Why do so many people love hot yoga? I myself love it but can’t do it too often, I find it hard to teach it and practice it and then recover my fluids. That’s not true of everyone but, I run hot. I’m hotter than most people I know. The windows are always open and the heat is almost always off at my house. In ayurveda it would be said that I have too much pitta or fire in my system. In chinese medicine my yang likes to over take my yin. In spite of this I do love myself a good sweaty hot class.
I did a hot class last night and I sat with myself this morning thinking about why I like hot so much. It’s the best purge. You sweat approximately two litres of water in your hot class. You move pose by pose keeping your cool with your breath, your mind focussed on not running out of the room. You feel cleansed by the amount of detoxification you have accomplished, your muscles smoothed by your movements and heat, your skin soft and supple. Why though, do we often feel like we have to be cleansing and purging?
We live in a culture of excess and yet we also have the psyche of sourcing from scarcity. In a land of a lot, we want for so much more and are constantly told by our consumerism culture that we never have enough. This is an anxious feeling, this feeling of never having enough and yet we can go to the grocery store and buy strawberries in the winter, drive cars, get gas, buy clothes, have shelter etc. Where I live most of us have our basic needs met daily (please know that I know lots of people don’t but I am referring to the general whole) food, shelter and clean water. Where I live most of us feel like this isn’t enough.
This reminds me of my days as a psychology undergrad where we learn about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. That we get the general bases covered and the need increases. For example, we get our food, shelter and water covered and then we start to need different things: strong interpersonal relationships, a spiritual practice, an answer to all those why questions. This goes back to what I was talking about in my last post, yoga as a privilege. Lots of people spend their entire day just trying to get their basic needs met. These people don’t bust out a yoga practice because they have to take care of where their next meal is coming from. Those of us who have these needs met can spend our time exploring other endeavours.
So those of us who have all these met needs. Why do we feel like we need to purge? There is some reality that we do need to physically purge. Detoxification is very beneficial to counter balance living with toxicity. It’s everywhere: water, food, booze, drugs, smoking etc. The purge is also for the mind. Those obsessive thoughts, you know those repeat ones that occupy 95% of our mind; we need that psychic junk cleaned out as well. Something physically strenuous like hot yoga, takes us into the body and the mind, working very physically to clear out the clutter in the musculature of the body and the psyche of the mind.
This life of excess both in material things and thoughts make us unclear. We can go to the hot room, work very hard and feel reborn but then we go back to our lives of living with too much and constantly feel like we don’t have enough. Pure insanity. We need to reevaluate for ourselves how we can live, do and work with less so that we can live, do and work more fully; sourcing from abundance vs. scarcity and a willingness to start letting go of that which no longer serves.