Hot yoga found me when my life broke wide open. Just about 3 years ago now, I found myself ejected from the life I created. My daughter left for college, which was challenging enough, and within a matter of weeks my marriage fell apart taking with it my 4 stepsons. My nest was empty and I was forced to spend time with myself.
A new hot yoga studio, Hot Asana, recently opened in town and I had been putting off going. Yoga has been part of my life for over 20 years. I practiced with videos in the privacy of my own home. There was security and only the judgment of myself to deal with. During the winter of 2014 I knew I had to leave the house. In my sadness I found that I was cold all of the time. This new studio offered something my body craved; heat. Taking a leap of faith, I signed up for my first class. Much to my surprise I received far more than a physical work out.
At Hot Asana they not only offered a work out for the body, but one for the mind and heart as well. The instructor told a story of being present in this moment while leaving everything that weighs you down at the door. With her reminder that those worries would be waiting for me when I left class if I chose to pick them up, tears began to flow. This was all before the first downward dog of the day. I wondered how I would make it through the class if I was already crying.
The entire class awoke something inside of me. Listening to my body without judgment, and being present with myself on the mat was just the permission I needed to let go of the things that no longer served my highest good. Life already changed for me, I just needed to catch my breath and decide to embrace it. That yoga class provided exactly what I needed in order to do just that; catch my breath. Then just as I settled into the final resting pose of savasana, the gift of connection was given.
During the end of my marriage and empty nest, true loving connection with human touch vanished just when I needed it most. While in savasana a cool lavender cloth was gently placed over my eyes, just as the teacher spoke of the theme again. In the darkness, the tears of release flowed effortlessly down my cheeks. Next the teacher shared that it is customary for the participants of class to receive a neck and shoulder massage. If we did not want to receive it we could raise a hand to opt out. There was no way in the world I would be opting out of this experience. My soul craved kindness. The teacher placed her hands on my shoulders and rubbed the muscles of my arms, shoulders and neck. She finished with a gentle rub to my forehead before moving on to the next person. The experience lasted less than two minutes, yet it touched my heart and soul in a way that I believed in that moment, I would never receive again.
The kindness, connection and sweating that occurred in that hot yoga studio opened my heart and saved my soul just enough that day in order to keep breathing in and out. For on many days at that time, breathing was challenging. I kept coming back to be warm and to be touched kindly without any expectation. During my cross country tree hugging trip later in 2015, I visited yoga studios. Nothing came close to the experience I have when practicing at Hot Asana in Danville, VA. The more classes I attended, the more I wanted. These connections lead me to sign up for yoga teacher training at the studio. Six months of intense mind, body and spirit training for 200 hours concludes today for me. The required teaching and exam have been successfully completed. My certificate will be cherished for many years to come.
Gratitude radiates from my heart at the completion of this goal. Yet what excites me most is now I have the opportunity to serve as a yoga teacher to others. I hope to lead classes in a way that people remember the strength of their spirit and body, just like yoga has taught me.
A wonderful message from training is from Virginia Gallagher; “I teach yoga not so they remember who I am, but so they remember who they are.”