Can Hot Yoga reveal the secret character of your partner, co-worker or even yourself?

Yes, is the answer.

It’s a well known secret to experienced Bikram or Hot Yoga teachers that the practice of 26 postures in the heat can tell you a lot about a person especially the things they want to hide most about themselves or are not even aware of yet. Because it is a set sequence that requires precision, there is no hiding. It’s like practicing scales for a singer. I always say it is my yogic metronome. I will practice Elementals Flow, but come back to Hot Detox to check-in and see what’s going on at my base.

I’ve always told potential employers or new dating couples that they should bring their respective person to class and I will tell them what they need to know.

So for Valentine’s Day my gift to you is this – I reveal insights for unmasking yourself or your potential partner/employee.

5 Poses & What They Say About Character Traits

1. Standing Bow (ability to commit)

The one minute hold for Standing Bow is a test for one’s ability to commit to a pose and not give up. Those of us who still need to “dance around the issue” will usually dance around a pose that demands exact focus, determination and commitment.

As an example, my husband, Theo, has never come out of Bow early in over 10 years. He mastered the pose’s higher purpose rather than what people think is an advanced bow with extreme flexibility. So, I had insight into his ability to commit and stick with something/someone through thick and thin.

2. Awkward Pose (determination and drive)

This pose is about bulldog determination. You can see students who really love going deep into something and sticking with it. If they get right into it, really extend fully through the arms, stay completely still and have that look of utter focus, you know you’re with a person who will drive your relationship or work projects.

3. Standing Head to Knee (patience, focus and ego)

This is a signature Hot Detox pose as it reveals the mind’s ability to stay strong, focus and balance all at the same time. It’s also the one which teachers have the most pet peeves as we always say not to kick out unless the standing leg is straight. Yet, almost everyone ignores this cue as they care more about what the pose looks like. Hence, the ego. So, the student who goes to their true posture edge calmly and stays for the whole length of the posture is someone who can stay cool under pressure. They don’t need to look the part, but are confident with their own true abilities.

4. Hot Detox Triangle (leadership potential)

This closing master pose of the standing series works every muscle in the body. It also comes when the temptation is there to quit. The student who stays strong, does not fidget and leads the rest of the class into the pose, has leadership potential. I love seeing front row students taking this pose with strength, precision and using 100% of their bodies to extend themselves into the pose. They also try to give energy and inspiration to those who may be newer which means finding consideration.

5. Camel (emotional sensitivities)

Camel comes right at the end of class when we’re suddenly asked to open up the whole front of our body and take a backbend. Admittedly, for beginners, the first classes are usually too much. I’ve seen many  students suddenly burst into tears or have an overwhelming feeling of other emotions ranging from joy to anger. Camel can be one of the most honest moments in class. How comfortable are we to open up, reveal ourselves without fear. How comfortable are we with communicating our emotions?

Regulars will notice that your relationship to this pose changes through the years depending on what’s going on with your life off the mat. It will feel easy for awhile and then suddenly difficult again. If this happens, take an honest look at any communication issues, heartbreak or other self-esteem issues.

Fidgeter vs. Non-Fidgeter

Can’t stop moving, fixing your hair, looking around? Means possible issues with commitment or avoidance of unhealthy emotions. When we can’t stand still or keep our minds focused on one thing without distraction, we have yet to begin the journey of self-realisation.

The eyes may be the window to the soul, but the body’s movement patterns are a window to the habitual mind. If your new partner can’t stand still in class, you may find similar patterns in your relationship like changing plans a lot, always having to look at the phone over dinner, gets bored easily or needs to constantly socialise as doesn’t want or even fears the quiet solitude.

Blames Others Easily

The heat can be enough in the room to bring out our worst tendencies. That is the point. It is easier to meditate in a comfortable room, but who are you when your buttons are pushed and you are made to feel uncomfortable? Over 20 years, I have seen students get angry at the teacher, get upset with students next to them and complain about how other students “ruined” their practice.

Back in the day, the teacher’s name was never published on the schedule. Students were not to be attached to liking or not liking a teacher. Instead they were to come for the practice and the teacher was to be irrelevant. How many of us could do this today in the yoga world?

In the end, a liberated student knows that at all times, you are in control of your experience. If someone else can throw you off balance, it’s your problem, not theirs.

If you find yourself or partner complaining or getting angry after a class, ask yourself if there is a tendency to also look for blame in the work environment or personal life. Is it always someone’s fault? Do we need to justify our anger with what we consider valid reasons?

If so, ask yourself what was really going on underneath your anger? Are you feeling frustrated about something else in your life? Are you feeling unfulfilled?

Selfless or Selfish?

We are very strict about students leaving early from a hot yoga class. Did you ever stop to wonder why? Outside of a true emergency, there is no reason to leave the room unless you decided to give-up. We often are encouraged to think of a yoga class as only me and my mat. However, a more experienced practitioner realises that you are practicing solitude but you are also practicing with people.

Sweating together with other people for an hour is an opportunity to become aware of how your behaviour, energy, attitude affects those around you. Again, the heat by making one feel uncomfortable pushes a button and deep seated tendencies come out. Some students quickly shut off, say to themselves I hate it and leave thinking little of the effect on other students’ practice or the teacher.

On the other side of the spectrum, a student who moves so the person behind them can see in the mirror, or knows how to adjust movement if close to a student or offers water to someone struggling is a sign of a considerate person who is thinking about other while having his or her own practice.

In the end, one’s yoga practice is an amazing experience to share with a loved one, friend or colleague. It provides a shared understanding of the joys and difficulties inherent in the journey of self-realisation. There is no judgment only awareness of tendencies and ultimately what we can learn from them.

Let the practice be a continual mirror of self-reflection and unveiling.