Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Hot Hot Hot

I wanted to share a really great yoga experience I had yesterday when I did two essential things: 1) ventured out of my comfort zone; and 2) abandoned my ego.

I went to one of my favorite local studios (#HapaYoga) to pick up a TRX class. If you haven't ventured into a gym lately TRX is a type of equipment that consists of a long strap anchored high to a wall, with two stirrups at the ends. The strap lengths are adjustable and the stirrups have handles for gripping with your hands or securing your feet. You use your body weight and incline positions to vary the effort you need to stabilize yourself for certain exercises, lift yourself up or let yourself down; this mirrors some traditional "machine," free weight or even floor work exercises with the benefit of you controlling the weight and being supported by straps. I have received the most intense (and still enjoyable) core workouts using this system and am actually getting trained in June so that I can help teach some classes.

But that isn't what I'm writing about today. As I said, I went to the studio to try to take the TRX class. I arrived a few moments before noon thinking that was the class time, but found out it wasn't until 12:30. The instructor for the actual noon class caught my eye and said "Hey please join me in the class starting now." My friend at the desk chimed in with "Yes, try it! you can always do child's pose." I asked with a funny look on my face "well what's the class?" The both said (wait for it...) HOT AS A MUTHA. Exclamation point. The general description? 101 degree Hatha Yoga. Gasp.

I just started dabbling in this format and enjoy the the 80 and 90 degree classes; they are just like summers in San Diego and my hometown Chicago. However, once you get past 95, I start to wilt and my Pitta goes berserk. And as a midwest girl, I fear NOT the humidity (heck it even makes me look like I have curlier, fully hair.) But 101 degrees? I was skeptical and was pretty I'd spend the entire class gasping for breath. However, I looked at his as an opportunity to change up my practice, try something new from a really great teacher, and figured the worst thing that could happen is I get a nice sauna experience!

Water bottle and yogi towel in hand, I stepped into the room and found it not unpleasant, especially on a cold rainy blustery day. Short story long....the class was NOT a high-power super-flow, out-of-breath rush-between-the-postures, marathon of yoga. It was slow, deliberate, intense and deeply opening but strangely enjoyable. Hot, sure, but invigorating. Yeah, I took a few long down dogs and child's poses when my breath became ragged, but so what? I smiled as the instructor talked about just being in the moment, relishing the opportunity to be in class, and generating self love. YES, I thought, THIS is where I experience my yogic moments.

Dripping with sweat not as much from exertion but from the humidity, I took my water breaks, even stepped out of class for a minute. I took pleasure in (literally) marinating in the poses for long cycles of breath. My personal teaching and practicing style has more deep holds and breathwork inside of poses than a fast-paced vinyasa class, so this held great appeal for me. With the slowew pace you can have more accurate (and safe) alignment to maximize the benefits in a pose. Heat not-withstanding, this was real Hatha Yoga.

A nice series on the floor (where it was cooler) for back strengthening (and resting) was much appreciated as my low back rebels due to age, injury and overexertion. Moving within MY boundaries, I honed in on the muscular cues and celebrated just being able to stay in the class, keeping my heart and mind open to the experience.

My final overarching lesson (slash piece of advice) is a "don't just a class by its title" as the instructor and styles might be very different upon experiencing them. If you want to give this class a try, I highly recommend it (invest in a microfiber towel and LARGE water bottle too!). Check out the Hapa Yoga schedule, or just drop me a message - maybe I'll see you there!

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