Hot Yoga Rockaway Beach Celebrates 10 Years of Sweet Sweat

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After opening a decade ago, Hot Yoga Rockaway Beach is not losing any steam. On Wednesday, January 8, the yoga studio will celebrate its 10-year anniversary with a special sweat schedule, in which all classes will be offered at just $10 each—and what’s even sweeter? The studio will pay it forward by donating 100 percent of the proceeds to local nonprofit, The Graybeards. Now, before you start thinking that you can’t possibly survive the class and perhaps should just donate the $10, this Rockaway Times reporter took it upon herself this past Saturday to try the studio’s signature Hot26 class, which provided an unbelievable physical, spiritual and mental release.

When you walk into the studio, you immediately are struck by the diversity of people. They range in ages, genders, yoga experience and fitness levels, which was reassuring to see, especially as this was my first class. Hot Yoga Rockaway Beach’s owner, Anita Ruderman, was at the desk checking folks in and making sure they were well hydrated and arrived with an empty stomach, which are a must because your body will definitely be pouring buckets of sweat and you don’t want to feel uncomfortable with a belly full of food. That day, the class was packed, and felt like a room full of family as folks chatted with each other about the holidays. As one participant and also a yoga instructor at Hot Yoga RB for the last nine years, Jeanne Orzano, said, “I’ve taught at a lot of yoga studios. What sets this place apart is there is no ego. Though the class is intense, Anita fosters a light atmosphere, where people of all fitness levels gather together to learn and improve their practice and health. There is no competition.”

After greeting each other and sharing humorous sides with Ruderman, participants entered the room, which is hot, and I mean, hot! Hot Yoga rooms are usually heated to above normal room temperature. The heat can be set to whatever the yoga instructor desires, though it’s typically between 80 and 100°F. Ruderman is quite thoughtful though because as the class progressed, at intervals she would open the door or a window to make sure her students were indeed feeling the heat and sweating, but not to the point of overheating.

Ruderman was the instructor that day and her personality is larger than life. From the way she instructs the class, immediately you can tell that she is no newbie yogi. Ruderman has been teaching yoga for over 30 years, and way back when, locals may remember her yoga classes at Belle Harbor Health & Fitness on Beach Channel Drive. She was introduced to hot yoga about 25 years ago. As she shared in a 2015 Rockaway Times article: “I took this class down in Florida and I didn’t know it was hot yoga, so I had long pants and long sleeves because I figured it would be air conditioned, and I walk in and people were wearing bathing suits. There were nine electric heaters in the room and I thought I was gonna die, but I went through with it and I was hooked. Once I found hot yoga that was it for me. I thought, ‘How can nobody be teaching this in New York?’”

In January 2010, Ruderman brought Hot Yoga Rockaway Beach to the peninsula, and according to her, since opening, almost 3,000 people have walked through the doors.

From taking her class, you can see that Ruderman truly loves teaching and her passion to guide others on a healthy path shows. She constantly circulates around the room, watching her band of yogis with an eagle eye, giving guidance when someone is not executing the pose correctly, and if she deems they are ready to go deeper in the stretch. She also shares the health benefits of each pose. Besides burning calories, hot yoga has been scientifically proven to build bone density, reduce stress, ease depression, reduce blood pressure and blood glucose levels, improve circulation and digestion, boost mood levels and even help with chronic ailments such as migraines and knee injuries. Also, though each pose requires serious work and focus, Ruderman’s humor is infectious and even encouraging, because though you feel you are about to do the impossible, she encourages you like a drill sergeant having fun with her troop.

For one hour, we were led through a course of 26 poses. The first one, Pranayama (Standing Deep Breathing) sounds easy, but it’s not! As you inhale and exhale with short squirts of breath, you actually feel your heart rate slowly speeding up as your abs contract, utilizing optimal lung capacity. Ruderman explained that a deep inhale and a deep exhale are practiced to provide the body with oxygen, increase circulation, and improve focus.

Then in the next 25 poses—(Half Moon, Awkward, Eagle, Standing Head-to-Knee, Standing Bow-Pulling, Balancing Stick, Standing Separate Leg Stretching, Triangle, Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee, Tree, Toe Stand, Corpse, Wind Removing, Sit Up, Cobra, Locust, Full Locust, Bow, Fixed Firm, Half Tortoise, Camel, Rabbit, Head-to-Knee Pose and Stretching, Spine Twisting, Blowing in Firm)—I felt my body becoming more limber, enabling me to go deeper in the stretch. As the poses are repeated twice and held for 10 to 30 seconds, I felt stronger and more confident in holding the poses, though admittedly, toppling over a few times just added to the light atmosphere shared in the room. Then after the class, yes, we were all crawling for a water bottle, but feeling refreshed and glowing with a sense of accomplishment.

Interested in taking a class? Visit: hotyogarockawaybeach.com for the full schedule of classes which include, Hot26, Iron Yoga, Hot Vinyasa and special pop-up classes. Also, join Ruderman and her staff in celebrating their 10th anniversary on Wednesday, January 8 by attending their $10 special classes to support the Graybeards.

For Ruderman, celebrating 10 years of bringing hot yoga to the community in which she loves and lives in, would not be possible without all the people who have walked through the studio’s doors and the amazing teachers who helped build the practice. “The teachers and students are what make this studio great, and of course our beautiful Rockaway community,” Ruderman said.

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