I already know what you’re thinking, “You’re crazy!”
Yeah, you’re right; I probably am.
But when I purchased that New Student Special a couple weeks ago for a yoga studio right down the block, I knew I had to make it worth it. Honestly, I want to go even more, but I’m making it as often as I can which is enough for me. But I realized there was something a little insane about it all when I walked out of the studio, and the outdoors (heatwave = 90+ degrees) felt COOL.
So, back to the Yoga. I think the minutes before the class began were the best minutes I’ve had all week. I rushed-rushed-rushed home, changed so fast I was nearly dizzy, and ran out the door to catch a bus to the studio. We’re in the middle of a heat wave here in the Northeast which means that
it feels like Florida the heat hits you smack in the face like a wet steamy wall and instantly makes you sweat. So, add my already elevated heart rate from rushing to the left-over heat from the class before us, and I was sweating even before class began. Hm – this probably doesn’t sound appealing at all. But I’m getting to the good part! As people filtered in and waited for class to begin, everyone kind of finds their own zen state. I laid on my back on my mat, closed my mind and my eyes, and realized there was no where else I needed to be or should be; there was nothing I needed to do; there was no upcoming event that I needed to stress about; that I could guiltlessly lay flat on my back in a room and close my eyes and simply be. That is amazing.
During the actual class part, there was lots of sweating, shaking, downward dogs, vinyasas, breathing, ohms, sweating, and did I mention sweating? I remember when I first heard about heated yoga….I thought it was ridiculous. Who voluntarily works out in an intentionally heated space over 90 degrees?! Only those crazy crunch yogi types would think of something like that. But, I’m here to tell you, they have something awesome going on in that space.
I’ve never felt so in tune with every muscle fiber in my body. I’ve never been able to twist so many pretzly ways (yes, that’s a technical term). I’ve never been able to hold a plank in a/c’d gyms as long as I can in heated yoga. I’ve never had a clearer mind than I do when I’m in that space. I’ve never breathed as well as I can while I’m practicing heated yoga.
I can’t tell you when I transitioned from that “always in my head” person who can’t grasp the concept of “that yoga stuff” to this person who really enjoys it…..but I can tell you it happened. I think that letting go of all the anger, fear, anticipation, insecurity, unhealthiness that I had before I moved to Boston helped. I think that I thought I had an open mind in Florida, but I’ve learned to be even more open here and I’ve learned to enjoy a variety of things. I’ve learned that things I thought didn’t matter are important, and other things that seems so important before are merely trivial steps along the way.
I do not recommend yoga to people who aren’t ready for it. I tried yoga in Florida once, before I was ready, and I thought it was a ridiculous waste of time. It was over 5 years before I gave it a chance again. But honestly, if you can’t embrace the idea of letting go of your deadlines, projects, jobs, kids, dogs, groceries, to-do lists, shopping lists, hit lists, etc then yoga isn’t for you. We all like to think we have an open mind, but even if you’re less honest out loud, be honest with yourself: if you feel any contempt toward the idea of yoga, the people who rave about it, or the lifestyles they practice, then you’re not ready. If you walk in there with expectations, you’ won’t like it. I got to my first heated yoga class in desperation of mixing up my workouts and adding anything new. From my crazy 2x/day strength, high intensity workouts, to heated yoga was a welcome reprieve for my mind and a healthy challenge both physically and mentally.
Although yoga enhances my strength (especially with all those vinyasas!), gives my mind a break, sends my heartrate through the clouds, leaves me a sweaty mess, it is in no way an everyday or only workout for me. Sometimes, I just need a Cardiobox or spinning class, nature run, city run, or pool workout to give me endorphins to keep going. But yoga is the perfect balance to my workout variety. I’m not a yogi, but for the first time in my life I respect them in a new way, support (most of) their ideals and values, and can relate to their love of the mat.
Do you like yoga?
(funny anecdote: these pictures came via hilarious photoshoot in my living room with my roommate yelling poses at me, critiquing to photogenicness of each post, and snapping pictures before I fell over in fatigue…)