Last night, I went to a hot yoga class (intermediate) with Krista Block at Thrive. Fewer people showed up than usual for an evening class at Thrive, only four, perhaps because it was one of the first hot spring days in Washington and daylight seemed to stretch on forever. Krista did not back off, though; she led her usual up-pace session, strong on repeated vinyasa sequences that grow longer with each iteration, adding an additional pose to extend and deepen the work. I had to stop a couple of times, but I did not get knocked completely off despite my lack of exposure to hot classes over the past few months. After 45 minutes of vinyasa, we went into inversions and mat work, with long stretches.
While we were in the final, restorative poses, Krista said that tapas (Sanskrit word meaning “heat”) in yoga practice is the inner heat that helps us get the mental knots out of our system, in other words, a practice of purification. It also generates a lot of sweat. I walked out of the class without any muscle soreness or discomfort, just a sensation of whole-body exertion. When I got back in my car, I took a couple of long sips of water and some deep breaths before backing out because this intensity of practice can leave you in a more inwardly oriented state, not the best condition for driving in DC traffic.
I got home, had a light meal, took out the garbage, and showered. I realized that there was little chance of doing any writing or other work. My body and mind had been squeezed of energy and mental knots. I went to bed to complete the last phase of purification, a deep, restful sleep that purges the residue that the yoga practice had left.