How the heat can improve your yoga practice and your life
I have been an athlete my entire life and I still couldn’t believe how much I sweat after my first hot yoga class. I sweat in places I didn’t even know I could (where was it coming from and why do I smell the beer I drank last night with dinner???)
I walked out wringing out my shirt like a wet rag. After chugging some water and heading home, I took a shower and felt like a brand new person- like a snake shedding its skin from all the gook that was on my body and inside it.
I mean think about it. How much are we really exposing ourselves to each day? You wake up, take a shower using soap, water, shampoo, maybe put on lotion, make up, put on clothes with detergent, drink some coffee and eat breakfast, bring the kids to school, go to work or go to school. We eat lunch, shake hands in meetings, file paperwork, type on computers, converse with more people, pick up the kids from school and all that they’ve contracted. Take the kids to practice or go to practice in a stuffy gym with recycling oxygen, grab some fast food for dinner, get home and lay in sheets that you haven’t washed in a few weeks. The list goes on. Needless to say, we allow so many toxins in each day with little knowledge on how to get them out.
So I decided to shed my skin a few times a week and then the cycle began. The competitive athlete in me couldn’t wait to try the harder pose. My hamstrings turned from wire to elastic, my upper body turned from body builder to runner, and my hips (which supposedly carry a lot of stress) spilled their tense contents every time I stepped on my mat. I even noticed it was easier for me to turn my body when I was backing out of a parking spot. Like how did I get my shoulder all the way around the seat? Hot yoga was helping me drive better?
I not only noticed what it was doing to my physical body, but also became more aware of what I was putting on and inside my body. That lotion I was using? Left my skin feeling uncomfortably sticky. The detergent I used on my clothes? Made me break out in hives after any form of sweating. The chicken and pasta I ate for dinner? Made my stomach feel bloated and uncomfortable. The beer I drank Saturday night? Sweat right out of my system on the Sunday afternoon class (goodbye hangover).
Not only did my physical body feel these changes, but mentally I felt more clarity, more creativity, and even determination to finish my 15-page term paper due the following week. Yoga was my time- where I could challenge my physical body and give my overscheduled mind a break. Oh- and the last pose- “savasana” or what I like to call “let me just lay here forever” pose, gives your mind and your body an extra 5 minutes to chill out, close your eyes, and recuperate. Gym workouts don’t give you that.
So an hour of your day that allows you to detox, work out, and create peace of mind?
I’ll see you on the mat.