How Hot Yoga Prepared Me to Meet My Great Aunties


Hot yoga is humbling. I’m there in the sweaty room, with limber (and not so limber) yoginis and yogis, all working hard in our own practice. And while, in other yoga classes, I have felt this internal dialogue of competition (mostly with myself, but sometimes this though ‘I don’t want them to see me quit or rest’) that has pushed me forward in my practice. A little competition is okay, in that it pushes me forward, seeing how a pose can be done in ‘full expression’ is thrilling if I let it be, discouraging if I let it be, too. I rarely let it be discouraging.

But here I am, in an abnormally hot room (their heaters were on overdrive from a weekend where they hadn’t been going at all), and the sweat was pouring off me. I wasn’t able to do many of the positions that I normally can do, and so I spent much of my time, as instructed at the beginning of class “focusing on the breath, taking breaks on the mat.” I sat in easy pose, breathing, watching my belly rise in the mirror, while all around me the yoginis bent into triangle and eagle and balancing stick or sugarcane. I was silencing my internal chatter, and then the instructions were to ‘turn a quarter turn to the left,” and suddenly I was there, in easy pose, with the rest of the class turned toward me. Wow. Talk about feeling vulnerable. I sat, and breathed and watched, but instead of disassociating, I stayed present…I stayed connected to the process of being in the room with these people.

I took this experience as I headed out for a family reunion. Because I had been invited, by my biological dad, to meet one of my grandma’s sisters. Since my grandmother has been dead for many years, it would be a treat for me to meet a sister. And then I got there, with Potamus and Boof, and I was actually meeting THREE sisters! Hot dang, these little old ladies were hilarious. Sitting around the table, drinking beer, telling stories from days gone by. I loved the oldest giving the youngest a ribbing for being a “hussy” as a teen, since she winked at her future-husband to get him to ask her to dance. Scandalous, right?

But there was this moment, when part of me took a step back (a mental step back?), where I saw myself sitting around the table interacting with these women. These women who are my blood. Three aunts, three great-aunts, and me. A part of them because of blood, apart from them because of adoption. They certainly welcomed me with open arms and I could see the ease in which I fit in…and the way in which I also do not belong. Living in this gray place is hard, but hot yoga helps. Because when the heat is turned up I have no choice but to be honest that I need to breathe, need to take a break, rather than try and push or force something that isn’t working, and can embrace it when it is.

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