I am day 7 into a 10 day hot yoga challenge and finally wanted to share this post (it has been saved as a draft for over a year). Keep in mind I am not an expert, and this is just my own personal experience with Yoga.
A couple years ago if someone had said to me “Yoga will Change your life” I would have laughed at them IN THE FACE. But they would have been right. Not to be all dramatic, and yogi-y but it is totally true.
First some background: I have always been a hyper type A person with 8 million thoughts going through my head. I am always planning, thinking ahead, and re-evaluating. If I let my brain wander I can simultaneously mentally have 3 to-do lists, a grocery list, a 5 year goal setting session, a future house decorated, and a song stuck in my head. Oh and look a cute dog just ran by. You get my point.
I first did Yoga in university, in the crowded university gym with a bunch of other things happening in the other areas. My friend and I almost got kicked out because were laughing at how we couldn't hold the poses.The next attempt at Yoga was at a Goodlife studio in Halifax 3 summers ago, it was a quiet calm studio, the instructor was very yoga-y and they even had a chime thing to start the class to balance the chi or something. When I left that class I felt fresh and rejuvenated, and I started to go back.
Next I switched to Body flow, which is a mixture of Thai-Chi, Yoga and Pilaties. This gave me a work out, but also ended in a 5 minute shavasana, or 5 minutes of lying on the floor in the dark for you non-yoga people. Without being asleep those 5 minutes were probably the only time that I spent, just being still, lying, trying not to make 5 to-do lists in my head. Once again, no matter how stressed I was I would leave that class feeling mentally awesome, not to mention all the physical benefits.
While I lived in Halifax a friend (
dragged me to) convinced me to try 5
classes of Moshka Hot Yoga. At first I was afraid (I was
terrified..:P). I was worried it would be too hot, I would faint, I
would feel claustrophobic. But I survived. I started in winter, and
being able to spend 45 mins in a 35 degree room was so nice. Like a
mini trip down south.
Once I moved to Toronto, I found myself with a Bikram Yoga Centre coupon that included 5 free classes. I started going in February of 2012. Bikram Yoga is a Hatha style hot yoga class consisting of 26 postures and two breathing exercises. (more info here).
When that ended I bought a discounted 20 class pass with the same coupon and ended up using most of the 20 between February and March in 2013. As much as it was tough to fit that many classes in 2 months, with work and tutoring, I found myself sad when the last class ended. Since there are a lot of groupons/deals for hot yoga I knew I could have probably studio hopped and gotten "the best deal" but after my frist 20 classes I realized I really liked the studio. I go to Bikram Yoga Centre, and the instructors are so great, and the studio is relaxing, welcoming and very clean! (Note they have no idea I am writing this post, and I'm not affiliated with them in anyway other than I go there and love it haha!)
So I bought a 40 class pass. I have been going at least once a week since June, through the hottest days and the coldest days. I did a little 5 day challenge at the beginning of January, and now (during March Break, so no tutoring) I am trying a 10 day challenge, and so far I am feeling great! I even dragged my friend for her first class, (just as my friend dragged me), and as much as she glared at me after, I think she liked it!
Above and beyond the physical benefits, there have been some personal "lessons learned" about Yoga that I wanted to share. (Once again, these are just my personal lessons/observations!)
1. “A Yoga Session is called a Practice” I could do Bikram Yoga for 20 years, and would still have room to improve, and there isn't really an end goal. This is important to me because I am such a goal driven person. I can't say “In 3 months, I will do eagle perfectly” that isn't the way it works. This has taught me to look at other things in my life and career and understand that somethings will just happen with time. Patience is key!
2. “Only You can Impact Your Practice” I doesn't matter what the person next to me does, or if the instructor isn't the one I normally go to, it is all about my mindset. This has helped me realize that what other people do shouldn't impact my life. It is about my reaction to them that impacts my life. For example, yes it is annoying when someone cuts me off in traffic, but if I freak out about it and get road rage, I am letting the other person control me, and that isn't cool.
3. “NOW is the only important time”. I cannot hold a posture if I am worried about something outside of the posture, whether that is the outfit I am wearing, or the towel, or the pile of dishes at home. By focusing on the NOW, it helps my practice. This also helps outside of Yoga, because so many people spend so much time worrying about the past, and the what ifs. I still have to work on this, but I try to focus on the NOW more so then the unknown.
4.“Every day is different” I have gone into a class when I felt great and then laid on my mat for the full 1.5 hrs. I have also gone in when I feel like crap and was able to do every posture. I cannot predict what will happen in the class, I just have to let it happen. I find this helps when dealing with unknowns in life in general!
5. “Shavasana is the most important pose” Lying on the floor still, with out fidgeting, and trying to not think of anything can be the hardest part of the class. But with time, I find I am improving on this. I enjoy this time to just shut off my brain and not think of anything. This 3-5 minutes of complete nothing helps me stay focused outside of the class.
There are many more things, but in general yoga is teaching me patience, control, acceptance, focus, and overall peace. Whoa totally went all zen on you there. Next post I'll be back to normal I promise...but one last meme:
Anyone else find extra benefits from their exercise? Anyone else love kitteh yoga?