The hottest class at Green Monkey, a friendly yoga and workout studio tucked atop a Starbucks on a crowded South Miami street, is literally hot.
Hot Power Yoga, not to be confused with the more extreme Bikram yoga in which workout rooms are heated to 100 degrees and above, is a steamy, fast-paced class that combines Hatha yoga’s high-intensity poses. Yet the multipurpose class also features pauses to incorporate Ananda style yoga through silent affirmations. The result aims to fine-tune and calm body and mind.
The class is held in a room heated to about 90 degrees. The steamy environ helps students sink into the stretches but isn’t as oppressive as Bikram in already unseasonably hot South Florida. Students are advised to hydrate, take a break in child’s pose if need be, and water is available. As a first-time visitor I made it through an hour. Not bad.
Fans like this hot stuff. Anaïs Benoudiz, 35, a professional photographer, says Hot Power Yoga changed her perceptions of what yoga could be.
“I was anti-yoga until I came here. I was more into the high cardio type of workouts — running, kickboxing,” she says. “I was hesitant about the atmosphere, it’s very relaxed. I’m not going to break a sweat.”
Five months later and Benoudiz is a regular.
“I’ve actually lost weight doing yoga because I come almost every day. I run, sometimes I do spinning. My muscles get tight and this helps me loosen my muscles and I come out sweating and all your toxins go out and it’s amazing.”
The class, run by Grisell Gonzalez, is an invigorating and challenging 90 minutes designed with many familiar postures yoga aficionados will recognize from other Hatha classes — downward dog, star pose, headstand, child’s pose, warrior one and two, plank and more. These more vigorous movements — aside from child’s pose which is a cool-down position and used frequently whenever one feels the need to catch one’s breath and focus — mix well for cross-training purposes. They also stand up on their own should your goal be weight loss, conditioning, increased strength and flexibility.
But Gonzalez, who offers clear instruction and guidance, wants her students to get a bit more.
“These things are important but yoga helps us find calmness, peace and inner joy, which makes life more meaningful,” she says.
As such, Gonzalez folds in considerable time for affirmations, breathing techniques (“Every breath is infinite power”) and luxurious stretches and twists which feel oh-so-good.
“I know I taught a good class if my students leave the room knowing there’s more to yoga than the physical body,” she says.