Let the sweat drip

Let the sweat drip

I’m a few minutes into a Bikram-style hot yoga class. I can feel the sweat start to bead on my forehead. We come into mountain pose and I reflexively reach my hand to my forehead and wipe away the sweat.

Almost immediately, Mary, the instructor, says, “Let the sweat drip.”

She went on: “Don’t wipe your forehead. Don’t adjust your clothes. Just be in the moment. If you want to wipe away sweat, ask yourself if that’s a want or a need.”

In a yoga class I’m continually adjusting my clothes and my body — pulling down a tank top that’s ridden up, moving back into place a strap that fell down my shoulder, sweeping hair off my forehead. If I feel warm, my instinct is to get the sweat off my face. Mary made me think about why I’m doing that. Am I concerned with how I look? Am I uncomfortable? Is it really necessary to be comfortable in a yoga class? In life?

It was hard for me to let the sweat drip. I’m not used to that. It’s not part of my routine. It’s a new way of thinking.

But as class went on, I saw it as a way to relinquish control. Here’s something that was happening in my body that was entirely natural. Sure, it feels a little uncomfortable, both physically and mentally. In our society, a perfectly polished, made-up face is valued more than a sweaty face.

But by the end of class, what had happened? I saw how the sweat was necessary for my body. In God’s glorious wisdom, he gave our bodies ways to regulate our temperature and keep us safe. And when I looked in the mirror and saw the sheen on my face, I felt radiant. I felt healthy and confident, more so than I had for several weeks.

“Let the sweat drip.” How applicable to many parts of my life, inside and outside of the yoga studio.

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Immense gratitude and a heart full of thanks to Mary Margaret Anderson Fay who led the hot class during a yoga teacher training weekend at Sun Moon Yoga Studios. Mary owns Yoga Studio in Plymouth, Minnesota.

Taking the plunge: Yoga teacher training (Part II)

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Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs Flickr via Compfight cc

On Monday, I wrote about the perceived barriers I had before going into yoga teacher training. In this post, I will address how I solved each issue.

Perceived barrier #1: The cost

Yoga teacher training is not inexpensive. I chose to see it as an investment, both in my personal growth and future professional career as a yoga teacher. In the long run, I figured I could make money by teaching yoga at a studio or fitness center, doing private one-on-one yoga teaching, and developing my own writing/yoga workshops.

But in the short term, I had to come up with extra money. Because yoga teacher training was important to me, I did what I always do when I want something “extra” — I pursued additional work. I took on an extra class and duties at my job and I also completed a freelance writing assignment.¬† Though that caused a little conundrum for…

Perceived barrier #2: The time commitment

The first level of yoga teacher training is 200 hours. At Sun Moon Yoga Studios, that is completed through one weekend over the course of eight months. My weekends are generally pretty packed with work, family, exercise, running errands, cleaning, etc. But I knew with some focused scheduling and more attention to organization, I could make it work. The schedule for the weekend intensives is planned out the year in advance, so I just blocked those weekends off on my calendar. I have learned to plan around them. For the first half of training, I only had to miss two hours (which I will be making up this weekend). I look forward to those weekends. They do not feel like an obligation–they are a blessing in the form of having a weekend to focus on yoga, and only yoga.

Perceived barrier #3: Self-doubt

I had a lot of questions going into yoga teacher training.What lies ahead? Will I like it? How will I face challenges that are sure to arise? And one question that plagues me often: Who am I to think that I (fill in the blank)? Who am I to think I can be a yoga teacher? I have done a lot of work in the past couple of years to grow personally and am learning to let questions like these just slide by and not affect me.

Have you completed a yoga teacher training? What obstacles did you have to overcome? If you are contemplating a training program, what perceived barriers do you face?

The continuing saga of yoga pants…

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Let’s just say there’s one place I would expect a woman to wear these pants, and it’s not at the gym…

A New York Times opinion piece on yoga pants published recently was widely shared and widely vilified. Honor Jones’ basic premise was “Why all the tight yoga pants? Let’s go back to sweatpants!”

Simply put, I think women should wear what they want to wear as long as it makes them comfortable and confident.

What I’m comfortable and confident wearing is not the ubiquitous and tight yoga pant, and here are a couple of reasons why:

* I get hot really easily. I hate being hot. With a passion. Yoga pants cover your entire leg. That would drive me crazy when I’m warm.

* Anyone who knows me knows I’m just not a fan of the tights-as-pants look. It’s probably my age — I come from a time when tights were always worn under a dress or long shirt. You wouldn’t dream of showing your butt outline to the entire world.

Ironically, I bought yoga pants last fall. They were black and had mesh cut-outs on the sides. I thought that would solve my issue of getting hot in long pants. But I cannot find these pants anywhere! I’ve torn my house apart on a couple of occasions and they are nowhere to be found. I think this is a sign that I really should not be wearing yoga pants.

Here’s what I love to wear:

Pants like these offer good coverage because they sit just below the knee. There’s a taper or cuff at the knee so the pants don’t ride up during down dog or another inversion. They just loose enough to not be tight around the thigh and butt, but not so loose that the fabric gets in the way of poses.

In the summer I might wear tight shorts. I suppose that’s no different than yoga pants because they’re still tight on the butt. But I hate loose shorts when I’m practicing yoga because there’s a very real danger of revealing too much. I also hate loose shorts while running because they bunch up around my thighs. I will put up with clingy-ness in order to avoid the ride-up.

Honor Jones¬† wonders what ever happened to sweatpants. There’s a very good reason we don’t see them at the gym anymore — they are terrible for working out! Ugh, all that cotton that gets heavy with sweat and doesn’t breathe? Gross! At least yoga pants are made of technical fabric that allows sweat to wick away. I can’t imagine working out in sweatpants anymore.

She wonders if a wide-leg or loose pant would really inhibit a yoga pose. By asking that question, I assume she hasn’t practiced much yoga. Some poses involve the body collapsing tight upon itself — loose clothing is only going to get in the way. As I mentioned above, in inversions you don’t want your pants or shirt flopping upside down on you.

I think her piece reveals some of her personal hang-ups at the gym. I’m sweaty and gross while working out — I’m certainly not thinking that I should look hot. Perhaps Honor Jones isn’t working out hard enough if she has the time and energy to worry about what people around her are wearing. I’m gasping for breath, trying not to collapse, not looking around at what other women are wearing.

What do you like to wear during yoga? Are you a fan of the yoga pant, or not?