The Hot Series is not a style of Yoga I would have chosen for myself, so when the opportunity to learn and teach this style showed up unexpectedly, I chose to accept . I am sharing my experiences in the Hot Studio not to promote or critique this style of Yoga, but to give Voice to what I discovered about myself, and the life I was creating, through this practice.
Yoga showed up for me at a time of great uncertainty. I had created my Energy Practice and had been teaching Nia for a few years, but everything I had accomplished in both areas felt like a struggle. I knew I was on the right path, but creating space for myself happened by a sheer force of will. And because of my uncertainty, the space I had allowed for myself was small - and getting smaller by the minute, to the extent that I knew if I wanted to remain in this space at all, something needed to change. I just wasn’t sure what that ‘something’ was.
In an attempt to help me expand, one of my Nia students put me in touch with a local Yoga Studio Owner. It took us multiple attempts over several months to connect. I had actually given up on the idea, so when we finally did talk and set a time to meet, I knew I needed to pay attention. I thought we were meeting to talk about Nia and possibly put a workshop on the studio’s calendar. But, I left that day signed up for Yoga Teacher Training. At the time, I didn’t know what style of Yoga I had signed up to learn, but I knew it didn’t matter. For the first time in a long time, this was an opportunity that came easily and I was excited about it. I knew this had to be a sign.
From the moment I stepped into the studio to meet the owner, I felt at home, like I was supposed to be there. For someone who had created space by her own will power, this was definitely new and different…and a little unsettling. I did not understand why I felt so much at ease – so at home – in this space that was foreign to me, but this studio was to become the place where I felt safe to go within and to discover why I was keeping myself so small and why I was hiding from the world.
“Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.” ~ Booker T. Washington
Yoga Teacher Training Asanas
I discovered on the first morning of movement that I would be studying the Hot Series and the Vinyasa style of Yoga. My brain could not quite catch up to the concept that this is what I had signed up for, as it had no prior experience to which it could attach itself and only squeaked out, “Wait. What?!” I felt the presence of fear in the pit of my stomach and I sat with both my brain and my stomach, allowing them to settle down while assuring them everything really would be alright. I didn’t know why, but I knew I was meant to be here. I listened to my fellow Teacher Trainees share their first experiences with the Hot Series. My brain and stomach did not feel assured. However, what they both could understand is that these styles of Yoga found me and there must be a reason why, even though it was not clear in this moment. So, my fear calmed down and was replaced by a sense of curiosity and wonder. If this group of people I was training with had come to love this style, I was game to be present and to discover the gifts before me.
“Curiosity… is what separates the truly alive from those who are merely going through the motions.” ~ Tom Robbins
Hot Yoga: Take 1
My intention for my very first Hot Yoga class was the following mantra: “Don’t throw up. Don’t pass out.” This may seem a bit extreme, but I was not sure how my Body would react to this practice and I was afraid I would do one or both. My mantra must have worked, because I did neither, to my relief. I learned quickly in the Hot Studio to accept exactly where I was in my practice with each of the Asanas. I did my best and I got through it, still unclear as to why I was doing in a Hot Studio. As with all things, I knew there had to be a reason. So, I decided to keep my curiosity and sense of wonder…and to wait.
Hot Yoga: Take 2
I had already proven that I could survive this class, so my fear of embarrassing myself completely had subsided. My intention for my practice today was to Honor each of the Poses. I wanted to experience each Asana, testing my boundaries and pushing what I believed were my limitations. What drew me to Yoga in the first place was my desire to build strength, which I believed I lacked. For this second class, I did each of the poses to my fullest expression. That does not mean I did the ‘full’ pose or that I did each of the Asanas well. But, I ended the class with a great sense of accomplishment. With my success, my brain started to believe that I really was supposed to be here and that I belonged here…for some reason.
Hot Yoga: Take 3
Already in my practice, I knew I could make it through the class and I knew I could attempt each pose. Today, my intention was to Honor my Body. I went into the Asanas only to the extent my Body said, “This is enough.” I came down to my mat in Child’s Pose when my Body said, “I need to rest.” I drank water when my Body said, “I am thirsty.” My focus for my practice on this day was to be with my Body without judgment, just to practice the Asanas as my Body needed to experience them. The intention to Honor my Body allowed me to deepen my experience with the Hot Series: to move from the physical aspects into a spiritual practice. I began to move within and to connect with all that was going on inside of me. I found more strength and courage than I had imagined.
“The greatest battle you wage against failure occurs on the inside, not the outside.” ~ John Maxwell
The Path to Surrender
As my practice continued, I began to realize there really was a reason the Hot Series found me. After each practice, I felt like I could take on the World: “If I can do this, I can do anything.” During one practice, my energy was too spent to do Tree pose (Vrksasana). So, I had come down to my mat in Child’s Pose, watching other students who were not in Child’s Pose. At first, I berated myself for not being strong enough to continue. But, when I let go of my expectations for myself and for my practice, I was able to see how happy I felt for those around me and being where they were with their practice. And I saw beautiful Trees all around me. I realized in that one moment that I was beginning to let go of resentment I held for what I perceived to be my own short-comings and I was beginning to let go of competition, within myself and with others. By learning to enjoy the view – to enjoy what was in that moment – I was learning to Surrender: to my needs, my desires, my weaknesses, my strengths. For me, Surrender was a hard, HARD lesson. And, a beautiful gift.
Expanding the Smallness
The feeling of being able to take on the World was a side effect that stayed with me outside of the Hot Studio. As part of my Yoga Teacher Training, I was teaching my fellow trainees the 7 Major Chakra Energies. I noticed on the first day of my teaching, I was not nervous. I was not nervous AT ALL. It was an odd feeling, standing there, completely at ease while teaching. This was new. And, it was invigorating. I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Finally!
When I started to let go of the resentments and judgments I hadn’t even realized I was holding against myself, other things within me started to change. I was no longer afraid for people to show up and be with me, to listen and ask questions. When I stopped rejecting myself, I stopped expecting others to reject me. It became acceptable for me to share who I am with others because I realized that if I accept myself, it’s okay if you don’t. And I found, that for the most part, others accepted me, too. I began to feel comfortable inviting others into my world, which continues to expand. Ultimately, the Hot Series taught me that the ‘something’ that needed to change was me. When I learned to surrender, I learned to accept all of myself. I learned to LOVE myself – inside and out - in a BIG way.
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” ~ Albert Einstein
Taking these Lessons off the Mat
Since graduation, I have been saying ‘Yes!’ to all that I find nourishing, including teaching opportunities that put me in front of people. I am still not completely comfortable in this space, but it feeds my Soul. I have also been saying ‘No’ to what is no longer serving me. How I tell the difference is whether or not these opportunities show up easily. Talk about shifting gears! Prior to my experience with the Hot Series, I believed you had to work hard to succeed. I have let go of that belief in exchange for releasing all that does not come with an open door.
I have also accepted that in order to create space for new opportunities, I have to release some old ones. The really important lesson in saying ‘Yes’ and in saying ‘No’ is knowing these responses can change in a moment. These moments of change make it easier to let go. Just because I let go of something or someone today doesn’t mean I let go forever, unless that is my true desire.
To give attention to my Yoga practice as a Teacher, I decided to let go of teaching Nia, for an undetermined amount of time. This decision was not easy. Nia is my Heart. But, I needed to change my relationship with it. And, in letting go of Nia for just a little while, I have found a renewed love for the Dance in that Nia is now inviting me. I am looking forward to see how Nia and Yoga play together as I continue on this path.
When you decide to open yourself to something that is new for you, whether it is the Hot Series or a different flavor of ice cream, do so with an open mind and an open Heart, receiving the gifts that are there for you. Always. Who knew there was BIG LOVE in the Hot Studio?
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” ~ E.E. Cummings