My friend Pam told me about hot yoga. She said it would change my life. She has been going for awhile now and believes it will help ease my chronic pain and eliminate those winter time blues.
One summer a few years ago I did the Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown DVD, so if anyone ever asks I tell them I’ve been doing yoga for years and that I’m pretty good at it. Realistically I’m as flexible as a cadaver and use my yoga mat as a prop to keep my bedroom door closed because the knob doesn’t latch.
But as soon as my friend mentioned hot yoga to me I started daydreaming about myself in this yoga studio wearing the coolest yoga pants that accentuate all the right curves and maybe a yoga crop top to show off my rock hard abs that I got from doing so much yoga. And in that day dream I was all smiles and felt such inner peace and just looked so confident and sexy in my yoga gear that people looked at me while I walked around Duckworth Street and said “damn, I want to be like that girl.”
And then my day-dream self boarded a flight to India to study the practice and came back to open my own studio and work my own hours and make enough money to buy that cute house I saw on Property Guys. So naturally I went online and signed up for a month of unlimited hot yoga classes. Finally! a reason to own ten pairs of yoga pants! Before now I just wore them during big meals because of the elastic waist band.
The next day I showed up at Moksha Yoga, the hot yoga studio in my town of St. John’s, Newfoundland. I walked in and immediately felt anxious, despite the soothing atmosphere and the friendly staff. My biggest concern was that my Blundstone boots were identical to the other fifteen pairs of Blundstone boots. WHAT IF SOME YOGI LEFT WITH MY BOOTS?! I wondered if maybe it would be okay for me to do hot yoga in my boots so I could guarantee no one else would put their sweaty yoga feet into mine.
A girl whispered to me that I shouldn’t worry, no one would steal my boots, so I pretended to laugh and act like that was some sort of joke to me so I could seem like a normal human and then I hid my boots in the corner. I got signed up and a nice woman told me if I became overwhelmed to just lay back on the mat and focus on my breathing.
Then Pam showed me to the change room. I almost knocked over a picture with my gym bag and then I hit a woman with it as I turned the corner to the change room. It was becoming apparent to me that the expertly-trained graceful yogi Lisa from my daydreams probably wouldn’t present herself in today’s class.
Women were changing in front of me, so naturally I bundled up my yoga clothes and went to a back corner to hide while changing. Then I followed Pam into the studio. It felt like I went from St. John’s to the hottest day in Africa when I stepped in the room. “I might die,” I thought to myself. I couldn’t say it out loud because silence is a blessing and speaking is frowned upon in hot yoga. Which I found very difficult, because there’s nothing I love more than making sarcastic remarks about something that other people are passionate about.
I set up my yoga mat and placed my giant beach towel in a bundle next to my mat. Everyone else had fancy hot yoga towels laid on top of their mats and I scoffed at this. Certainly you wouldn’t need a special towel for your mat. They also had small hand towels for their sweat. So naturally I brought a giant beach towel with me. Everyone was laying down and closing their eyes so I did the same.
“This isn’t so hard!” I thought. And then I started sweating profusely. It’s like a porous levee broke within my skin and every ounce of water in my body wanted to hang out on my yoga mat with me. And then the instructor came in to start class.
I did great at first, aside from sweating enough to open my own indoor swimming pool. I went through mountain pose and put my hands at my heart centre and other zen-like things that made me feel like maybe I would be perfect at being Buddhist.
Then we had to do a downward dog. My downward dog was the kind of dog that would never be adopted because he’s really old and has a severe form of hip dysplasia. I quickly gave up on the idea of looking like a graceful yoga expert and just focused on the idea of surviving the hour long class with use of all four limbs at the end. I began slipping on the puddles of sweat and losing my balance and then my face got so sweaty that my glasses fell into the puddle of sweat on my mat. “HOW DO HUMAN BEINGS DO THIS?!” I wondered.
Downward Dog was basically the beginning of my downward spiral. After “walking my feet to my hands” and trying to return to mountain pose, I blacked out and instead of focusing on my breathing had to focus on my ability to stay conscious. Counting our breaths to 4 turned into me repeating “Do not make a fool of yourself do not make a fool of yourself do not make a fool of yourself.”
Everyone around me was so flexible and so good at controlling their breathing that their exhalations kind of scared me because they were so loud. They all looked like Lululemon models and when they did cobra pose, my god, I could actually mistake them for a cobra. My cobra looked more like this:
During almost every move my hands would slip from all the sweat. Pieces of dirt from my yoga mat were now a part of my skin. My hair was so sweaty and disheveled that with each pose I looked more and more like the creepy girl from The Ring. Everyone around me looked like they were filming some episode of Baywatch and had someone spray a gentle mist of water over them to give them the “just out of the water” look. I looked like I was hanging out in a monsoon.
Pam kept watching me to make sure I didn’t pass out. She suspected that would happen. Luckily I managed to go the whole class without losing consciousness.
And do you want to know what the most difficult pose was? At the end during the cool down she asked us to “just sit up straight, whichever way is comfortable for you.” It wasn’t even a real yoga pose. It was just SITTING UP and I almost fell over ten times. I wished I had brought my dog bed to prop me up.
I survived. It was touch and go for awhile but I survived. Luckily someone was blocking my view of myself in the mirror. I’m not sure how long it would take me to get over seeing myself attempting to do hot yoga. I wish I could do something for everyone in the studio who had to watch me do it. Maybe give them a sympathy hug or a gift card to Lululemon.
And as terrible as all that sounds, I left the studio feeling awesome. Maybe I re-evaluated my dream of becoming a famous yoga practitioner with my own studio, but I felt calm and proud of myself. No one stole my Blundstones, and I walked outside feeling like a new person. I did pretend for a few minutes that I was a yoga expert. I walked around with my yoga mat and assumed everyone was jealous of me because I obviously have my life together if I’m taking time out of my busy schedule to focus on my health and mental wellness. I’d be jealous of me too.
And then I went to the mall to buy a towel for my yoga mat so I won’t have to swim in my own sweat anymore. And then I went home, got in bed, and ate a box of chocolates. I figure if I do hot yoga 3 times a week I will sweat about 40 pounds off in a month. That leaves so much more room for extra chocolate!
If you happen to be as adventurous as I am and want to try out hot yoga, please read these easy to follow tips:
1. Drink LOTS of water throughout the day. By drinking lots of water before and after class it will help you with these things: staying alive, not fainting during class, not having insane muscle cramps that make you contemplate chopping off your leg. It isn’t enough to just drink lots during class. You are supposed to only take small sips of water during hot yoga.
2. Invest in a hot yoga towel. Do I really need to explain this tip? You heard my story about the indoor swimming pool. You can seriously slip and break something. Plus it’s just plain disgusting.
3. Wear clothes that you are comfortable sweating profusely in. I know you may not be used to looking through your closet and thinking “how would this look and feel on me soaking wet?” but it’s something you need to consider. Try to avoid wearing a white t-shirt without a bra.
4. Don’t be afraid to sprawl out on the floor like a corpse if you get overwhelmed. People don’t even judge you! It’s actually a very safe place to be yourself. No one even made fun of me for looking like the girl from The Ring or for resembling an arthritic dog.
5. Don’t eat a big meal before hot yoga class. You have to do lots of strange body twists (think The Exorcist) and that might just make you want to puke everywhere. I’m not sure how judgment-free everyone would be if you threw up all over them.
I assume I have now inspired all of you reading this to go try hot yoga. If you do try it or are already a practicing yoga player comment here and let me know what you think! Maybe you even have a few tips to add to the list!