So a couple things about me and yoga:
- All yoga is hot yoga as I always sweat and turn beet red. I actually start sweating as soon as I grab my gear and head to a class.
- I own 1 top that would be yoga specific and I have to wear a big ole bra to contain my boobs, it shows, I don’t care.
- I fart in every class. Every. Class. Big Ole Fart. Yup.
- I’m a yoga tourist, I go to all schools of yoga but I’ve never committed to one style for long.
- My first yoga class was in a high school gym in Winnipeg in 1998. There was a lesbian couple who drove a VW van that wore “Free Tibet” t-shirts. I felt like a sham with my male partner, Honda CRX and a pub crawl T-shirt.
- I don’t believe my yoga practice bestows any mystical or health benefits other than the flexibility, strength and balance I’d get from martial arts or other slow moving exercise that use body weight.
So with all that in mind you have to know I’m a bit of an odd duck when it comes to yoga. I enjoy it a great deal and I know my body enough to modify poses or get to poses however that works for me.
I got a message from the awesome Jessica (who is a regular contributor here, read her latest post “Elusive Badass Cred”) asking if I wanted to try hot yoga at a studio near my place. It was a $5 community class (totally in my budget), nearby and I’d get to go with Jessica, who is this fun sized human with a ton of energy and attitude. I adore her! I was wavering when she said “you can blog about it!”. Ugh. She knows me well. How could I resist a blogging opportunity?
So off I went in my yoga top and sweat pant type shorts. I knew from my partner’s experience to bring a towel and a water bottle. I also knew I needed to drink a whole bottle before class, I’m a generally sweaty person.
I met up with Jessica in the parking lot and we went in. She knew the ropes, like where to ditch shoes and that I’d need to sign a waiver. It was great having a guide.
The woman at the desk, who turned out was our instructor, asked if I’d done hot yoga before. I said ‘no’ she then told me I could modify postures as I needed and to take it easy the first time and that if I felt too hot to simply lay down and not leave the room. “It’s only 99 F in there anyway but Community Classes are more difficult than our beginner class.”
All I could think was that just because I’d never done this kind of yoga before didn’t mean I was a beginner. Oh my poor ego.
As we hung up our bags in the palatial-sized, slate-lined change room I kept thinking. “Shit, this is posh yoga.”
There were signs everywhere reminding folks not to talk in the hot room. Jessica reiterated with me before we went in that we were not to talk. This would be hard for me as I’m quite chatty. We went in to pick our spots. Little black L shaped marks indicated where to place your mat. I was struck by how close they expected us to be. In my classes at local gyms we had several feet of space between us, this was …well…it felt like a cattle corral, packed in tight. I left a space between Jessica and I, I’m sure I could have still touched her if I reached out, we were that close.
I laid back into corpse pose and took several deep breaths. some folks were doing their own warm-up routines, others practicing their ocean sounding breath -ujjayi and there was also someone snoring. Laying there the heat felt nice, like a good day at the beach.
The instructor started with a reminder to focus on breath and breathing and the class began. There were moments of flowing from one pose to the next, some moving in and out of postures, balance poses and some deep stretches. The sweat trickled down my arms and I blotted mt face occasionally with the extra large towel spread out underneath me. I sipped water and modified plank to be from the knees. The instructor moved about the class rarely doing the poses which was confusing as she referred to the front of the room but there was no clear front to me. Sometimes the descriptions of poses were confusing and when I went to look to see what the instructor was doing or the other practitioners I didn’t get a better understanding. Part of that was at any given time about a third of the room was doing their own thing or a modified version of the posture.
At the end of the class my knees were so sweaty I almost wiped out getting up off my mat. I threw a look to Jessica and almost broke the no talking rule. I mean squeaky flesh on hardwood floor seemed pretty hilarious.
I found with the heat I could stretch deeper in pigeon. My lower back had been giving me a lot of trouble before the class and felt much better after. I think hot yoga in the winter would be amazing but as the weather warms up I can do yoga in the heat in the park.
Things I didn’t like, the idea that hot yoga requires wearing as little clothes as possible and those must be posh clothes. Ok it’s a class thing. For sure. It really bugged me. Yoga, from what little I know of the history, was not practiced to make people a lot of money or limited to the wealthy. I think the $5 class is paying lip service to yoga being for everyone. Sure it is, if you have all the “right gear”, but I don’t think the ornate change room sets the right tone. Would I go again with a friend? Sure, I love the company and doing active things with friends. Would I go on my own? Heck no.