Sweat away the stress

If you’ve been waiting for the chance to balance on your hands in a boiling hot room, you’re in luck.

Downtown Kingston’s first Moksha yoga studio opened late in 2014 to provide a hot yoga experience. It’s located on lower Princess St.

Moksha (pronounced moke-sha) refers to both a series of postures and the franchise that promotes them.

Moksha studios offer classes based on variations of Moksha postures in studios heated to 36-38°C.

I was excited to try a Moksha class, because unlike other hot yoga classes, Moksha poses are geared to promote the health of the spine and joints.

The brand has over 75 studios, with locations throughout Canada and the U.S. Their large presence in Ontario made opening a Kingston studio the logical next step.

“Kingston was that one city without Moksha that has a university that could really benefit from the practice,” said Tessa Bernier, co-owner of the Kingston studio.

While the name Moksha comes from a Hindu and Jain tradition of releasing oneself from the cycle of reincarnation, the studio’s goal is to provide a release from the daily stresses.

Bernier began practicing Moksha yoga while studying at Dalhousie University and credits Moksha with getting her through those years.

“Honestly, when I was in school I went through a time in my life where I wasn’t sure what I was doing, I wasn’t sure where I was going with my degree and it was very stressful and I went through a pretty bad depression,” she said.

“I can honestly say that Moksha saved me when I found that sense of community in Halifax and I was able to be a part of something.”

Bernier thinks Moksha can be similarly beneficial for students at Queen’s because its therapeutic qualities make it well-suited to combat the stresses of a student.

“It’s just nice to be able to step into the room and just come face to face with the stress that you’re feeling and deal with it,” Bernier said.

Beyond benefits to mental health, the series is designed to promote the long-term health of the spine, which may be particularly useful for students who lug backpacks and crouch over laptops on a full-time basis.

This is done by moving the spine through a variety of poses and improving mobility.

If the idea of sun salutations in a 38°C room seems intimidating, don’t let it be.

Variations on the series were offered consistently throughout my class, allowing for a break or an extra challenge whenever we felt it was appropriate for our bodies and skill levels.

“We have people that come in that are as young as 16 years old to as old as 70 that can practice the series and feel like they’ve been relaxed and challenged at the same time,” Bernier said.

Moksha’s physical layout makes it stand out from others in Kingston. Many studios are essentially windowless rooms with dimmed lighting, which can help to focus energy on the “here and now”. This isn’t the case at Moksha Kingston.

One wall of the studio has large windows with shades that let in ample natural light. Rather than distracting me, I found the light boosted my energy levels and made the class enjoyable in an unexpected way.

Moksha Kingston is located at 27 Princess St.

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