Hot and Bothered
Trying out hot yoga
I haven’t been very active lately (unless you consider popping Hershey’s Kisses the equivalent of bicep curls with tiny, chocolate-flavored weights).
But having heard good things about yoga—or rather, having envied the toned midsections I see on the covers of yoga magazines at Whole Foods—I decided to give it a try.
The one thing I know about yoga is that you get to sit down most of the time. How different could it be from watching reality TV?
The following is a timeline of my actual experience:
4:10 p.m.: Enter yoga studio on Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda with husband, who has been lured along with the vague promise of a fun “date night” without the kids.
4:10 p.m.: Overhear the following exchange between the woman at the check-in desk and a grim-faced client:
“Do you have everything you need? Water? Mat? Towel?”
“How about a medic?”
4:15 p.m.: Sign forms that require an “emergency contact number.” Confess to woman behind desk that I have not brought water (casting exasperated look at husband to indicate that he is to blame).
Purchase water only to discover that it’s the 33.8-ounce size. Wonder exactly what kind of class this is as stomach muscles contract in fear—instantly becoming flatter.
4:20 p.m.: Step into yoga studio.
4:20 p.m.: Run out of studio, panting.
4:21 p.m.: Hiss at husband, “It’s hot in there!” To which he calmly replies, “That’s why they call it ‘hot yoga.’ ”
Start to argue before catching sight of several extremely fit people entering studio. Think: If this is what it takes to look like them, I can suffer through anything. Take a deep breath and walk back inside.
4:30 p.m.: Learn what a freshly cooked strand of linguini feels like. But as instructor demonstrates a simple pose—gently arching his back—I imitate it, smug in the knowledge that I can.
4:31 p.m.: Wonder how long we have to hold this pose. My body is shaking and sweat is running down my brow. Am certain passersby are peering through the windows and laughing at me.
4:32 p.m.: On to a new pose, thank God. Am beginning to feel nauseous. The woman directly in front of me is bending her body in all sorts of unnatural ways, kind of like Gumby. Decide I do not like her.
4:38 p.m.: Ride a wave of nausea, and feel so light-headed I have to sit down. Deeply regret the caramel ice cream I ate just before class.
4:39 p.m.: Instructor congratulates us on almost being done. Energized, I spring back up—only to hear: “…with the warm-up.”
4:45 p.m.: It’s a blazing inferno in here. I’m so sweaty I keep slipping on my mat. Am comforted to realize the husband looks equally miserable. I need to sit down again. I gulp water before the instructor cautions us not to drink too quickly, lest we get cramps.
4:55 p.m.: Feel as if I’ve run a marathon. (Er, what I imagine running one would feel like.) I never knew my feet could sweat. The guy to my right peels off an oversized T-shirt, revealing Speedo-sized “shorts.” Wonder why I always end up next to the guy in the Speedo.
5 p.m.: Gumby Lady casually lifts her leg over her head. My dislike morphs into hatred.
5:15 p.m.: Attempt to twist my body into pose being demonstrated by instructor. It involves standing on tip-toes and sitting back, as if into an invisible, sadistic chair. Pain engulfs my body. My legs tremble. My heart pounds so loudly I’m sure the people laughing at me from the sidewalk can hear. I collapse.
I’ve lost all track of time. My hair is soaking wet. My body is screaming. My husband is lying on the mat next to mine. I hope he’s still breathing, but I’m too tired to check. I periodically stand and attempt a new pose, only to fall back down.
6 p.m.: Class over, the instructor flicks off the lights but I find I can’t move.
6:02 p.m.: I finally summon the strength to crawl. I pass Gumby Lady, who is casually flipping over into a handstand. I somehow resist the temptation to flip something in return.
6:22 p.m.: The husband staggers out of the locker room, crazy-eyed. We lurch toward the safety of our car. But not before I hear Gumby Lady ask someone brightly, “Are you going to do a double class, too?”
(In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I woke the next morning feeling 10 years younger, having enjoyed the best night of sleep I’ve had in a year. The sporadic pain in my lower back has disappeared. This does not mean I will try hot yoga again anytime soon.)
Sarah Pekkanen’s third novel, These Girls, will be in bookstores April 10. Her website is www.sarahpekkanen.com, and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.