Frickin’ hot. That’s what it feels like.
So hot that every single inch of your body is dripping like fresh raindrops off of leaves. Wait, that sounds too pleasant. Like your body after you emerge from a pool on a hot summer day. Eh still too nice. Like a quickly melting ice cream cone that leaves your skin sticky and gross. Close enough…
No, I did not go to the equator. I did not spend a day walking across Death Valley in the middle of the dry desert heat. Nor did I pull a Hansel and Gretel and get shoved in an oven by some crazy old witch because I ate her candy house.
What I did—was get enveloped by the heat wave of a small room lined with humidifiers, floor to ceiling mirrors, and a couple of ceiling fans.
I would imagine this is what hell would feel like. 105 degrees, humidifiers blowing steam in every corner, and no ceiling fans on—all while getting yelled at by a woman standing on a podium at the front of the room surrounded by 10 people swimming in their own sweat.
The air was thick and smelled like…I’m not even gonna go there.
There is no better way for me to describe my first time doing Bikram yoga than to give you this link to BuzzFeed. A hilarious depiction of what hell may feel like.
So here’s the interesting part…
As much as I just complained about how wretchedly hot is was in that room, dare I say I may have taken a liking to it. But it wasn’t until the second time I did it.
I guess you could call me a yogi at heart. For the past 10 years I’ve tried many different types of yoga including Hatha, Forrest, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, and Power. Most of these are fast paced and rhythmic, focusing on strength and fitness. The only exception being Forrest yoga, which is a slow meditative yoga focused on self-discovery, cleansing, and healing.
But nothing could have prepared me for 90 minutes of Bikram.
About halfway through the session, I literally had no sweat left in me. After class, the teacher told me that the more I did it, the more I would learn about how to fuel myself before coming to class. Both times I got to a point where I thought, “Good Lord. Why?!?! Are we done yet? I can hardly even move. I don’t even want to blink or close my eyes anymore.”
However, something amazing happened to me at the end of class the second time around…
This is the normal ending to every yoga class. Nothing fancy…just a total state of relaxation. It’s a brief meditation where you release every tension you’ve been holding, bring your breathing and heart rates back to normal, and reflect on your state of being.
I’ve tried meditation before. But I could never really focus. Sometimes they say you can see colors, images, or even energies around your body. I was never able to quiet my mind enough to make that happen (coming from the girl who constantly got in trouble in grade school for talking too much…and still does).
Something changed though…
Maybe it was the heat that made my mind unable to think about anything outside of my body. Or maybe it was because I drank 1 Liter of Fiji water…
I’ve always felt that savasanas are rushed because they’re at the end of class. But this time I made the conscious decision to not let myself feel rushed. I allowed myself to get up when my body was ready to get up—NOT just because everybody else was scuffling out of the room.
I tell this to you at the risk of me sounding like I belong in a Buddhist temple, or should be frolicking in fields making flower headbands, or taking up a life in Colorado or Amsterdam…
My body was so overheated and exhausted that I could think of nothing else but my heart beat throbbing from the top of my head to the small of my back. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath in and all I saw in front of me was an ocean blue swirl of color erupt from my chest like a fountain. It paused at the top of my breath, and I watched it swirl around like white caps on a windy sea. As I released, it gracefully flowed back down and poured out across the floor over my limbs like a wave hitting the shore.
Just like the tide—I breathed in and the color retracted up into its fountain over my chest once again. I was so enthralled. So fascinated by what my brain was doing that I just let it continue.
I heard everyone packing up their things, and I thought I may be the only one left in the room, but I wasn’t going to cheat myself.
With each breath, the fountain rose, the waves crashed, and the tide brought it back in. As each breath grew longer and my heart rate slowed, the fountain grew shorter and the tide did not spread as far.
And when the color had no more rising left to do, my entire body—from my tips of my fingers to ends of my toes—was enveloped in an instant tingling sensation that I could only explain as the energy of the tide being contained inside of me.
I am balanced.
I am strong.
I am calm.
I am powerful.
I am focused.
I am mighty.
I am beautiful.
I am vast.
I am like the tide.
These are the first words that came to me before I opened my eyes and rolled up my mat. Visualizations like these are extremely hard to come by, especially in the world we live in. It becomes almost impossible to liberate yourself from worry and shield yourself from constant technology.
I cannot be positive that a visualization like this will ever happen again. I can’t explain and I didn’t pre-determine it.
But what I can be sure of is I left that 105 degree room, feeling like 105%. Mentally energized, and physically…well, hoping I’ll be able to walk tomorrow.