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Sharon Yap

Nobody forgets their first encounter with hot yoga - at least not me. It was January 2008 my girlfriend and I decided to do something about our weight gain. Eagerly we paid $20 for our first week of trial.

I have to tell you that I detest heat and humidity. I sleep with my window open even in the dead of winter. My idea of enduring heat is to endure it leisurely under a cabana on a beach with a fruity drink in my hand. Nothing could have prepared me for the greeting I got when I open that door into that yoga room.

The blast of heat that hit my face, the uninviting odour of sweaty bodies that hit my nose and did I mention THE HEAT. What am I entering into? How can people do this and say they like it. Are they out of their minds. This is no condition for normal human beings. I must be crazy to pay money to suffer. I left the room twice during that first class. My friend coaxed me into going again. My second class wasn't any better, like the first class, I couldn't breathe, I was uncomfortable and my heart was beating too fast. I was sure they would have to call an ambulance for me any minute. I tired to lie down, I tried sitting up, I tried drinking water, I took a knee and I lay down some more. I couldn't do it. I told myself "this is stupid I'm not enduring this kind of suffering". I got up, half hazardly gathered my mat and then a voice said "My friend where do you think you are going?" I told Michael (the instructor) my heart is about to pop out of my body and I can't breathe. He gave me no sympathy and said my heart probably will pop out of my body. He encouraged me not to leave the room. I lay back down but not without a poetic string of cuss words (in my head of course, sorry Michael - you are my favorite instructor now). I walked out that day and swore I would never return.

A year later I was still struggling to establish an exercise regiment. The pain in my overused right trapezes muscles were keeping me up at night. The doctor prescribed pain killers and heat on the area. I don't do drugs to mask pain and I definitely don't have time to lay on my front for hours with a heating bag. Also turning 40 has redistributed my body fat. I was getting rounder by the day. Basically I needed heat for my pain and cardio to loose weight. Where else can I find those 2 combinations?

Once again I found myself lying on the same spot in the room I swore I would not enter again. I braced myself for what I had to face each class. On the way to classes I would turn up the heat in my car to pysch myself up. Ambivalently, I signed up for 1 year unlimited. Money was my motivator. I was adamant to bring the cost of each class to as little as possible. Yes I am cheap.

Ok I got myself to classes but how do I get through them? For 2 months I struggle. I couldn't complete all my postures. I just hated the heat. I had no sense of balance. I hurt everywhere. I knew I had to get used to it but I didn't know how. Then one day everything clicked. During one of Michael's classes he said "don't let your ego get in your way". That's it. It was my ego. I was letting it get in my own way by resisting everything. Instead of accepting the challenges I was complaining about the heat and pain when really I am supposed to acknowledge it and let it go. Yoga is about discipline but up to that point I was being stubborn and impatient. I should be in the moment not hung up about the last pose or dreading the next one or what's for dinner. Slowly the noise in my head drowned and I started to hear the instructors' words. I only need to do my best in that moment for that posture. In the words of Esther (another instructor), "It's yoga practice not yoga perfect."

My motivation has changed since I started 6 maybe 7 months ago (I lost count). This past Monday's class I actually completed my first standing bow pulling pose on my left leg. I was so happy I wanted to scream out loud. The sense of accomplishment at the end of each class is motivating. I like that I don't have that water retaining feel and look after each class. So ladies if you need to get into that snug dress go do a yoga class. I love that clean feeling. It's not the same clean that you get from bathing. You feel clean from the inside. The most shocking motivator is I look forward to the heat now. I like that feeling of melting into the floor at the end of each class. It is so rewarding. I even started to incorporate some yoga principles in my daily life. I tell myself and my children whenever they or I complain to "let go". Acknowledge any bad feelings and move on. I'm now trying to sell my Nordictrack elliptical trainer because I have finally found my exercise regime. Bikram Hot Yoga!!!

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