It’s no secret that I love Bikram. I love the sequence, the teachers, the community, the constant opportunities to learn and grow. But you know what? I think I’d love it even more at room temperature.
Sure, I can appreciate the virtues of the heat. As soon as I enter the studio, I can feel my muscles relaxing and lengthening. The sweat pouring from every square centimetre of skin makes sliding into Eagle a breeze. The heat adds one more element of difficulty, encouraging the adoption of grace and focus under pressure. And while I’m sceptical of the toxin-cleansing claims that run rampant in the hot yoga community, I’ll happily admit that when practicing regularly, my sweat becomes clearer and less pungent, which can only be a good thing when later I’m running for a tram on a 40 degree summer day.
But, dammit, I just don’t like it.
I always assumed that at some point I’d become acclimatised to the heat, that I’d begin to not even notice it – even start to welcome it. And to a certain extent, that’s been true – at least it no longer hits me in the face like a steamed towel when I walk through the front doors. When I came back from my four month break, there was even two blissful months where I didn’t notice the temperature at all. I had some classes where I was too exhausted to complete all the postures (*coughTrianglecough*), but not once in this glorious period did I even begin to feel overheated. At some point, I decided that this was it. I was acclimatised. I could take whatever the thermostat threw at me and work it, baby!
So of course the next day, I got hit by the yoga bus. And the day after that. And the day after that. I make it halfway through spine strengthening, then spend the rest of the class edging ever closer to panic. Lying gasping on my mat, convincing myself that I couldn’t breathe, that my heart was beating out of my chest, that if I didn’t get out of the room RIGHT THIS SECOND, I was going to die.
Now, I am absolutely 100% certain that I’m not going to die. But I’ll be damned if I can convince myself of that during locust pose. And I’m pretty sure it’s becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy at this point – I expect the panic to hit, I’m waiting for the panic to hit, and so of course it does.
I’m hoping it’s related to this unprecedented (and soon-to-be-broken) heat wave that Melbourne is currently experiencing, but just in case it’s not… does anyone have a magic tip for staving off the monkey brain? Or reassuring tales of heat acclimatisation suddenly occurring after two years of practice? Because I’m rapidly approaching the point where I just give up the last half hour of my practice as a lost cause. Maybe I can start writing out my grocery list during Camel instead ;)