I am in Pigeon pose…. with sweat trailing its way down the sides of my face, into my eyes, dripping into the towel that is soaked through by my body’s investment in righting the world within me.

The first time i went to hot yoga I thought I was going to die.  Even just being in a room that hot for an hour seemed like an impossibility.  I assumed that it would get easier the more I went.  I was right… and I was wrong.

The cold weather always brings with it my return to the practice room and while my mind is supposed to be silent in that space, the constant beating of doubtful thoughts during the first many classes I attend before i reclaim my strength, is almost overwhelming.images-82

I cheat on hot yoga during the summer months with other sports and when I return, I pay for it.  I have such an abusive relationship with my practice.

I am fascinated by the emotional parade that gets wrung out of my soul while i clock time in that heated room.  The pounding anger i can feel as we stand in warrior two.

Anger that I never feel shows up here somehow when I’m pushing the limits on what is possible, facing the flirtatiousness of failure, about to give up…

Holding the pose, then twisting into triangle, shaking and reaching for the series of seconds that feel like an eternity.

Quads exploding, shoulders screaming and my private suspicion that the instructor is clearly trying to kill us by making us stay in the poses for twice as long as usual… every time…

Connecting with my breathe and clearing my mind to simply be present and grateful, I’m supposed to breathe into my areas of tension to create more space, to stretch and give permission to my body to replenish the energy its been seeking…

images-71But when i’m in the middle of the floor series, somewhere usually in between spine strengthening and camel, with my heart pounding so hard that i question if i will survive, I am not feeling very grateful…

I have a recurring fantasy about ripping the fire extinguisher off of the wall and releasing its contents all over the room of fellow yogis, laughing maniacally… as i suspect that many others in that room are also dancing with their breaking point too.

But I don’t…  It often is the thought though that gives me a silent smile, and a reminder of just how incredibly difficult getting through this session actually is, and thats why I come.

Being tested to the point of almost giving up and not.  Feeling fear attempt to win the battle in my mind and refusing her… this practice teaches me that I can win off the mat too.images-85

Encouragement shows up, and so does self respect… and they start whispering to me,   Whispering in the most powerful way as it is now certain, I will make it through this class. The words “I’m so proud of you” are on repeat inside my head through the final poses, as just completing every single class feels like such a triumph.

The second our final breathing exercise is finished and we are lying flat on our backs the beautiful cascade of gratefulness arrives.  Waves of pride, thankfulness, confidence and peace blanket the stillness behind my closed eyes, and in that moment, once again, I love hot yoga.