Have you ever left a hot yoga class and felt completely wiped out for the rest of the day? I remember in my yoga beginnings, about 8 years ago now, this would happen every once in awhile and it always left me wondering why? Didn’t the instructor yammer on and on about how yoga was one of the few activities that gives you energy instead of taking it away? That it was the gas tank fueling us up for the rest of the day?
Last night I taught the most amazing class. It was the kind of class in which the students moved in exact synchronicity with one another, in which every correction was heard and completed. There was a beautiful stillness in between the postures. You could hear the breath of the practitioners create this unified sound, as if they were a choir trying to sing a single note in perfect unison. After the class was completed, several questions were asked about how to go deeper into certain postures, what correct form was, or how to deal with certain physical limitations. These people were serious about their yoga.
Not serious in a bad way – but curious, ready to learn, and seeking a greater discipline in their practice. They already seem to know that there is no perfect in yoga, just being in class, trying their hardest, was perfect enough. These students had already let go of some stuff – not all of it, but enough that it wasn’t getting in the way of them fueling up their tank, helping to give them enthusiasm for their practice, and what it was bringing into their life.
There are so many things that all of us do (teachers included!) that can really take the wind out of our sails in a hot yoga, or Bikram Yoga class. Most of the time just being aware of what some of our quirks are is a huge step towards change in our practice. The smallest things can take away from your time in the hot room, including, but definitely not limited to:
- Leaning into the drama. I often see students indicate how hard they are working. Falling out of postures with bravado, making, “ I am working so hard,” faces in the mirror, or moaning on their mats. Believe me, I know you are working hard. That’s what you showed up to do. When you stop putting energy into these things you will have more energy for the postures and the discipline of the practice.
- Wiping the sweat. I used to love my hand towel. It really wasn’t until teacher training that I had to let it go and just let the sweat drip. The more you towel off in the hot room the more your body has to work to create more sweat to cool you off. So, I know it feels great to wipe and swipe, but you’re actually making it harder on yourself in the long run.
- Fixing the hair or pulling on the outfit. This seems like a tiny thing, but if you are futzing with the hair, the outfit, the headband, the hair tie, the mat, or the hand towel in between every single posture you are going to wipe yourself out. Just know your appearance is not going to be the same when you leave the room as when you entered it. You will look like you went into the shower with your clothes on. Try and only adjust the clothes or the hair when it becomes something that will truly distract you or steal your focus.
- Grabbing the water bottle. Try and take water when you truly need it. Once or twice throughout class is probably enough. If you are in the standing series and need a sip, try to take it and remain standing. Often we take a seat to get to the water and it becomes a full on break.
- Comparing your practice to your neighbor’s. Your practice is your own. Don’t try and compete with the person next to you. This leads to an aggression in the postures, which will have you forcing a posture to happen instead of allowing the body to open up to it.
- Acting like a professional. When you become a professional at anything you are telling the Universe you already know everything about that subject. In yoga you always want to be open, to hear new things, and explore the deepest parts of our Self. Stay new to your practice every single time you hit the mat. Each posture has layers of learning attached to it. Each breath we notice wakes us up to the Now. Each moment holds new possibilities.
Have you ever gotten wiped out in a hot yoga class and wondered why? What did you have to let go in order to move forward?
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