Four years ago I went to yoga twice a week. I had a short slender body. Now, four years later and about forty pounds heavier I have decided to take yoga back into my life. I am not slender. I look more like a marshmallow with toothpicks for legs. Last year, I went to Hot Yoga for only a week and lost five pounds. It was the first time I ever melted fat like butter. Desperate to get back in shape I declared I would now go to yoga at least once a week. It should be easy, right? I already know what all the poses are. The only thing that should give me a smidgen of trouble might be my shoulder with some tendonitis. I can handle it.
The first class I went to was the Yin Yoga class. I took my mat; oops I forgot my water and towel. No problem, they have everything I need for a minor cost. I rent everything and walk into the studio. Wow, it’s not bad in here. I remember it being hotter last time. Well, maybe all the time I spent in the sauna has better prepared me for this.
I walk to the empty spot in the back of the room wearing my socks. People stare at my feet. I cannot help the fact I do not like touching my bare feet on the dirty ground. I lay down my mat with the towel on top. Then I go to get a blanket and blocks. I might need all the props I can get my hands on, since it has been so long since I have done this, or any bending for that matter. I sit on my towel and take off my socks. I place them neatly by my water.
The entire class was about sitting poses doing hip-openers and passive backbends. I was able to bend forward, but bending back was horrible. I had to stack the blocks one on top of the other to lean back. I looked like I was in a recliner watching television. The instructor had to come ask me what I was doing. “I can’t seem to bend back very far so I’m using them as support.” I said. She smiles in agreement. Then she is assist the man next to me that is doing much worse off than myself. Towards the end of the class the instructor calls for the Hero pose (Vajrasana). It is a sitting position. You cross your right knee over the left, while moving feet away from the hips and palms on the soles of your feet. Then your bend your upper body forward into the knees. It looks like a pretzel move where you try to kiss your a**.
The problem was I could not get into position so the instructor came over and started shoving blankets between my legs and open areas. When she finished I looked like an idiot. I was tired, hot and trying to breathe through the pose. After all the humiliation of barely achieving the poses I felt amazing. First class accomplished.
My second visit to yoga I planned to attend the Traditional Hot Yoga class. It is a specific sequence of 26 poses performed with emphasis on Bikram’s alignment instruction. I bring with me: my mat, towel, water. I arrive thirty minutes early. The parking lot is full so it’s clear it must be really busy inside. I decide to waste my time at Starbucks next door. Hmmm Gingerbread Latte is back. I can have a small. I know I am dieting, but really it is just a small cup, plus I am about to burn some serious calories. I order the small or whatever they call the size. Then my phone rings. I go outside to take the call. Blah, blah, blah… I hang up. I look at the time. Shoot, I’ve only had three or four sips of this four dollar latte and now it’s time for class. I put the drink in the car. Then I grab my things and go inside. Wow! It’s packed. There are people with sweat dripping off them everywhere. There is sweat on the floor. There are beads of sweat hanging off the girl’s hair. Gross all this sweat! I can do this. I can do this. I’ll just keep my socks on till I get settled on my mat. That way I won’t get a stranger’s sweat on my feet.
I enter the actual studio. It’s hot! Really hot! I find a place in the back by another not so flexible looking man. I spread out my mat. Then I place my towel on top. Then I sit on it. I start to meditate: desert, sand, sun, cactus, sandpaper, OMG… I need water! I take a drink of water. Then I try to relax again. The same types of things come to my mind: desert, sand, sun, cactus, fire, burning, torches, bonfires, heat, heat, heat…
Then I am interrupted by the instructor. We go into the standing poses. I find the standing poses not so difficult. I begin to look around the class through the mirror. That way my eyes are moving, but not my head so no one knows I am looking at them. I notice a puffy girl like me in the front wearing a white sports bra with nothing on top. That’s not going to pretty for long. A girl in the middle of the room reaches for her water. She takes a tiny sip. The instructor yells out, “No water during the standing poses! You’ll have a water break when I say so.” Ouch, good thing I already drank a third of my bottle. I am still refreshed.
I am back to focusing on class, but then I notice something weird happening. I’m crying? There is a river flowing down my face. I wipe it but it keeps coming back. Then more water is spilling from everywhere. I am not crying. I am sweating. I have sweat coming from my hair dripping into my eyes. There is sweat going down my pants, bra, it’s everywhere.
The man next to me lies down on his mat. He is clearly taking a break. The instructor states, “It’s only a 104 degrees and 75% humidity.” I try to maintain my composure, yet doing so I throw-up in my mouth some of my favorite gingerbread latte. It does not taste good the second time around. I reach for my water. Damn it is over half gone. I am just in the second part of this class no more than thirty minutes. I have another hour to go. Ok, I can do this little drinks, little drinks, little drinks.
Few minutes later, back into the poses facing the front, I see the foreseen. The puffy girl like me is sweating much worse. She is soaking wet like someone threw her in a pool. Her white sports bra is now more like clear-wrap for food. I can see all her goodies, so can everyone else. I move my eyes.
Now we are in the seated poses. I look at my neighbor. The man is still laying there. I am not sure he is ok. He might be passed out. Then the instructor says, “If you feel faint keep your head down so you don’t get hurt. The temperature now is 105 degrees with 66% humidity.”
Sixty-six, man just one more six and that’s the devils number. OMG, it is so hoooootttt… I am melting! Ok, melting is good. That’s why I came. I am calming down when the man next to me farts really loud. PPPPPUUUURRRRPPPP!! Then he runs out of the room. I feel a little sorry for the man, because everyone in the room knew what was up, or in that case going down. At that time, I throw up a little in my mouth again. The latte is worse the third time up. I take a small sip of water.
I am still hanging in class. I reach for my bottle of water but this time it’s empty. What the world! Now what do I do? I’m on fire. I’m thirsty! I need water! I look at my other neighbor. She is lean, physically fit and more importantly she has water. Then there is a girl to my front and she has two bottles of water. She is sitting down facing me. She is on break. Worse part is, she can like read my mind or see my empty bottle. She slowly opens her bottle of ICE water and swigs on it. The ice is making noise. The cubes are clinging to the side of the container like a bell. I want so badly to reach over and grab her second bottle of water. Then I want to grab the other full bottle of water belonging to the woman in front of me. Then I just want to run out of the room screaming, “Help I’m on fire! Help! Help! I’m dying! AGGGGHHHHH!!!!” That’s when the kind instructor opens the vent. AAAHHHHH… Is it really air conditioning blowing on my face? It feels amazing! Just when I was about to give up, steal water and run out of the room screaming for help the instructor gave me not hope, but air conditioning. It was perfect timing. I did finish the class.
After changing, cooling off and really relaxing; I realized I did it. I finished my second hot yoga class. I might have thrown up twice in my mouth, sweat tears from my hairline and everywhere else, but the truth is I’m on a journey. I accomplished my second class. What kind of journey would it be without a few setbacks? Now for the third class I should be more prepared. Perhaps I will skip the latte, bring a six pack of water, not look around the class room and try to prevent laughs at another’s gaseous expense.