What Hot Yoga Has Taught Me About Myself — And the Gear That Helps Me Push Through Even the Sweatiest Class
I'm one of those people who, when I get into something, I really get into it. That's how yoga has been for me — I started practicing my first year of college, mostly because the studio near my dorm was donation-based (aka free in the mind of an 18-year-old). However, after the first few classes, I was hooked. Fast forward 12 years later: I'm still practicing, and credit yoga with teaching me some of the most valuable lessons I've learned about myself.
I practice a few different styles of yoga, but find hot yoga to be the most challenging — yes, for my body, but mostly for my mind. It's a true test of mind over matter. Yet, at the end of each class, I always leave happier and feeling stronger than when I first rolled out my mat. Here's what hot yoga has taught me about myself (both in class and in life), and why I'll never stop sweating it out.
Let Go of My Ego
I'm a very competitive person by nature. I like feeling strong and being able to do advanced poses, and I have a tendency to look around the class and compare myself to everyone else. If there's someone who can do something more advanced than me, my first instinct is usually to feel annoyed. Same goes for competing against myself — even if I know I can do a particular arm balance or inversion, sometimes I have an off day or my body just isn't feeling it. Hot yoga has helped me turn that annoyance into inspiration. If I fall out of a pose, who cares?! If someone is "better" than me at something — use it as motivation to keep learning! Letting go of my ego will always be a work in progress, but with each class comes more awareness of not sweating the small stuff.
Listen to My Body
Sometimes, despite losing my connection to my breath or feeling overheated, I want to push myself to do every single Chaturanga or extra arm balance. But, more than any other type of yoga, hot yoga forces humility — and in turn, causes you to be more in tune with what your body needs. After all, when it's pushing 100 degrees and you're in constant motion, you're going to start feeling some things. For me, feeling overheated makes me a little panicky. That's the moment I know I need to stop what I'm doing, sit quietly on my mat with my eyes closed, and reconnect to my breathing for as long as it takes for my brain to quiet. It's all about letting go of what you feel you should be able to do, and tuning in to what your body needs you to do.
Feel the Payoff of Powering Through
Despite feeling like I'm going to die every now and then during class, hot yoga really reinforces the idea that hard work pays off. It's a testament to pushing through negative thoughts and trusting your body to be able to support you, even when it seems like you couldn't possibly hold a pose for a second longer. I always come out of class feeling more balanced and able to take all these learnings with me throughout the rest of my day.
Keep reading to shop the essential products that help me make every hot yoga class the best one yet.