My extra-hot habit

The first time I took a hot yoga class, I thought I was going to expire in the studio. It’s 90 minutes of 26 yoga postures in a room heated to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius).

If that sounds insane… well, it is. So I’ll forgive you calling me crazy for not only returning to a second class but for taking classes a few times a week for the next eight years. Despite justifiable skepticism about hot yoga, I found its personal benefits too appealing to give up.

The last time I took a class was on March 11, 2020.

I was probably foolish and irresponsible to attend, given what is going on in the world. I did weigh the pros and cons. And, even a few weeks ago, the world was different enough for my decision to go to seem reasonable. The studio was still open and my county hadn’t yet issued a shelter-in-place order. It was an early morning class; I stayed far from the other four participants in the studio, went home immediately, and washed everything.

But this post isn’t about fears or the absolute necessity we can now see of isolating ourselves. It’s about the comfort of routine.

One thing that people either love or hate about the Bikram style of hot yoga is that the teacher’s dialogue is always exactly the same. And I mean exactly, word for word, from teacher to teacher, class to class, THE SAME.

At first I found this annoying. I focused on the little variations that teachers slipped in here and there. But, eventually, I came to appreciate the dialogue as an invitation to cultivate awareness and attention even though I knew exactly what the next words would be. Eventually, I saw the practice as my opportunity to meditate while moving, to draw my mind back, again and again, to the posture I was working on that day, at that moment.

I miss the yoga studio’s heat and the camaraderie of practicing with others. Like so many of us living through this unprecedented time, I’ve adapted. I’ve set up a mini hot yoga studio in a small space in my house, blasting the heaters to get it as warm as possible and playing a YouTube video of a class. I can’t quite achieve 104-degree temperatures. But the sound of the teacher’s voice, the familiar words, the 26 familiar postures, have become a lifeline, , a stable core as so much else falls away.

Ode to what falls away and what remains

What falls away

  1. The everyday.
  2. Work, worth, identity.
  3. “Breadwinner.” “Teacher.” “Mother.”
  4. “Where do you want to go for dinner?”
  5. Daily routine.
  6. Sense of safety.

And what remains

  1. The completely out-of-the-ordinary.
  2. New selves.
  3. New identities.
  4. “What restaurants are doing takeout or pickup?”
  5. Daily upsets.
  6. Anxiety.

Is it any wonder we cling to the tiniest slivers of normalcy?

What have you found to hold onto in these strange times?

Let me know in the comments.

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Photo credit: Ambermarquez31 / CC BY-SA ( via Wikimedia Commons.

2 thoughts on “My extra-hot habit

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  1. I didn’t know that about Bikram yoga. I cannot imagine how that works, but then I came of age when Lilias was the one teaching us yoga on PBS. It was all about being in the moment which leads to my answer to your questions. I am trying to intentionally focus on being in this moment, not having opinions, not being worried, just being zen in the now. It’s trickier than it sounds, but that’s my anchor.


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