Hot Mess Yoga (309th new thing).

April 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Before Day Three Hundred Nine I had never really done yoga before. I had mimicked the simple exercises on the Wii Fit, but not taken a class or learned proper positioning under the guidance of a professional. A twenty-nine year old white suburban girl who doesn’t yoga? With the fitness’s popularity, it’s pretty difficult to comprehend. To make up for stereotypes, I jumped straight in, head-first, by taking a Bikram (hot) Yoga class.

My friend Jenny had been to Marietta Bikram Yoga studio before and volunteered to go along with me. She said it felt really good and was quite relaxing. I tensed at the thought of embarrassing myself. I can barely touch my toes, let alone twist my body into some crazy pretzel shape. But I was committed. If anything, the oxygen therapy the day before had at least opened up my blood cells or something.

I arrived early for the 4:30 class and headed in to change and sign the requisite waiver. You know, the “Not responsible for injury or death” one I have become quite used to over the course of this blog. The employees seemed nice and I disclosed this was my first ever yoga class. The bald burly instructor came up and introduced himself (his name which I cannot remember) and seemed intrigued when I told him about my doing-something-new-everyday thing. He assumed it was something healthy, but I quickly dispelled that idea by mentioning that I had infused vodka with skittles. He wasn’t expecting that.

Once Jenny arrived we headed into the sweltering studio (Bikram Yoga is performed in a 105 degree room), laid our mats down at the back with our towels on top, and us on top of that, similar to the other two people in the studio. After a few minutes and about fifteen more people copying the procedure, and just before I started to doze in the heat, the overhead lights came on and Yogi Man bounded in.

He explained the starting position (feet together, arms at our sides) and we all commenced with this strange breathing exercise that involved holding a fist, fingers entwined, under the chin and exhaling while opening up the arms and lifting the elbows, head tilting back. The inhale was the reverse. I performed this warm up easily enough, although my weak upper body strength started to show with the ache in my shoulders.

This was followed by a series of standing exercises. I can’t really remember most of them, with their difficult-to-pronounce names. I know I participated in about three positions before the room started to swirl. I had been warned about the likelihood of light-headedness and possible nausea, so when the corners of my vision began to blur and darken I lay down on my mat as instructed and rested. I probably opted out of second sets of the standing positions more times than I actually completed them. I was up and down like a bunny rabbit, but much more slowly. I saw the need for the waiver in the beginning. Why was I doing this voluntarily?

The seated positions were slightly better, although there were few I opted out of again. There were rests between each one, which I enjoyed immensely. Could I just lie on my back for the rest of the class and call it yoga?

At the end of the class we did some ending breathing exercise where you puff air out of your “O” shaped mouth in short succession. Yogi Man said we were removing the “toxins.” I will never understand these crazy health people. He thanked everyone, gave me a brief applause for staying the whole class, and offered me and Jenny an “electrolyte drink” when we got out “on the house.” It turned out to be Emergen-C. Then the lights were dimmed again and everyone lay down on their mats, slowly getting up one by one. Jenny popped up right away but I stayed for a few minutes, gaining my breath.

At first I thought hot yoga was just a weird and uncomfortable form of exercise (I’ve never heard a fitness expert tell me that it was normal for my elbows and wrists to feel strained while exercising), but it turned out it was just that class. Apparently most instructors don’t bark out orders and talk incessantly like a drill sargaent or call out people who are performing the positions wrong. And they certainly don’t mention vodka infused with skittles to everyone and then chuckle, explaining it was an “in joke.” Jenny also told me that yoga was about flow and any other class she attended did not involve rotating staccato-like from one pose to the next AND in her other classes, the instructor did the poses too. Yogi Man attempted a few for demonstration, but then explained away his inflexibility as “not being warmed up.” Jenny, who took just as many rests as I did to avoid fainting (at one point I watched fearfully as she stumbled a little in slow motion) said that she had never felt that way in the hot yoga class before. And I believed her. Because that was difficult and yoga was supposed to be kind of peaceful.

I think I will try Bikram Yoga again, but definitely not with that instructor. I like the idea of the poses and the flow and the heat, but I don’t want to faint in front of twenty other sweaty people.


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