Hot Yoga Session 2: Catching my Breath (in yoga?)

This was originally posted in January 2012 to document my 30 days of hot yoga. I was recently inspired to be more self-reflective after a terrible flu season which sent me to the ER twice. Doctor’s orders were simple: start taking care of yourself (again) or you’ll need surgery. Well, that’s all I needed to propel me into living a healthier, more personally sustainable life amidst balancing a busy career, volunteering, and figuring things out with our new baby.

Join me here, on Sundays, where I re-blog reflections from 30 days of hot yoga and hopefully inspire you to embrace change positively with passion and find opportunities for personal growth wherever you can find it.

Earlier today I woke up with a refreshing sense of determination to approach Hot Yoga – Day 2. The birds were singing, it was sunny outside, and I knew I could take a nap when I got home. I forgave myself for arriving home after 4am thanks to a long night in Providence. The night was a total blast, but ended when I gave my oldest friend Katie (we’ve been friends since we were 5) a concussion thanks to a failed spin move while shuffling to 50s music in a dive bar.

The result? Her head was bleeding and I kinked my right ankle and wrist in a way that left us both in pain, doing the yoga warrior series at 3am while eating pizza, and keeping her awake long enough to know she wasn’t going to slip into a coma. My life is not normally this exciting, but I wonder how it bodes for the rest of the year!

Class today was just as challenging as the day before, but with the aches of yoga past coupled with the mild wrist injury and intensive sun salutations lead me to spend a lot of time catching my breath in child’s pose. Actually, I was quite literally chasing breath.. which was strange since aerobic exercise is not something you typically associate with  yoga, so I’ll give you a little more on that.

Child’s Pose. Photo courtesy of YogaXTC.com

One of the unique focuses of this particular studio is that it is particularly physically demanding. It’s kind of like taking a regular yoga class in the rainforest in the hottest part of the year and demanding sprints in between poses while balancing on a mountain face. If you are new to the practice it’s easy to overextend and wind up in a protective ball (child’s pose), grasping the ground, and crawling to your water bottle just for relief.. after about 5 minutes. It’s certainly not something for everyone, but knowing what you signed up for is a good place to begin.

With all of that said, I was still surprised to find myself searching for breath in child’s pose while the other “all levels yogis” in my class jumped between downward dog and mountain pose with excited jubilation. They weren’t just saluting the sun, they were saluting the entire year of suns while I lay, curled in a ball on my mat, trying to stay conscious. Shortly after the sun salutations, the instructor recommended we do an arm balance. I emerged from my ball and looked at my mat.. and that’s about as far as it got. But, hey, I thought about it!

What you need to know: it’s the heat that gets you. Just like hiking at high elevations, it doesn’t matter how long you have been doing yoga, when conditions change, such as increased heat and humidity, you need to give your body the space to adjust to the conditions.

If I convince myself of one thing (and stick to it) it would be that the only person I’m competing with is myself.. and the last time I checked, I didn’t have a lot of experience in hot yoga. Cut yourself some slack, stop looking at the person next to you, and just be on your mat. Doing the poses is secondary to having the opportunity to do the poses. It’s all choice. Choose what is truly best for you, and everything will fall into place.