My first yoga class was a prenatal yoga class in 2005. It was slow, unheated, seemingly built strength, and alleviated pain in areas I didn’t know existed. It was good. For whatever reason, I didn’t take another yoga class until 2007. It was hot yoga. When I got back from class P.J. said: “Your face is so red. Are you sure you’re okay?” Okay?! I couldn’t wait to get back. Here’s why:
In my first hot yoga class, I could barely touch my toes without feeling pain in my hamstrings and lower back. I learned to bend my knees more and breathe deeply into the posture. After many classes I was able to increase the flexibility in my hamstrings – I had to keep going back to class and be patient with my body. My mantra: In due time.
Focus & Patience
Speaking of “due time”…. At first, I would set up my mat in the back row watching the advanced practitioners bend into fancy postures and I could still barely stand on one leg. I would quickly compare. Over time, I focused inward on poses, on my state of mind, on me. My mantra: Long, slow breaths.
The first time I felt the burning sensation of sweat dripping in my eyes when I was in a forward fold was seriously uncomfortable. BUT! After I got used to the sweat dripping everywhere, I realized that sweat was cooling me down — and actually detoxifying. Whatever I put in my body the night before, was dripping on my towel (gross!). My mantra: deal with the sweat.
It’s like a drug: I keep going back
People may disagree with this, and perhaps it’s psychological for me, but I swear….the heat helps me get into postures easier (also, following a plant-based diet helps too). Within hours after completing a hot yoga class, my body feels energized, healthy, strong, flexible. Within 12 hours I psychotically look at the schedule for when I can get back. My mantra: get me back in the heat.
Hot yoga may not be for everyone, but I encourage all to try 10 classes of hot yoga in a row. It just may change your practice and will open your mind to other ways of stretching, meditating, strengthening, twisting, smiling, and living.