I love yoga. I mean, I’m not good at it or anything – I don’t know what I’m doing, or how to breathe, and it took me a year just to figure out what “cat cow” was…
But I love yoga. I love rolling out my little, pink yoga mat in the middle of my living room floor, and picking out a yoga video from my favorite yoga YouTube channel, and pretending that I’m confident and relaxed as I stumble (and sometimes fall down) through the twenty or thirty minute sequence of my favorite YouTube yoga instructor saying “just breathe”.
I love yoga, or whatever it is that I’m doing on my living room floor (mostly just trying to twist my body into weird shapes and pretend that it’s totes relaxing). It makes me feel good. But to say that I actually “do yoga” feels a little bit like saying I’m a salsa dancer after taking a couple of Zumba classes. It’s just not the same. My yoga pants have spent more time grocery shopping and walking to 8 AM college classes than they have on yoga mats.
But we all have our “things”. Mine is pretending that I’m flexible and mildly coordinated.
So when the opportunity came up to attend “One week free” at a fancy yoga studio downtown, I was on board. Like buy-a-new-sports-bra and practice-my-tree-pose on board. I packed up my yoga mat, put on my “nice” yoga pants, and headed downtown like Elle Woods on her way to Harvard.
“You’re going to… a level three professional yoga class?”
“What? Like it’s hard?”
I marched into the yoga studio and asked the girl sitting behind the desk how to sign up. She asked me some basic questions about my background, my yoga experience (intermediate), and whether or not I needed to rent a mat or a towel. I proudly showed her my yoga mat and said, “Oh, I brought my own” with a flair that said ‘I do this all the time. I’m a yogi from way back‘.
She smiled and said, “Great! Did you need a towel?”
A towel? I thought. Why would I need a towel? I don’t even use a towel when I go to the gym… I just bask in my own sweat, apparently. But this place is supposed to be fancy. Maybe fancy people use towels.
So I said, “Oh, sure! I forgot mine.” And rented a towel for $3. Because apparently being fancy isn’t cheap.
“Oh!” she said suddenly, looking disapprovingly down at my feet. “We also ask that our members take their shoes off right away. Shoes are not allowed in the studio.” Then she pointed to one of those cubby/bookshelf things people buy at IKEA that was located next to the door. “You can leave your shoes over there.”
“Oh.” I said. “Right.” Because, yoga. I get it. You’re supposed to be barefoot, *technically*. But what about foot fungus? I’m a germaphobe. I don’t even like taking my flip flops off at the pool. Do I *have* to take off my shoes? Really?
I glanced down at the pile of flip flops in front of the IKEA cubby, then looked back at the girl behind the desk. She was waiting on me. Yep. I have to take off my shoes.
So I kicked off my tennis shoes… which I wore, to yoga class, instead of flip flops, because I didn’t think about the whole “barefoot” thing, since I typically do yoga in my socks in the living room. But, anyway. The more you know.
I followed the girl down the hall as she pointed out which rooms where which and told me that I would be in the first studio. “Great!” I said. “Thanks!” as I pushed open the door. And then the heat wave hit me.
I don’t know if you’ve ever stuck your head inside an oven, but I imagine it feels a bit like walking into a hot yoga class. It’s hot. Like steam room hot. Like Mexican desert hot. Like…
100 degrees to be exact. Literally. I read the thermostat, because I was kind of hoping they’d say “Oh, sorry! This class is being moved to studio two. The AC is broken in here. We clearly can’t do yoga in these conditions.”
JK. This is why it’s called Hot Yoga.
I’ll be fine, I told myself. I do YouTube yoga. Because that’s the same.
As the class filled up, I set up camp in the back of the room. I wondered if anyone had ever passed out from the heat, or knocked over one of the zillions of little candles that were set up on the floor around the room. Would they kick me out if I started a small fire? Could they ban me from other yoga studios? Why would they set candles on the floor of a fitness class?
Oh, they’re fake. Never mind, I get it. “Ambiance”.
Eventually the instructor came in after the class had hit maximum capacity. She was tiny and blonde and said mostly words I’d heard before from YouTube videos. “Downward dog”, “Tree pose”, “Chaturanga” – I still had to look around the room to make sure I was doing them correctly, but at least the concepts weren’t totally lost on me.
I mostly looked over at the girl next to me and tried to copy her. She looked like she knew what she was doing. She probably comes to Yoga class all the time. She could do all of the moves without looking around the room first. At one point she even did a head stand, like it was no big deal. Like she does head stands all of the time. She probably walks around her kitchen doing head stands while she waits for the oven timer to ding.
Meanwhile, I was wondering if anyone had ever fallen over on their mat because it got so slippery from all of the sweating. I’d never sweat so much in my entire life. Now I know what the towel was for.
Eventually, an hour later, the class was over. I didn’t die. I didn’t pass out. I didn’t knock over any of the fake candles. And I could actually see sweat stains on my yoga pants. My legs were sweating. I didn’t even know that was a thing.
This is great, I thought to myself. I should be this sweaty after EVERY workout.
That’s how they get you. They make you sweat. Because whoever said yoga wasn’t a workout has clearly never done it in a room that’s 100 degrees.
Have any of you ever tried a hot yoga class before? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!