Hot like a jungle. Or razor burn. Not so much itchy...or anything you would need ointment to take care of. More like thick, hot soup. Heavy soup. Cream based. That was class, and I liked it.
The heat is the biggest challenge for many people in the room. It's hard to breathe and you can feel claustrophobic. My breath has been so stifled in there, I was sure all the oxygen had been sucked out. It's hard to focus on anything else when you feel dizzy, even nauseous, from the humidity. How can I breathe if I can barely stand?
Then it shifts. You suddenly mind the heat a little less. The standing series wipes you out, but you aren't caught up by the floating thermometers around your fogged up head. This transition, from cursing the heat to counting my breaths, was amazing. I realized that there's always oxygen in the room...even if it feels like there's none.
Your breath is a reflection of your physical state and your mental state. Of course your body is stressed in a hot yoga class; it's like practicing in the jungle. The class is physically exhausting and your body is coping with all the stress, just like it would if you go for a long run or swim 50 laps in a pool. It's hard to realize that the physical component is not the only influence on our breathing. Mentally, we can shift our heart rate or shorten our inhales. Think of times when you were nervous or heard bad news. What happens? You stop breathing. Your heartbeat quickens and your body tenses up. Physically, in terms of effort, you are merely standing still, but your breathing says otherwise. The same thing happens in class. We are so caught up in the physical components and all our mental space is relegated to the "shit, it is so hot in here" thought pattern that we forget to forget all of those distractions.
So what do you do? How do you make room for a quieter practice? When does the shift happen? For me, it was simply going to class every day (can I call that a simple thing?). Being in the room each day changed my feelings toward it. I focus less and less on the heat (though it still floods my brain quite a bit) and use that new space - just like in the poses - to expand, lengthen and calm my breathing. And you know what, it has expanded. I feel the strength in my resolve to take long, slow inhales. I feel the calm that comes with my control. Now I can focus more on my real yoga practice and less on my complaints.
So try it. Go for a week straight. Forget about the physical component and focus on the mind. See what changes. Maybe you'll end up with a new appreciation for that hot, hot room.
Class: Hot 90
Studio: Open Door
Wins: Lavender towels; calm breathing; calm breathing; calm breathing; inhales; exhales.