When we walk into a yoga class, we each bring a rich history expressed in our bodies: a car accident; too much time seated; a childhood gymnastics career; poor posture. This history impacts our postural alignment. Hot yoga provides a vehicle for us to take control of our body’s history, rather than leaving its consequences to chance. It creates an ever-present awareness of how we hold our bodies in space. We learn to be cognisant of how we sit, stand, walk, run and perform daily work tasks with the goal of better health.
Perhaps you’re dealing with a sore back, tight hips or aching joints. Your motivation for adopting a hot yoga practice might be to find relief. A hot yoga practice deepens your awareness of how you care for your body and develops a persistent mindfulness of your alignment and health. Both are essential if you are to find ongoing relief.
Learn to Care for Yourself and Realign the Spine
Hot yoga is an invigorating, but challenging practice with countless benefits. Many new students come to the practice with a host of physical complaints. The beauty of the original hot yoga is its ability to relieve physical discomfort and bring the body back into alignment. Each carefully selected asana gently realigns the spine, one vertebrae at a time. When we approach each pose consciously, with persistence and commitment, we achieve strength, flexibility and balance.
The therapeutic nature of the original hot yoga helps realign the spine. The hot room bathes the muscles and joints in an atmosphere similar to that of a warm, soothing bath. We perform each of the 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises precisely as instructed, over and over again, as if following a doctor’s prescription.
As we come closer to achieving the precise postures, we experience postural realignment, fluidity of movement and a new normal range of motion. Each hot yoga instructor at Hot Yoga TNT has completed rigorous training in this healing practice. We guide students to develop precision in each asana. You learn to care for your body on and off the mat.
Faith in Yourself, Patience with the Process
Some of the asanas in hot yoga may seem ambitious, intimidating even. Have faith in your abilities and those of your well-trained instructor. Know that you’ll eventually get there. For now, it’s okay to be content where you are. Your practice will change as you move forward and grow. In time, you’ll be surprised at what you have achieved. However, you must be patient with your body and process.
Learn to Differentiate Between Discomfort and Pain
Your internal dialogue when experiencing discomfort in a challenging posture may sound something like this: I can breathe. This is interesting. I didn’t know my body could do this. Conversely, an experience of pain takes your breath away. Literally. It says no, go back to Square One.
Being in pain during a pose is never acceptable. Your first job is always to take care of yourself. So back off in the posture if you’re in pain, whether you’re on the mat or seated in a chair in your living room. If the pain you’re experiencing prompts you to get up and go for a walk, do it. Allow pain to serve as a guide, rather than an enemy to overcome.
Without pain we would harm our bodies because we would never know when to stop. The more we become aware of the message behind the pain we experience, the more we can use it as a tool to be mindful, to challenge ourselves and to refrain from doing harm to our muscles, joints and overall body.
Work within Your Range of Motion
One key to performing the hot yoga postures in a manner that is safe and pain free is recognizing and working within your current range of motion. Your normal range of motion was created by your body’s history. However, just as your past history created your current range, a commitment to the prescribed asanas of hot yoga will expand that range.
Don’t focus on trying to achieve your ideal for each posture today. Be patient with your body as you slowly expand your range of motion. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing your postures with anyone else’s, not even the person you were yesterday. Work within your normal range of motion and you’ll experience 100% of the benefits from that posture that are available to you today. So relax your jaw, your shoulders and your mind. Remember that less is more.
There is amazing satisfaction in achieving a goal you once thought impossible. A yoga practice consisting of postures done precisely and repeatedly is an excellent vehicle for that kind of achievement. The benefits extend far beyond creating a challenging pose. Hot yoga delivers immediate and long-term physical and mental health and the confidence of knowing you are stronger than you think.
If you want to achieve the amazing results Bikram yoga has to offer, be sure to attend our next Focus 90 class. Focus 90 is a special class we host periodically to answer questions and make time for individual posture corrections. We slow things down to ensure that you’re working within your normal range of motion, applying the principle of less is more and doing the postures precisely for maximum benefit.