Craving Heat and Salt

Lately, I’ve been craving heat and salt.

No, not the kind of heat that I’m usually salivating about.

I’m talking about heat from hot yoga. (Let me interrupt regular food programming to talk about my other love for a moment.)

And now, a confession: Bikram, I’ve been cheating on you.

Many of you know about my devotion to Bikram yoga. I have always loved it and will always do, and I credit my regular practice for a lot of things: increased endurance, strength, flexibility, clearer skin, better sleep, healthier me. But some time during the last quarter of 2011, I let myself go for weeks without attending a session (I usually try to go about once a week or so). And then the holidays happened, and uh, I met someone else.

Image from Indiana Bikram

My sister Patty introduced me to hot vinyasa (it’s a kind of yoga, not a kind of hot sauce). I’ve only tried a different form of yoga other than Bikram twice before this: one, a hatha yoga class where I ended up falling asleep during one of the floor poses (giving me unending shame that I vowed never to do it again), and two, a “yoga for beginners” class at my gym. My sister, bless her generous toned athletic self, played yoga instructor one day in December and taught me how to do sun salutations and Warrior I and II and all sorts of other poses which I promptly forgot. Then she went with me to a hot vinyasa class at my friend’s yoga studio in Manila, where I stretched and sweated (but not as much as I sweat during Bikram) and cursed internally (again, not as much as I usually do during Bikram) and left the class feeling strong and cleansed and relaxed. And suddenly, I felt the blossoming of a new yoga crush.

When I got back to Boston, I bought a Groupon for hot power yoga classes at Prana Power Yoga in Central Square (and didn’t renew my Bikram class pack). I started going every week, and recently bought a LivingSocial deal again to continue going to the same studio. The yoga crush has turned into a full-blown affair. I was suddenly involved in a hot, new, exciting relationship. The power yoga classes felt completely different than the Bikram sessions that I’m used to.

Different, but not necessarily better. Like I said before, choosing a yoga practice is a highly personal decision, and experiences and reasons vary for everyone. I found three three main differences when comparing my two yoga practices:

1. Hot power yoga/hot vinyasa is not as hot as Bikram yoga. It’s still very hot (a sweaty 95-99 degrees at Prana) but it’s not extremely hot (105-110 degrees at Bikram).

2. Bikram yoga is about structure (the same 26 poses for every class), but each class at the Prana studio is different, depending on the instructor (with or without music, more or less time for meditation, different flow of poses, etc). Bikram instructors encourages every student to do the same pose at the same time, but power yoga instructors encourage students to go at their own pace.

3. Hot power yoga doesn’t feel as torturous as Bikram, but that doesn’t make it any less hard core. Some of the poses require serious strength and concentration. Everything felt so new and unfamiliar, and I didn’t push myself as hard because I am still busy trying to understand each pose. I didn’t “kill myself,” as Bikram instructors so gleefully say. I fell in love with Bikram because I’m a creature of habit, and I love how I can see my progress day after day in doing the same poses and pushing myself to the limit. And while I could measure my progress in vinyasa too (how many chaturangas can I do now?), I didn’t exert tremendous effort into each and every pose. I’m sure a lot of this has to do with the fact that I’m still a newbie though (or maybe just a glutton for pain?)…

After nearly two months of regularly doing hot vinyasa, I do feel stronger and more flexible and at peace. But I also miss Bikram. Very much. So I went back two weeks ago. And again last week. Then I went back to vinyasa. Then back to Bikram. I’m now alternating Bikram and power yoga each week. And I’ve never felt more balanced. I realized that I didn’t need to pick just one. I can have a relationship with both.

Then after each class, I scramble like a madwoman trying to satiate an intense desire for SALT. So unlike me, I know, but I can’t help it.

I know it’s my body way of wanting to refuel after sweating buckets (same reason why salty sports beans work great during long runs), but lately my salt cravings have been lasting the whole day.  I’ve been craving for salty meals more than sweet snacks, craving for salt in my desserts, looking for ways to incorporate flavored salts in more dishes (the salts in my cupboard range from spicy ghost chili salt to pretty Hawaiian pink salt to sweet espresso salt).

After 90-minute hot yoga sessions, I guzzle down some Vitamin Water or Coconut Water then scarf down a small snack – cheese with crackers, natural peanut butter on toast, a hard-boiled egg with salt and pepper, carrot sticks and hummus. Salt, salt, salt. Heat and salt definitely go hand in hand for me. The little jar above is ghost chili salt, by the way. Do you crave more salty or sweet snacks post-workout?

And do you practice any kind of yoga? I’d love to hear about it. If you need tips on how to survive (and love) hot yoga, check out my blog post, as well as my piece about Bikram Yoga in Harvard Square.

PS – There’s a great deal on Groupon today for Prana Yoga!


32 Responses to “Craving Heat and Salt”

  1. #
    Erica @ In and Around Town posted February 29, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    I am not a yoga person, but I love hearing about it because I wish I was. Like you I am a creature of habit, but I just have not set aside the time to do it as much as I think i would enjoy it once I did!

  2. #
    Emily @ A Cambridge Story posted February 29, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Yoga is something that I’m curious about but, right now, I really prefer solo cardio that can be done on my own schedule. I am looking forward to prenatal yoga WHEN that time comes (ie: not anytime soon!) :)

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted February 29, 2012 at 2:25 pm

      For a few seconds there you got me really excited!! Haha me too, I look forward to that too if and when the time comes :p

  3. #
    Alaina posted February 29, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    That’s too funny, one of my friends was talking about the Power Yoga studio in Central Square last night! She loves it. I think I’m too intimidated to go to a yoga class. But I really want to try it out!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted February 29, 2012 at 2:26 pm

      Alaina, I would gladly go with you anytime you are up for it! And I think we should schedule our Sweet Cheeks date too! After lent when you can eat meat again? :)

  4. #
    Daisy posted February 29, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    why can’t I get into Yoga?!? I love your passion for it.

  5. #
    Elizabeth posted February 29, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Let’s go to a class sometime together! I’ve actually only been to 02 in Somerville because my gym offers yoga classes (they’re ok). Plus, whenever I go home, I just have my sister give me a session :) She’s an instructor.

  6. #
    yummychunklet posted February 29, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Ah, it’s been forever since I’ve been to a yoga class. That sounds great right now!

  7. #
    Colleen @ Culinary Colleen posted February 29, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    I also tried one of those beginner yoga classes at my gym years ago – and hated it. For some reason I convinced myself that I should like yoga, so I started going to the Bikram studio in Harvard Square. Now I’m addicted! I assumed it was the most intense version of yoga out there, but now I might cheat on Bikram and check out your place in Central…

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted February 29, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      Hi Colleen, thanks for the comment! I hope we get to bump into each other at the Bikram studio someday! And hehe yes, check out the power yoga studio in Central :)

  8. #
    Ashley posted February 29, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    First, I love your blog, from the writing to the recipes to the photos. Thanks for sharing it with us! Second, I am addicted to the power yoga class at my gym. It’s entirely because the instructor is awesome–she’s got a sense of humor and will laugh at how ridiculous things can be, but she also tells you so precisely (yet encouragingly!) how to get in to a pose. You know, the 101 things you ought to be doing simultaneously. I tried a few other classes at my gym, but kept hearing this instructor’s voice in my mind when I’d get into a pose…then I’d get frustrated the class’s instructor wouldn’t say the same things! Our awesome instructor is leaving us for a full time teaching job in a few weeks, and I’m already dreading the attempt to find a new teacher! Until I find one to stick with, I’m going to use my yoga dvd (kristen budig – she rocks too!) and the Tara Stiles Slim, Calm, Sexy yoga book to keep me in the habit. I’d love to try hot vinyasa as well–it sounds like a fantastic challenge!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted February 29, 2012 at 3:28 pm

      Hi Ashley, thank you so much for the kind words! I definitely have some favorite instructors too – they are such a huge part in the whole yoga class experience. I actually have not tried a yoga DVD yet, thanks for the recommendation :)

  9. #
    Kim K posted February 29, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    i keep meaning to get into yoga – i have tried it a few times at my gym, but never stuck with it… i have three things i need to get over – (1) i would rather swim/bike/run because i see benefits with racing and (2) i have chronic back pain and KNOW that stretching and doing core work would benefit my body and (3) finding a yoga place that is somewhat nearby to me, isnt super pricey and has parking!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted February 29, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      Hey Kim! Hope you get into it eventually. I can relate to consideration # 3 – Bikram is pretty expensive (even with my student discount) but the coupon deals and sales sites (Ruelala, Gilt City, Groupon, Living Social, etc) offer some great deals every now and then so just be on the lookout :)

  10. #
    Three Cookies posted February 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    I’ve never been to any yoga class, would love to try it since I have been thinking about it. Hot vinyasa is a cool name for yoga!

  11. #
    Val posted February 29, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    I’ve turned in a Yoga addict and I love the way I feel after class.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted February 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm

      Yessss the feeling afterwards is one of the reasons I keep coming back too!

  12. #
    Ranjani posted February 29, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    I am definitely a Vinyasa girl. It was the first kind of yoga I tried and I had a fantastic teacher. I haven’t done much hot yoga though.

  13. #
    Joanne posted March 1, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Whenever I’m marathon training I crave salt like a madwoman. Straight salt even tastes so good to me…so I totally get it!

  14. #
    Michelle posted March 1, 2012 at 9:09 am

    I try, try, try to like yoga but can’t seem to get it. I’m more of a spinner, kick-boxer, and Zumba kind of gal!

  15. #
    Liz posted March 1, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Hooray!!! I love my hot yoga…I’ve been doing vinyasa for about 7 years. I go about 2-3 times per week…and I’m stronger and more toned than I’ve ever been.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted March 1, 2012 at 10:33 am

      Okay now I am buying it too! Thanks for the heads up. Let me know if you go!

  16. #
    Parita @ myinnershakti posted March 1, 2012 at 10:37 am

    I just started going to a regular (intermediate ?) yoga class at my gym and am loving it! I’m not a yogi in any sense of the word but love how it challenges me in a completely different way than my normal workouts. Maybe once I feel more comfortable in this class, I’ll try out power yoga. Thanks!

  17. #
    Meghan posted March 1, 2012 at 11:05 am

    I NEED more yoga in my life, and yet I am so resistant to actually making time for it. I prefer Vinyasa to Bikram though.

  18. #
    Elina (Healthy and Sane) posted March 1, 2012 at 11:26 am

    I’ve been hearing a lot more about hot yoga lately and it makes me miss it! I used to go religiously a few years back and then sort of fell out of it. I want to bring it back this summer!!

  19. #
    Susan (Oliepants) posted March 1, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    I love yoga. I don’t do it as often as I would like but whenever I do, I notice an instant difference in my mood, breathing and flexibility. I always just drink a lot of water after. :)

  20. #
    MelissaNibbles posted March 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    I really want to try hot yoga, but I’m still a beginner. One day!

  21. #
    Tracey posted March 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    I am so jealous of yoga lovers. I honestly cant do it. I just dont bend at all. Reading Ashley’s comment definitely resonated as I have tried it many times and felt intimidated by the teacher and indeed the other people in the class. I really must try it again as anyone who is into it not only looks amazing but feels good about themselves!

  22. #
    Deanna posted March 1, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    I wish I liked yoga, but alas I am a pilates girl all the way. I’m super flexible from years of dance, so its not the stretching I dislike. I think I’m too competitive to really embrace yoga.

  23. #
    Megan posted March 2, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Needless to say, you’ve made me crave something seriously salty by reading this.

  24. #
    Hannah posted March 2, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    I’ve been wanting to try a form of hot yoga for years, but I don’t know if it’s offered here in Canberra! You make it sound wonderful though :)

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