If you have not tried it, chances are you’ve heard of it. Hot yoga. You know, the practice of meditation in various poses while in a temperature that’s probably close to the feel of the tropics in normal conditions but conjures thoughts of the abyss when holding certain postures. At least for those who aren’t as flexible or durable as many others in the general population.
There are divided schools of thought on the benefits and risks of hot yoga. For one thing, the sweating can serve as a form of detoxification to many, a chance to purge built-up toxins and manage an exercise in flexibility and agility in a single session. On the other hand, the amount of sweat leaked from one’s body is sometimes enough to bathe in and there’s the inherent risk of not replenishing that lost water store and suffering from dehydration.
Sometime ago, I decided to try hot yoga myself. My former gym offered hot yoga classes at select branches so I signed up for a class to see what the fuss was about. Of course, I had a few thoughts. At first, the class started off as any other yoga class I’d attended or any yoga video I’d ever followed. I figured it wasn’t so bad. Then the temperature went up. By the time I got into the third round of upward-facing dog pose, sweat was pouring from every orifice. Even between my toes – I didn’t know I could even sweat there!
I found myself intrigued by the fact that many people in the room were able to hold their poses while dripping in sweat and the temperature continued to rise – all this while I slid on my mat (sometimes off the mat, too!) and tried to ignore the sweat starting to trickle into my eyes and sting the hell out of me.
Then after the burning in my eyes stopped, came the calm. Surprisingly, I hadn’t passed out and after figuring out how to arrange my towels to maintain my poses while everyone else sipped water on a break, I was able to focus on what I was doing on the outside and quiet myself on the inside. Then came the final few poses, my favourite being child’s pose. Slowly, my mind felt more organised, less worried, lighter, clearer. More prepared to move forward once I got back to the world.
All in all, I found it refreshing and made it a point to go once every three weeks until my work schedule stopped allowing me time to get to class (which was less than four months later). I wouldn’t call myself a devotee by any stretch of the imagination but I wouldn’t knock those are. I understand that any exercise regime comes with its own risks so I can relate to the those who oppose the practice. I’ll probably find myself back at a class – eventually.