It was May 1, 2013 when I stepped into my first Hot Power Fusion class, led by Sweta. It was 7:30 AM on a Wednesday morning, and I had just finished instructing the 6AM Yoga Sculpt class in a downtown Chicago studio, exhausted after an early morning wake-up, a rigorous circuit with the students, and all on top of little sleep.
Between the two sessions, I had met Sweta for the first time, a fellow instructor at the same studio who taught different class formats than I did, and something about her demeanor enticed me to just take her class that morning. Perhaps it was our brief exchange where I learned some basic facts about her, i.e. she had previously worked in Consulting, (my full-time industry) and was born and raised in India (where my family is from), but she invited me to join the room whenever I felt ready.
I entered the dimly-lit room that morning and felt my senses tickled by the heat radiating throughout the studio, the scent of incense, and most memorable, the soft, steady hum of classical Indian music. Before we had even begun flowing, I felt at home on my mat that very instance. I had taken countless power vinyasa classes before, being instructed over and over, “find your center,” but it suddenly just clicked in that very moment. It was as though everything had been part of a journey that led to understanding what it all finally meant.
In the 60 minutes that followed, I had a lot to learn when it came to familiarizing myself with the 26 postures used in a typical Hot-style class. Some came to mind quickly, such as Eagle-Arm pose and Half-moon, but others were completely new to me, such as balancing stick and camel. I had shied away previously from Hot-style classes in the past falsely leading myself to believe that I would find such challenging postures discouraging and difficult to master.
But there I was, sweating profusely, surrounded in a room of just 6-7 people, allowing the sound of the Indian flutes to pass through my eardrums while Sweta squatted on the floor, articulating the cues and demonstrating the postures with such a calming, non-threatening and encouraging tone. I particularly noticed her transitional styles that incorporated an inner focus on the emotional components of a Hot Yoga practice, such as, “with compassion, with dedication, arms at your side, eyes closed, standing savasna.” It is those types of subtle additions that elevates a yoga instructor from great to outstanding.
The best part about this is, I discovered all of these nuances without even noticing the tangible results of that 60 minute practice. I felt invigorated: physically, my muscles felt loose and my aches and cramps were gone. Mentally, I felt like my head was lighter and I could start my day without wishing it was nearing the end of the work cycle. Emotionally, and spiritually, I felt inspired: Sweta had unlocked something within me that drove me to become a passionate and dedicated Hot Power Fusion yogi, knowing that it was her authentic style of teaching that I needed the most to hone my practice.
I attended Sweta’s classes on regular weekly basis, if not more than that, throughout the next few months until we parted ways in August 2013. I was transferring from Chicago to Minneapolis for work, and she embarked on a journey to the Himalayas to continue her practice and study.
Although we are no longer in the same cities, Sweta and I keep in touch as regularly as we can, and I can say with confidence that if I were living in the same area as she, I would practice yoga at whichever studio she has placement. As an avid cycler, heavy-weight lifter and sculpt instructor myself, on top of a full-time job, I need an instructor like Sweta helping me maintain balance in all aspects of my life. For any one that is fortunate enough to have access to her teaching, I highly suggest taking advantage of learning from her — you cannot afford to miss out!