It’s getting hot in here…..
The summer heat wave is in full swing here in North Carolina. Those warm sun rays are bringing with it new growth, possibilities, and constant daydreams of hitting the beach.But, nature is not the only thing heating up. Hot yoga has hit the yoga scene hard and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, anytime soon. Originally, hot yoga derived from the practice of Biikram Yoga which was brought to
the U.S. in the early 70s and became the most widely known form of hot yoga performed typically at 105 degrees. In the past 5 years hot yoga started to come more mainstream and has flowed over to many different styles of yoga, including studios devoted solely to the practice. Personally, I am a creature of habit. My practice, love, and obsession with yoga really developed during my young adult life in Los Angeles. And what a place to discover this passion! Options, teachers, and styles were endless. I really found my niche with power yoga and as a creature of habit stuck to this practice.Nothing in life is constant, and changes are what makes us who we are. I decided to make a major life change and relocate to the beautiful mountains of Asheville North Carolina. Once again, I found myself in an area whose yoga scene made my heart jump with joy. Embracing this opportunity, I widened my perspective and made a choice to try new styles of yoga.
And this brings me to where I tried hot yoga.
Hot yoga, seems to be a controversial subject. Some people dig it and some people don’t. There are multiple studies out there, declaring this practice is terrible for your body, and other studies that sings it’s praises. The debate boils down to whether or not it actually detoxifies, the amount of calories burnt, and whether or not the heat helps with the stretching of muscles, or causes artificial flexibility leading to injury.
Yoga Anonymous does a great job simplifying the benefits and you can read more on this here if you are interested: http://yoganonymous.com/eight-benefits-of-hot-yoga/ As for the counter argument, Time Magazine did an interesting study and can be read here: http://time.com/2967716/you-asked-is-hot-yoga-good-for youand-for-weight-loss/
I will let you decide on your own thoughts on the health benefits and risks. Both sides seem very valid to me. What I learned from the practice did not really have to do with the physical, but more of the mental lesson, to trust ourselves.
It was 6 am on a Monday morning in North Carolina. Mist still laid heavy on the mountain and I entered the room. It was hot. Really hot. Granted, I have been spoiled by the constant 75 degree and low humidity of southern California for the past 8 years, so perhaps I was being a little dramatic. I rolled out my mat and began my Ujjay breath. It felt heavy and difficult. The air felt thick and I was already breaking a sweat by breathing. I told myself to embrace it, that this was a new challenge of staying present and calm in an environment I was not comfortable or use to (which seemed to be a underlying theme the past couple months of my life as a whole, moving from the west coast to the east, is not necessarily a walk in the park). My body was gradually adjusting to the warmth, I tried my best to clear my thoughts, embrace the current situation, and then I was ready to dive on in.
The teachers Irish accent was as heavy as the air and I adored her. The class flowed and was a combination of vinyasa flow with heavier stretching. Overall, the difficulty and pace was less intense then my usual power yoga flow. But, it felt hard. I struggled. My mind wandered, I was pouring sweat, and I had a difficult time getting to my zen zone. Following the class, I felt dehydrated, my head ached, and overall I felt slightly frustrated.
My dear friend joined me in this class. When the class was ending she rolled up her mat with a gleaming smile and said “Wasn’t that fantastic! Doesn’t your whole body feel alive?” I thought about this for a couple days. How could two experienced yogis taking the same class have such a different experience? And how far should we push our comfort zone to truly expand our perspective?
So I tried another class. And once again, my body did not like it. Nor did my mind.
I realized something very important, we need to listen to our hearts and to our bodies. We need to trust our internal instinct. Each one of us are on our own journey and what might be right for someone else does not mean it is right for you. And that is ok. That in fact, is what makes this world such a thriving and beautiful place, diversity. By tapping into our gut feelings, listening to our physical bodies, and allowing space to try new things, we get closer each day to honoring our true self.
As for hot yoga, it is not for me. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t for you. Do a little research, try a class, and listen to your body. After all, life is just one big experiment and learning experience. Trust yourself and explore more!
I would love to hear about your personal practice with hot yoga. Feel free to share below!