Hot Yoga Session 17: On the Power of Heat in Yoga Practice

This post is part of my January 2012 30 Days of Hot Yoga series. This month I’m taking on a personal challenge to complete 30 sessions of hot yoga at Baptiste Studios in 30 days in celebration of my 30th birthday. Wish me luck!

on the power of heat in hot yoga (especially in the winter in the city) In the middle of a cold, snowy, icy winter, entering a sweaty hot 100°F yoga studio makes you feel so ALIVE.

Imagine, for a moment, that you are outside, at night, in below-freezing temperatures. Clothed, head to toe, in insulating gear to protect your limbs. Still, when you step outside the cold bites at your face, your fingers lose dexterity, and you slowly maneuver around patches of ice and snow as you make your from your front door to your car, and from your car to the studio. Along the way, you climb over snow banks, you feel stiff and abrasive as you guard yourself from the cold, and – finally – you make it to the studio door.

As you enter the studio you’re greeted by a small crowd gathered in the entraceway in various states of attire – from fully outfitted in winter gear to nearly naked. As you slowly peel away the layers of cold weather gear – hang your hat and gloves, remove your shoes, and store your personal gear, you bump against a sweaty neighbor as you store your shoes and think – is it really possible to get that hot? Remove another layer. And slip in between the contrasting crowds – those hot from their finished class and those of you still shivering from the cold.

Finally, when the last class empties and you step into the studio – you feel it. That warmth that slowly brings feeling back to your toes, fingers, and nose. The warmth brings feeling back to you joints. As you unroll your mat, still stiff and cold from the weather, it feels cold against your feet. Still, you know it won’t be long.

By the start of the second or third sun salutation, you can feel that heat begin to lubricate your muscles and joints. You feel your ligaments stretching and gaining elasticity. And as you continue through each portion of class, you fall into the heat. You sweat. You grow and stretch and breathe into movements that are only possible because of that heat. You go further and deeper into each position. And your practice brings your body strength, awareness, confidence.

Hot yoga is not for everyone, but if  you’re patient, it can bring your yoga practice to levels you never imagined. It doesn’t take long. And it is an absolutely, unquestionably, undeniably, amazing experience.