Musings of an Inflexible Yogi
Diving into a forward bend, a pool of sweat slides off my head and disappears into my drenched Yogitoes towel. The 100 degree humidity-soaked air beckons a steady stream of perspiration from every pore on my body. Even though it’s a futile effort, I smother my face into a hand towel. A moment later, my sweat returns with a vengeance. I’m a leaky faucet that can only be fixed by a restful shavasana.
Lying quietly on my mat at the end of Jessica Sporn’s power hot yoga class at noon, I’m wrapping up with a 20 class in 30-day challenge at Powerflow Yoga’s Bloomfield, NJ studio. Exhausted, sweaty and absorbed in the experience, a smile – as it always does at this very moment – slithers onto my face. The person on this mat is a world away from the person I once was without it.
Merely six months ago, I was bogged down in a personal quagmire. While I’ve always considered myself to be relatively healthy, I drank a little too much, indulged in food and didn’t exercise nearly enough. I loved running outdoors, but New Jersey weather has a habit of presenting convenient excuses for not working out. My weight was steadily increasing and my sense of well-being slipping away with each pound I packed on.
Simply put, I was getting fat and feeling miserable.
My wife, a veteran hot yogi of more than 10 years, knew I had hit the bottom of my own personal health abyss and recommended I join her hot yoga class – a request she’s made consistently for more than five years. In October of 2012, I relented and decided to give it a shot… not because of her persistence, but because I finally wanted change and was willing to make it happen.
My first hot yoga class at Garden State Yoga was not love at first sight! Men and women in tight, sometimes barely-there, clothing from a company that sounded more like a Caribbean rum cocktail than athletic wear (Lululemon!); extremely limber people that could effortlessly contort into pretzel-like shapes called asanas; people who could seemingly levitate their legs above into magnificent inversions. I struggled to fold, bend, reach, stay, twist, keep my panting mouth closed AND breathe in an insanely hot and humid environment. To someone with the flexibility of petrified wood, I found the experience daunting, foreign and both physically and emotionally challenging. I actually hated it. Yet, I persisted.
Sometime not far into my yoga journey – perhaps by the third or fourth week of hot yoga practice – the unexpected started to happen.
I was sleeping soundly.
I felt sustained energy throughout the day.
I willingly turned down drinks at business and social events because I didn’t want to waste the effort I put into my yoga practice.
I began craving the time on my mat. Not just for the physical and aerobic benefit, but for the experience of resetting myself and clearing my mind. It was like the ultimate all-around catharsis.
I became stronger and more flexible. All of the sudden, my toes didn’t feel like they resided in a different time-zone.
I felt… happy.
Sixth months to the day that I started hot yoga, I’ve dropped nearly 30 lbs. As content as I am with the weight loss, it’s the immeasurable benefit that is truly the transformative aspect of this journey. I am stronger, limber, calmer, energetic, arguably smarter and more resolute in my ability to manage my health and overall well-being.
My time on the mat has taught me that health isn’t the end-result of extreme dieting, hours-on-end at a gym or absolute avoidance of indulgences. Instead, it’s about balance. I still have a drink when occasion warrants and eat the types of foods that I love. The difference now is that these decisions are moderated and aligned with a healthier lifestyle foundation that I’ve established through yoga.
I’m ecstatic to be on this journey and to be able to share it with my wife. I also look forward to seeing where it brings me. Until then, I feel blessed for the positive transformation that has radiated through my life from just being able to practice. And… that is why at the end of every class, despite the inevitable sweat tsunami and the challenge, you’ll always catch me with that smile on my face.
Hot yoga vitals:
If you live in the northern New Jersey area, I invite you to check out Garden State Yoga in either Bloomfield or Glen Rock, NJ. A great studio with amazing instructors and fellow yogis.
My favorite yoga gear:
Yogitoes rSkidless BIG Yoga Towel (Oversized so that it wraps under the front and back of a standard sized mat. Super non-slip for great grip!)
Jade Harmony Professional 3/16″ Yoga Mat (Soft, thick and super high quality.)