Read about how it went.
I recently turned 48. So in the days leading up to my birthday, I decided to challenge myself to do 30 consecutive days of hot yoga. I have only done “hot yoga” twice before and found it to be a little miserable. But some of the teachers at the hot yoga studio are taking my online teacher training, so I decided to check in on a couple of them.
Their classes did not disappoint. They are rigorous, yet the teacher’s attitudes are encouraging. The rooms get hot, close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and you can feel it on your skin as soon as you walk into the room. It’s a very unusual experience that pushes you to your edge.
Now, I’ve been practicing Ashtanga for many years now. The sequence is very challenging and you are expected to practice 6 days per week, skipping full and new moon days, which makes every other week only 5 days of practice. So, several days, weeks, months, and even years consecutively is not foreign to me. But 30 consecutive days, without break, not something I had ever done before.
The first 4 days were probably the hardest. It was SOOO hot and I was sweating like a pig, mostly it seemed from my face. And as the people start moving and sweating, the smell in the room becomes more odorific. By the end of class though, I was feeling blissful, like all of my emotions, and fat cells had been wrung out. All I wanted was water.
By day 5, the classes started to seem easier. Perhaps I was becoming more familiar with the vinyasa/power style of yoga. My mind knew what to tell my body to do and my muscles were more receptive to doing it.
On day 9, I woke up with a lot of pain in my lower back. I could barely stand up straight. Most people may have quit at this point, but not me. I’ve been doing yoga way too long to know that if you don’t move it, it’s going to take longer to feel better. So I waited until the afternoon to hit up a class, knowing my body would be a little more mobile and warmed up. Turns out, it was just what I needed. I only did what I could, and did not push myself, which made all the difference. On day 10, I went to the hour and fifteen-minute class, with some back pain. By the end of class, the pain was completely gone and has been gone since.
By day 11, I went to the 6:45 am early class and made a new friend. Apparently, the local Crossfit gym was closed for the day and the students from there decided to do hot yoga instead. On that same day, I taught an arm balance workshop, which only made day 12 super hard.
Day 12 was a bruiser. The teacher decided that we were going to work on the arms and upper body. I was already sore from the day before. But sometimes I get competitive with myself, so I pushed it. Luckily I survived with no repercussions.
Day 13 was a Sunday and I decided to take it easy with a half-hot Power/Yin class. It was just the class I needed after nearly 2 weeks of full power yoga in a hot room.
By day 14 I was getting into a groove. I felt like I had a routine down. Every day I plan which hot yoga class I would go to. Each day I would pack my yoga bag with all the necessary items, including a change of clothes for the ride home. After class, in my car would be a cold jug of water, ready for me. I’d be sure to park in a shady spot if possible so my car wouldn’t be too hot after class. And I’d empty my bag of all the sweaty items as soon as I got home and threw them into a quick cycle wash. It felt like I had found a purpose. After over a year at home, practicing yoga at home, working from home, I finally had somewhere to go each day, which made me feel good about myself. It had become a part of who I am, not just something I do.
On day 15 I had an appointment with the dermatologist. I didn’t have time to go to class beforehand, because of work. I had a small procedure, and she told me I couldn’t work out for 72 hours. I was pretty bummed. I considered going anyway, but the last time I didn’t listen to her and went and taught a class, I felt miserable. So I sat day 15 out, breaking my routine, just as I was getting into it.
On day 16 I decided to go back to class, but I waited until the evening to return. It took all the willpower I had to go to that class. After skipping just ONE DAY my mind started playing tricks on me.
Thoughts like, “Oh you did a good job. Two weeks in a row is great. You can take another day off.” were spinning in my head.
Then of course the excuses to back up the thoughts, “Well the doctor told you really to take off 72 hours.”
But I took my power back and TOLD MYSELF “This is what you want. You told yourself you would do this. My word is law. When I make a promise to others I keep it. I deserve the same respect from myself. I keep my promises to myself, and I don’t make promises I cannot keep.”
So after giving myself a swift kick in the ass, I made it to the 6 pm class that evening. Once class got started, my body felt like it wanted to stretch more than ever. It was like it had missed that one day and needed to make up for it.
Every day after that got easier and easier. I got up each day and planned my day around which class I was going to, and went. It was really enjoyable. I was starting to make friends, and recognizing the same people. I even ran into several people I already knew and hadn’t seen before the pandemic. It was one of the best birthday gifts I have ever given to myself.
The results of my 30 days of hot yoga were not what I had expected before I started. I thought that my body would change more, in appearance, slim down, or be leaner. But the truth is, my eating habits didn’t change that much.
But what I gained was a new appreciation for my body. The endurance that I built up over that month was exhilarating. I feel like now I can do anything. There are several actions that get us going to the places we want to be. Some people run every day, it clears their minds and sets them up for the rest of the day. Yoga of course does it for me, so does meditation. Cleaning the house also helps me clear my mind and get me moving on some projects that I may have been procrastinating about.
There are so many reasons to challenge yourself. And what you are challenging yourself to do may not have anything to do with your goals, but on the other hand, it has everything to do with your goals. Challenging ourselves shows us that WE CAN! Committing to yourself helps you keep your word. You probably almost always keep your word with others, but how often do you keep your word with yourself?
I’d love to know if any of you have challenged yourself like this, or even on a bigger scale? Send me your messages and stories. Keep it positive. 🙂