My previous experiences with Bikram yoga, many years ago, were not pleasant. I would always feel nauseous like I was going to pass out and die – I even had to excuse myself once so I could go and be sick in the bathroom. I gave it a few tries and then decided it just wasn’t my sort of thing, convincing myself that I’m a Vinyasa flow type of gal, nothing more to it. But a few months ago, there was a challenge at a local studio and I decided to give it a try. It’s been quite a ride and I’m now hooked, but not for the reasons you’d expect.
I’m very much in my head at all times and a strong, fast, flow allows me to forget all distractions – I’ve always considered it my moving meditation. However, in hot yoga, the poses are held longer, there’s the unnatural heat one must deal with, and no music … what’s going to motivate me?!
Towards the end of my first slow, methodical, focused, unbearably hot yoga class, I asked the teacher if she’d mind if I left. She was extremely sympathetic and understanding but suggested I lie down, maybe have some water, and if that didn’t work, step outside for a few minutes but she definitely wanted me to come back in to finish the class, which I did. The second class was a bit better, I stayed in the room the entire time, and only took a minimal break. By the third class, I felt I was the master of the universe as I completed every pose without a break … YEAH! I was on fire.
I’ve made hot yoga part of my routine and I’m slowly getting used to the heat, although a definite challenge at times, but what is still hard for me is the rhythm at which we move. In my head I keep thinking faster, faster, faster. What I’ve come to realize, is that for me, after I’ve dealt with the heat, I’m left with only my thoughts. Moving slowly through a specific set of poses and always knowing what’s coming next in the sequence, forces me to be mindful of my practice, and more importantly, hot yoga allowed me to have to deal with thoughts I had previously been able to avoid.
After almost 10 years of yoga, I’m learning how to just be in a pose, without the need to keep moving, and without the need to be constantly surprised by the next pose in the sequence. I’ve also noticed that it’s made my regular Vinyasa practice much stronger and I feel more connected to every movement.
Hot yoga isn’t for everybody, and I do realized there are a lot of styles out there that create the same desired effect for a lot of people, but for me, the community I’ve found, and what I get from every class was worth the initial discomfort. After all, this is just one humble yogi’s opinion 😉
I would like to say a very special “Thank You!” to Liz, and Tiffany from The Haute Yogi, you both have been incredibly supportive, and because of your amazing instruction, I was able to finally conquer my fear of hot yoga.