I swapped my high-intensity bootcamps for a hot yoga class and it’s changed my outlook on training

Leaner limbs, more flexibility and much-needed headspace were all surprising rewards

Woman sweating and holding a pose during a hot yoga class
(Image credit: Getty Images)

I’m an adrenaline junkie and love nothing more than throwing myself into high-intensity workouts. My favorite thing to do is a treadmill bootcamp with hill climbs, sprints and interval runs alongside resistance training.

But having recently ticked the new age box of 40-45, I wanted to try a new approach. I’ve always considered yoga boring, but I decided to give this holistic practice a go. I could certainly use the peace with six-year-old twins creating mayhem at home!

I settled on doing hot yoga, which is performed in a heated room typically between 80-100°F designed to increase flexibility. I’m more likely to stick to this intense practice over something like Yin yoga, which is slower-paced and more meditative.

I found a studio called Bodhi Eden in Surrey, UK, which has an intimate setting. The Hot Hot 90 session is based on the Bikram yoga series of 26 asanas (postures), plus two breathing exercises. The sequence is completed twice and designed to improve strength, mobility, flexibility (most notably in the spine) and strength.

Here’s what I discovered after doing it for a month.

1. I’ve been less stressed

Having 90 minutes to myself was pure bliss and the candlelight setup and deep meditation music helped me feel zen. After each session, I’d leave in a hazy state and have an early night.

Skipping intense, high-cortisol workouts has also aided in my day-to-day stress levels. I’ve become more patient with the kids and find myself rushing around less.

Fitness writer Vicki-Marie Cossar performs hot yoga

(Image credit: VIcki-Marie Cossar)

2. It’s helped stretch out my body

One of the many benefits of yoga is that it helps with flexibility and I certainly found that to be the case.

Years of lifting heavy weights and running distances with little or no stretching post-workout have left me with severe tightness. You don’t realize quite how tight you are until you’ve tried to do an Eagle pose (Garurasana).

With each week, I’ve felt the poses become more manageable. My body also feels sore the next day so I know I’m still challenging my muscles, too.

3. My body shape has changed

I’ve noticed changes in my body since crossing the 4-0 threshold: I have a wider waist circumference and my arms and legs are bulkier. But after doing hot yoga for a month, my calves seem less bulky. A combination of stretching and not compressing with weights, perhaps.

I am also less bloated around my stomach area. Consuming less wine has played a role in this (another one of my recent health switches) but yoga can help with digestive issues like bloating as it stimulates the digestive system, too.

This is certainly a practice I'd like to continue, so I can keep reaping all of the benefits. If you've never tried this kind of exercise before, you might want to try some basic beginner yoga stretches, to see if you enjoy it before committing to an in-person hot yoga class.

Need some cushioning for your home yoga sessions? Our guide to the best yoga mats can help

Vicki-Marie Cossar

Vicki-Marie Cossar is a UK-based freelance journalist who has more than 20 years experience writing across the topics of health, fitness, fashion, beauty and wellbeing. She was formerly responsible for the Life & Style section of Metro’s features department (now called Trends) and currently writes Metro’s weekly Wellbeing supplement.