Yoga is a as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one

When starting hot yoga, it’s probably a good idea to ease into it. The heat can be overwhelming and it can be intense when starting out. Personally, I love it and often compare myself to that of a lizard who loves nothing more than to bask in as much heat as possible. For others, the heat is a bit of a challenge.

In my bikram class this evening, I was quite amazed to see a girl leave the room before the end of the class. In the yoga-world that’s a huge no-no and is severely frowned upon.

I spoke to one of the instructors after the class to get their take as to why this is so. Surely if someone is really struggling with the heat and finding the class too challenging they have the right to leave before the end?

Yes and no.

Yogis are never forceful

Ok, before you get the wrong idea, no yogi or teacher is going to force you to stay in the room, but after chatting to the instructor I did manage to gain a little more perspective as to why this is such a big deal and why they encourage you to push through as much as you can.

Yoga is a challenge for the mind as much as the body

Yoga practice is as much a mental practice as it is a physical one, and part of that is to challenge your mind as much as you are your body. So when your mind starts to tell you that “It’s too hot” and that “you need to leave”, and that “everything is aching” and you think “you might evaporate into thin air as your sweating out every liquid in your body”, what you need to try and do is stop, breathe and challenge that thought.

So what should you do?

If you do start to feel nauseous, dizzy, lightheaded or just not right during a yoga class, the best thing you can do is recognize that feeling and take a step back.

Come down into Child’s Pose or Savasana and breathe. Your biggest challenge will be to not leave the room and persevere through the uncomfortable feelings. Like all feelings, they will pass, and when they do, you will feel a sense of accomplishment for having pushed yourself to past what you thought you were capable of.

Obviously if you are really ill and feel like you may be sick then you should definitely leave the room, but challenging your mind to overcome the initial uncomfortable sensations will help you develop your yoga practice, and strengthen the power of your mind.

Challenge your mind

I think this can be applied to many instances outside of the yo yoga studio. In life we constantly need to challenge ourselves and push through the hard times. We only come out stronger on the other side.

So start by challenging yourself on your mat, and gradually as you become stronger and more able, extend this practice to the rest of your life. We often don’t take enough (or any) time for ourselves to meditate and breathe.  Allowing yourself the time and space in your yoga practice to do this, even when you find it difficult and  feel that you can’t carry on, just try. You will leave feeling refreshed and with a new found inspiration that you really can achieve whatever you put your mind to.

Mind over matter. It’s a powerful thing.

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