Most new students experience some trepidation when first walking into the hot room, although they have heard the buzz about hot “Bikram” yoga and want to experience the benefits for themselves. Hot Yoga, we coach our students, utilizes heat to optimize the experience of stretching and strengthening all of our major muscle groups, as well as to train the heart and lungs to work more efficiently with increased power and stamina. The skin, the largest organ of the body, is from start to finish given the opportunity to rid itself of harmful toxins, keeping the skin healthy, clean and clear. The benefits become apparent in the way one feels coming out of the hot room after class, with an undeniable sense of having been cleansed and re-energized by the experience of sweating, moving, and breathing as every organ and system of the body is compressed and released.
But it doesn’t stop there. The hot room, like most anything else in our lives, is also a state of mind. When we step into the room, we make the powerful statement to ourselves that we will endure some discomfort in order to reap the larger healing & transforming benefits of our practice. In taking ourselves beyond our comfort zone, and past our perceived limitations, we exercise and move beyond the part of our being that resists change. Don’t underestimate the power of that statement! Consider it a muscle that you are building –the willingness to embrace challenge as part of a larger commitment to your health, overall well-being, and ongoing transformation. Like any other muscle, your own willingness has to be stretched, strengthened and continuously challenged in order to remain strong and pliable. It is not easy, but your life is worth the effort!
As we work day in and day out with this physical and mental practice, this healing and synergistic sequence of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercise, we eventually glimpse the power of this sequence as an opportunity for meditation—a state of focused attention, complete absorption in what we are doing, and the absence of mental chatter. Confusion and cloudiness become clarified within us, and just as our breathing and our postures become more precise, so does the quality of our minds and our perception. Out of this space, we may find that we have greater access to the inherent wisdom contained in our bodies within our very cells. From here, an even deeper journey of exploration and healing has the potential to begin. Though the practice remains forever physical and raw, sweat forever dripping in our eyes and down our backs, we also start to touch on “something else” that begins to enliven and enrich our practice. Like an onion peeling back its layers, we find that the journey to our deepest sense of self is never-ending, and that our bodies are our most trusted maps to guide the way.