WEST SPRINGFIELD – Fourteen years ago, Adina Rae was told by her chiropractor that she should try yoga. Rae’s back had been injured in a car accident when she was a teenager, and she still often experienced back pain.
Her chiropractor gave her a free pass to a hot yoga class and after her first experience, she was hooked.
“From my very first class, I loved it. When laying in “Savasana” or the “Corpse Pose” I felt a sense of peace and calm I had never felt before,” she said. “My body felt so light and energized. And literally from that class on, I decided I was going to practice yoga for the rest of my life. That is the profound impact it had on me.”
Now a certified yoga instructor, Rae has opened Awakenings Vinyasa Yoga, a hot yoga practice in West Springfield.
Over the years, Rae has tried other hot yoga styles, like Synergy yoga and Bikram yoga, the popular form of hot yoga that features 26 sequences of postures. But she found that Bikram offered mostly a workout for the body’s core and lower body. On the other hand, the Vinyasa Flow yoga that she has been trained in offered more upper body movement and was more to her liking.
“Vinyasa means ‘breath- synchronized movement.’ We really focus on breathing and moving. There are some styles of yoga where you do a lot of sitting. We transition from posture to posture, but we really move along here. And the heat really builds up internal heat.”
Her yoga studio, located at 380 Union St. in West Springfield, features mirrored walls, a new wooden laminate floor, and warm golden-hued walls designed to both energize and sooth her yoga students. Small candles are lit around the room to further enhance the serene mood. The temperature in her studio during classes can get up to between 100 and 107 degrees. The benefits of hot yoga are numerous, she says. It is a cardiovascular workout; it burns body fat and calories more effectively; it increases blood circulation; enhances flexibility and range of motion; improves digestion and metabolism; and builds strength and endurance.
The benefits to Adina’s lower back have been enormous.
“If I didn’t do yoga on a regular basis, I probably wouldn’t be walking that well,” she said. “I need it for flexibility. It lengthens my spine. And I find with the heat, your capabilities increase tremendously. You can take wider steps, you can open up your body.”
She adds that the detox’ as one of the most important. “Stress creates a lot of toxins in the body,” she explained.
Practicing hot yoga has helped her during some of the most stressful times in her life, when she was working in sales in the natural products industry.
“During the most stressful and busy time of my life, I was working full-time, actually around 60-65 hours. I was divorced with a daughter and was going to night school,” she recalled.
Yet, despite her hectice life, Adina made the time to go to Yoga classes three times a week.
“Yoga kept me sane,” she said.
Originally from New York, Adina moved to Miami with her family when she was six. At 12, she made aliyah with her mother and brothers, and she stayed there for 11 years. Adina, who has dual citizenship, served in the IDF for two years.
“Living in Israel has really shaped who I am as a person,” she said. “Especially serving in the military, it really built a lot of character. You really put yourself to the test – what are your abilities in challenging times. There is a sense of camaraderie in Israel that you don’t have in the U.S.”
She now lives in Longmeadow with her brother and sister-in-law James and Julie Jaron and their children. She opened Awakenings in September.
Barbara Blumenthal, 66, of Longmeadow is one of Adina’s most active students. Blumenthal had tried other forms of yoga before, but says going to Adina’s class at Awakenings was like no other yoga she had experienced.
“I didn’t think I could do it – oh, the heat! I didn’t think I could possibly do that,” she said. “But it feels so good. Your joints and everything just loosens up. You can move in ways you never thought possible.”
Blumenthal tries to get to Adina’s class two or three times a week. She says that as someone who hadn’t done hot yoga before, she was eased into it by Adina.
“She introduces it gradually,” Blumenthal said. “It’s not a huge class so she can work individually with people. You can do whatever you are comfortable with. Yoga is about doing whatever feels right for your body. She shows you adaptations for the poses and you do what you can.”
Adina currently offers three classes a week, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings. She also sees students for private classes. But she would like to add more classes to her schedule.
“It has served me so well, I want to share my experience with others.”