The Hot Yoga Experience

A few weeks ago, Bryony and I went to an alignment workshop and the woman who lead it gave us some free passes to her studio.

“Forget this,” I thought. Her studio is a hot yoga studio. I’d tried hot yoga a few years ago with my pal Julie. I was still pretty new at yoga then: I wasn’t very strong. The heat took the piss out of me. I didn’t like sweating. The class I took followed the set primary series of Ashtanga, which I hate. I can’t stand knowing the order of poses – it causes me to dread hard poses coming up instead of keeping intention on what I’m doing. And so on, and so forth. Basically, it wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t for me.

For some reason, I did not toss or give away the free pass. I started thinking about how my yoga practice is suffering these days. I’d quit one of my classes because it wasn’t serving me anymore. In general, I am in a life rut – my relationship “ended” but keeps on trucking in some fucked up morphed capacity, I miss having an animal around but I’m uninspired to get another one, etc. I knew hot yoga was not going to be the answer, but trying something new rarely makes things worse.

I surmised it might be easier this time because I am much stronger. Eventually, I’d carried on about hot yoga so much that eventually Bryony volunteered to go with me. We went.

It was tough.

We were not asked to do anything out of the ordinary. I’d been asked to do the very same poses a million times before but the heat makes everything so much harder. Some poses that I normally have no problem with I didn’t even bother trying. Partly because I felt exhausted, partly because they felt dangerous – it’s so hot your palms and soles of your feet sweat. Flip-the-dog/wild thing is one of my favourite poses, but with slippery hands and feet – terrifying.

At some point, I started feeling like I was going to throw up. First it was just in forward-folding positions, then it became a constant nag. Then I started to have an anxiety attack thinking that I was going to have to run out of the room to barf. I thought I’d end up barfing all over the floor in the lounge because I couldn’t remember where the bathroom was. I also felt terrible because Bryony didn’t really want to do hot yoga in the first place but there she was going for it like a trooper. It is a bad idea to have a clock in a yoga room, but perhaps if I had a sense of how much longer I was going to be in that heated room I wouldn’t have been so anxious.

By the end, the instructor was asking us to do extremely passive stretches while lying on our backs and I was like, “Are you fucking kidding me, bitch? You want me to stretch my hamstrings? FUCK YOU.”

So I pretty much took an extended savasana during which I felt my heart glug-glugging not just in my chest, but pounding in my back and if I am not mistaken, my pituitary. I was disturbed by its slowness and the size I imagined it must have ballooned to if it could fill my back body up with its beat.

In sum, I do not know why in the world anybody practices hot yoga.

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