I have a fear of hot yoga also known as ‘Bikram’ yoga. If I really think about why, I believe it is linked to my low tolerance for closed spaces and the heat from a lot of people jammed into that closed space. Add intense heat and there you have a scenario that I wouldn’t willingly put myself in.
I like to be able to, at all times, exit things quickly without a lot of ta-do and there’s something terrifying to me about not being able to.
However, I have decided it is a year for facing any and all of my fears. Last year was the year of saying ‘yes’ and this year it’s about seeking out new lands, new horizons, new people–the year of exploration!
My friend Don, who is also my fab hairdresser (Hive), goes to Moksha yoga and was telling me how great he feels and I thought, c’mon Doyle, here’s an experience nudging you to take it on so when he suggested I come along as a ‘free’ pass because I was new, I took him up on it.
Standing in the foyer of the studio, I began to feel a panic, starting somewhere in the bottom of my tailbone then traveling up and into my jaw which clenched lightly in fear. I had the sensation to bolt back out onto Fort St. but realized I would, forever-more, look insane to my friend Don so I stayed rooted. We waited outside of class and I nervously made chit-chat, hoping to quell my nerves enough to try to enjoy this wonderful ‘experience’.
When I walked into the room the heat encased me in a kind of mummification that I can only describe as a hyper-claustrophobic tunnel of sheer panic. I looked out the window, imagining the cool evening breeze, the open street, running down the hard pavement, escaping. Instead, I was pushing myself forward, rolling out my mat, ignoring my fear, as big as a grizzly bear on my back now, placing my towel down and water beside my mat.
Everyone lay down and the most surreal, gorgeous music was playing. I looked up at the top of the window, not ready to close my eyes, and saw the brick of the building, the blue sky, and suddenly I released into it. The grizzly turned smaller and I sank into the mat. The year seemed to float past me, and the future, all in the same moment.
The instructor began and it was a type of class where they played music throughout and not yogi-type music but cool music the instructor chose and I instantly loved where my mind went through the poses which I thought I wouldn’t be able to do but managed quite well. The heat was intense and when I felt panic start to rise up, I just breathed deeper and deeper.
I also don’t like to sweat profusely in public and yet, here I was, streaming in it: sweat trickling into my mouth, rolling down my neck, pooling in my underwear, dripping off my hands and soaking the towel below me. And it felt good. Really good.
There was a girl in a bikini a few rows over and I was in awe of her body–maybe this hot yoga was how she got there, her long, lean limbs, not muscled and bulky but elegant and strong.
We lay down at the end, soaked and shaking and some more gorgeous, meditative music played and the instructor encouraged us to think about ‘our practice’. I felt immense. I recognized I’d not been here before. I met my self in a way my regular, digitally overloaded world never allowed and I felt silent, centered, hot and happy.