Hot yoga. You either love it, hate it, or have never heard of it. Always a fan of movement arts and body training, I began taking hot yoga classes at Evolation Yoga Studio 43, a new studio in town, and it has inspired me in ways I couldn’t have foreseen.

After eating healthy and taking classes, including barre, in the past six weeks or so I’ve lost a few pounds and definitely feel more slim. That’s a great bonus, but what I’m really excited about is how practicing yoga in particular improves my dancing, makes serenity seem closer and more attainable, and even brings me mini-epiphanies that inspire art journaling, creative collaboration ideas, and even emotions like forgiveness.   

Nikki, Evolation Yoga Studio 43, hot yoga and barre
Nikki Taylor, barre and yoga instructor

In a recent class, owner and instructor Nikki Taylor  guided us through movements such as contraction poses, which are challenging in several ways. While in a contraction pose, I’ve learned that it can be difficult to breathe regularly because of the way my body is curled up, not to mention that the pose is often done while standing on one leg. Don’t forget that the room temperature is also hovering around 100 degrees. But Nikki told us to “breathe through the discomfort.” I did then. And I did again the next day when I found myself in a stressful situation.

As you may guess, I’m so grateful for this yoga studio and I’m deeply inspired by Nikki’s story and her bold move to open the space. She sat down with me for a few minutes after a recent hot yoga classour hair pulled back and the room still cooling downso we could have an interview about Evolation Yoga Studio 43 (on Facebook and Instagram) and the classes.

I knew that hot yoga made me feel great, but I wasn’t sure exactly why. Here’s what she shared with me: “Hot yoga, as opposed to regular yoga, is good for your muscles because the heat brings in lots of different benefits. For example, it warms up your muscles so it allows you to go deeper into your postures. It also makes you focus on what you’re doing because it’s hard to breathe. This helps you with your breathing techniques, and that’s how I carry yoga out of the studio into the real world. Sometimes if you feel stressed or anxious, you can feel like you have an elephant on your chest, which is similar to how you feel when you’re taking hot yoga because of the heat. So it just allows you and teaches you to breathe through those feelings of discomfort. It works, inside and outside of the yoga studio.”

She was speaking my language! That’s exactly how I had felt about it, and part of what kept me coming back despite my busy schedule. Another of Nikki’s phrases that spoke to me was, “push yourself to the edge and then stay there.” As someone who is a creative spirit, that really resonated with me as far as pushing myself in my own endeavors.

I’ve gotten so much out of this class, and am so grateful for the fact that Nikki has opened this space. I asked her how it came to be.

“Before teaching yoga, I was a dental hygienist,” Nikki said. “I remember on my 30th birthday, I was talking to the dentist and I said I feel like there’s so much more in my life that I need to do. I wondered what was going to be my mark that I leave with the world, because that was not it. I just felt like there was an urge to do something more with my life and this is it. I love to teach people to be healthy, to be happy. I’ve been a barre instructor for three years and a yoga instructor for less than one; teaching yoga is somewhat new to me but I fell in love with it years ago. With getting certified to teach and opening the studio, I hit the ground running and I would not change this decision for anything. And getting to meet people like you makes it so much more worth it.”

I had to admit that I’ve been genuinely impressed with the community feel at Evolation. While we’re sweating and our muscles are shaking and burning during the barre classes, we’re all still able to laugh together. It goes beyond this, though.

“My dad passed away seven years ago and as a school football coach, was a big part of the community here in Alexandria. This is my way of honoring him and completing his legacy. That’s where ‘Studio 43’ came from. That’s what pushes me and motivates me every day to create a sense of community.”

Nikki’s motivation is contagious. I’m determined to continue pushing myself with yoga, to allow my mind to relax with intense focus on each pose, and to see where it can take me, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

I’ll admit that my first hot yoga class (at a different studio) was so intense that I nearly passed out afterward, but I’ve found just the right pace at Evolation. I hope you find an outlet such as this in your own life. Reminder: Don’t be afraid to branch out of your normal scope and try something new.

Have you ever taken a hot yoga class? If not, what’s keeping you from it? Tell me about your experience in the comments below.

Peace, love, and fire,
Cherie Dawn

Have you heard? Girl on Fire is now available through Amazon (Girl on Fire paperback and Girl on Fire Kindle version), Barnes and Noble, and Joseph-Beth Booksellers.

My friends at asked me to share this with you, and I’m happy to do so – it’s a list of yoga mats that have been reviewed to save you time when shopping for a new one (click here for the yoga mat reviews). Enjoy!


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