I have a confession: I hate extreme heat. I’m a firm believer in air conditioning, shunning Palm Springs in the summer and refusing to take the New York City subway during those inevitable steamy two weeks in August. Understandably, no one was more wary of hot yoga than me.
Like most people, I carry my stress in my shoulders, lower back and hips. I’ve been practicing vinyasa yoga on and off for about 10 years, which has helped open my body tremendously. I wasn’t terribly familiar with hot yoga, but I kept hearing how wonderful it was from different people. I wasn’t sure if it was the universe giving me a sign, but I’m always up for trying something new.
Luckily for me, I did, because hot yoga has given me the gift of being a better entrepreneur. Here are five lessons I learned, and I have hot yoga to thank:
1. I remain calm to find solutions.
As a former swimmer, I tend to hold my breath when I exercise. I know yoga is all about breath, but it didn’t really click with me until hot yoga. Aside from water, your breath is what cools you down. When you’re being pushed to your limit, taking a deep inhale and exhale can be a saving grace. When I feel frustrated or stressed in launching my business, I’ve taken my yoga breathing off the mat. It may not give me an immediate solution to my problem, but feeling calmer takes me down a path to finding the answer.
2. I don't run away from obstacles.
Hot yoga pushes my practice to the extreme. In vinyasa, dropping out of a pose has brought me relief. In hot yoga, even if I do child’s pose, I’m still subject to the intense 105-degree heat. Quitting doesn’t get me out of the frying pan. The lack of immediate gratification has made me want to hold my poses longer, to be as tough as I can be. In life and in business, I’ve had a habit of running away when things get too stressful. Hot yoga doesn’t give me an exit, and I’ve learned the benefit of staying.
3. I've improved my focus.
Standing balance poses require intense focus, especially when it’s hot. If I stare at a point on the wall, I get into a zone that enables me to steady myself. If my eyes wander and I see someone wobble, it’s almost a guarantee I’ll wobble. The more I course correct, the more wobbly I get. Yoga is about your own practice and the same principle holds true for business. A company can have a similar product or service, but I can’t be too preoccupied by them. My business has its own flair and personality. I need to focus on being the best I can be.
4. I don't seek out an easy path.
When I have sweat pouring off my body, my natural response — urge, even — is to grab my towel and wipe it away. I’m personally driven crazy by sweat dripping into my eyes. But sweat is the body’s cooling system, so if I get relief in the short term, my body will need to generate more sweat to cool itself, creating more stress in the long term. Sometimes, I just want to say yes to the easiest and most immediate solution to what I’m working on to get it off my to do list, even though my gut and experience tell me that it may not be the best solution for the long term. I need to avoid going for the sweat-wiping easy solution so I have the best cool resolution for the long haul.
5. I relish the present.
Given my dislike of heat, I push myself to find joy in each moment of class. It would be easy for me to be miserable for an hour. Instead, I’ve learned to embrace the heat and find comfort in it. It allows me to stretch my body much faster, which I appreciate, and it tests my determination and will.
Becoming an entrepreneur is definitely not for the faint of heart. I’ve had to learn more than I ever knew I needed to, and there have been times in the past where I’ve shut down. I’ve reaped great rewards from the knowledge I’ve gained. Since I started hot yoga, I seek the joy or positivity in my challenges. I like to think of my hot yoga class as a mini-entrepreneur bootcamp, where I’m building my fortitude to face the challenges of business!