One of the new things I tried in 2016 was… Hot Yoga.
For those of you not used to Yoga lingo… Hot Yoga (the style I practice is of the “Bikram” style) is a series of 26 postures, performed twice, in a room heated to around 37 degrees Celsius with 40% humidity…. in 90 minutes. Sounds like hell? I thought so, too.
Me? Yoga? Are you crazy?
The only reason I gave it a go is because I had two people independently (they don’t even know each other) bug me about trying it out. Now, I have attention deficit disorder and I need a lot of stuff going on around me to feel at peace – weird, I know. I dabbled with a few yoga classes a few years ago but – to be very honest – I got bored. And the stillness was my version of hell. I couldn’t do the postures, my mind was going a million miles a minute and I felt anxious and awkward. After two classes of that, I wrote off yoga – it wasn’t stimulating enough for me.
So for two people who know me pretty damn well to suggest I try “hot yoga” for 90 minutes… I felt as though I was on an episode of Punk’d. But, these are people I trust with my life so I thought, what the hell – if it is anything like before or worse (now its in a heated room!) I will forever have “I-told-you-so” bragging rights.
Disclaimer 1: These are my perceptions and experiences.
Disclaimer 2: I’m Indian – (well, of Indian ancestry – my family has been in South Africa for more than a few generations) and while Indian people should do yoga or be good at it.; I’m not that kind of Indian (I suck). I just look… tanned. 😛
I got to my first class on a Saturday morning at 7:30am.
What. The. Hell.
I walked into that room wanting to sprint back out! So hot. So humid. Already near sweat.
After the first BREATHING exercise – I was into full sweat mode. And that was just breathing. I was convinced I was going to die. Convinced. But I somehow miraculously made it through the class (I did all but two postures).
And something weird happened. My mind went “blank”. In the room, trying to survive the class (literally just trying to keep myself alive) while listening to the instructor and focusing on putting my body where it needs to be. It was…peace, relaxing, contentment. That’s what it felt like. And THOSE are brand new feelings for me! I felt like I checked out of life, my problems, my issues for an hour (it took me a while to stop thinking) and that felt AMAZING.
Once you hit that final corpse pose, you are so sweaty and almost proud that you survived the class (even if you didn’t do all the poses). You walk out of the room and a rush of cool air hits you – it’s heavenly.
Me = Emotional wreck.
I could not keep hold of my emotions and feel “blegh”. And tears. A fair amount. But it almost felt like a release (trust me, I know how weird and “out there” this sounds). After googling, I realised it was normal. Normal? These yoga people are crazy, I thought.
I went back five days later. I don’t know why – I seemed to be drawn there.
It was a shorter class – 60 minutes, you only do some of the postures twice – not all. But I felt as though my HEART WAS BREAKING IN TWO when in “Camel pose”. I really thought my heart was being ripped out of my chest and crushed. However, after I stepped out of that room and had my protein shake… I felt lighter (here I mean emotionally, not just the copious amounts of fluid I lost sweating).
And I wasn’t emotional at all. Win for me! And I went back, and back, and back….
So yes, I had to go back to P and V and tell them they were right. I resisted doing this for a long time…. 😛
Still a newbie to yoga, I do feel “changed” in some way and I almost seem addicted to it.
When I practise at least twice a week, I find myself WANTING to take better care of myself: eating healthier, sleeping well, feeling less burnt-out, drinking more water and electrolyte supplements and being more in the moment – I can actually concentrate a little (weird feeling for me). Now on holiday, and not having practised in a few weeks – I feel all those good things disappear – slipping into bad habits of junk food, low energy, irritability.
You may think the same repetition of poses is boring, especially for an ADD-er like me. That was my assumption too. But its not the case for me at all. Somedays I can’t do a damn pose without falling out of it. Other days I can last a bit longer. And there have been a few days where I could do it! I think knowing which poses come next also helps my need for control.
The heat really keeps my mind blank and at peace (well, that’s peace to me)…and you get to a point in the class where you don’t care about comparing yourself to other people. Its hard to not try to compare myself other people but you get to a space where you focus on yourself. I can’t seem to look at myself in the eyes yet – so I focus on my leg/ knee/ shoulders. And I’m still very body conscious, you won’t see me in a sports bra and tiny shorts/ figure hugging yoga pants (don’t laugh, but its kinda my goal – and to look myself in the eyes).
I am not so emotional anymore (damn backbends) but it all depends on how I am doing on the day and how I treated myself that week. If it was a crazy week where I repressed a lot of emotion/ feelings – be assured the class will be tough for me. If it was a busy, angry week – I am more determined in class (almost to the point of over-doing it with poses and risking injury).
I practise mainly at Zen Hot Yoga World in Bryanston, Sandton (Johannesburg, South Africa) as it is closer to me. I have also had a few private classes with the awesome Eliza (I’ll write more about my facilitation sessions with her in another post) at the eco-friendly Yoga Republic studio in Randburg and will definitely try out the more adventurous “Air Yoga” classes and the calmer “stretching” class in the new year.
Here are some of my personal tips to help… or at least I try to follow them
- I have never sweated that much in my life. Towels for the mat are a must – I try not to wipe off the sweat during class as it does interfere with the temperature homeostasis (yay for my biology-driven brain!)
- Tie-up hair – the sweat pours off me… and my hair is drenched!
- Eat a little a fair amount of time before you go to class (for me its coffee (strong with a smidgen of milk, no sugar) and a handful, or two of almonds… and a banana about 30 minutes before class
- Stay hydrated! I like to sip on an electrolyte supplement/ coconut water before class, water during (sips only)
- I like my protein shake with L-glutamine AFTER class – again, sipping it while sitting down recovering after class (NEVER drink a protein shake before class…. it will end badly, you WILL feel like throwing up especially during the poses where you are on your tummy)
- Finish the electrolyte supplement/coconut water
- Lukewarm – cool shower when you get home (I don’t do cold showers)… it feels really good!
Till next time