Sweat glistening, long muscles lengthening, stretching deeply, your breathing becomes heady and heavy. The air is hot and each physical movement begins to feels more like honey than the last. Yes hot yoga is hot. But it’s not just about the sweating that makes it that way. It is the whole entire experience. Hot yoga is a sensual experience.
Now that I am teaching hot yoga classes at URU in Pensacola,….I am not just sweating more than my usual cool classes. I am finding the hot classes are so different than the regular classes that I teach in a controlled cool environment. Not better…different. A lot of people feel skeptical about the need to raise the temp to 100 degrees. Perhaps they see flash and not substance. But Hot Yoga is not a fad: air conditioning is. Think about where Yoga originated from, India. India is pretty hot, and perhaps the heat was part of what made yoga become Yoga. Hot Yoga has been around as long as Yoga has.
A Hot Yoga class is definitely different. Physically and consciously on many levels. When you practice in a Hot Yoga class, you become aware of your space, not the surrounding space but more internal space. You become aware of yourself. You become more attuned within your own body and the mind/body connections are simply heightened. Sweating is a very physical parasympathetic response, like your pulse. When a yoga practice moves from noticing what’s happening with your muscles and bones to turning inward and witnessing your pusles, sweat, prana it becomes a moving meditative practice. Witnessing a drop of sweat rolling off the tip of your nose and onto the mat below can be as transcending as watching a bead of water hanging on a leaf. In a Hot Yoga class, you aren’t just moving through the flow and sequence of asanas. The added sensation of sweating blissfully heightens the physical experience to another level and your muscles and tendons respond to the heat by softening. Openings that might not otherwise happen as easily in a cool class, come more naturally in a hot class. For that reason you have to be very careful in a hot class to not push too much and to learn how to observe and play your edge in a more elegant honest way. It’s a great opportunity to refine and simplify your practice.
Another interesting thing that one of my fellow teachers at URU Yoga and Beyond mentioned, was that the hot classes that she started taking with me were helpful for her Fibromyalgia flares. Although this is only one person’s experience, after looking into on the web it seems to be something that helps other people suffering with this also. When fibromyalgia is flaring essentially your pain sensors are on full volume. The stretching, and especially the heat has been helpful to her and that is such a blessing.
If you decide to give Hot Yoga a try remember to be careful during the practice by not pushing too hard, moving too quickly or stretching too deeply. Keep yourself hydrated before you arrive and during the class, and take time to recover at any moment you feel you need to. If you haven’t taken a Hot Yoga class because you are a yoga “purist”, maybe giving one class a try is the best way to find out if the experience is right for you? I hope you do!
I teach hot yoga at URU Yoga and Beyond on Thursdays at 5:15 and again on Monday’s at 8 am. Feel free to check the schedule for a full class listing of offerings.