While working as an artist in Iceland in 2009, yoga expert Lana Vogestad realized two things were missing in Reykjavík: hot yoga and stuff to do in the days between Christmas and New Year’s. Thus, an annual holiday hot yoga retreat tradition was born! Rejoice!
Now in its fourth year, Lana’s retreat will run from December 27 to December 31 at World Class Laugar (note that World Class membership is not required). This year, it will incorporate a mix of hot yoga and hot vinyasa classes, an alignment workshop and a live music meditation led by musician Mikael Lind.
What’s a hot yoga? What’s a hot vinyasa, then?
For those unfamiliar with (and perhaps frightened by) intentionally heated exercise, hot yoga simply involves doing a series of postures in a very hot, very humid room. The heat and humidity allow for greater flexibility, which helps participants go more deeply into the various positions. While Bikram yoga and hot yoga stem from the same lineage, hot yoga is different in that it allows for more variance in and freedom of postures. Rather than teaching the same positions over and over, Lana has the freedom to introduce new ones into her class.
Hot vinyasa tends to be a bit more challenging than hot yoga, requiring a more rigorous flow, as well as increased cardiovascular and upper body activity. Still, beginners and experts alike can partake in any of the classes, as Lana offers options for all levels of yogi during each session.
Raw and powerful performances
One of the retreat’s standouts is its incorporation of live music. To close this year’s event, West African drummer Cheick Ahmed Tidiane Bangouora will drum up a sweat throughout the entire final class, giving a performance that Lana predicts will be both raw and powerful. “I spend a lot of time on my playlists. They’re kind of like an art piece for me,” she explains as we discuss the ways in which hot yoga opens participants up to surrounding sound, music, and even sights.
Lana says she began studying hot yoga in 2000, and quickly fell in love, going on to study under influential hot yoga teachers everywhere from San Francisco to New York—even learning under the extensive guidance of one of the most masterful teachers of hot yoga, Jimmy Barkan. Inspired by the lack of hot yoga classes in Iceland upon relocating to the country, Lana began training to teach hot yoga in 2009, and started teaching soon after. In the years following, she has taught classes in the US and beyond, although she always returns to Iceland to run her hot yoga holiday retreat.
Focus, perseverance, patience
According to Lana, the benefits of hot yoga are manifold, even beyond the increased audial sensitivity. “Hot yoga helps improve focus, perseverance, patience and the ability to stay in the present moment, which is needed to make it through a hot class.” And, though the physical benefits may be most people’s primary motive for taking up hot yoga, Lana makes sure to note that “the practice goes way beyond the physical.”
During our interview, Lana stressed the activity’s mental benefits and their importance during the holiday season. While hours and energy might seem to too scarce to sacrifice during those busy weeks, Lana contends that devoting energy and space to rebalancing oneself through activities such as hot yoga is of the greatest importance, especially during this time of year. This holiday season, what better gift to give yourself—and those around you—than peace of mind?
You can sign up for the hot yoga retreat online at http://www.worldclass.is/namskeid/rolegt/yoga-workshop/ or at any World Class location. The full course costs 15,000 ISK for World Class members, and 17,250 ISK for non-members.