I have an intense love/hate relationship with my weekly hot yoga class. You know the kind, right? Heat-radiating floors, burning candles, thirty+ sweaty women stacked in rows and rows, downward dogging like canned sardines.
I hate going, but I love having gone. And isn't that true for most things? We don't acknowledge the hard until we experience the good. And in hot yoga, the good doesn't come until the end, when our instructor dims the lights, cools the room and calls for 5 minutes of relaxation pose and meditation.
There are days when I slack in class, stumbling through the motions with a distracted mind and heavy heart. But then there are others where my focus is strong and my body is healthy and my muscles are quivering but my brain presses on. And on those days, the reward of those 5 minutes of relaxation is that much sweeter. I've created enough heat in my spirit to enjoy the beauty of cooling off.
And this month, we're cooling off. We're celebrating the rewards of hard work, whether you've been pouring in hours behind a desk or trucking kids to various summer camps. Whether you've been rocking babies or moving houses or ironing out relationships. Whether you've been mourning losses or searching for answers or questioning the future. You have worked hard. You have created enough heat in your spirit and it's time to enjoy the beauty of cooling off.
Cooling off looks different for many women - from ice cream treats to summer styling tips and bistro tables to napping essentials. And for some, it looks the same: cooling our anger, calming our souls, simplifying our lives. (Luckily, we're covering them all.)
Last week, during the relaxation portion of hot yoga, our instructor offered us eye pads and essential oils to aid in cooling off. "Although cooling off is a natural response to hard work, it takes effort," she said. "It takes intention to eliminate the distractions and focus our thoughts on a new perspective. It requires deeper breaths, quiet thoughts and stiller bodies."
And she's right. It's a common misconception that the fruits of our labor will naturally ripen on their own. Sometimes, it takes a few eye pads and some essential oils. Other times it takes a community of women online - people we've never met - offering us a splash of cold water and some healing, inspired words.
Spritz spritz spritz.