New York City's YogaSpark studio offers Blacklight Hot Yoga, which has participants glowing in the dark throughout class
What It Is: Blacklight Hot Yoga
Who Tried It: Grace Gavilanes, PEOPLE.com associate editor
Level of Difficulty: 8 (on a scale from 1-10)
I have a love-hate relationship with yoga.
I’ve always been a big fan of barre, tabata, boxing and other workouts that would leave me panting and sweating after completing endless rounds of planks, jump squats and undercut punches. Yoga, for me, never supplied that same level of cardio.
While HIIT workouts are physically empowering, yoga centers on leveling the mind — and as someone who battles anxiety, I was more than willing to give YogaSpark’s Blacklight Hot Yoga class a try. The only catch? I’ve never taken a hot yoga class before in my life. I’ve always flirted with the possibility, but have never actually taken the plunge. I was curious as any amateur fitness enthusiast would be, but turned off by the fact that I’d be sweating in sweltering heat from the start.
Fun fact: I’m the type of person who prefers blizzards over 97 percent humidity, because while I can pile on as many layers as possible, there’s only so many clothing items I can remove without getting arrested for public indecency.
All class-goers are recommended to wear white to experience the full effect of Blacklight Hot Yoga, which leaves participants glowing in the dark for the full hour of class. I opted for a white tee (which would come off 20 minutes into class), sports bra and light gray leggings that had the words “Mind Over Matter” plastered on its side in white. I was ready and hyped. This can’t be so bad, right?
Oh, it was bad. I wasn’t ready for the 95-degree heat, which I felt more intensely once the class actually began — once the fans were turned off — and the blacklights were turned on. The class consisted of classic moves like Warrior I and II, Downward-Facing Dog and more, which were simple enough to replicate at first, but became arduous as the minutes passed by and the heat grew more intense.
I did notice a difference with this particular class when compared to the other yoga classes I’ve taken in the past, however. Aside from the steady 95-degree heat, I caught myself actually paying attention to my movements — without looking around to compare my trembling legs or incorrect form to the seasoned yogis’ in class. The dark helped and the blacklights, it seemed, highlighted our movements and made us look more graceful.
I may have stopped to plop into Child’s Pose more than a handful of times as well as to wipe the dripping sweat off my face, but I felt at ease. My mind was the clearest it had been all day. I was definitely much more relaxed in this class than I’ve ever been in a class that required me to squeeze in as many tuck jumps as possible in 30 seconds.
I complained during the last half of class, but it came to an end before I knew it, concluding with a nice back stretch, a cool tea tree oil-infused towel and an inspiring Rumi quote.
Verdict: The moves themselves weren’t so tricky. But the room, which is kept at a steady 95 degrees for the duration of class elevates those feelings of claustrophobia. I was uncomfortable and drenched in sweat but I felt at peace. And that’s what really counts, right?