I have been a regular hot yogi for quite some time; on and off for the past fifteen years or so. I have somehow found my way onto a mat, in a hot room, regularly, to find my zen, for almost half my life.
Hot yoga helps to remove toxins from your body because you sweat a lot. Or does it? There is a lot of disputing evidence when it comes to hot yoga, but one thing that no one can dispute is how great it makes you feel.
You can feel your blood churning and pulsing through your body during and after class; hot yoga is fantastic for your circulation and gets your heart rate up, up, up. You will urn to the get the same high as a first timer because that initial rush, after your first class is amazing.
You will feel better and (may) not get sick as much. Hot yoga is great for your immune system, but I did fall under the weather during my month of hot yoga, so who knows?
I always cringed at the thirty day hot yoga challenges because the idea of them seemed so daunting, but my catalyst for registering was a text from a friend, “Wanna do a hot yoga challenge?” and that was it….I was in.
Thirty days of anything, before starting, can sound pretty doable, but it is quickly understood that a commitment of any sort requires dedication, perseverance and sacrifice.
Your body will change drastically, but (perhaps) more internal changes, versus external. My flexibility and strength have improved so much in this month and I feel more physically and emotionally confident.
The biggest time challenge was being organized and prepared.
You do not have the few hours of daily wasted time when you are spending seven to twelve hours a week in a hot yoga practice or getting to and from class. Your life needs to be in line and that will be your saving grace, in the beginning.
I did not lose weight, but I cannot really blame the yoga for that.
I think I ate a chocolate bar each day all month as a reward for simply showing up to my mat. I really craved sugar during this process, but my clothes fit better, so I know I must have lost fat and gained muscle somewhere along the line. The muscle mass is also something which is hard to measure, but my clothes fit and my snacking was at an all-time high, so I guess there were external benefits to my journey.
You will drink more water naturally, which is always a good thing.
Other than coffee, the only thing I wanted all month was warm lemon water or crisp, cold water after a hot yoga session. I may have had a chocolate bar situation, which went out of control, but I drank a lot of water and just craved it.
You will instinctively start making better food choices because you will not want to feel like crap, from bad food, during the hot yoga practice.
For example, one day, I went out with family for a terrible lunch and had to go to yoga that evening. The event was not comfortable and my tummy felt ‘off’ the whole time. After said incident, I never again sacrificed my smoothies, homemade cooking or calories for such a lack luster reason.
Having a workout buddy is a lifesaver.
I missed a few days, due to an illness, early on in the month and considered throwing in the towel, but my yoga buddy kept me going. My buddy told me that I could easily catch up, immediately making my self induced mountain into a molehill. Yes, catching up took preparing, planning and organization, but it was doable, having done it and reflecting back on it.
When you miss a day, do not throw away the opportunity of today because of the failures of yesterday, simply plug onwards.
My biggest failure in life is letting yesterday’s failure justify today’s. We need to stop beating ourselves up over our past and take away their power to replicate a state of existence, which we do not care to live in.
Doubling up yoga sessions will not kill you, even though you will brag and complain about it to whomever will listen to you. I have doubled up hot yoga sessions every weekend of this challenge, and you know what? I did not die, I did not pass out from dehydration, nothing bad happened to me at all.
It is a big time commitment and you have to be organized to be successful. I organized my life HARD during this month. I knew what I was doing almost every hour of my waking life, to ensure that my hot yoga commitment did not falter and it was not easy.
It was not easy, but it was not monumentally hard either.
You will start to feel naturally high and happier.
No drugs, not even alcohol this month and I feel amazing. Cheesy, yes, I know, but not utilizing substances for your high or relaxation retrains your brain to do those things for you. We have become so subservient on external stimulus to make us feel the way we want to feel that we have forgotten that our bodies can do these services for us, for free! Allow yourself to feel pain, struggle, sadness, loneliness and hardship, without external supports and see what happens.
You will realize that working out everyday is not that hard to do and you will still have time for all the other ‘stuff’ in your life.
I still did all of my bullshit stuff this month; I slept in, I took naps, I watched mindless television, I socialized, I did everything I normally do, but by making my yoga a priority, I still managed to make the time for it. Crazy how time works hey? If you allocate the time for it, you will make the time for it, instead of mindless excuses.
It is about making yourself a priority and you will thank yourself that you did.
It helps you clear the mental clutter from your life and you will start focusing on what is important and only those things.
Also, you will do a shitload of laundry. The laundry aspect of the challenge is not explained enough or at all, actually. The sheer amount of sweaty laundry you need to wash regularly totally changes your laundry routine, but it is not the biggest deal. Other than the folding part, how much energy does laundry truly take?
At the halfway mark, through my thirty day journey, I really started to feel the results.
My body just felt stronger and I was more confident. No matter how I felt, before getting to class, once I was there, I gave it my all. I felt confident and was no longer scared of going to class. My hot yoga practice has become the most meaningful part of my day.
My mind started to shut up too.
All of that mental chatter started to wash away. I remember, in the first week of the challenge, I could not get my mind to stop bothering me during class, but as the days progressed the silence started to strengthen. I would lose myself on my mat and the practice would fly by or I would be completely unaware of the concept time at all. I just was present with what I was doing and it was pretty amazing.
My focus, concentration and completion rates, in all areas of my life, improved.
I started to be less distracted. I began focusing on one task at a time. My patience grew and my anger subsided. I stopped seeing the yoga challenge as a punishment, but as the best gift I had ever bestowed on myself.
I love yin practice and going to yin on Saturday nights is funner than anything else I could possibly do. I never thought I would see the day that going to a hot yoga class, at 6:30 pm on a Saturday night, would be my jam, but it is. The old me would have never committed to that because it is completely in conflict with a night out on the town, or over eating and watching television at home, but I love it. It is something I will continue to do weekly because I leave feeling so centered, calm and joyful.
What I learned from doing thirty sessions of hot yoga in thirty days was:
- Once you make something a priority, you will find the time for it, no matter how ‘busy’ you are.
- Busy is an excuse to not do things you really are not invested in doing
- I did not lose weight. I did not go into this hoping to lose weight, but I was also surprised that not one pound was dropped. I was happily surprised with how confident, beautiful and just energetic I felt the whole month. I just had more stamina and drive to get shit done.
- By focusing so much on exercise, my healthy eating was ignored. I ate out more and ate chocolate everyday because I felt I deserved it. Working out a lot is not the answer, seventy percent of the answer is what you choose to put in your mouth.
- I was tired, a lot. I slept a lot and usually took naps on the weekend, or whenever I could. I learned that perhaps I am not sleeping enough and finally made the time to listen to what my body needs, sleep-wise.
- I did a lot of laundry. A lot of laundry is needed when you are going to yoga once or twice a day, but it was worth it and laundry does not take up too much time.
- Socialization was easy because I would rotate it around my exercise, but that’s what made it easy. I did not really see anyone, other than workmates and my partner, asides from my exercise buddies.
- People will give you a plethora of reasons why they cannot do the same thing you did, but only focus on the positive words and not the anchoring excuses of those around you, not doing, and talking far too much.
- Do not brag about your practice. No one cares that you are doing a thirty day challenge, other than other people doing the same challenge. Do not give your colleagues daily updates, because you will drive them crazy.
- You can do it and you will feel better. Going to yoga everyday or regularly, makes me so happy. I feel so blessed when I hit that mat and no matter how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ I do, I do not really care. I do not really care about much of a lot when I am on that mat, so I think regular attendance is priority for me.