A few of my friends have been attending a hot yoga class on the other side of town. And by other side of town, I mean there is a whole mountain between that side and me. They've been telling me what it is like and I listen while shaking my head in disbelief that someone would willingly exercise in over 100 degree temps.
This Saturday, Kristi talked me into going with her. It was "donation day" and I could pay $5.00 and get in without buying a package (which we discovered wasn't how it worked, but the guy let me in anyway). I followed Kristi's instructions of what to wear and bring. She said a towel over my yoga mat was mandatory, and that I would want a big bottle of an electrolyte beverage (water wouldn't cut it). She also said to wear tight clothing because it would be totally sodden and would get in the way if it hung loose. I did all of these things, also bringing an extra change of clothes so that we could go to the frozen yogurt place next door afterward.
I drove over the mountain feeling both apprehensive and excited about this new adventure. When I walked into the hot yoga room, I was immediately enveloped by the heat. I know I should have been expecting it, but I wasn't. The heat was borderline overpowering, but I thought since yoga was slow and fluid, maybe I could glide through the moves easily and the heat wouldn't be so bad. (ha ha ha).
We got started and within the first few minutes I noticed the sweat beads forming on my legs. I felt pretty good for a while and focused on my breathing and form. After about 20 minutes, however, things got harder. We did downward dog so many times I thought my head would explode, and I usually like downward dog (or down facing dog or down dog - whatever you call it). I like the stretch I get in my calves as I try to move my ankles down, but we did it so many times I began to feel lightheaded.
The sweat was insane. When Kristi described it to me, I figured it would be comparable to a humid summer run, but it was different. The sweat did not drip, it poured. Streams ran down my face, so that in downward dog, it threatened my nose and eyes. When I changed positions, the sweat poured down onto my towel, showing me why it was necessary to have one. I quite literally never stopped sweating, as if someone was continually pouring a bucket of water over me.
Twice, I felt overpowered by the heat, like I could not stand it for one more second. For those few minutes, I simply sat on my mat, drank my Gatorade and focused on my breathing. For some reason, the heat made it imperative to breath, and breath correctly! I looked around desperately for a clock to see how much longer I had to stay in that room, but all I could see was the thermostat reading 104 degrees. The feeling would eventually pass, and I would gently continue with the class.
When the class neared its completion, we laid flat on our mats for some breathing and...relaxation or mediation. The instructor told us to let our bodies sink into the mat and to forget about them. I laughed to myself. How could I forget about my body when my heart was beating in my face? When the class was over, Kristi lingered to talk with the instructor and I tried to look nonchalant as I inched toward the door...and blessed air conditioning...or the cool 95 degree temps outside. Either one would have been a relief.
Just as Kristi had promised, I looked like I'd been swimming in my yoga clothes after class. I took them off, wrapped them in my towel, and put on my dry t-shirt and shorts. We then proceeded to Sweet Cece's for some strawberry kiwi yogurt with strawberries, blueberries, and granola. It was the most delicious thing in the world after hot yoga.
I have to admit that I liked it. It was different than anything I'd ever done, as well as incredibly challenging, but I think if it were in a closer location, I might go more often. I usually fall apart when heat of any kind is involved, and by simply staying in the room when I'd wanted so desperately to get out, I felt like I'd overcome something. Overall, it was a great experience and I just may have to try it again sometime.