Total immersion takes total commitment.
Even with a busy life, you can create the time and means to follow what calls to you. Then, time expands, energy multiplies, and your powerful potential unfolds like a thousand-petaled lotus.
Alison, our hot yoga teacher here at Riverflow Yoga, holds two jobs and is an apprentice midwife...so she;s on call 24/7. And she has been wanting a 30 Day Hot Yoga Challenge.
Here goes...how she felt, what she thought, what kept her going...
I'm at the studio bright and early this morning (before sunrise!) to get things warmed up for the 8 am hot yoga music class. My stomach and the falafel I ate for lunch yesterday have been in pretty strong disagreement since last night so I will need some willpower to get me through class this. I'm hoping that 90 minutes of twisting around will cure me!
Sunday wrapped up week one of the challenge, and it was a hot one! Lots of people piled in and we stretched fingertip to fingertip for an extra sweaty class. I'm not going to lie, I felt like curling up in a ball on the sofa Sunday afternoon after a week of literally nothing but yoga. But, a call on the way home from the studio had us running to the shower, changing our clothes and back in the car 30 minutes later on our way to the Eagles game in Philly. I'm not sure where I found the energy, but I did and it was a great night. Sunday's class may have been challenging, but on Monday I was more flexible than I've ever been, straigtening my left leg in the final leg stretching for the first time. Ever. It felt pretty great.
I couldn't sleep last night...perhaps I managed a few brief hours, but no more than that. I somehow managed to drag myself out of bed, have a forbidden pre-yoga coffee and get to the morning class. When my heart started pounding in the first pose (as opposed to the usual 6th or 7th) I got worried. By triangle pose, my only saving grace was the sweat masking my tears. Rhonda's voice was soft and easy going. I quickly glanced at the thermostat to see that the heat was the same as it is every day. I was sure that I was the only one struggling. Perhaps it was the lack of sleep. Did I drink enough water? When will the class be over? As I drug myself into the changing room, the other students were as exhausted and emotional as I was. We each expressed the "I thought it was only me!" sentiment and gave each other compliments and pep talks. It was all much needed.
Yesterday we had a Beatles-themed music class. At some points it was a real challenge to not sing mid-pose. Okay, so I did sing quietly in a few.... I love the early classes, although not always at 6 am when the alarm goes off. When class is over, you still have your whole day ahead of you, and that first cup of coffee after class feels amazing.
As I approach the half-way point in my challenge (tomorrow!) I am noticing some real physiological changes. The shape of my body has changed a little, but it is minor compared to the other benefits. The most notable is the amount of energy I now have. I wake up most days feeling ready to go. I wake up naturally several hours earlier than I did 2 weeks ago. In fact, I only set an alarm when I need to be up before 7am, and waking up without an annoying alarm blaring is a peaceful alternative.
I have no regrets about taking on this challenge, and I feel confident that finishing will be a downhill ride.
Day 18 and still plugging along. Although I am still feeling the amazing high-energy, I am noticing some new effects. I am sweating a lot more in class then I ever have before and, perhaps as a result, I have an unquenchable thirst. I drink so much water during the day that I feel like I'm going to float away, and now two large coconut waters each day to replace electrolytes. Class felt great tonight, but the sweat was dripping in excess by 5 minutes into 90. I'm not afraid to sweat. I come to hot yoga because I love the sweat, but I believe the extra sweat and the super-thirstiness are related.
I hate to resort to chemicals, but tonight I'm trying Gatorade as an experiment.
Hello! It's been a while since I have seen everyone. Due to some scary dehydration symptoms, I have had to take my challenge down a notch. I have been doing hot yoga in some capacity for years, and I love the effects it has on my body. However, pushing myself to the limit every day for 20 straight days and pouring buckets of sweat onto my towel did not leave my body as happy as it could have been. After a week of hearing everyone tell me that I didn't look "quite right," I had to face the truth. I was REALLY dehydrated, and drinking a lot of water wasn't going to save me this time. I have the lucky advantage of being a teacher at Riverflow, and since the weekend I have been conducting my own private music classes on my own time. I find these classes a little more conducive to listening to my body and moving at my own pace. I have been guzzling coconut water and Emergen-C and getting lots of rest. I am seeing improvement in my symptoms every day and hope to see you all in a big, sweaty class soon!
DAY 30! I finished off the challenge with a nice, full class at the studio. Class went well. Today I tried to only focus on concentration and not get hung up on where my body was today. I had some physical goals for the challenge- straighten my leg here, see the floor there. Some of those goals I met, others I didn't. And of course there were the unexpected changes. But today, on day 30, I decided to accept my limitations and enjoy my improvements, so I just worked on looking myself in the eye. I caught myself drifting off a few times, but the effort paid off.
Looking back on my challenge, and my older posts, it wasn't the steady ride I had expected. I have been doing hot 26 yoga for a long time so I wasn't afraid to take this on. I knew what I was getting into, sort of. I expected a steady improvement in my poses, my energy and my general well being. Instead I experienced some serious ups and downs. The challenge started off with awesome energy rushes and steady pose improvement, but dehydration had me sidelined and I felt stalled a frustrated. In retrospect, I am glad I found a way to continue with my challenge that worked for my body, even if it didn't follow my original plan.
I encourage taking on a challenge for any one considering it, whether it is 30 days or 365. Maybe your challenge is to find 3 days a week to come to class, every week. Whatever your goal, meeting it is a step towards changing your body or changing your life. It doesn't really matter what your challenge is, as long as you are listening to your body and responding to it's needs. My 30 days didn't go exactly as I had planned. I was forced to make the changes my body needed to complete the month, but I am still walking away from the whole ordeal with some serious pose improvement and goals met!
Thanks for reading and I hope to see you all in class, working on your own challenges!
A FINAL NOTE: During Alison's 30 Day Challenge, her well-water received two overly-powerful chlorine-shock treatments. If you have a well, you know it's critical to ensure that every last drop of chlorine has dissipated before using the water...but despite her efforts, Alison continued to smell chlorine in her water noting that her eyes burned while showering, and that her clothes, towels and body smelled strongly of chlorine during hot yoga class. I believe that the intense sweating Alison experienced during her 30 Day Challenge could have been a cleansing reaction that may have prevented chlorine poisoning, by purging chlorine through her pores - thus, the dehydration she experienced.
The human body has an innate intelligence; it leans towards health, using every resource available to keep you balanced. Hot yoga, as a tool that supports the optimal functioning of all the systems of your body, was working for her. Thus, Alison completed her 30 Day Challenge with a newfound respect for the power of hot yoga.