I realize this picture is not in any way related to hot yoga, but its a pretty picture so enjoy
Yesterday I took part in hot yoga, and it is the closest I have been to hell…but I kind of liked it.
First hot yoga, for those of you not up on the yoga scene, is just that yoga done in hot conditions. Let’s get one thing clear though: when they say hot, they mean hot. Not just a bit on the warm side, but full on sweating out of every pore on your body hot.
Now you may be asking yourself how I found myself about to take part in this activity. Well, as everyone that has been or is in a relationship can attest to, you will at some point be asked to do something or take part in something that may not be your cup of tea. My girlfriend came to me yesterday with the question: “Want to go to a free hot yoga class tonight?” What she really meant is: “Chase, you are going to a free hot yoga class with me tonight, no excuses.” Being the open-minded, activity-loving guy I am, and the fact that I owed her for all of those “fun” runs we have done, I wholeheartedly agreed.
Now, going into this class, I wasn’t too worried. I mean, I am 25 years old and in good shape. I race mountain bikes, do 100 mile road rides, have completed ultra marathons, so hey, I’m no slouch.
Hot yoga quickly responded with (17 seconds in):
We filed into a large studio room with about 45 other unfortunate souls to take part in some fun hot yoga. Immediately I had trouble breathing, and various thoughts were running through my head like why is it this hot, the air conditioner has to be broken, who does this for fun, what am I doing with my life, and other existential questions.
The yoga instructor, a tattooed very Zen like barely clothed man, came into the room and looked like a kid on Christmas. I swear we made eye contact, he sized me up, and a malevolent smile crossed his face, but who knows? My vision was blurred by the copious amounts of sweat running down my face.
After quick introductions were made, he ordered us to move our mats so that all yoga mats were touching. This was a good icebreaker as I quickly found myself very close to my girlfriend, win, and even closer with a very shirtless and very hairy 55+ year old man. Yay.
At this point, I was already feeling like I stepped out of the shower, so I took a cue from my furry friend and lost the tee shirt. I was feeling free and ready to tackle some hot yoga. Let’s do this scantily clad Zen like yoga teacher!
As the class progressed with various warm up exercises and breathing rituals, I started feeling pretty limber. I was keeping pace, getting the kinks out, and my body was starting to come to grips with the heat. We then launched into the actual yoga part of this whole shindig, and I quickly realized cycling and running do not correlate with hot yoga fitness. In my usual gung-ho fashion, I had attacked the first handful of exercises and was really pushing myself. Then the whole heat aspect caught up with me, and I had to pump the brakes and reel myself back in to reality.
I started to focus not on keeping pace with the other students, but rather doing what felt right to me. I really listened to my body, and tried my hardest to keep my face relaxed and my breathing even and steady. As each new activity was introduced, I couldn’t believe how much fun I was having. Yes it was still hot, yes I felt like I was going to pass out once or twice, yes my contact lens almost came out because I was sweating so much, yes there was no telling where my sweat stopped and the older gentleman’s to my right began, but hey, this is hot yoga.
After about an hour and thirty minutes of sweating, fumbling, and stretching, the class came to an end, and I had a big smile on my face. I had made it! I had survived, I was breathing, I hadn’t passed out, life was good, and I had taken part in another new and fun activity with my better half.
So I want to leave you with these final thoughts. First, be sure to have an open mind when approaching exercise. Sometimes you may find out that there are other ways to get a good sweat in than running on a treadmill. Second, go at your own pace. Unless you are lining up on a starting line, there is no reason to compare yourself to your neighbor. This type of mentality will only lead to disappointment and injury. Last but not least, no matter how badly you need money, never take a job cleaning a hot yoga studio.