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Hot yoga has always intimidated me. I thought that I wouldn't be able to handle the high heat and humidity, and that being stuck in a room with a bunch of sweaty strangers would gross me out. I'm not going to lie, I was a little grossed out during my first class. I kept thinking that at any moment some random person would flick their sweat on me, but I'm happy to report that that didn't happen. I was also pleasantly surprised that I didn't pass out from the heat. In fact, I enjoyed my first class so much that I thought it might be fun to see how I felt after a week of hot yoga. Here is what I learned:
I was nervous about my first hot yoga class, everyone seemed so confident and sure of what they were doing, where I clearly had no idea. I was clueless as to what I would need for the class and didn't even think to bring a towel (which seems like such an obvious necessity now), so by the end of class my mat was a squeaky Slip 'N Slide, a test of endurance to see whether or not I would fall on my face. By the end I was so relieved that I had survived, that I couldn't wait to sign up for another session the next day. A few hours later I got a massive migraine, of course, since I didn't drink enough water before or after class. Important lesson learned.
To avoid a repeat of my massive Day 1 migraine, I drank a ton of water before class and avoided caffeine. I also remembered to bring a towel and an extra large water bottle. The second class went significantly better than the first one. I loved the heat and humidity and felt so renewed afterwards. When I got home I made sure to drink a large glass of coconut water and two 32oz bottles of water. I'm happy to report that I did not get a migraine that day. I felt energized and excited for the classes to come.
By my third class, I thought I had the drill down, but it turns out I didn't. I've come to learn that every day and every class is different. On this particular day, I had a hard time finding my balance and had to keep reminding myself that it was only my third class and not to be too hard on myself. That I should be happy that I even made it to yoga three days in a row! After class I hydrated with water and coconut water once again. I felt really happy, like I was doing something good for my body and mind.
Day 4 started again with my hydration routine. At first I had to force myself to drink all that water, but I started feeling better and noticed that my skin looked better too (unexpected bonus!). Once my 6:00 pm class rolled around I was fired up and ready to flow. I was full of energy for this class, which is surprising since I'm usually tired by 4:00 pm. I felt confident in my practice and held my balance much better than the day before. I practiced my drishti (focusing on an unmoving point to to find balance and concentration while holding the pose) and that seemed to help a lot. After class, I felt energized and happy with my body, which I haven't felt in a while.
By my fifth day I felt empowered and strong. There wasn't any physical change that I noticed, but mentally I felt great. The little voice always in the back of my mind, judging the way I looked, ate and behaved, seemed to subside a little. I followed my usual pre and post-class routine and had a burst of energy after class. I also noticed that I felt less stressed out than usual - the big fat knot in my chest seemed to loosen, which made me really happy.
Surprised that I was almost done with the challenge I had set for myself, I found a renewed excitement for living a more healthy lifestyle. I noticed that I was making better meal choices throughout the week and just felt better in my skin. I started to realize that yoga is not just about physical wellness, but an all-around wellness of the spirit.
With my final class completed, I was surprised at how easy it was to take one hour out of my day for my practice. Even though I may not be able to commit to seven days a week, this challenge has reminded me to take some time for myself each day, be it two minutes or one hour. It's my form of self-care.