We entered the Moksha room and the heat smacked me in the face.
37 Celsius is hotter than I expected it to be.
This is HOT yoga, not warm yoga, I reminded myself.
Then again we’re just coming out of a long Canadian Winter and I haven’t felt the heat in months, so it’s relative. I could feel the blood tickle my cheeks as my skin flushed from the heat.
Ange and I were the first to enter the practice room, which made me happy because I love being early. Best of all, I could pick my spot at the back of the room to hide. I totally wanted to hide even though I felt like there was no place to hide in this room. It was open and airy, with several large windows, bamboo floors, and floor to ceiling mirrors at the front.
So much for hiding.
I carefully and quietly rolled out my Lululemon mat and placed my large bath towel over top, which Ange told me was a great sweat catcher. You also do not talk when in the practice room…if you do, the floor will open up and suck you out in one quick motion.
I left my Sigg water bottle and small face towel near the wall and I lay down on my back…because that is just what you do, I quickly learned.
I later found out that this is called ‘Savasana’.
‘Lying flat on the back with the palms turned up and the feet slightly separated, we start a challenging practice in relaxation, allowing our expectations to fall away and be replaced by the potential for pure experience.’ [source]
The Savasana was great because it allowed my body to adjust to the temperature. After about 5 minutes, I felt comfortable again. Calmness started to slowly come over me as I inhaled and exhaled in silence for about 10 minutes before the class began. Any sense of anxiety that I felt prior to the class was virtually gone. I started to wonder if yoga might be the natural remedy for my anxiety that I’ve been looking for.
I hear others walking past me, some lightly… some not, but I try to tune out the distractions. I’m eager to sit up and look around at my fellow classmates, but I try to focus on breathing.
‘Welcome everyone to our Moksha 75 minute class.’
We stay on our mats and just focus on our breathing for several minutes. While we breathe, the instructor speaks to us in a soft tone:
‘The to-do lists might be swirling through your mind right now. You are thinking about your day or things that you have to check off your list. Let this 75 minutes be just for you. Don’t think about anything else except where you are in this moment. Allow your to-do list to leave your mind. This is your time.’
I like her already.
We’re standing up now and looking to the front mirrors. A single bead of sweat drops from my brow as I get up. My skin glistens and my face is looking rather..flustered. I quickly glance around the room and I notice our class is made up of mostly women, with a few men. All shapes, sizes, and abilities. There was about 15 of us. It wasn’t a classroom full of 6 foot amazon yogis like I imagined.
‘Now, meet your gaze in the mirror.’
I look directly at myself, feeling mixed emotions. She looks strong, but weak at the same time, I think. I’m not sure I like that thought.
As if the instructor was reading my mind she said, ‘Now, meet your gaze in the mirror with KIND eyes. Soften your eyes and look at yourself with kindness.’
I tried again. This time with kind eyes.
For a moment, I felt emotional by this simple act of looking at myself with kindness. I was grateful that it was easier to do than it used to be, although I know that I still had a ways to go yet.
I immediately know that this is going to be much more than a workout.
We move into the standing series which is ‘a cardiovascular set of postures. The focus is on building strength, balance and endurance through hot yoga postures done from a standing position. Postures are held anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute, allowing the skin to sweat and detoxify the body.’
I feel amazing when doing the dancer pose and it reminds me of my ballet days as a young child. Much of what I love about ballet, like discipline, could also be applied to yoga. This excites me.
‘Focus your thoughts on your breath if you find your mind wandering. Inhale….hands planted on the floor, legs extend out…exhale…downward facing dog.’
After a short while, my skin is beaded with sweat and it drips off my body uncontrollably.
At first, I’m a bit embarrassed by sweat falling off me, hitting the towel strategically placed on my mat. A quick glance around the room assures me that everyone has sweat dripping off them. Like a faucet. I feel less gross. Surprisingly, the room doesn’t smell funky and I wonder what line of natural cleaners they use.
After the standing series, comes the floor series:
‘The floor series works on strengthening the upper body, spine and abdominal muscles. Having thoroughly warmed the body in the standing series, we now begin to open the hips and spine. The floor series relieves tension, treats lower back and knee pain and improves posture.’
I feel loose as a goose in the second half of the class. This heat has me thinking I’m much more flexible than I am and it’s motivating because I feel like I can do this. The poses feel smooth instead of painful and tight.
We end the class where we began- Savasana. We are told to pay particular attention to how we feel in the Savasana, as compared to the beginning of class. I’m amazed by the difference. My breathing now is long and deep, effortless and unforced. My body feels calm and despite being soaked in sweat, I feel just right.
And that feeling of ‘just right’ or calmness carried with me throughout the day as I found myself anticipating my next class.