When Sumits Hot Yoga first opened in Columbia, I had been practicing yoga regularly for several years, mostly on my own at home. I had been wanting to rejoin a studio for some time and was really excited to see a new studio opening near my house . . . but I absolutely hate heat and sweating, and so I was really nervous about trying hot yoga! Despite this, I took my first class on Halloween night of 2012. It was certainly challenging, but I instantly fell in love! (And, I actually found that the heat and profuse sweating helped me to focus and stay present.) I have been attending classes regularly ever since, minus a few summers when I was excavating in England (I am working on my PhD in Medieval Art History and Archaeology) and my first pregnancy (unfortunately, I was placed on and off pelvic rest for several months).
Hot yoga has become a really important part of my weekly routine. Physically, practicing regularly has healed my chronic back pain and (of course) has greatly improved my overall flexibility, balance, and strength. I like to stay active in a variety of ways, and hot yoga perfectly complements my other fitness routines! Mentally, hot yoga gives me time to clear my brain, slow down, and reconnect with myself, allowing me to find patience, a sense of calm, and acceptance for things that I cannot change.
Most recently, I have been maintaining my practice throughout my second pregnancy (with my doctor’s full approval). Not only has practicing while pregnant helped me to feel better (physically and mentally), but more importantly it has taught me to listen to my body. Sometimes we can get wrapped up in the motions and the routine of class, pushing ourselves through without truly listening to what our bodies and minds need that day—in the past, I have been especially guilty of this! But now, I have no choice but to listen. What I could do during my last class might not be possible today, and I just have to go with it, making the necessary adjustments or taking a break. It can be frustrating, but I am becoming more patient with myself and finding peace within the struggle.