It has never been more challenging or painful in my almost ten years of practicing hot yoga to complete a session. During this period, my capabilities have come and gone in direct correlation to taking breaks from the practice due to various surgeries. Currently, I’m experiencing a new type of reversion, a steady slide of capability that has me able to do a bit less each week, regardless of effort or discipline.
It would resonate in today’s world of misguided incentives to believe this to be discouraging. We tend to equate success with a linear path toward any number of ego-inflating goals, and therein lies one of yoga’s masterful strengths.
Yoga is not about competing with classmates or even yourself. Its beauty lies in attempting perfection with the understanding that perfection is unattainable. How close one comes to perfection becomes a meaningless remnant as breathing is closely coordinated with balance, strength, and resilience, causing our thinking process to surrender to a stall. The soul flourishes under such conditions.
The pain and extreme discomfort—the room is heated, often more than 100 degrees—makes me question how much longer my repertoire of responses to Parkinson’s implacable pressure will include hot yoga. It is this discomfort, in my opinion, that lies at the core of hot yoga’s effectiveness in keeping me active.
The human body responds to physical stress through adaptation and acclimatization, reacting to extremes with a similarly disproportionate positive reaction if attitude allows. Both conscious and unconscious thought play essential roles, stimulating the body so that normal capability in certain specific areas, such as dexterity, returns to me for a limited time.
Other practices achieve the same end, notably Tai Chi and Qigong. I strongly recommend any life practices of this type to everyone, whether healthy or not. My personal thanks to Carol and all the life-changing Chrysalis Oak Harbor hot yoga instructors.