Last December, a combination of uncommonly freezing cold temperatures and boredom with my normal workout routine drove me to a local hot yoga studio to try out a class. I paid the $40 for the intro month and set about creating “a practice." I went to 15 classes that first month and was hooked.
One day a few weeks ago, while stretching and preparing for class on my mat, I found my thoughts wandering (perfectly acceptable—the mindful, focus-on-your-breath part of the class hadn’t yet begun). Near-term and long-term thoughts popped up: my to-do list, ideas around developing my business, disaffection about our country’s new leadership. As I ruminated, it struck me: hot yoga and this new year we’re embarking on have a lot in common.
What? Ok, let me explain:
- The obvious: hot yoga is hot. It’s uncomfortable and you sweat and sometimes get dizzy—no matter if you’re still or moving. But it also makes you stretchy—loosens things up, stimulates muscles and bones to arrange and move in new ways. Meeting 2017 and its challenges—micro or macro, global or local, personal, or professional—will make you sweat, but the hope (prayer?) is that it will also make you stretch and grow.
- You spend a lot of time alternating between posing like a warrior and trying to get your balance (both made infinitely harder in 90 degree heat). When you’re feeling wobbly this year—and you most certainly will—do what you can to get steady: FOCUS, find a supporting block, and try again. And when you’re feeling like a warrior this year—firmly rooted and powerful—try something new, take the riskier path, aim higher.
- Hot yoga—all yoga in fact—is a practice, which means you’re not going to be great at it right off the bat... and that’s not even the point. Accepting where you are, setting intentions, visualizing achievements, being patient with your limitations, committing to the long view—these are the attitudes you bring to the mat. It might be a smart strategy to invite these same attitudes to form your approach to and outlook on 2017.
- Resting is a requirement. “Savasana” is when you take your final cleansing breaths, (mop off), REALLY clear the mind, and most importantly, celebrate the rest you’ve earned. The challenges 2017 will present demand breaks in the action, and even more important, will require self love and proud acknowledgement of effort—whether righting the wobbles when they come up or continuing to root down as the warrior you aim to be.
- Don’t forget to breathe. ('Nuff said.)
So, whether you’re a hot yogi or not, here’s to an intentional, stimulating, self-loving 2017. Namaste.
* Photo by lululemon athletica (SSC Yoga with Eoin Finn)