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I discovered hot yoga in 2003 when I was dating a man, who at the time, I was convinced I’d marry.
I ended up splitting with that fellow in 2008, but I continued to adhere to my hot yoga practice.
Fast-forward to the present day and I’m still a devout yogi, but so much has changed for me personally, professionally, and spiritually. Heck, I’ve changed in virtually every way since I first entered the hot room 20 years ago.
Only regular hot yoga enthusiasts can attest to this: you want to be drenched from head to toe after moving your body through the various asanas (postures). You thrive in “sauna-like” conditions and feel empowered, invincible, and stealthy.
And the euphoria you feel directly afterward: bliss.
Time has whizzed by for me and it’s astounding that I’ve been devoted to hot yoga for the last two decades, despite my whirlwind journey through life. But, here’s the thing, it has kept me buoyant, alive, hopeful, and shining.
Hot yoga has saved me so many times over; I can’t list the entire plethora of benefits it has served for me. But, luckily, in the time I’ve spent on my mat, I’ve learned so many valuable things.
Here is my list of 20 inspirational things I’ve learned in my 20-year practice:
1. Imperfection is the key.
When I first tried hot yoga, I was so overwhelmed by the heat and by the other participants, who seemed flawless in their movements, that I had to exit the studio a few times to catch my breath. The point is, you can be flawed and make a ton of mistakes. Even if you never get it right, it’s called a practice for a reason.
2. Comparison is the true thief of contentment.
It’s easy to become intimidated by lithe, lean bodies, beautiful athletic apparel, and people who just seem to have their sh*t together. Not everything is as it seems. If you start comparing yourself to someone else, try and halt your mental chatter and turn your attention to yourself. Mindfully say something positive about yourself when you experience moments of self-doubt or anxiety.
3. Vulnerability is beautiful.
Loosen up when you practice yoga. Isn’t that the entire point? Let go of your need to subconsciously compete with someone else. Let yourself soften, try to loosen your jaw, unclench your muscles, and give in to the goodness that awaits you.
4. Relish in the journey. There is no ending point.
There is always something to learn, every single time you step foot inside the hot room. There’s always a “takeaway” each time I attend a session. You also learn more about yourself.
5. Patience will get you far.
At the start of my yoga journey, I felt impatience wash in and out of me. It’s never too late to take yourself by the hand, change your inner narrative, and practice being more patient and tolerant. Good things really come to those who wait.
6. It’s never about what you wear.
It’s not a fashion show—although Lululemon can be seen for miles and miles. I just want to be covered and comfortable during inversions and I don’t want my boob to pop out. (Hey, I’ve seen it happen and it’s more than okay). But seriously, I go to hot yoga to sweat, stretch, and get serene—not show off my latest outfit.
7. Keep it quiet. Have respect for the space you’re in.
This isn’t high school and you’re not gossiping at the water cooler at work. This is a sacred, peaceful, safe, and inclusive space, and each person has their own “why” for being there. Be courteous and please have respect for other people’s space and boundaries.
8. Take what you’ve learned on the mat, and apply it to your daily life.
What’s the point of practicing yoga and being mindful and still if you can’t take it with you off the mat? I started hot yoga to be less riled and less reactive, and to reduce my anxiety levels. Each time I come off my mat and go into the real world, I make efforts to be as calm as I can be for the remainder of the day.
9. No matter how long you’ve been absent, it always feels like home.
I went through a lull during the pandemic, and while many yoga classes were still being offered virtually, it still didn’t compare to being in the hot room. But no matter how long you stay away, the feeling you get when you come back is blissful. You truly feel like you’re back where you belong.
10. Hydrate, eat, and rest.
Once you develop a steady rhythm, you will recognize your body cues and you’ll honor your temple with everything it deserves, so you can return to your next session “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.”
11. Never go to hot yoga when you are ill.
It serves no purpose, as your immunity is already low, and sweating it out won’t do you any good. Please stay home if you are unwell and don’t look to the hot room to eradicate your illnesses. Also, it’s a terrible idea across the board, as you may potentially infect others and the hot room is a breeding ground for airborne viruses.
12. Celebrate the tiniest victories.
Maybe you weren’t in the mood to practice, but you did anyway. Maybe you noticed that your flexibility or mobility has improved and now you can bend/stretch/extend more than before. Maybe you’re drinking more water than you ever have in your history. Victories!
13. Setbacks are common and should be viewed as lessons, not failures.
If you have an injury, an illness, or have been away for an extended period, give yourself grace. Putting pressure on yourself to perform at high-speed every time is futile. Take each setback as a challenge that will be overcome with patience and consistency over time.
14. Smile way more than you do. Life is already hard enough. Leave your sh*tty attitude at the front door.
After 20 years of practicing hot yoga, I still believe it’s way too serious, and the scowling faces and holier-than-thou body language have to stop. People tend to be way too tough on themselves and secretly judge others when it comes to yoga. You don’t have to be a gymnast or a bodybuilder to be great—be you. Be flawed. Smile, damn it.
15. Have the courage to admit that some things are difficult to master.
This is where the perfectionist mindset may come into play. I think it’s vital to maintain a “beginner’s mind” when it comes to attempting new things, or even things you’ve done for decades. If something is out of your “wheelhouse” ask questions. If the answers aren’t sitting well, maybe it’s not suitable for you at all.
16. Compliment your favorite teachers and let them know their value.
I have practiced hot yoga with my favorite teacher, Danny, for the last 20 years. He is an exceptional leader, speaker, and dedicated yogi. I learn something new and different in every single class he offers. I have developed a friendship with him and have the utmost respect for him. I compliment him regularly. He shines = I shine.
17. It’s okay to cry.
Hot yoga releases a well of emotions, and every single muscle, ligament, organ, and cell is alive and flowing. It’s normal to release tears—it’s a tremendous feeling. Go with it, and if other people see you cry, don’t allow it to phase you. Again, keep true to yourself and let everything go.
18. Fit body + Fit mind + Fit Soul = Trifecta of Happiness.
The body cannot function without the mind. Feed yourself positive words, nurture your soul with all the things that make you come alive, and move your body often. The more you tweak what works for you, the better you will feel across the board.
19. Focus your energies on a particular person that needs your strength and guiding light.
Every time I step into the hot room, I dedicate my practice to someone who needs extra care, support, or strength. It feels healing, energizing, reflective, and holy.
20. Watch yourself magically bloom into someone who is unrecognizable.
I can attest that I’ve morphed into a completely different woman since I first stepped into my first hot yoga class. Like magic! Only time, dedication, motivation, and resolve will reveal the gifts that are inside of you.
If you are a hot yoga enthusiast like me, I hope this list was informative and right up your alley.
Namaste, may you derive great enjoyment from your ongoing practice and evolution!