How Do You Like Your Sweat – With or Without Devotion?0
Keeping Vigorous Hot Yoga Practice Authentic
to the Values of Yoga
In the last twenty years hot yoga practice in America has trended toward emphasizing a sweat-infused heart-pounding cardio challenging workout. Believe it or not. that’s not how yoga used to be. Before sticky mats and stretchy skin-tight gear, the emphasis of yoga was about removing impurities as the veils of illusion in order to uncover the atman (soul).
Back in the early ‘90s I lived in a celibate ashram where yogis woke up at 6am to two hours of hatha yoga, pranayama and meditation as a standard way to greet the day. Our evenings ended with kirtan, teachings and aarti (light ceremony of surrender to God and guru) as a standard way to complete the day.
Now I confess to loving hot yoga practice so much I created my own style: HotCore Yoga. Yet sometimes I ask myself. Have I abandoned the essence of yoga in order to attract customers to my yoga studio? Is HotCore Yoga just a workout with slow-breathing techniques?
Personally I find the answer in the same place I found it back in the early 90’s. On my own yoga mat. Actually back then I rolled out a Mexican blanket cuz yoga mats didn’t exist. But you know what I mean. In my own practice I discover a yearning to merge the me who is human with the me who is eternal. In my sadhana I fuel the yearning with my breath and the emotions of fury, wraith, sadness, fear, shame and whatever else collects in my sub-conscious mind.
I move my body in ways to harness my physicality as a vehicle into devotion. In my studio we have floor-to-ceiling mirrors which I like because my facial expressions reveal so much about my present state of consciousness. In other words, I can’t hide. Again and again … there I am. And I see the opportunity to peel away vestiges of self-identity which remind me of my humanity and yet fail to capture the fullness of who I am.
Recently I phoned fellow yogi Beryl Bender Birch to ask her to read my yoga romance novel ‘The Secret of Enduring Love’ and she was reminiscing about the days when yogis would sit around woodstoves and read yogic scriptures and stories. Now all the yogis are writing their own books, creating dvds and fancy workshops. She and I laughed about it. Cuz it’s true. Those of us who have been in the game are extremely busy. But it’s a wonderful state of busy. And the devotion is real when we discover it in our practice. And the yoga remains true to its roots when we devote our bodies, hearts and minds to the one eternal essence. Meet me there. And it’ll be super sweaty … fiercely challenging … and playfully wild!
Peter Sklivas – Creator of HotCore Yoga & author of the novel ‘The Secret of Enduring Love: Yoga Romance of Damayanti & Nala.’ Located in Beverly Farms, MA, Peter teaches classes in his yoga studio & leads workshops on Tantra and HotCore Yoga. www.hotcoreyoga.com