I am a 52 year old, not very flexible male, who has never done yoga, let alone hot yoga. Yet a few weeks ago, something drew me to attending my first ever hot yoga class. It was as if my body or spirit knew that there was something about it, some lesson, that I needed to learn.
I went into my first session pretty confident. I have always loved the heat. I love hot days, hot places, and I remember hotels we have stayed in by how hot their saunas get. Everything in the class was new to me, the poses, some of the language, and of course doing exercise in a room that hot. Everyone around me was more flexible, had better poses and better balance, and yet they were welcoming and without judgement so it helped me relax. The instructor, Melanie, was excellent in helping me modify some poses that I just had no way of doing yet, she was supportive, but also was great in helping push me to keep working hard. I emerged from my first session feeling great, and thinking I would be doing hot yoga for a long time to come.
But the second time was completely different. The heat kicked my butt. About half way though I felt I was unable to breath, I felt a little dizzy, I felt like I wanted to throw up. I found I basically lay on the mat for much of that session. After class I just lay down in the cool for a while and took a long cold shower.
Hot Yoga, Breathing, and Letting Fear Stop You From Reaching For Your Dreams
This shook my confidence. I doubted that I would go back to hot yoga, as I was afraid of feeling like that again.
A few days later I spoke to another yoga teacher who told me that the heat still actually sometimes got to her! I was amazed to hear it. But it really helped me feel better about my session. I decided I would go one more time. It would be a tie breaker. So the next morning I walked over to the studio. All the way along, my mind kept chattering, telling me it wasn’t too late to just turn around and go back to bed. Fear of failure was trying to stop me. But I needed to try it that one more time, so I kept going.
When I got to the yoga studio, I slowly opened the door into the hot yoga room, placed my mat down, lay down and tried to just connect with my body. My body told me to breathe, to take nice deep breathes from my abdomen. And as I did, I felt my body and mind relax. And suddenly a feeling of gratitude swept over me, and I kept saying “Thank you” to God, the Universe, and Energy over and over in my mind. That is all I focused on that class … making sure I was breathing properly and saying thank you. And this time I KICKED BUTT! I finished class so strong, and I felt unbelievably empowered. I felt unstoppable.
The Secret To Hot Yoga And Life?
I discovered the difference between kicking the heat’s butt and getting my butt kicked was breathing and gratitude!
Looking back, the second time I went to class and suffered, I was in the middle of final exams, and I was a tad stressed. This caused my breathing pattern to change to shallow breathing so that I was not getting the proper amount of oxygen into my body. When we are stuck in a shallow breathing rut, our body cannot operate to its maximum, and it allows FEAR and self-doubt to more easily creep into our body!! You see, deep breathing cleanses the body of fear and anxiety! It gets rid of stale energy, and brings in beautiful new powerful energy! Deep breathing increases your courage!
I have now gone to class and had 3 great sessions in a row, just focusing on breathing and gratitude! How crazy is that! How powerful is that?!
Here’s the thing: What if life were that simple?
If you look back at events in your life, what if there were times where you let anxiety or fear stop you from doing something you really wanted to … and if you had just done some deep breathing and focused on gratitude (instead of doubt) and changed your “state” then it would have been a completely different result? What if?
I am grateful for being reminded of this lesson.
So the next time YOU go to hot yoga (or attempt anything in life that you are apprehensive about), don’t forget these two simple tools that can help you awaken and tap into your Warrior within, to breathe deeply and to be grateful. What if by simply doing those two little things you could actually conquer anything you wanted? How amazing would that be?
Peace, Health and Happiness!
Tony Wolfe – AAOOOWWWW!