Hot Yoga: Through the Eyes of a Beginner

By Moira Gardener

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So, what's the buzz around hot yoga? Hot yoga or Bikram yoga is done at room temperatures of 110 F [43 C].

I’m a beginner and I would say a typical Canadian. A curious person by nature, I’m always ready to try what's new. My introduction to hot yoga was through a bunch of colourful balloons dancing in the breeze - odd, but true. They were attached to a yoga street sign. What crossed my mind when they caught my attention was, “I tried Yoga once and liked it.” So, a happenstance led to my hot yoga experience.

I stopped and found a new yoga studio opening up. “Come to a free introductory class and try it out,” they offered. “Our next class is tomorrow.” Free yoga sounded good to me. I wasn't sure about the hot part; I really don’t like heat, in any form. I’m more the igloo type, but yoga - you bet.

Donning what I typically wear cycling, a pair of spandex shorts (no they were not padded) and a red T-shirt, I headed into my first class. It took extreme willpower to simply stay in the room, and being somewhat conservative, I admired the bravado of the outfits being worn. I still had that middle-age spread happening and the T-shirt covered it nicely.

My first class, I deemed a success due to the fact I didn’t faint or puke and managed to stay in the room. I left wondering why anyone would go through this torture. But I had to admit, the participants were svelte, fit and calm - a definite plus; add to this the fact that it was a family enterprise and I decided once was not a fair trial. So, I bought a short-term pass on sale, of course, as I'm a bargain hunting Canadian.

I went home and dug out some long-forgotten summer tank top, as the T-shirt was a killer. The cycling shorts, well I couldn't quite part with them just yet. Thus clad, I headed back to the studio. I quit more times than I went, but the people were patient and generous - they kept extending my deadlines. They knew a time would come when I realized how much I was getting from my yoga practice.

I stopped, started, stopped and started again, until not only could I stay in the room without fainting, puking or falling over, but I actually started to like it and LOOK FORWARD to going. Hot yoga gave me more energy. I was losing weight and, to be honest, I wasn't even trying to lose weight. I showed up consistently and practised more often.

After a year, I took out an annual membership and started to get others involved. I felt wonderful, had energy and my ankles (my own personal weak spots) were strengthening.

Then winter came, bringing with it a personal health crisis. I had to have some major surgery (a surprise) and hot yoga became a sanctuary. I did not allow myself to take my concerns into the yoga room. It was simply a place to come, feel the heat and relax. I had to be away from practice for months but gradually returned. It became a place of comradeship, and as I got to know the people in my yoga community, I marvelled at their journeys; people in therapy, recovering from burnout or from car accidents. Of course, not everyone is in a state of recovery, as I was, but those who were became personal inspiration. I have worked out my post-surgical trauma with quiet tears in the yoga room. It has become a place with no judgment, a place of grounding, a place for me to simply be. I love that yoga is always referred to as a practice, and that we are reminded every time will be different; and being in the moment is paramount. I love the letting go I have been able to do.

It has been almost three years since I began this journey. I try to set myself up for success. I know the more one practises the better one gets, but I leave the temptation to guilt trip out of this equation and do what I can. I'm simply trying to master consistency. I realize the days I really don't want to practise are the days I get the most benefit. I still have times when I must be away, but I always come back. Of all the supplements, activities, and wellness rituals I have tried, it’s my hot yoga practice that has helped me turn a corner.





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Showing 1 to 2 of 2 comments.

I am glad that I found this article. I tried my first hot yoga class on Monday night. I put down my mat near the door thinking that it would get cooler. That never happened. I completed the class to the best of my ability and I was ok with that. I have had nightmares every night since of suffocating in the heat. First, it was scary just going into this yoga class, now the heat. I hope it will get better and not need psychological therapy because of this new adventure. I too am Canadian and cold is good.

Posted by Eleonore | April 17, 2014 Report Violation

I found this article very inspiring. I am really good at starting exercise programs and then drifting away, including the traditional yoga. Getting to the class in the proper attire...I can relate to that..but staying constant is the hard part. Maybe it's time to try again.

Posted by Nancy Villalobos | February 9, 2012 Report Violation

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