritual terms.

But, of course, we can’t forget the highlight of the fitness center — the rooftop pool! I don’t know what it is about rooftop pools that gets me. Whether it’s the elusive party scene that normally takes place around rooftop pools or it’s just the ability to see huge skyscrapers on either side of you as you backstroke down the length of the pool, having a pool on a roof in downtown is a very cool thing, and the complex deserves a standing ovation for such a brilliant setup.

With such a wide variety of fitness options and placement in the heart of downtown Phoenix, the Sun Devil Fitness Complex truly is a diamond in the rough that all ASU students should visit. With the multitude of fitness courses, the high volume of workout equipment, the track and the pool, this fitness center offers one of the most well-rounded workout routines a downtown Phoenician could ask for.

The happy yoga lifestyle

I know there are some people out there who may think yoga is another health trend, but from my experience, that couldn’t be more wrong. Yoga has been practiced for over 5,000 years and has spread with many different varieties and sub-types all throughout the United States.

Ever since I discovered yoga and the benefits of how it made me feel, there was no turning back. Being a beginner at yoga can be a little difficult, but yoga comes with a multitude of health benefits. There are a variety of yoga classes, studios in the downtown area and a huge amount of options online.

Image via chakrasreflexologyspa.com

Image via chakrasreflexologyspa.com

After starting with yoga myself, it took about two weeks of practicing for me to really start feelings its effects. I started feeling a little soreness in new muscles I had never really stretched out before, my flexibility increased with each session, my breathing deepened and I was filled with a general feeling of goodness and tranquility.

Research on yoga and its health benefits are still in its early stages but it has had a promising start. It has been shown to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and heart rate, heighten metabolism rates and for those who reported to have insomnia, help with sleep. Yoga has demonstrated to alleviate specific kinds of pains as well such as migraines (something I suffer from frequently), lower back issues and even arthritis.

Yoga was designed to bring together the different disciplines of the mind and the body through slow, controlled movements and breathing.  Those are the two main focuses of any type yoga and will be in any yoga class. I found breathing the hardest. It’s not something people usually focus on, and while doing new yoga poses is more easily overlooked. Remember to always breathe.

Image via notsalmon.com

Image via notsalmon.com

This is not the type of exercise that is mastered in a short amount of time, and it’s not one with lighting-fast results.

But that’s the purpose of yoga. It’s to teach us how to take things more slowly, to take a pause in our everyday life and find peace within ourselves.

Don’t let this discourage you! Yoga isn’t some trend exercise; it’s a lifestyle change. You may do as many sessions as you want per week or as few as you want. Take your time, find the time to make a small pause in your busy schedule and I’m sure you’ll see the results.

Practicing yoga, despite it being a safe non-aerobic exercise, does come with a few risks. If you do decide to try it out, you should remember to:

  • Warm up before every session. Cold muscles increase the chance of injury.
  • Know your limits. Before beginning any new type of exercise be sure to know what it demands of your body to avoid harm.
  • Take it slow. Yoga is an exercise for the mind and the body, helping to ease stress and condition your physique. Remember, it is not competition. Learn the basics of how to maintain proper balance and breathing before going headfirst into any session.

Stay healthy, Devils!