Warming up to hot(ish) yoga
The infrared experience at Pause Yoga & Pilates studio

Warming up to hot(ish) yoga

Visitors participate in a hot yoga class at Pause Yoga & Pilates. The infrared heat is emitted through the white panels in the ceiling, and temperatures can range from 80 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit./ Courtesy photo

Elizabeth Barrett/Animas High intern - 05/12/2022

Most fitness enthusiasts and amateur yogis in this town have tried hot yoga at some time or another. But, for those of us who enjoy the heat but not the humidity, a studio called Pause Yoga & Pilates exists on the south side of town. This studio heats its classes a little differently than others, using infrared panels on the ceiling to warm the room without heated air. Pause is the only studio of this type in our area – a new experience for all interested Durangatangs.

The panels used in the studio are the same type found in therapeutic infrared saunas and incubators for premature babies. Despite the name “infrared,” they do not emit red light, or really any visible light at all. That’s because infrared wavelengths exist on the lower, less intense end of the electromagnetic spectrum, so we can feel their heat without seeing them. 

“The infrared is hugely special, and different and therapeutic,” Pause owner Jolie Ensign said. “It’s an intimate, clean space … you can feel comfortable with the heat and reap the benefits.” 

According to the studio’s website, infrared is very similar to the warmth of the summer sun. “When you are outdoors in the sunlight, you are not warmed by the heat of the air around you but rather the infrared rays of the sun,” states the website, adding that infrared offers the benefits of sunlight without harmful UV exposure. Among the other advantages, according to the website, are improved immune function, better skin, increased flow of lymph fluids and enhanced injury recovery.

Ensign has harbored a passion for health and activity since she was a high school athlete. She earned a master’s degree in health promotion and wellness at a school that she said is known for wellness education, the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. She’s a nutritionist as well as a fitness instructor, teaching fitness classes in multiple places around town. When she first became interested in teaching hot yoga, extensive research into the best heating sources led her to the infrared panels.

Pause opened a month before the COVID-19 pandemic began, in the Purple Cliffs Wellness Center above Sunnyside Farms Market. However, Ensign doesn’t think the studio was weakened by quarantine, but rather strengthened, and she feels although the studio is small and still young, it has already become a place for healing.

“Pause kinda got fine-tuned during the pandemic as a place of respite for folks,” she said. “I think we all learned from the pandemic to slow down, to take breaks, to breathe, to pause … the pandemic just made everybody re-evaluate and add in a little more time for self-care.” 

Taking this to heart – and an occasional hot yoga attendee myself – I decided to check out the morning “Hot Mat Pilates” class to see what infrared was all about. When I arrived, instructor Melissa McGaughey greeted me with a friendly smile. The studio was at a pleasant temperature of 98 degrees Fahrenheit, warm but not overwhelming. Morning sunlight streamed through the large windows, and a couple colorful art prints adorned the studio walls. As we laid out our yoga mats – thankfully, the studio provides equipment for those who need it – there was plenty of room to stretch and move.

I had been a bit intimidated by the idea of hot Pilates, but I soon found there was nothing to fear. As we moved through the class, I felt challenged but not exhausted. The room was warm but not unpleasantly humid or stuffy. By the end, we were all a little sweaty but satisfied with our thorough workout. I wasn’t sure whether my lymph fluids were flowing any more effectively, but I did walk out feeling glad that I participated. The experience was certainly positive and very unique.

Pause offers a variety of classes throughout the week. For a schedule or more info, go to www.pauseyogapilates.com.