The accidental yogi
It’s (not) getting hot in here
As usual, lately I’ve been finding excuses not to go to class. I don’t know why. I know I love it when I’m there. I know being a good yogi is about practicing and I want to be a good yogi, really I do. Oh OK, I admit it. I do know why I’ve been making excuses not to make my practice a priority lately. It’s high summer here in Ibiza and I find I’m either too busy with work, have friends here who need entertaining, have a self-induced headache or (and this is the main one) it’s just too damn hot.
Eventually my yoga guilt got the better of me and I pulled my favourite leopard print pants out of summer hibernation and jumped in the air conditioned car to head to the Hot Yoga Ibiza studio, all the while dreading the thought of doing a hot yoga class in this intense summer heat. Even as I parked the car outside, I contemplated turning back. I’m not a fan of heat. Never have been, never will be.
I trudged inside, averting my gaze from Sebastien’s as I was slightly ashamed due to my extended absence that month. I stayed in the change room right up until the very last second before class began because I just did not want to raise my body temperature even one single degree before I had to.
Then I dashed into the studio, found myself a spot – of course, because I was the last one in the room I was stuck with my least favourite spot directly under one of the fans – and I rolled my mat out, covered it in a towel, gulped my icy cold water (and yes, I know better than to do this!) and prepared myself for the worst as we started breathing.
I raised my arms up towards my ears and I breathed in (two, three, four, five, six, click!) and I lowered my chin to my chest as I breathed out (repeat!). I started to wonder if there was anywhere else on my mat I could manoeuvre myself to, in order to avoid the hot air coming from above. Could I stand at the front? To the side? Could I just go over by the window for a few minutes? I couldn’t switch my brain off, so great was my fear of the heat… I couldn’t connect with myself in the mirror. I couldn’t stop thinking about my bottle of water, and praying we’d get to eagle pose soon so I could take a sip already.
And then all of a sudden… as if it were magic… we were starting the cobra series! What? Was I delirious? Had I blacked out from the intense heat?
No. As it turned out, all my irrational fears about the heat were totally unfounded. It didn’t actually feel any hotter in the studio than it did outside in the blazing summer sun (Sebastien promises me it is 40 degrees however – outside is a mere 35!). In truth, I wasn’t even sweating as much as I do in winter. Summer, it seems, is actually an easier time to acclimatise in the hot yoga studio, as your body is already heated up before you arrive. There is no stark contrast between outside and inside. Humidity and heat is part of daily life already.
I just had to let go of my attachment to the idea that I was going to hate it, my desire to incessantly drink water throughout the class, my fear of slipping on the mat in a downpour of sweat and my ridiculous notion that class would be akin to suffering to realise, it was just another yoga class. I just had to let go… and practice.
Once I’d cleared my mind of these obstacles, I found myself sailing through class, with a (slightly smug) smile on my face. I was even sad when it was over! Even the experience of showering and changing after class felt easier than ever before. I glided back into the change room, happy to take a cool shower and knowing I wasn’t going to have to layer up with warm clothes to combat the weather outside while my internal systems were still charged with heat. I didn’t need to blowdry my hair after washing it, safe in the knowledge the sun would do it for me quickly and naturally once I was outdoors (double bonus: good for the environment, and for my hair!).
What a fool I’ve been (once again!). You’d think, after more than a year of coming to practice, I’d know better than to let preconceived notions get in the way of having a good class. You’d think that by now I’d know how to clear my mind of all obstacles before arriving to my mat. You’d think I’d understand yoga is about practicing non-attachment. But hey, I’m only human. And so I will keep on practicing…