Last Friday marked 45 consecutive days of Hot Yoga. And while, I know that this is primarily a running blog, it's been a helluva 45 days and I'd like to share a little of it with you.
First of all, I'm really happy about the 45 days. I mean, committing myself to something for 45 consecutive days is quite the feat. Particularly when that something is 90 minutes every day. That's 10 and a half hours a week. My ultimate goal was to do 60 full days (which Bikram Choudhury suggests for all beginners to prime your body), but I'm not sure if I ever spend 60 consecutive days in Nashville.
So, the results...
First of all, what everyone always wants to know is... how much weight did I lose? And the answer is, basically none. According to the scale, I've dropped MAYBE a pound or two. BUT, I have dropped body fat and toned up, my arms (biceps, triceps, shoulders) are more ripped than they've ever been. (Particularly my biceps). My clothes fit looser and I can tell that my inner thighs have definitely toned up some. It should be noted that when I first started hot yoga back in May, I definitely lost some weight, probably 5 pounds or so and it was all bad, nasty belly fat. Which is awesome. But, during the 45 days, I didn't really lose a significant amount of weight, but my belly is getting still firmer (still a ways to go, unfortunately).
I'm sure I am more flexible, but I didn't do any kinds of tests to gauge that. My hamstrings are still super tight, but I am able to get into poses deeper now than I was at the beginning of the challenge and certainly more so than I was before I took my first class back in May. Will I ever bend into a pretzel? Who knows? But, there's no rush, I've got the rest of my life to practice.
My skin is the most notably changed. I no longer HAVE to put lotion on. If I skip it one day, its no biggie. Before hot yoga, if I skipped lotion, I'd be able to write my name on my legs with a fingernail. And you could read it. From across the room. My hair is surprisingly holding up well, despite the 2 showers a day now (after running in the morning and after yoga in the evening).
The BEST thing about Hot Yoga for my running has been the ability to acclimate to the heat and survive with sweat pouring down my face. When I first started the hot yoga, I bet I wiped my face a million times during class. Now, only a handful (usually only before poses where my head is below my heart). And that's translated to running too, not only does the heat not bother me as bad when running, but the sweat doesn't either. Having sweat pouring down my face is no longer the bane of my existence. It's just something you deal with.
Also, one of the poses (fixed firm) is one of the only stretches I've ever seen that stretches your shins, IT band, and ankles. It is an awesome pose for runners!
I definitely find myself standing up taller (which I'm so happy about... I hate catching myself in the mirror and seeing myself all Slouchy-McSloucherson).
I feel better about myself and my body. They say that you work ever muscle, tissue, and cell in your body during a standard 26 posture Bikram class, and you definitely become more aware of certain body parts that you never really thought of before. Hot Yoga makes me feel strong and good about myself. I always come out of class feeling lighter (both physically.. all that sweat), but also emotionally.
So, I always feel mentally cleared after a class. No matter what I was thinking about during the day, once I get on the mat, that all disappears and when I step off the mat again and into the real world, my problems/issues don't seem near as bad. In fact, I find myself ready and wanting to face them head-on immediately. I also find that I'm becoming a better listener. For 90 minutes straight, I listen to my teacher intently and don't speak a word. Even though I have the whole series memorized (and a lot of the dialogue and cues, as well), I never anticipate the upcoming pose, I always wait to be instructed and I'm always listening for that one new piece of instruction that clicks that day and gets me deeper into a pose. Those days are glorious.
I don't know if it's because I'm exhausted from running and yoga everyday, but I've completely transformed from a non-napper to a full blown "nodding off on my mat before class" person. It used to take me FOREVER to fall asleep... especially if I was trying to nap. But, now... I often doze off on my mat before class. And let me tell you... I have the CRAZIEST thoughts during this time. Not really dreams, cause I'm not in a deep sleep... but it's like my subconscious starts to seep out into my brain and from people moving around and coming in and out of the door.. my thoughts are really bizarre. Usually I wake up and I'm like, WTF? Where did that come from?
Yeah, socially, it's tough. Between running in the morning and 90 minutes of yoga in the afternoon, it's hard to fit in anything social during the week. I take the 6:15-7:45pm class and by the time I get out of class it's usually about 8 pm. And sure... 8pm isn't that late. But, it's kinda late to be a hot, sweaty mess and have to take a shower, blow dry, put on make-up, get dressed, etc to go out. I missed out on a couple of social activities that I would have liked to do, but to be honest.. I wasn't all that disappointed. Hot Yoga is worth it.
Socially in the studio, it's getting better. Like any community (running included), it takes awhile to "break in." But, after being in the studio everyday for 45 days.. you get to know people and it's soooo nice to have familiar, friendly faces to chit chat before and after class with. This was one of the things that I was really wanting. So, I'm glad that's happened. Plus, all the teachers now know me (most of them did before, except for a few that only teach the occasional classes at the times I go) which is a huge bonus. It feels more welcoming to know people.
For the most part, Hot Yoga isn't too spiritual. I mean, I'm sure it is for some people, but it's not something that is really pushed during class. Basically, it's BYOS- Bring Your Own Spirituality. Which I like. There's no intimidating "ohms," but there is definitely times before, during and after class for you to focus on your breath and empty your mind, and I find myself chanting my own personal mantra to myself to get myself through some poses sometimes.
Overall, I'm in love with Hot Yoga. I know that like running, Hot Yoga (or any kind of yoga) will be apart of the rest of my life. It's something that I crave... it's like it's another one of the puzzle pieces that fit in to complete me. And the funny thing is... I never even knew I needed that piece.
By the way... is it any coincidence that the two things I love: hot yoga and marathons are 26 poses and 26 (yes, I'm not forgetting the .2, but honestly... after hot yoga, you're supposed to rest for 2 minutes, so, if you wanna get technical on me... bring it) miles long? :)