If you follow me on Instagram, you know I've become obsessed with hot yoga this summer. I've become THAT GIRL who can't stop talking about her workouts. I know, I know. So annoying. BUT. I'm also not sorry, because I have fallen in love with this practice and I don't want to apologize for finding something I love that helps me grow healthier and stronger and happier all around. I've heard from several friends that they've been inspired to try a hot yoga class now, and I love that! I heard someone say recently that the best workout is the workout that works best for you, and I wholeheartedly agree. Even if sweating it out in a 105 degree studio isn't for you, there's bound to be something out there that gets you stoked to move and stretch and sweat!
If you're curious about hot yoga at all, I'd love to answer any of your questions in the comments!
It's been about a month and a half since I took my first class, and I now have an unlimited membership to the studio, so it's safe to say I'm not quitting this habit any time soon.
Here are some of the ways hot yoga has changed my life:
- I've learned how to create space. This is a phrase often tossed around in yoga classes, but I've realized just how important it is in all areas of my life. Whether twisting to open my body up more in a complicated pose, or carving out time to show up to class, or prioritizing people in my busy calendar, there are many things worth creating space for.
- I've learned the value of staying on my mat. There are times I want to give up and just walk out of the room, but I've learned to stay. Even if staying means I rest in child's pose instead of keeping up with the class, I haven't quit once. Staying and pressing in has led to greater breakthroughs both physically and personally.
- I can do more than I thought I could do. Who knew I could do crow pose? Who knew I could do bird of paradise? Who knew I could do a headstand and actually hold it on my own for a few seconds? Not me. Not until I took the risk and tried it.
- It's not about what everyone else is doing or not doing, it's about my own practice. I love this lesson-- it's been huge. I've taken this into more of my life outside of the studio and it's been huge. Stay in YOUR lane. Focus on YOUR growth and progress. Keep your eyes on your own paper.
- I've been reminded that breath is essential. Every class, the instructor mentions just how important our breathing is. As someone prone to anxiety, it's been crucial to remember this when I start to feel stressed or panicky too. There is a lot that becomes easier when you remember to breathe deeply.
- I've seen myself grow stronger, more flexible, and more able class by class. Progress is slow, but it is happening, and it's so cool to see that.
- I've grown comfortable and confident in my own skin. I can feel my body changing, muscles getting more toned, etc. And I feel less self conscious about what I look like, because I'm busy praising my body for the things it can do. That's a win.
- I've stopped being afraid of the ways my body reacts. Namely: how much I sweat during 60+ minutes in a 105 degree studio. Because it is A LOT and I am not embarrassed about that because I am working hard and moving quickly and raising my heart rate and all of these are good things. (And everyone else is sweating buckets too.)
- I've had a place to confront emotions as they rise to the surface. When you commit to showing up and staying on your mat, you're also committing to face whatever happens while you're there. Recently, that meant facing a panic attack head on with nowhere to go. It was terrifying, but it felt like a safe place in a lot of ways, and I was grateful for the reminders to keep breathing and keep moving as I processed those emotions and worked through them. (before running out to my car the second class ended to cry without anyone seeing me. #keepingitreal)
- I realized I could rise to harder challenges than I anticipated. I've never been good at really pushing myself, but hot yoga has helped. And I'm now thinking about all the other things I could probably do if I just pushed myself to try.
- I've been reminded of the beauty and power of voices singing out in unity together. Starting and ending class with rounds of om has been a beautiful thing. It can feel a little out there and weird if you aren't used to yoga, but I love hearing all of our voices join together as we sing out one note for as long as our breath allows. It's a powerful reminder of the strength that comes when we join together and speak out.
- I'm humbled to hear "the light and soul in me honors the light in soul in you" as class closes. I look forward to how every instructor will end class. Their little "benedictions" before we bow together and say "namaste" are always lovely and humbling.
- I've gotten excited about exercise like never before in my life. HOLLA AT THAT. I love working out now! Who would have ever thought?! (Answer: not me)
- I've woken up before the sun several times a week to show up at my mat while the rest of the world is still sleeping. 5:30 am is a really magical time to drive through the quiet streets of your city. And I never would have done that several times a week if it weren't for these classes. I love the peaceful time just before sunrise.
- I've learned how to accept assistance and adjustments from the instructors. Every class, instructors walk around and help you settle into poses or correct your stance, and while that sounded intimidating at first (especially as someone NOT into physical touch), I've become so grateful for the ways they help coach me along. Having someone help move your body the right way helps you feel how things are supposed to be, and it only makes you better for the next time you try it out.
- I've learned how to fuel and hydrate my body well. You cannot show up to a hot yoga class and expect to do well and not pass out if you haven't been treating your body well. I've become even more committed to my water-drinking habit (at least 100 ounces a day!) and in fueling my body with good, clean food. It makes such a difference.
- I've discovered how to better listen to the cues my body is giving me as I practice. Sometimes, I need to push to my limit. Sometimes, I need to sit back and rest. Being in tune with what my body is telling me is a skill I am learning.
- I'm stronger in general. And that? Feeling strength come to my body and my brain and my heart through hard work and stretching beyond comfort zones and trying new things? That makes every drop of sweat so precious and so worth it.