I started doing hot yoga recently in an attempt to “sweat all the bad energy” out of my life. I’m not a hot yoga newbie per se, but I wouldn’t say I’m experienced either. I gave it a shot about a year ago, and it didn’t go so well.
At the time, I’d been training for a half marathon, so going into the class I thought I was in pretty good shape. I figured hot yoga would be a good way to mix up my fitness routine, maybe even give a good stretch to my running muscles. I did all right for the first 10 minutes, then it was all downhill from there.
I spent the next 10 minutes trying to not pass out.
I knew I was in trouble when I started seeing black spots and losing my hearing. (Temporary hearing loss is something my body experiences when it’s too tired, too overworked, and on rare occasions, too pissed off. I think it’s a defense mechanism).
Twenty minutes into the class, I finally had to swallow my pride and succumb to a very unlively corpse pose. I stayed there for the next 40 minutes. It was a long, stifling 40 minutes. I never went back for the rest of my free trial.
After that experience why would I want to try hot yoga again? I wish I had a better answer, but the only one I have is that there’s a studio up the road that offered 10 classes for $10 and I thought it was a great deal. I’m proud to say this time around is going much better. I spent only five minutes in corpse pose during my first class.
Since I’m enjoying hot yoga much more, I’ve become a bit of a regular. I usually go to the evening classes the studio offers, but the other day I was feeling extra chipper and decided to give the morning class a try.
I dropped my stuff in my locker and headed into the studio. The first thing I noticed was that the morning class was a lot smaller than the evening class. Apparently, going into a 95-degree room for an hour is not how most people like to start their mornings. Odd.
I turned my attention to our instructor as the class began. I could tell early on this class wasn’t going to be an easy one; the instructor had us hold our poses longer than the other classes I’d attended. I was sweating more too.
When I thought I was tapped out in my Warrior II pose, the instructor came over and told me: “Stretch this leg more. I know you’re more flexible than this. I know you are stronger than this.”
As much as my body wanted her to be wrong, she was right. I stretched deeper into the pose—muscles shaking, sweat dripping—and held it until she told us we could stop.
As the class continued, the instructor walked around, guiding each student at one part or another. She had us stand taller, stretch longer, feel the movements, rely on our bodies to lead us. When the class was done, we were all drenched in sweat and breathing heavily. We had made it, all of us.
Not one person had left the class early. Not one person had sat out a pose. We all bowed, recited “namaste,” and took our final moments of peace before heading back out into reality.
When I felt peaceful enough, I headed into the locker room, washed my face with cold water, and grabbed my things to leave. On my way out I passed some of my classmates who were standing by a wall that had photos of every yoga instructor that had ever taught at the studio.
The classmates were going picture by picture, describing the teachers and reading their backstories to a fellow classmate who was blind. He was nodding along, listening, and smiling. I listened for a moment before continuing to the front desk. My instructor was waiting.
“Thank you for your help today. You were right to push me. I guess we’re all stronger than we give ourselves credit for sometimes.”
She smiled. “Happy I could help. I had a feeling you had more in you than that.”
I nodded, smiled, and took one last look around the studio before heading out to greet the day.