7.18.2014

Mind & Body Wellness: Heating up Your Life

Mind and Body Wellness: Heat a Catalyst for Change by Beth Hemmila

In Bikram yoga, the room is heated to 105 degrees, which can feel pretty hot. When I started doing Bikram yoga 10 years ago, the heat took center stage. How am I going to deal with the heat? How am I going to make it through class? Where's the coolest spot in the room? What can I do to make it easier? The heat was one of my greatest distractions from truly understanding yoga.

In the beginning, heat was my obstacle to being fully present in body, mind, and spirit. However, because the heat feels like an extreme physical challenge I didn't realize until deeper into my practice that it's really a psychological barrier.

It took me a long time to break down this mental wall. I'd like to say it only took a couple years, but I'm guessing it wasn't until I did my 120 Day Yoga Challenge (6 years into my practice) that I actually stopped using heat as a mental and emotional distraction.

Over time as my mind continually searched for a way to escape the heat, to realize there was none, I learned to pull my consciousness into my body -- a deeper place where there is no pain or suffering only peace. In this kind of meditative state, you are still present and aware of the room and its challenges, but by drawing your consciousness into your hara (belly), you see the world from a place of non-reaction.

I imagine the whole of life as a yoga room. Moreover, the challenges we are presented with such as waiting, adapting, and losing are the same as the heat found in the yoga room. Emotional, physical, and psychological discomfort heats up your life and sets it on fire.

Being a creature of comfort, I like to avoid heating up my life as much as possible; however, to grow and evolve into something new, like an alchemist in the lab, you need to add flame to your life and embrace this catalyst as an agent of change.

Just like the heat of the yoga room broke down my mental barriers and helped me discover the peace inside suffering, every day the heat in your life is doing exactly the same thing if you let it.

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