I think its because after a short 3 month break from it, these past few months being back in the studio, I have a much more awakened sense of how different I am with it and without it.
I read an article recently where the founder of Bikram was being interviewed on the subject and I agree with him. Americans have this idea that yoga in whatever form is to still, serene, quiet, relaxing. Yoga in its purest form (hot) is none of these things. At first. You have to go through the pain and anguish of hot yoga for some time before those things appear. And they don't necessarily appear in a class but when you are out of the studio.
However, for example, on several occasions lately I have had that meditative state right in the middle of class where I lose contact with the room, the people in it, myself. There comes a time, if you are able to, when you lose all sense of anything and everything and its as if you have transported somewhere but yet its like you have evaporated. Then something snaps you back and its almost like a 'whoa, what the hell?'
The other thing that is the way I feel about myself, inside and out, when I am not doing HY and when I am. Its like night and day. Right now I am feeling so strong. People hear yoga and they don't necessarily think you have to be strong. Um. Wrong. There are poses that will rock your face off and make you cuss under your breath. Your limbs will shake from the weight you are having to hold up and because its 110 deg with outrageous humidity, sweat is rolling from every orafice and its hard to keep it together because its hurting so bad.
I suppose, after reading back some of these words, one would wonder why on earth anyone would ever want to put themselves through this, and honestly I can't answer that for anyone other than myself. Mostly, I want to tell you that you won’t always like hot yoga and it will probably push your boundaries a little (okay – a LOT). I personally enjoy being bumped out of my comfy zone. I find that is when I really learn something about myself.
Like that I am now fully able to do this and hold it steady for the full pose (about 20 seconds) x 2.
Starting position (plank)
|Then you begin slooooooooowly lowering your body using only tricep/shoulder/back strength...|
|Side View - lowered and in full pose|
There is nothing like the feeling when you finally master a pose that is not only hard for you, but hard for every single person on the planet. Nothing. I am hurting today because there was no way I was falling from this yesterday. My entire upper back along with my triceps are so sore. Your elbows are so close in to you that the strength from you and your back/triceps is all you have to go with.
It has been a bit more challenging lately because YBC recently replaced the humidity machines in the hot room. For the past couple of months, we've only had 1 and its been on its last leg, so the humidity levels in the room haven't been what they should be. Typically the yogi's I practice with keep the room at about 110deg but its been a bit higher lately to make up for the loss of humidity. However on Tuesday that was no longer the case.
When I walked into the room, for the first time in a while, it took my breath away. The fans were going 90 to nothing, the humidity was high I could tell and I looked at the thermo and it said 127. Um. Today I will surely die on in this room. I slowed the fans down, lowered the temp a bit, but I had no clue how to work the humidity monsters. I took my spot in the room, laid myself out for my 10 min of meditation (something I get there early for) and just laying there, the sweat was rolling off of me.
I am not going to go all in detail about how rough that class was for me, and it took a lot of mental strength, and maybe a time or two I had to stand there for 30 sec or so to let my heart rate drop. Adding the 60% humidity back into the mix gives a whole new dimension to the word challenging.
When I left out of there after 90 min I honestly didn't have my wits about me for about 5 minutes. I was completely drained and a bit looney. But even with that, a heightened sense of 'being' was really what I wanted to focus on. Everything from the past 2 weeks (stress at work) had just melted away along with what I thought was all of my skin. :O)
All that said, the heat will effect people in varying ways and caution should always be exercised. The heated room is a tool and not something you should have to survive against. Always listen to your body and take care of yourself. Proper hydration is essential before, during, and after class. As the sweat rate increases in a hot yoga class, body water loss increases, and without adequate fluid replacement, the body’s ability to dissipate heat is compromised.
One final note, I have found that reminding myself of the benefits that the heated room brings during a difficult part of class completely shifts my energy and I am able to push though those layers of self doubt. It is my hope that this information also helps you in your personal practice.
I encourage everyone to give yoga a try. As I said you may hate it or maybe just not like it very much but give it a few classes before you really settle on that conclusion.
No one likes to be in difficult or uncomfortable situations and that is exactly what you will be putting yourself in, on purpose. My philosphy whether anyone agrees or not, is that if a person continually stays in their comfort zone, never trying anything different because its haaaard...waaah...or its hoooooooot...then really I guess I just don't get who you are as a person. I also find it to be just downright lazy and irresponsible.
This coming Monday, all over Houston, and other cities across the country, its Free Day of Yoga and its the perfect opportunity to try a class! I know yoga in any genre can be expensive but a lot of studios have specials for new students for a week (e.g. $25 unlimited for 7 days at Your Body Center) I will certainly be spending part of my Monday doing something difficult and challenging as opposed to sleeping in, eating too much, drinking too much and being lazy. There are times for that I do agree, but I think a lot of folks should do it less often.
If you do try on Monday during the 2011 Free Day of Yoga in a city near you or anytime in the future here is a good article on what to expect.