One of our beloved yogafusioners, Karina Natt, has been brave enough to share her experiences of becoming a student of hot yoga with us. Karina has been coming to the studio since 3 December 2013 and has never looked back!
I began with yogafusion during a personally and professionally emotional time and I was also suffering physically with a painful hip issue, so it was an interesting way to begin.
After my first class I felt exhilarated. I stepped out of the hot room and into rain, grinning like a Cheshire cat and feeling the best I had in a long time.
But it took several classes before I felt like that again. Instead I found myself in tears in every final Savasana. The seventy five minutes of sweating, exerting myself and just trying to survive the heat drew out every dormant emotion and by the end of each class I was mentally and physically exhausted.
For me, yoga as a mental therapy was a completely unexpected consequence. It’s a mental cleanse as much as physical. Things arise on the ‘magic carpet’ and I leave them there, at least for a little while and when I have a bad day I know I need yoga to quiet the “monkey mind” and reacquaint myself with the mat.
Some people may initially believe that yoga is just about the poses but the postures (asana) can became a tool for something much greater and deeper.
I once quoted my instructor Sue to a friend going through a tough time – ‘you have to let go of that which no longer serves you’ to which she replied ‘that’s pretty deep for yoga’. Actually, it’s probably the tip of the yoga iceberg.
It’s the strongest message I’ve taken from my classes so far and it’s not just Sue saying it, it’s about me being in a posture I’m struggling with and realising thinking bad thoughts about my capability isn’t helping me to do it better and that it will serve me better to just let them go.
When I first decided I wanted to try hot yoga, I fastidiously researched everything I could find online about the benefits of the heat. But I’ve since realised it does not matter how the heat benefits anyone else, it’s about me, my body and my journey.
You could say that I am addicted to the heat – or more precisely the struggle it causes and my ability to over come it, to survive. And the way it acts as a living analogy for dealing with the diffiulties in life. If I can survive (and thrive) seventy five minutes of feeling like I cannot hold a pose a second longer or like the last thing I ate could come up at any time and resist the urge to lie down and give in to the struggle (or as my mind likes to trick me into thinking – feeling like dying!) then I can overcome any hurdle life throws my way.
The heat is an additional challenge both physically and mentally and overcoming it each class makes me feel better about myself and how I will deal with different aspects of my life.
And it’d be remiss of me not to mention the sweating; sweating so profusely feels like a release, like I’m sweating out the bad stuff.
In a group class it’s incredibly tempting to constantly compare yourself to others. There are girls and guys who can bend and twist 100 times “better” than me and initially, I found it discouraging.
But then I had a problem – a blessing in disguise perhaps – arise in class. I need glasses or contacts to see long distance and I can’t wear glasses in class and sweat was running into my eyes making contacts uncomfortable. So I decided I wouldn’t wear any.
What I quickly realised is it meant I could no longer see the other students closely. Therefore, I could no longer compare myself with others and then judge myself against where they were at. I started to look inwards, I started to feel whether I was stretching or twisting further than I had before.
I became more conscious and aware of my own body, how I felt in a pose, my breathing and as I directed my mind on those things I found my thoughts quietened and the judgement slowed.
Going somewhat blindly through a yoga class has improved my practice and I’ve learnt you should only compare yourself to others if you have found yourself lost, such as having turned to ‘the other left’!
Comparing myself with others is one of the jobs of my Ego, which I understood in theory but understanding it in practise was paramount.
During one of my first classes, instead of honouring and listening to my body, I tried every single asana and I over did it. My lower back was not ready for a deep back bend, my neck not ready for camel pose. But I did it because everyone else was doing it.
Sue said one day that we should ask ourselves why we are going to the next level of the posture; are we ready to or because we want to be like others? Once again, Sue’s statement had offered me a profound realisation. Sometimes I extended myself in certain asanas because I wanted to test myself as an enquiry process but mainly it was because I wanted to be like everyone else, the people twisting, bending, stretching further than me.
I now know if I do something because of the Ego, I generally hurt myself and this analogy extends beyond the mat and into my everyday life.
The lessons and continuous getting to deeply know oneself in yoga is something that new or prospective students aren’t often aware of, so if you are considering yoga be ready to get to know all facets of your wonderful being!
If you’re new to yoga or hot yoga and want to give it a try, check out our FAQ page.