In my never-ending quest for self-care, living a healthy lifestyle, and relaxation, I tried hot yoga at Element Hot Yoga for the first time this week. I’ve taken several yoga classes, but it’s been a while-and none of them were hot.
The class I took was called “Recover,” which offers a mixture of smooth movements that support flexibility, deep stretching that encourages muscle lining to release, and restorative postures to lower stress levels. As with most yoga classes, it’s designed to relax the body and ease the mind. I went into this class thinking it would be super easy to relax and do all the poses.
Within the first 10 minutes, my insecurities kicked right in. I was surrounded by yogis, who clearly had been practicing for quite some time. With the mirrors in front of us, it was hard not to look at myself and think, “Do you know what you look like compared to everyone else in here?” I was sure that everyone around me was watching me and silently judging me for not being able to do a half split.
I quickly realized that most people in the class had their eyes closed, or if they were open, they were focused on the instructor. I shushed my inner critic. “Hey you! Shut up and focus! NO ONE CARES what you look like. They are trying to connect their mind, body, and spirit, so you should too!” Inner critic promptly slithered away, embarrassed for momentarily influencing me. I follow the amazing Jessamyn Stanley, who promotes a body positivity approach to yoga. Her Instagram videos actually motivated me to explore hot yoga.
The class was an hour long. After I got over my initial insecurity attack, I really don’t know where the hour went. It was intense. I sweat a lot, but it wasn’t a hard-core workout sweat. It was a cleansing, detoxifying sweat. The cool towel with lavender infused oil on my face was honestly the best thing I’ve had after a workout. The class gave me permission to really listen to my body. I could tell what muscles needed extra attention and I was successfully able to shut out the noise and stress of the outside world. I can’t wait to go back.
Expectation: Stretch, sweat, fall, make a fool of myself. Leave class embarrassed, move to another country, and never speak of hot yoga again.
Reality: A relaxed body, with a clear mind and calm spirit. Ready to run out and buy “all the things” pertaining to yoga including a Namaste Bitches tank top.