I’ve written about one of my sports before (horse driving). I love sports, but there are not many things I can physically do, since I have a lot of problems with my hands and with my legs and a lot of other body parts. However, I do sport. By adapting everything and listening carefully to my body (and if necessary some extra pain meds, inhaler and other helpful things) I can do sports without the grave consequence of not being able to walk for a week, or having to pop too many painmeds.
One of the sports I picked up a few months ago is HotYoga. Yoga in a room of 40 degrees Celsius. I’ve done (regular) yoga in the past, but couldn’t do this anymore. Such a shame, because I love how it gives you more strength + I could use some relaxation and breathing exercises. I go with my mother, because I don’t want to go on my own (in case something goes wrong and because I can’t drive myself there). Sharing a hobby seems to have strengthened the relationship between us, which is great.
I told the instructor I had rheumatism, that I couldn’t do all the exercises and that I have to sit down often, so she didn’t have to worry. Usually sitting down means you’re dizzy and I didn’t want her to worry about me and come to me every 5 minutes. It’s been my first time that I told a regular instructor before the beginning that I had rheumatism, but I’m glad I did. I didn’t tell anyone else, even though I’m not ashamed of myself anymore or feel the need to hide it, it’s just personal and I don’t think they have a need to know. If they ask questions, I will probably answer them. It seems that the others have accepted me, which I’m very happy about. It feels very uncomfortable if you just can’t do “your own thing” and I don’t want to have to justify my choices to everyone who don’t even know me. Although they seem to still find it weird that I put 4 yoga mats on top of each other.
For me, it doesn’t really matter if I go to a special or normal class: I have to keep paying attention to my entire body and to adapt the exercises to myself. Thanks to my sports experience I’ve been able to adapt exercises quite well. It’s very important to learn that yourself, because in my experience instructors usually find it very difficult to adapt things so you can do them too (even if they give special classes).
[Photo of the back of a sweating woman with her hands folded on her back.]
Usually my muscles can’t relax, that’s something typical for fibromyalgia. But this heat and that for 1.5 hours, that’s something that works for my body. I also do exercises to strengthen my muscles, which is always good, if I don’t overdo it (which I would do if this were a normal aerobics class). I can do exercises I normally wouldn’t be able to do, which is nice. Oh and it helped my body to start sweating, lol. I just wouldn’t sweat for a long time during the classes, but now I finally started pouring out too just like everyone else (they say that’s a good thing). Because of the heat, the exercises are also more slowly and I need that. Just like we have at least 10 mins of relaxation/meditation time at the end of the class and that’s very good for my muscles as well. Usually every exercise is done twice for each side, but I can always do one round and then sit the next one out. Or I don’t repeat the same side immediately, but do the other side first etc. etc.
In this heat I wear a normal sports top which covers my belly, but I also wear shorts. I have scars on a.o. my upper legs so I can feel quite uncomfortable with showing them. But I’ve experienced that in my case, people usually don’t see them, unless you point them out (they’re white). I often can’t shave my legs and armpits, which can be an issue too. I’ve always had a negative body image and often have trouble with my clothing when people start saying that rape happens because of your clothing. Which is total bullshit, but sometimes it just gets to me. I really think this HotYoga class has helped me accept my body more. During class I’m not ashamed of it, because nobody looks at someone else. This also made me change my thoughts of my body and me in general: “I’m acceptable, just like everyone else. I’m allowed to do this too” etc.
It’s still painful to do this sport (no surprise there since everything is painful), but with all the adaptations I made it’s managable and I enjoy going there. It’s also good for my asthma, since I really have to control my breath in this heat and good for my mind (also thanks to the heat). I’m not really into meditation or chakras or anything, but that’s fine. I don’t have to chat about that with anyone and if I prefer to pretend I’m lying on the beach (which is very easy in that room) at the end, who cares? It works for me 🙂 For me it really is the combination of the heat and the exercises, since just sitting in the sauna for me wouldn’t work (back pain!).
[Photo of a sweating woman with her arms stretched out.]
I’m very happy that I decided to try this out and can really recommend trying this to anyone, although I can’t guarantee it will feel the same for you. If you want to try out a HotYoga or BirkramYoga class, please keep in mind that you need to get used to the heat, so be careful. Don’t immediately sit in the hottest places 😉 Oh and I also drink water in between, but I’m one of the very few.
Keep in mind that the instructions are for ‘average’ people and bodies, don’t stretch yourself too far (in this context you could interpret this in two ways, LOL). If something hurts, stop. For example: My balance might be good during a certain class. But my standing foot hurts a lot. Then I won’t go into full tree pose, but let my other foot rest on it’s toes. For balance I could do more, but my standing foot can’t endure all the weight. I’m still doing the exercise and training muscles, but I will be able to walk afterwards.
Most important thing: do what you feel most comfortable with and listen to your body and mind.