The Wild Within Series: Hot Yoga

The Wild Within Series: Hot Yoga

My journey into yoga has been a soulful exploration, transcending the mere physical. It's a sacred space of calm, peace, and a profound connection with my inner self. While the physical benefits are undeniable, the true treasures I've unearthed lie in the transformation of my mental outlook and attitude.

Back in 2017, life threw me a challenging chapter with the dissolution of my 16-year marriage, and my mental health bore the weight of that journey. Full-on exercise seemed too demanding during that period, and that's when the tender embrace of yoga beckoned. Its unhurried pace provided me the sanctuary to genuinely feel my body, allowing the release of tension and stress in a compassionate way.

Hatha yoga became my refuge, especially as I found myself immersed in my thoughts. Holding poses, breathing into each movement became more than just a practice; it became a mindful journey. Missing a session meant feeling the rush of thoughts and heightened emotions.

While I could have continued with Hatha, life led me to the path of Ashtanga when my teacher shifted away from in-person classes post-COVID. The transition was both amazing and unfamiliar, surrounded by fellow practitioners. It took time to absorb the essence of the practice fully.

Ashtanga, with its repetitive sequences, taught me the virtues of tenacity and patience. Initially, it felt like a monotony, waiting for some flashy pose to captivate me. Yet, it evolved into a meditative dance as I surrendered to each pose, feeling the depth of the practice. Enjoyment blossomed, anticipation dwindled, and presence deepened.

A move to Brighton felt like a fresh canvas, inviting me to explore new styles of yoga. After a couple of classes that didn't resonate, I found myself drawn to a hot yoga trial month, which is no coincidence as it’s based on Hatha. Over a year has passed since, with a commitment to practice twice a week. This journey has been a spiritual awakening, an unfolding of layers, and an embrace of new opportunities. Here's to the continuous exploration of the self through the transformative practice of yoga. 


The Ritual

In the forgiving practice of self-discovery, I've uncovered a beautiful rhythm in my yoga practice. It's more than just the poses; it's a sacred space where time is invested each week, creating room for me to connect with my inner self. This ritual begins the moment I book my class, setting the stage for a heartfelt journey.


The Prelude
As the day of class unfolds, I embark on a mental preparation, a gentle choreography of my thoughts from the moment I wake up. What I eat, how much I drink, and the art of packing my bag become integral parts of this sacred activity. In my mind's eye, I visualise the yoga room, preparing myself for the warmth and the endurance demanded by the class.


The Ensemble
My yoga kit has evolved into a well-honed ensemble since I first began this soulful practice. Initially, just making it to class and being ready absorbed my focus. My trusty mat, initially chosen for standard yoga, quickly revealed its tendency to soak up all the sweat—yes, there's quite a bit! A hastily purchased towel soon led to the realisation that one simply wasn't enough, hence the godsend of towel number two. My water bottle journey has seen numerous iterations, with the delicate combination of hydrating between sets of poses. The struggle with lids that fall off, ones that are too tight, or bottles that spill became a thing of the past as I settled on a more practical choice. Now, slipping in an electrolyte tablet is a game-changer, especially in the aftermath. No more evening aches – electrolytes, you're my post-yoga hero!


The Attire
And let's not forget the crucial choice of what to wear. It's not about less being better; everyone has their preferences. Personally, I've found that a sports bra and shorts create the ideal harmony. By shorts, I mean the snug embrace of leggings, steering clear of the flappy running shorts that tend to get drenched and cling in a most unpleasant way. Anything that distracts, clings, or drips has become a lesson learned through experience. So, here's to the beautiful symphony of preparation, the intricate steps leading up to the sacred mat, and the mindful choices that transform a mere practice into a spiritual journey. 


The Practice
In the initial weeks of embracing this sacred journey on the mat, it was all about navigating the heat, mastering the poses, and deciphering the intricacies of handholds and body positioning. The graceful interplay of the body and the breath, a delicate balance to unlock the essence of the practice. What might catch you by surprise is the constant stream of dialogue, a guiding force weaving through the class, each teacher infusing their unique spin into the instructions.

Initially, the dialogue felt disconcerting, but now, it's a cherished part of the flow. It's a space where thinking gives way to listening, allowing the freedom from the chatter of the mind. The dialogue, an orchestration of instructions, becomes a vessel for mental and physical rejuvenation.

Through this practice, my awareness has deepened, weaving together the threads of body and mind. The release of muscles, the touch of heat and moisture on the skin—all threads woven into the rich tapestry of the practice. The repetition of poses becomes a meditative process, a trance-like state where the body moves, and the mind rests.


The Profound Lessons
Beyond the mat, I carry the teachings into the world, finding it easier to let go. The practice encourages releasing each pose without self-judgment or clinging to what went awry. It's a powerful lesson in starting afresh with every breath, a reminder that each moment is an opportunity to learn anew. The discomfort, the burn, the stretching—all transient, lasting mere seconds but leaving a profound sense of satisfaction.

In facing the mirror, amid a sea of reflections, it's easy to be swayed by comparison. Yet, the reminder echoes—this practice is for me, for the inner benefits that transcend the external. Now, amidst the reflections, I find my centre and heed the wisdom of Simon, one of our teachers, to "take a look around inside." The journey on the mat is a sacred pilgrimage, an act of self-discovery where every step is a celebration of the shiny, new beginning that unfolds with each breath. 

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