Yesterday was another big milestone in my yoga teaching journey. I celebrated the one-year anniversary of teaching my first yoga class, a candlelight Hot Power Fusion class at Corepower Yoga. The whole day was one big celebration. In the morning, I taught my biggest class yet, a Yoga Sculpt class with 36 yogis! We rocked and sweated to my favorite Classic Rock playlist. I’m going to miss teaching that class. More on that later. In the evening, I led a 75-minute Why We HPF-themed, special Hot Power Fusion class.

In the Why We HPF class, I started class asking students why they come to Hot Power Fusion, why the love it, why it’s their jam. Then I talked about what Hot Power Fusion is (a 60-minute set sequence where Vinyasa flow meets hot yoga with a core workout in a room heated to 105 degrees with 40% humidity.) I also talked about where the HPF sequence influences come from (mainly Bikram Yoga) and did a quick breakdown of each of the eight sections of class, the purpose of each section and why they’re practiced in that exact order. We then practiced our normal HPF sequence. I ended class sharing with everyone my Why I HPF.

So why do we HPF?

Hot Power Fusion is a combination of power vinyasa and hot yoga with a core workout. A lot of the sequence is borrowed from Bikram Yoga, a sequence consisting of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises where each posture is practiced and held twice, in a hot, humid room for 90 minutes. In a Hot Power Fusion class, we offer the same strength, balance, flexibility and healing benefits as a Bikram Yoga class, but there are some major differences. HPF classes are only 60 minutes as opposed to 90. The HPF sequence is a flowing sequence of postures that’s linked together through breath instead of holding each posture individually. There’s a core workout in the middle of class, giving you a head to toe workout for the mind, soul and physical body. HPF classes have music and most teachers offer hands-on assists during class. There is no music or hands-on assists in a Bikram class.

Why the influence from Bikram Yoga?

Bikram Choudhury, the man behind the Bikram Yoga sequence had grew up practicing yoga all his life. At the age of 18, he had gotten into competitive weight lifting and had a major weight lifting accident that left him with shattered knees. He was told he’d probably never walk again and there was even talk he might have to have his legs amputated due to his severe injuries.

In India, instead of going to a doctor, sick people would visit a guru who would tell them what to eat/what not to eat and prescribe yoga postures for them to do each day, specific to healing their ailment. Since Bikram had practiced yoga all his life, he went back to his guru after his accident in hopes of getting recovered. After working with his guru consistently for six months, Bikram claimed he fully recovered from his knee injury.

His recovery inspired him to become a yoga teacher. But, instead of being limited to prescribing only a few people each day, Bikram developed a sequence of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises that were designed to help treat as many people at once based off of the original 84 postures he learned from his guru, especially the postures that helped Bikram heal his knee from his weight lifting injury.

Why do I HPF?

I started practicing Bikram Yoga over eight years ago on a whim from a friend who swore by it. I’d been dabbling in yoga here and there, but hadn’t really found a practice I could get behind and stick with. My first Bikram class I was a hot mess – literally. I wore head to toe cotton and was miserable as I sweated all over myself, my mat and the carpeted floor. I struggled to watch the people around me to see what came next because the teacher would only sit on a podium at the front of the room, barking out the cues for each posture. Occasionally I’d get called out in class for my bad form. Duh! It was my first class. I felt pretty good for the rest of the day after I took my first class so I came back for more.

Fast forward a couple years later, I was suffering through a knee injury of my own. Nothing like shattering my knee in a weight lifting accident like Bikram had. After years of wear and tear on my knees from doing sports I love like snowboarding and wakeboarding, I was finding it really hard and painful to sit in a cross-legged position. I feared if I went to a doctor, they’d tell me I’d eventually need knee surgery. I picked up my Bikram Yoga practice a couple of times a week. Then I started coming on a daily basis, sometimes twice in one day for a solid three months. After three months of a regular, consistent practice, I was able to sit comfortably in a cross-legged position again. THAT’S when I became a believer in the power of hot yoga.

My own recovery through Bikram Yoga inspired me to want to become a Bikram Yoga teacher, just like Bikram was inspired from his own recovery. After I did some research on Bikram Yoga teacher training, my hopes quickly faded. To become a Bikram Yoga certified teacher (through Bikram himself), I’d have to travel out of the country, spends tens of thousands of dollars for the training, not including airfare, accommodations and food during the training. I’d also have to take nine weeks off from work to attend the training and even then, there was no guarantee of becoming a Bikram Yoga teacher. The training was just too expensive and there’s no way I could afford to take nine weeks off of work. Plus, at the time, Bikram’s legal troubles were coming to the surface. I wasn’t sure I wanted to support someone who was in as much legal hot water as this guy was.

About a year after I had moved back home to Seattle, a friend of mine who had been teaching yoga at Corepower Yoga convinced me to take a Hot Power Fusion class because she knew how much I loved practicing Bikram Yoga and told me the two sequences were quite similar.

My first class was a candlelight HPF class that also happened to be in the same studio as where I did my yoga teacher training and taught my own first HPF class a year later. Unlike my disastrous experience in my first Bikram Yoga class, my first HPF class was hard, but awesome. Since I didn’t know the sequence, I had a hard time following the people in front of me because it was so dark. I did love the familiarity I had with some of the postures I recognized from Bikram Yoga, not necessarily in the same order as the Bikram sequence. The tone of the class was warm and inviting instead of harsh and intimidating, as some Bikram classes can be. I liked the variety in the sequence from holding postures to flowing into them. The heat and humidity felt good. And there was music. I was practicing yoga with music! Practicing the class with just candlelight was a whole new balance challenge I had never experienced in my yoga practice before, and I loved it! By the end of the week, after taking my first HPF class, I had signed up for 200-hour Hot Power Fusion yoga teacher training with Corepower Yoga. I had finally found a yoga teacher training where I loved the sequence I’d be learning to teach and wouldn’t have to quit my day job or go into debt for.

As they say, the rest is history.

Happy one-year anniversary of teaching yoga to me! I had no idea how much of a positive effect teaching yoga would have on my life. A lot of awesome changes have happened in my life over this last year and I have teaching yoga to thank for that. Here’s to many more yoga classes in my yoga teaching future!

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