I fell in love with hot yoga about a year and a half ago. It was a Groupon deal to a local Bikram yoga studio that reeled me in. Convinced by a friend to purchase the discounted classes, I was dragged to my first hot yoga session.
I felt awful after that first class, and not too much better after my second, but I kept going because hot yoga did something to my mind. I was amazed that for the full hour and a half in the hot room I didn’t think about my phone, email, work, finances, or other daily distractions. I was completely present.
Being present was a concept I had heard about before, but never really understood. My mind always jumped around from one task to the next and couldn’t calm itself down. In the hot room I was forced to focus on my breath and the poses. It demanded so much focus that I was unable to think about anything else. It truly was a moving meditation.
Meditation is something I still struggle with, but while in the hot room I am centered and able to obtain a level of focus that has changed my life. I feel calmer, clearer, and happier when I practice hot yoga regularly.
I eventually started to feel good in the hot room. I figured out how much water I needed to drink and when I should and shouldn’t eat beforehand. It became my safe and natural space.
When I switched jobs a few months ago, I found myself with more time to dedicate to yoga. I made it a priority to go to 6pm classes and began to deepen my practice. Going more often than ever before, I obtained an even deeper sense of calm. My anxieties lessened, I started to care less about outside influences, and ultimately felt better about life, no matter what was happening.
So when Modo Yoga Columbus proposed a 30 Day Challenge — 30 classes in 30 days — I signed up immediately.
The journey of completing 30 classes in 30 days was tougher than I anticipated. I thought that since I was already doing hot yoga most days of the week, it couldn’t be that much harder. Well, I was wrong and it was pretty darn difficult.
Life happens, and going to class every day was almost impossible. Also, my body started to get sore and I desperately wanted a break… a night on my couch… but taking breaks meant that I had to make up multiple classes in one day. I ended up completing 5 or 6 “doubles” and promise I won’t be doing another double session anytime soon.
Yet it was during those doubles that I learned the most about myself. Yoga is both physical and mental, and when I entered the hot room with a negative attitude, it showed. If I doubted my ability to make it through a double class, the second was harder than the first and when I remained positive about the experience, I did great in both. We are capable of so much. We just have to believe it.
I also learned self forgiveness. At the beginning of the month I pushed myself to do every pose and every sequence, but I started to fizzle out, fast. It wasn’t until I allowed myself to have a break, a moment to regroup, that I felt better. Taking a break didn’t diminish my experience or the results of my practice, it in fact allowed me to do and feel more. I eventually learned to praise myself for these breaks rather than diminish my self worth.
Mountain pose also gained new meaning for me. Called tadasana, it is the foundation for all other standing poses, and it is restorative and centering. It’s also seemingly basic, but I learned during the 30 day challenge just how empowering it can be. I returned to this posture whenever I needed to calm my breath or reconnect with the moment. It is now a larger part of my practice and something I can return to whenever I’m in need.
Luckily I also made new connections. With a small group of yogis completing the challenge, we got to know each other quickly. It’s amazing how close you can become with another individual when you go through double classes together!
I am so thankful for this experience and for all those I was able to share it with! I will always look back on October 2015 with thanks, pride, acceptance and joy.