“Sweat, sweat, sweat! Work and sweat, cry and sweat, pray and sweat!”
- Zora Neale Hurston
I first started practicing hot yoga in 2004. I was working in San Diego on Veronica Mars and the only yoga class near me that started after 8pm was at the Bikram Yoga Studio in Old Town. I wasn’t interested in Bikram yoga. I didn’t like the idea of being in a hot room with lots of sweaty people. To me it seemed nasty and foul. But, I felt I needed a yoga class, and I didn’t get off of work until late so I decided to try it.
I remember my first class very well. It was an absolute struggle and much of the class I was gasping for breath. When it was over I could hardly walk or think. On the way home, I pulled over to a convenience store, I had only driven a block or two. I drank two naked juices for energy while sitting in my parked car. But, the next day I felt great, so I decided to do it again. Soon I was hooked. In the beginning, my body didn’t know how to sweat. I never had been a person who sweated very much. But after a few sessions my body released and I was sweating away.
When the body sweats it releases liquid from the sweat glands. Sweating helps regulate the body temperature. The health benefits of sweating include detoxification, improved skin tone, stress relief, and improved blood circulation. Sweating also helps kill pathogenic bacteria and viruses.
You do not have to do hot yoga to sweat. In most kundalini, hatha or flow classes you will work up a great sweat. You can also visit a steam room or sauna to passively sweat. I love using the heated pools, steam rooms and saunas at Olympic Spa in Koreatown. I find taking a few hours to soak and heat bathe brings me to an incredibly blissful state. I also enjoy applying therapeutic heat to my body by having a hot stone massage.
Purification ceremonies using heat and sweat are employed by many cultures and traditions. The sweat lodge is used by Indigenous peoples of the Americas for ceremonial steam baths and prayer. Indigenous people around the Bering Strait, ancient Greeks, ancient Romans, northern Finns and Laplanders, are just a few of the cultures who used or use ritual baths and heat bathing. As you explore the fire element this week take some time to purify, pray and release your inner fire by sweating.
1) Have you sweat this week?
2) What is your relationship to your own sweat?
1) Connect to the fire element by taking a sauna or steam bath or a having a hot stone massage? If you can’t make it to a spa take a long warm soak in your tub. Set up the bathroom for a purifying ritual by added bath salts and lighting candles. Journal about how you felt doing this therapeutic heat bathing?