Ode to Hot Power Yoga

I can't intelligently explain why I love to practice hot yoga and to drip, drip, drip like a leaky faucet - it just feels so good. But yoga is more than just physically feeling good, even more wonderful is mentally feeling good. I started practicing yoga over 30 years ago when I quit smoking. Originally I started the practice to avoid packing on weight when I quit smoking and it worked. As I continued with the practice(I took a class a week and practiced an hour at home every day) I found that not only was I feeling physically changed but mentally changed. Life didn't seem so hard, problems not as large as before, my mind was clearer and life felt wonderful. I practiced yoga for many years and then I had my first child. I continued to still take exercise classes but I don't know why I abandoned my yoga practice. I never went back to my yoga practice even though I loved doing yoga. A moved to another state took me far way from my yoga teachers and I didn't think to look for a studio in my new community. The years went by and my life once again changed. My children are all grown adults now. I have more free time then when I was raising a family. One day, on a road that I drive down everyday, I passed a hot yoga and Pilates studio. I never noticed this sign before. I am intrigued and all the wonderful memories and feeling that I have buried for years about yoga come rushing back. When I get home I goggle the studio and read about Hot Vinyassa Power Flow Yoga. I know it's a mouth full. The practice is done in a studio heated to about 98 degrees. Without really thinking, especially since it had been about 25 years since I seriously practiced a very gentle hatha yoga, I drop in the next night for the 90 minute class. I and my body were totally unprepared for what I experience. First it was so hot, the heat felt like it was suffocating me. At the thirty minute mark I thought I couldn't breath. The oppressive hot air was pushing down on my chest(being new to the studio I didn't realize that my mat was in the hottest part of the studio, right under the heating unit!) On top of all that, sweat was poring out of my body, drenching my hair, clothes and towels. At one point with my head pointing down, then up, sweat was seeping into my eyes, nose and ears. Not a pleasant sensation. Now let's talk about my body, yes I knew all the poses(assanas), yes I had practiced yoga for years but that was over 25 years ago and although my mind remembered all the poses; head stand, plow, wheel, bridge and more, my body just wasn't cooperating. I was shocked at how much I couldn't do even though I am very physically fit. I continued on because I am not going to admit my true feelings, that I want to run from class and just take a deep cool breath and strip out of these smelly, sweat drenched clothes. Finally the class is over. When I get home my husband takes one look at my drenched clothes and red face in disbelief that I paid to look this way and that I am going back again. I did pay, I said and I'm going back for more. I'm hooked again on yoga: to that indescribably feeling I get when I finish my practice and the fact that this practice is fast passed and hot just make it all the better. I am devotee of hot yoga. It sound so good!
I've been going to class two to three times a week for about 3 years now.(I wish I could practice ever day!) I embrace the heat and the physically challenging postures, wanting more when the ninety minute class is over. When I first started back I couldn't wait for each posture to be over but now I want to hold them forever! I enjoy all the different teachers styles and what they each bring individually to my practice. As I said I was already physically fit but I can tell you that I lost weight and went down a size with out dieting or changing my eating habits.(believe me this is true!!) I can see the changes in my body. And I am asked all the time how I became thinner and fitter. I respond like a total moonie gushing on and on about hot yoga. Hot yoga is keeping the middle age spread away. I am and I feel physically stronger. More important is the mental strength, clarity, focus and peace that I've gained through my yoga practice and to me that is what keeps me going to my mat with passion. This past year I faced more challenges in my life than I have ever known and because of my practice and the strength I gained from going to my mat, I never lost my belief that life is wonderful and to embrace all that you face with out judgment or fear.
I will never leave my practice of yoga again. This much I know, that maybe I had to be away for a long time to truly appreciate the gift of the practice of yoga. A gift I will treasure always.


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