A couple of weeks ago the humidity and heat of a Chicago summer hit the area full on. Although, for some reason, the sun isn’t really shining too much, it is still super sticky. Because of this I have severely struggled in the hot room. As in week two of Bikram Yoga Teacher Training, wanting to die my heart is pumping so hard, struggled.
Faithfully, every day I would think, “This class will be different! I will rock this class! I will get used to the summer heat.” And yet, every day, I found myself taking a break at some point within the 90-minute session. It was finally on last Thursday when I couldn’t rally at all during the Spine Strengthening Series, but instead laid there in total defeat, that I understood what the problem was.
You see, it wasn’t the heat at all (it usually never is). Yes, it is summer. Yes, my core temperature is higher than it would be at the beginning of class than it is during the winter months. Yes, I am hydrated and pumped full of electrolytes in every possible way. I eat good food, I take care of myself, and I do everything I can to make sure that I don’t hit these walls during my practice. It’s easy to blame the heat, but for me during the summer I have something else to blame.
It’s the coffee. I have a single cup each morning around 6am as I sit cuddled up with my sweet dog and a good book. It’s the way I start every day, my morning ritual, my one, “Ahhh, this is totally for me moment.” It lasts about 15 minutes and then I’m up and running with whatever craziness I’m working on at the moment before I head to the studio to teach and take class.
But as I lay there in belly down Savasana during that Thursday class and searched my mind for what could possibly be making my heart hammer like this, I knew it was the coffee. It happens every summer and yet I’m always surprised that it makes such a difference. The first time I ever took a seat in the room was in the summer months long before Teacher Training or even thoughts about Teacher Training had come to mind. I came home cranky with myself for having to take the break and moaning about it to my husband.
“It’s the coffee,” he said.
“No it’s not, I have a cup of coffee everyday,” I whined.
“You have never practiced this much before and your blood is thinner. It’s the coffee.”
So, the next day I went to the studio, bleary eyed and grumpy with no coffee in my system out to prove to my darling husband that he has no idea what he’s talking about. But, you know what? I had a great class and knew he was right. There was such a huge difference. Ugh. The husband is right and I have to give up one of my few vices. Double ugh.
And each summer for some reason I go through this. I get to about mid-June and realize the only way I am going to take advantage of all of the great things that the summer months can do for my practice (your core temperature is higher and you can actually go deeper during these months because of it, usually seeing a huge leap in the progression of your practice) is if I, sadly give up the coffee.
So, I am two days in. I’ve gone from coffee to tea, which for some reason doesn’t bother me half as much. My classes are easier, I am happier, and yet, I am so darn tired. I randomly fell asleep in the car yesterday on the way to see family. I fell asleep in my husband’s very loud, very fast, Ford Mustang in which every stop light is a potential adrenaline rush as he guns it to go as fast as he can. But, I know tomorrow will be the last of it. The coffee jet lag usually only lasts about 3 days and then I can get on with summer, practice, and life in general.
The great thing about the Bikram Yoga practice is that it always waves a red flag in your sweaty, dripping face when something is wrong. The heat helps you get in touch with what is working and what is not. One of the hardest classes I ever had was the day after I went to the movies and indulged in popcorn and a soda. What is in that stuff?
Remember every body is different. I have tons of students that walk into the studio, coffee in hand and have a great class. I simply cannot do it. I also have students that have told me that they gave up certain foods that they realized weren’t working for them once they devoted themselves to hitting the hot room on a regular basis. Always pay attention to what the body is saying. If you have a string of bad classes, it’s not the room, it’s not the yoga, it is simply something else that you are doing away from the studio. Try and figure it out.
How has your hot yoga practice affected what you eat or how you eat each day? Leave a comment below or head to the Facebook Page to be part of the conversation.
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