I’ll try anything once, with the exception of skydiving and Russian roulette. There are a few other select exceptions, but in general I’m one of those annoying people who will eat the street fair crickets and skinny dip in the Mediterranean Sea.
Which is how I found myself signed up for a session of hot yoga, 100 degrees of sweaty downward dog.
My main squeeze Michael’s pal from work Zara is addicted to hot workouts. She text me wanting to try out pole fitness and join me at my gym, which somehow turned into me taking a hot yoga class. Not sure what happened there, but it was likely the free first class—I’m a sucker for free things and also rarely check my bank balance, which makes me the perfect candidate for pretty much any company willing to give me free thingamabobs in return for my credit card info. I have Graze boxes, and E-Card subscriptions and Fabletics outfits up the wazoo the amount of times I’ve forgotten to cancel after my promotional trial.
However this was probably the most exciting/potentially enlightening free thing I’d encountered, usually I just get address stickers. I was only moderately wary of the new class—my brother and his (now) wife went to Bikram Yoga on their first date, that’s a 90 minute session typically at 105 degrees, which makes the hot yoga I did (60 minutes at 98 to 100 degrees) look like child’s play. My brother and his wife just had a baby in January, so the date can’t have gone too poorly.
Zara’s main instruction was to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate the day of. Convinced I was going to faint during the class, I essentially just spent the whole day drinking water and peeing it out.
She invited me over for wine beforehand, which I deemed incredibly not a good idea. I just wanted to survive hot yoga, drunk hot yoga sounded like a whole different slice of pie (and in hindsight maybe a hypothetical leap (literal swig) I should have taken, for that hard-hitting 21st century journalism and all).
However I’m grateful I was sober when it came to cultivating my most yogi-esque outfit, an actual task, which consisted of mellow purples and blues and leggings—GAH! Michael said he didn’t think I’d ever looked so PC for the gym. As a pole dance junkie, my workout wardrobe is 98 percent booty shorts, with a hint of vinyl.
I swung by my mom’s house before the class to borrow a yoga mat seeing as I’m likely the only millennial who doesn’t actually own one (do I make up for it by having a pole in my garage?). She handed two halves of a mat to me noting, “It’s in two pieces, but you can probably tape it together.” Apparently she’d needed one half for a gardening pad, and the other to use as a diaper changing mat. Resourceful, but it really would have helped if she’d mentioned that when I text asking if she had one I could use. Two pieces does not a yoga mat make. And I really didn’t want to be the girl with the taped together yoga mat on my first day.
Luckily the studio ended up renting mats, so I got to enjoy warriors one and two atop crusted layers of other people’s body sweat. Yum.
After signing my life away—the only part of the form I actually read was the sentence in all caps about making sure to read the whole thing before you sign it—I stepped into a dark, humid, intensely hot little oven of a room crammed full of hemp clothing and messy buns.
Zara continued chatting away, but I couldn’t carry on a conversation, it was a lot of work to talk and I had to just focus on not passing out.
My shirt gave way to sports bra within thirty seconds, and I spent the rest of class wishing I had something else to take off, like my skin.
I didn’t think 100 degrees would be that hot, after all you can walk around in 100 degree weather for a couple hours no problem (*California native alert*). I think it was the moisture being pumped into the room that made you feel like you were roasting. It seemed profoundly hotter than just a degree above normal body temperature.
From the the first bead of sweat that dripped down my back, it was pretty much a free for all.
After a brief semi panic of—sweet fuck I’m in this super crowded tiny hot dark sweaty box—I was able to convince myself that I could do anything for an hour, and if I passed out, I passed out. So be it. Yogis are meant to be good people, right? I’m sure they would suckle me back to health with kombucha.
It was candle flow yoga, intended to “enhance the awareness of the senses allowing you to take your yoga journey inward, finding a deeper connection with the mind and body.” There were atmospheric fake candles glowing all over the floor, and it was a calmer class, focused more on relaxing and stretching than building muscle. Thank fuck. I’d managed to sweat through my towel, and the yoga mat under it, I can’t imagine doing an actual workout in that heat.
Low: Someone definitely farted, and the smell was amplified and lingered way, way more than if we weren’t in a small incredibly humid 100 degree room. Also, did not reach nirvana.
High: Once I got over the to-faint or not-to-faint debacle, it did feel good to be able to sink deeper than normal into stretches thanks to warm muscles and slippery skin. And at the end of the session, they give you a rolled up frozen lavender washcloth to lay over your face that was like a brick to get apart and open up, but felt incredible (in part because it signalled the end of class).
I think a second class would likely be a lot better, now that I know I can do it without fainting, it would be easier to focus on the movement and take in the atmosphere with less back of mind chatter about passing out.
Zara said she loves just taking a shower and going straight to bed after class feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. I wasted my enlightenment on an hour long Facebook browse and an undercooked peanut butter cup brownie.
They say nirvana is about the journey, not the destination. Mine just may take a little bit longer and consist mainly of free promotional gifts.