Monday I tried something new; something I have been afraid of for a while (drum roll please)…hot yoga. Seems harmless enough especially for someone already in a regular yoga practice, right? But I have been telling myself hot yoga isn’t for me because over 7 years ago, I had fainting episodes fairly regularly. There was never one common denominator but it happened several times, sometimes while I was with friends and out of the blue I would get light-headed and fall down. Friends with me said it looked like I was seizing. I had no control and while I could hear everyone around me, I couldn’t speak or move. It was scary but I learned how to recognize the signs to avoid falling.
I underwent testing to determine the cause of these spells to rule out any heart problems and since we were planning to start our family, I wanted to make sure I was in good health. I had blood work done, walked around with a heart pulse monitor for a week and did a tilt test. Test results showed there was nothing wrong with me other than a slight heart murmur which I already knew.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I was standing at a mall kiosk with a friend before lunch when I got that familiar light-headed feeling and my vision started to tunnel. I could no longer risk falling down with my baby growing inside me; I had to keep her safe at all costs. This one and only time I felt light-headed during my pregnancy, I sat, drank water and ate some food and was fine. I have not had a fainting or light-headed episode since then. However, somewhere along the lines it created a fear of hot yoga. How did I go from fainting to a fear of hot yoga? I really don’t know other than I always imagined myself getting too hot and light-headed in a sun salute before passing out. The good news is that it didn’t happen.
Not only was Monday’s class hot yoga, it was hot, hardcore fitness hot yoga. My lovely friend, Miriam, who rocks an amazing physique, teaches this class. Check out some of her workouts for an idea of the kind of stuff we did. The first half hour was interval training including high knees, lunges, burpees, push-ups, planks, squats and all kinds of other hard stuff that I don’t remember because I was sweating so much and trying to keep up. Once we were all thoroughly worked over, we transitioned to hot yoga and ended with frozen facecloths to cover our faces while in savasana. In corpse pose, we Om-ed continuously and at our own pace three times which was a perfect ending. It was an amazing class; it was very intense and hard but it felt wonderful and cleansing. I could not do everything as fast as Miriam or in perfect form each time but it motivated me to continue, to push myself to have what I want and stretch my limits. It gave me that kick in the ass I have been looking for recently. And kick my ass it did, the soreness creeped up slowly but gradually increased all day Tuesday until I was walking slightly robotic from sore calves and quads.
Before class, I went to my veterinarian’s office to pick-up my elderly dog’s food and while I stood at the counter waiting for the receptionist to finish her phone conversation, I got lost in what she was saying. She was calmly and gently telling the person on the other line the options for removal of the deceased pet’s body. She ended with, “I know; they are a family member”; clearly the person on the other line was struggling. That person is a version me. My elderly dog is living her end days and I have no idea what to do. I think about it constantly yet avoid truly making any decisions. I fear letting her go.
The receptionist hung up the phone, looked up at me and apologized for the wait. I had tears in my eyes and choked on the lump in my throat as I pulled myself back to the present out of my reverie of how I will face what is to come and proceeded to purchase the food. She gave me a loving smile and said to call if I needed anything.
During hot fitness yoga in a sweaty, sitting, bound side twist (sorry, no idea the Sanskrit name), I remembered that old bumper sticker, “No Fear”. I can’t say I’ve ever enjoyed seeing those bumper stickers; they usually are on loud, stinky, and muddy pick-up trucks with an accompanying “Ain’t Skeered” sticker in the opposite corner. But after Monday, the ole minivan may get one next to the Terrific Kid décor. I am learning on a regular basis that while I have a few big ticket items on my bucket list, it consists more of a list of fears I want to overcome. With my intention set to face what scares me head on, I learned in that side twist that nothing is ever as bad as it seems. The scary part is always what builds in our imagination, not the actual object of our fear.