Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Something New

After trying a couple of classes at my local Y, I realized that if I wanted to find a challenging yoga experience (more like the one I'd had in Ohio), I needed to branch out and try some actual yoga studios here in Nashville.  Since I'm not really into the chanting and guided meditation that some "real" yoga studios offer, I felt my choices were fairly slim.  After doing some light research on the internet, I decided to try a studio that was the closest to my new home, on Nashville's West End:  Hot Yoga.

Since I've already had a bad experience with the heat & humidity here in Nashville (I suffered a bout of heat exhaustion a week after moving here when I attempted a run in the heat of the day, debilitating me for the better part of two days...), I was a little leery of the "hot" aspect of Hot Yoga - practicing yoga in a room heated to 100 degrees.  HOWEVER, since I really do not like being cold - ever, I was also intrigued by the idea of "hot" yoga.

Here's a little run down of my first attempt at hot yoga:

I pack my little bag with my water bottle, a hand towel and a beach towel (the studio's website recommended bring water and a towel, but I wasn't sure what size towel they meant, so I thought I'd bring one of each), figuring I'd just leave the "wrong" towel in my bag.  Since I've got a shorter haircut that won't fit into a pony tail now, I just bobby-pinned my bangs back and stuck a head band (that makes me look REALLY goofy) into my bag, just in case.

Knowing that the room would be hot, I decided to wear shorts to the class instead of my regular long yoga pants or capris (like I stated earlier, I don't like to be cold - ever), and a cottony yoga top.

Arriving at the studio for the 90-minute class I'd registered for on-line, I am told that if, at any time during the class, I become short of breath I should just stop and drink some water and rest for a minute or two, but I should NOT leave the room because it's important for my body to stay in the heat to better acclimate.  I put my bag into a cubby and head into the studio with my mat and water bottle, joining the 25 or more other people in the room.  Immediately, I am hit with how warm the room really is and wonder if this was a crazy idea.  I notice that everyone has towels covering their yoga mats, so I head back out into the cubby area and get the headband (just in case) and my beach towel, and lay it on my yoga mat, too.

I notice that there are a couple of men wearing swim trunks, and some women wearing shorts and sports bras.  I wonder to myself, if this is REALLY something I think I should be doing...

Less than ten minutes into the class I am cursing my layered haircut.  The bobby pin has fallen out, my sweaty bangs are smacking me in the forehead and sweat has started appearing in places on my body I didn't even know I had sweat glands.  "What in the heck was I thinking???"  I ask myself.  Determined to not be the first person to take a little 'recovery' break, I push myself until I am a tad dizzy.  I stop and drink some water (which is now incredibly warm), don the goofy headband, wipe the sweat from my, well, from everywhere I possibly can because I am drenched with sweat, and notice that those guys in the bathing suits are leaving pools of sweat all around their mats.  People are sweating so much that it is running off of them like they are human irrigation hoses.  My arms and legs are so sweaty that I can't even hold the arm balancing poses I can usually do with ease because I am so slippery.  I now understand why some people have two water bottles with them.

There are no clocks in the room, and I have absolutely no idea how long we've been at it, or how much longer this experience must go on, so remind myself that I survived childbirth without pain meds three times and the time remaining must surely be less than any of my labors.  My bangs keep escaping over the top of the headband.  I am annoyed with my hair and consider the benefits of shaving my head.  I press on...

Then the smell hits me:  there is a fairly burly guy two rows ahead of me and I am certain he's eaten some really pungent food in the past day or so, and become convinced that these foods are now seeping out of his pores and into my nostrils and lungs.  I wonder what everyone around me has eaten.  Is it food-related smells, or something else?  I wonder about the toxins we are all releasing from our bodies through our sweat and wonder if you can "catch" any toxins by breathing the air contaminated with toxin sweat.  Can you smell toxins?  My mind is starting to race toward a tangent.  Again, I remind myself of the fact that I survived labor, refocus and press onward.

Once we begin to do some slower moves and are doing more things in seated positions, I realize that the end is near.  My clothing is drenched.  My towel is drenched.  My water bottle is empty, my beach towel is completely soaked and I am thrilled that I survived without throwing up.  Once we make it to the resting part of the practice, I realize that I actually enjoyed the challenge.  I feel like I've really accomplished something:  I survived the heat and the poses and the sweat and the smells...  I'm totally hooked!


Derrick said...

Arm balance? Did you start with a Vinyasa class?

The first class is is pretty horrible for everybody; but it gets better...until you have a bad that a class weeks or month later is as bad as your first.

But you'll learn how to breath, pace yourself, and strategize through.


Elly said...

Thanks, Derrick. It was totally fine (and the subsequent classes have been fantastic)! I've been doing Astanga Yoga for more than a year. The poses are not what threw me, the fact that my arms and legs were so sweaty that I was slippery was.

See my following post for my strategies for getting through.