Yoga Sweat

Excersizing in a 95-degree room with 60% humidity may sound like torture to some, but to others, hot yoga is the ultimate detox at Ironwood Yoga in Sister Bay. 

Hot yoga is just what it sounds like, said Marnie Massey, Ironwood’s owner and founder – yoga in a sweltering studio. Turning up the heat in her classes has been life changing, she said, providing a unique opportunity for movement for all.

“People get so intimidated by the hot yoga name,” Massey said, “But every shape and size comes here, every age.” 

After attending a hot yoga class for the first time in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, Massey said she knew it was something she wanted to bring to Ironwood. This meant transforming, with a furnace and humidifiers,  the “not-hot” studio into one that reaches the 90s. 

High temperatures add a layer to yoga practice that can be beneficial, Massey said, instantly warming up our muscles and making it easier to stretch. Hot yoga can potentially help ease symptoms of anxiety and depression, too, Massey said. 

“You’re getting those endorphins with the sweat,” Massey said. “So that’s healing your anxiety, and then you’re getting the mind-body connection, so it’s just like if you’re meditating.”

Massey said hot yoga helped her cope with stress and anxiety. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021, she was told her range of motion would be significantly decreased, potentially affecting her yoga practice. She said hot yoga was crucial in healing both her body and mind after recovering. 

“In two months, I was able to move and stretch in the way I used to do,” Massey said. “I just want to cry because it feels so good.” 

She said the changes she’s seen in frequent, hot-yoga participants has made keeping Ironwood open all year long a priority. 

“This one guy – he’s like 75 and he came in with back problems – had hardly done any yoga,” Massey said. “He started coming right when I opened hot yoga and you should just see him now. He’s like this rockstar.” 

For hot-yoga newcomers, Massey recommends holding off on a large breakfast before the class, but said it’s important to drink plenty of water. And be prepared to sweat like you’ve never sweat before. 

“It’s a different level of sweat, it’s a deep sauna sweat,” she said. “It goes to a whole different level. It’s like you ran a marathon and just jumped in the ocean.”

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