Revelations from Bikram Hot Yoga

Cycling on the Yaletown Sea Wall

Seven years ago, I wrote that yoga was at the bottom of my list for the variety of workouts I do however these days, hot yoga is very close to the top. I don’t even consider this a workout because it’s definitely not hard for me physically or mentally as much as it use to be.

To me, Bikram hot yoga is a 90-minute meditation practice under intense conditions done for the simple act of building mental toughness.

Very similar to cycling— but still not as hard as cycling! Hehe.

These days, I rarely have problems with “focus” or a wandering mind— and even when my mind does start to wander, I find it really easy and natural to reign myself back to the moment. When the instructor tells you to sink into the floor while in savasana, I literally feel like I am part of the floor. I’ve somehow garnered the ability to keep my mind so calm and think about absolutely nothing but say, that dot in the ceiling. The last few sessions I’ve done, I dove so deep in the moment that I was seeing aura’s around everyone (similar to a glow you see around a light bulb)— but perhaps that is the combination of hard work, heat, and delirium. Whatever it is, it is pretty mind-bending!

Cycling in California | August 2016
Just another veryyyyyy hot day with endless climbing in the Santa Monica Mountains. These mountains build SO much resilence.

I believe hot yoga helped me prepare for all those scorching hot days riding centuries in the mountains.

I also believe that because of all the extreme temperatures and the influx of emotions I’ve experienced on two-wheelz, it’s reallyyy hard for me to be bothered by the heat (or cold) anymore. I remember all those intensely hard and hot rides we use to do, where there are moments you want get off your bike and lay down in the shade on the side of the road, but you somehow ALWAYS push through.

One thing you need to know is that you are ALWAYS going to be aware of the heat and pain, engulfing and suffocating you so don’t expect that to ever go away. Sometimes it sucks but practice teaches to completely ignore its smothering existence. Practice helps keep your focus in the moment.

A meditation practice never gets rid of the problems, but it puts it into perspective and teaches you “it’s not a big deal.” Your perception of pain and discomfort will suddenly decrease dramatically.

Last week, I introduced my significant other to his first 90min Bikram hot yoga class! He’s been training all his life and is very strong physically and mentally, but I could hear his reluctance when he asked if he should just start with a 60min class. “No, I think you should just go all in,” I chirped enthusiastically.  A lot of people worry about the health consequences of the heat but I already knew he was healthy enough and has a strong enough mindset to take it. I adhere pretty strongly to my “all-or-nothing” mentality when it comes to my well-being, and I think everyone should do the same (within your own limits). 😉 After that initial class, he told me he wanted to “get the eff out of there“— understandably, as most people feel because they had no idea what to expect, but guess what? He stuck through! THAT is the whole point. AND he agreed to a second class tomorrow. I couldn’t be more proud of him!!

Cycling on the Yaletown Sea Wall
I feel grateful to have someone in my life who makes wellbeing a priority, and never says no to anything tough and uncomfortable! Relationships can’t work out if your values aren’t aligned.

With hot yoga, I believe you have to go back a few times to “get use to it” so you can thoroughly enjoy it’s meditational benefits. No one expects you to do any of the poses beyond your abilities and no one cares if you were to even lay down half of the class. If he was one of those people who tried something that was too hard, unbearable, or uncomfortable, and never went back again, I would obviously question my choice in men. Thankfully, he’s not “one of those” and that’s what I love about him!

Unfortunately, I also came across this following quote in my archives:

My first class was meh; I thought it would be a lot harder. My second class was horrible; I was bored and couldn’t focus. My third was the “it” class where I really got into it and pushed myself. My fourth class got even better.

I think my first two classes didn’t go too well because I got bored and still had the “go go go” mindset of someone in their early twenties. My first class wasn’t “hard” because I come from an extremely intense fitness background and have always chased [good] pain + intensity, and unless it’s Crossfit (or similar), I still haven’t found a “classes” around the city that’s as hard as the things we use to put ourselves though.Of course, it’s about how hard you push yourself, along with the selection AND order of exercises in a ciruit.

Anyway, I hope the boyfriend doesn’t have a horrible second class, since he already passed the miserable first class with flying colors. I am going to move forward with much optimism that we all adapt differently, and I sure hope he does… and I hope he never stumbles upon my blog!! I will report back…

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