Federal Way resident Linda Burch has something no one else does.
The owner and chief executive officer of Hot Yoga Inc. (31839 Gateway Center Blvd S.) installed a full, studio-length yoga wall at the Federal Way location. Burch said the yoga wall, with suspension plates, inside a hot yoga studio, is the first of its kind.
Her father, an engineer, helped construct and mount the sturdy wooden walls on all four sides of the studio. Installation of the yoga wall took four days and was completed over the last couple weeks. The staff is currently training with renowned yoga instructor Renee DeTar as she helps prepare Hot Yoga instructors to usher in the first public training classes, scheduled for the final week of October.
The average yoga wall uses suspension ropes, but Burch said her suspension plates, in addition to the heat, provides for a better experience.
“The plates give it a much better design,” Burch said. “The plates provide more comfort, and this is the first time it’s been used in a hot room instead of the traditional yoga setting.”
Hot yoga really is hot
Burch’s spacious hot yoga studio is set to 115 degrees with 40 percent humidity. The studio uses infrared light, which Burch said is intended to promote sweating and eliminate toxins while allowing joints and muscles to stretch further with a lower risk of injury.
Burch said the yoga wall in the hot setting helps to further stretch and open joints more than a standard yoga studio, allowing the infrared to be far more effective.
Burch said the benefit of the wall in the heated setting helps correct poor posture and alignment, which is referred to as “exact alignment.”
“It enables you to stretch much deeper,” Burch said. “The yoga wall opens the body, which helps the joints, which helps with alignment. The wall with the infrared heat makes things just an incredible experience.”
Yoga plus heat is no joke
Doing yoga on the wall in 115-degree heat is not easy.
It’s not something one can just pick up and instantly start doing. It’s why Burch has DeTar in town for the next few weeks – to help properly train the Hot Yoga staff in preparation for the opening of wall classes.
DeTar has practiced and taught yoga for over 30 years. Both she and Burch have clientele ranging from everyday yogis to Seattle Seahawks players, the latter of which have become regulars to Burch’s Hot Yoga brand and DeTar’s private instruction.
Despite Burch and DeTar’s A-list clients, DeTar said it’s senior citizens who benefit a great deal from a hot yoga wall.
“The wall opens up yoga for people way up into their 90s,” she said. “In a regular yoga class there’s a lot of weight bearing on the hands and wrists. Yoga on the wall allows for everything to open up.”
In contrast, ropes tend to put a lot of pressure on the joints. Burch said that’s why you won’t find a single one in her studio.
Good for the blood
When in a wall yoga class, people will spend half the class upside-down.
It looks uncomfortable and dangerous, but DeTar said people should understand that neither of those sensations are a concern; that being suspended causes those feelings to wash away.
“You don’t realize it because you’re always in traction,” DeTar said. “This opens up yoga to people who normally wouldn’t do yoga.”
Burch added that, in addition to circulation, there are specific wall exercises done to promote heart health and good blood pressure.
Doing the body good
DeTar got into Washington on Monday, flying straight in from Missouri. When she arrived she said she was in desperate need of hot, wall yoga.
Burch said seeing DeTar go from back pains from the long flight to being suspended on the yoga wall for a short time yielded tremendous results.
“She got up on the wall and was immediately just so open,” Burch said. “The normal body isn’t just open like that, but what she achieved was just incredible.”
Not for everyone
DeTar said the yoga wall is tough to master. Add 115-degree heat to it and it’s even tougher.
The training DeTar is putting Hot Yoga staff through is extensive because performing yoga on the wall can be dangerous and doesn’t go without risks.
DeTar has seen yoga done just about anywhere. She said she doesn’t see too many more studios like Burch’s, with both heat and a yoga wall, popping up anywhere because of the astronomical price and the staff training required.
“You have to have enough teaching to realize when somebody comes up,” DeTar said. “You have to recognize signs of high blood pressure, low blood pressure and other things just to recognize they’re safe.”
With classes set to begin at the end of the month, Burch said there will likely be a series of introductory wall classes and then a regular class going forward.
Now that the wall is up, Burch said she plans to connect with the Seahawks’ assistant strength and conditioning coach, Mondray Gee, who’s also been a regular client of Burch’s Hot Yoga brand, to let the team know the wall is up and available for use when they see fit.
Burch has been a resident all her life. The Federal Way location of Hot Yoga was her second location and opened it in 2008. She’s added five more in various locations since then.
Burch said the Federal Way location is one of her most successful and popular. She said she was once asked why that was and replied that she’s learned Federal Way is, in fact, a yoga town.