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.
DECEMBER 2009 SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER ISLAND
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