Hi everyone. I came on here to share my experiences with doing hot yoga.
I practice hot yoga regularly. Without being hyperbolic, it is changing my life
. It doesn't just help me cope with anxiety - I think I am on the way to eradicating it almost completely.
A bit of background. My social anxiety comes from being over sensitive to other people/situations, and thinking things over too much. I grew up well adjusted and sociable. I had an okay time at university, but the year after I graduated my SA started getting bad. I became anxious and negative in nearly all social situations. I became very conscious of my social failings and how I had failed to make friends at University. I stopped enjoying talking to everyone. Only my girlfriend kept me sane (i met her before my SA got bad, and she stuck with me, even though I was awful to hang out with).
I was introduced to hot yoga, specifically Bikram, just over a year ago. I went in to the sessions a skinny guy, with average fitness and no yoga experience. Yoga sessions are quite intimidating
to join in. As people have said, it is full of skinny athletic women (and the odd man) who are extremely good at it. All I can say is, it doesnt bother me any more, if I am the only man in the class, or if I am the worst, and that is still often the case.
When I first started I only did the odd class, sometimes a few a week, sometimes weeks, months doing none at all. I felt better after doing the odd session, but the affect on my anxiety was only small. Now that I am doing 4 to 5 sessions a week, it is changing me physically and mentally.
I ALWAYS THOUGHT MY SOCIAL ANXIETY PROBLEMS WERE MENTAL. I thought that if I could just change my thinking, then I would be better. Mind over matter. Putting myself in new and varied social situations would make it better. Believe me, I tried. I trained and worked as an english (as a foreign language) teacher. Surely standing in front of a class all day, engaging with and helping 100s of different people, would help anyone with their anxiety? Well, I quit the job, exhausted and stressed out of my mind, and still as anxious as when I started. I barely enjoyed a single minute of the job, cos of anxiety.
HOT YOGA HAS TAUGHT ME THAT MY PROBLEMS ARE PHYSICAL. Rather than my negative thoughts leading me to feel bad in social situations, they were a symptom of my physical anxiety. Session by session, hot yoga is flushing the stress and anxiety from my body, and making me feel great.
Why is hot yoga so good? I think it is fantastic exercise. It makes me feel better afterwards than any other exercise I have tried
. I think the combination of heat and controlled stretching is just really good for the body. It is a tough physical workout, but it doesnt punish the body. After running or lifting weights, some part of my body feels very sore. After a hot yoga session, your whole body feels slightly tired, but also refreshed, and you arent in pain. With other running/weights etc., also it can be very hard to find the motivation to do that next session. But yoga is group exercise and I find that much easier to motivate myself for. Half the battle is won by the time you reach the class.
Six months ago I hit my low point. I was anxious, depressed, demotivated, and I didnt see a way out of my downward trajectory. Now I am confident about the future, and I believe I can live a happy and sociable life. Not only that, im gaining a killer body
Give hot yoga a try!